The migration cycle: The US role in Latin American migration

Please join us for a panel discussion in Washington on June 8 at 2 p.m. For details and to register, click here.

The debate over immigration is playing a divisive role in American politics, with the issue addressed mainly from the US point of view: To whom and how far do we extend our generosity?

Despite protests by some Americans raising the benefits to the United States of immigration and open borders, very little is said about the role Washington has played in Latin American politics, including its funding of anti-leftist groups and backing of coups during the Cold War, and the violent gang culture exported from the United States by refugees forced to return since the 1990s. They directly bear on the conditions prompting migration from Latin America today.

With the lives of millions at stake, here are some facts to consider: Worldwide, the number of people who have migrated across international borders rose to 258 million in 2017. Meanwhile, three times as many migrated within their own countries, usually from rural areas to towns and cities. For the record, only 16 percent of international migrants originated from Latin America, and more than half of those moved elsewhere in the region. In fact, south-south migration flows—between developing countries—are larger than south-north flows.

One in seven people today is a migrant of some sort, and as many rely on relatives who are. It is self-evident that we should work toward enabling the kind of migration we wish to have, reducing the migration we don’t wish to have, and responding to the disaster-driven migration that will happen no matter what.

Please join us for a panel discussion featuring:

Joel Millman, Press Officer, International Organization for Migration; ICWA Trustee

Joel Millman is a press officer at the International Organization for Migration based in Geneva, Switzerland. Formerly, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal based in Portland, Oregon, covering global issues, immigration and the Pacific Northwest. In the spring of 2000, he opened the bureau’s satellite office on the U.S. – Mexico border in San Diego County, Calif., and also has worked through the Mexico City bureau. Mr. Millman began his journalism career in 1972 as a high school news stringer for the South Middlesex (Mass.) News. In 1981, he was a news producer with WNEW-TV News in New York. From 1987 to 1989, he was an Institute of Current World Affairs Fellow studying the impact of arms aid on recipient nations in Central America. He joined Forbes magazine as an associate editor in 1989. In 1990, Mr. Millman won a first-place award from the Overseas Press Club for magazine journalism and received the Inter American Press Association’s (IAPA’s) interpretive commentary award. In 1997, he was a member of a Journal team awarded the IAPA award for in-depth reporting for their coverage of political corruption and the drug-running crisis in Latin America. In 2004, Mr. Millman received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize for outstanding reporting on Latin America. Mr. Millman is the author of the 1997 book, “The Other Americans, How Immigrants Renew Our Country, Our Economy and Our Values,” published by Viking. Mr. Millman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in international relations.

Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Senior Associate, Latin America Working Group

Prior to joining LAWG as our Senior Associate for Mexico, Border and Migration Issues, Daniella worked for six years on the protection of migrant rights in the U.S.-Mexico-Central America corridor with a variety of civil society organizations and foundations. She was the first coordinator of the Central America and Mexico Alliance (CAMMINA), a Fulbright García Robles Fellow in Mexico from 2010-2011, and a Program Associate at Oxfam America. Daniella has completed research contributing to organizational advocacy strategies on issues such as transitional justice, migrant rights, gender and internal displacement. She holds a BA from Tufts University in International Relations and History with a focus in Latin American studies and a Master’s in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy where she focused on human security and migration. Daniella is originally from New York and has Swiss-German and Peruvian family.

Kristian Hernandez, Journalist

Kristian Hernández is the 2017 American University Fellow working with the Consider the Source state politics team. Before joining the Center, he worked for The Monitor newspaper in McAllen, Texas, where he covered crime and immigration. In 2014, Hernández covered the superior court for Homicide Watch D.C. and politics for Hispanic Link news service. He graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism. While in college, he interned at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Scripps Howard Foundation and was a participant at the 2013 New York Times Student Journalism Institute.

Dr. Manuel Orozco, Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue

Manuel Orozco is a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue and the director of the Migration, Remittances and Development Program. He also serves as a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Development and as a senior adviser with the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Orozco has conducted extensive research, policy analysis and advocacy on issues relating to global flows of remittances as well as migration and development worldwide. He is chair of Central America and the Caribbean at the US Foreign Service Institute and senior researcher at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.

Orozco frequently testifies before Congress and has spoken before the United Nations. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Texas at Austin, a MA in public administration and Latin American studies, and a BA in international relations from the National University of Costa Rica.

Orozco has published widely on remittances, Latin America, globalization, democracy, migration, conflict in war torn societies, and minority politics. His books include International Norms and Mobilization for Democracy (2002), Remittances: Global Opportunities for International Person-to-Person Money Transfers (2005), América Latina y el Caribe: Desarrollo, migración y remesas (2012) and Migrant Remittances and Development in the Global Economy(2013).