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OAS, OECD and ECLAC Present First Report on International Migration in the Americas

  July 11, 2011

The Organization of American States (OAS), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) today presented the First Report on International Migration in the Americas, a joint effort by the three organizations to make rigorous and current technical information on the phenomenon of international migration available to the international community.

This First Report analyzes the migration situation in the nine countries of the Americas that participated in the first phase of the Continuous Reporting System on Labour Migration for the Americas (SICREMI): Argentina, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay. Nine more countries will participate in the second phase, at the end of which a report will be published in 2012: Barbados, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, and Dominican Republic.

Among other facts, the report highlights that, between 2003 and 2009, nearly 950,000 people per year emigrated from the Americas to countries of the OECD; of this total, nearly half went to the United States, and a fourth to Spain. Furthermore, it specifies that “legal migration levels from the Americas to OECD destination countries have generally maintained themselves in the midst of the most severe economic crisis of the post-war years with the exception of migration levels to Spain and the United States.” Recent developments in remittance flows, the labor market situation of emigrants from countries in the Americas in recent years, and asylum seekers in the Americas are some of the other subjects contained in the report.

The complete text of the report is available here.

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, asserted that “this first research effort has no parallel in the region and responds to the growing demand for information and analysis on migration in countries of the Americas.” He added that it “effectively contributes to provide the international community important data on migration flows and other important aspects of this phenomenon.”

The head of the hemispheric Organization recalled that “contemporary international migration is tied in a unique way to the processes of social and economic integration that characterize globalization” and is “one of the priority areas on the agendas of many countries’ governments.” That is why, he continued, “one of the essential elements in making progress on the understanding of the challenges and opportunities of international migration is to have trustworthy information, and to achieve a continuous monitoring of movements and policies.” In this sense, he said, the OAS, “as the sole hemispheric political forum, constitutes an ideal space for the necessary regional cooperation required by a project of this nature.”

The Chair of the OAS Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee, said that “drafting migration policies to respond to the causes and impacts that migrations have is not an easy task, and it is therefore of fundamental importance to have reliable information and data that allow us to design more adequate and appropriate policies.” In this sense, he congratulated the SICREMI initiative, since “it is not only necessary to have national information, but also data at the sub-regional, regional and hemispheric levels, so we can approach the issues and the consequent challenges of migration through cooperation and through the joint work of States, as well as with the international organizations that have responsibilities in this subject matter.”

Among the data found in the report, Ambassador Skinner-Klee remarked that in 2009 at least 70 percent of the population migrating to Latin America originated in the Americas, “generally between neighboring countries, which indicates that currently all of the countries in the region are countries of origin as well as transit countries and destination countries.” This, he continued, “gives us an added reason to insist on the importance of bilateral and regional cooperation to establish mechanisms and methodologies to generate accurate information and data that will allow us to holistically address the problems we have in common.”

Participants in the report’s launch, held at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, included the Minister of Governance, Police and Public Security of Costa Rica, Mario Zamora; the Alternate Permanent Representative of Paraguay, Juan Miguel González Bibolini, on behalf of the Permanent Representative of Paraguay and Chair of the Special Committee on Migration Issues of the OAS Permanent Council, Ambassador Bernardino Hugo Saguier; the Alternate Permanent Observer of Spain to the OAS, José María de la Torre; the Principal Administrator of the Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Non-member Economies and International Migration Division of the OECD, Georges Lemaître; the Director of the ECLAC Office in Washington, DC, Inés Bustillo; and the OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development Mauricio Cortes Costa. The event was moderated by the OAS Migration and Development Program Coordinator, Araceli Azuara.

The panelists congratulated the SICREMI initiative as a unique source of information pertinent to the migration flows in the region that will facilitate the elaboration of public policies at the national and regional levels, and will motivate the exchange of knowledge and information on this phenomenon. They agreed on their wish to expand this effort so that eventually all countries in the region may be included as participants.

OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development Mauricio Cortes Costa said that “decision-making in the elaboration of migration policies and programs has a growing trans-border character that requires strategies of collaboration and coordinated work among the States.”

For her part, Inés Bustillo, of ECLAC, recalled that migration has been a traditional phenomenon in the region and that it has seen significant changes in the last decade. Such changes are sources of challenges “that require a deeper knowledge and tools that facilitate discussion based on solid evidence, and that is why SICREMI is very important to us.”

OECD representative Georges Lemaître asserted that the information contained in the report “can ensure that the debate about migration is informed and based on factual information, and that policies which are put in place take account of what is known or is taking place in other countries.”

The SICREMI relies on the methodological model of the OECD’s Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI), which provides its Member States a mechanism for exchanging information on international migration through a network of correspondents at the national level. Through a network of national correspondents, the SICREMI collects data from various sources (census, surveys, administrative registries, etc.) to process and divulge information on the size, trends, and characteristics of international migration, as well as on the labor integration of the migrants of the Americas in the United States and Europe.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-762/11