Where do people migrate?

Read the selection from the World Migration Report 2022 and then answer the questions

Migration to Northern America is a key feature in the Latin America and Caribbean region. In 2020, over 25 million migrants had made the journey north and were residing in Northern America (Figure 22). As shown in the figure, the Latin American and Caribbean population living in Northern America has increased considerably over time, from an estimated 10 million in 1990. Another 5 million migrants from the region were in Europe in 2020. While this number has only slightly increased since 2015, the number of migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean living in Europe has more than quadrupled since 1990. The total number of migrants from other regions living in Latin America and the Caribbean has remained relatively stable, at around 3 million over the last 30 years. These were comprised mostly of Europeans (whose numbers have declined slightly over the period) and Northern Americans, whose numbers have increased. In 2020, the numbers of Europeans and Northern Americans living in Latin America and the Caribbean stood at around 1.4 million and 1.3 million, respectively.

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LAC and Caribbean migrants

Migration northward remains a significant trend, with mixed migration from the northern region of Central America, in particular, proving to be challenging and dynamic due to rising immigration controls. Migration from and through Central America is driven by a complex mix of factors, including economic insecurity, violence, crime and the effects of climate change, with many individuals moving northward in pursuit of financial and human security. At the end of 2020, nearly 900,000 people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador had been forcibly displaced (both within and across borders). Of these, more than half a million had been displaced across borders, with the vast majority (79%) hosted in the United States. Migrant caravans, a term used to describe the cross-border movement of large groups of people by land, have increased in number and frequency since 2018 and have often included families with children. There has been a rise in the number of children journeying through the Darién Gap. Of the 226,000 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arriving at the United States border in the first half of fiscal year 2021, approximately 34,000 were unaccompanied minors. In response, the Mexican and United States governments have bolstered immigration enforcement, including by implementing measures aimed at preventing the transit of migrants, a surge in active-duty military officers at the United States–Mexico border, an increase in migrants being detained and deported, and reports of migrants being met with excessive force by security officials. In January 2020, a migrant caravan leaving Honduras was denied permission to transit through Mexico to the United States at the border between Guatemala and Mexico. As a result, an estimated 2,000 migrants were returned to Honduras by the Guatemalan and Mexican authorities. Moreover, the number of detentions in Mexico increased from approximately 8,500 in January 2019 to 13,500 migrants in January 2020.


  1. Often known as the origin of migration flows, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are also the destination for many migrants within the region and from outside the region. What three EU countries are the origin countries for over 800,000 migrants living in South America, as of 2020?

  2. What three South American countries have the highest number of emigrants living outside of South America as of 2020?

  3. In what ways is Mexico a prominent ‘origin’ country and a significant ‘transit’ country for migrants headed north toward the United States?

  4. What has been the trend in extraregional migration from Latin America and the Caribbean to other regions? According to the figure and the text, which regions are migrants moving to?