Government Efforts Show Decrease in Migratory Flows

Guatemala maintains strategic coordination to reduce irregular migration.

by Domenika Reyes

Guatemala City -AGN- Guatemala and the United States have continued working together to promote strategies to reduce irregular migration. This is due to the fact that those who migrate through this route put their health, life, and wealth, as well as family members, at risk.

A 95% reduction of migrants at the southern border of the United States was reported in January 2023, compared to January of the previous year.

In February of this year, Blas Nuñez-Neto, Acting Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy at the Department of Homeland Security of the United States, spoke about the issue during a conference call.

Additionally, he mentioned that in January, the number of migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras dropped by 70%.

He reaffirmed that the current administration has promoted regular migration. Specific benefits have been granted to people from countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Furthermore, he confirmed that Title 42, a measure that allows for the immediate deportation of migrants at the U.S. border, still applies.

As a result, Guatemala has labor and migration opportunities to prevent irregular migration.

Interinstitutional Efforts

To guarantee proper employment and prevent irregular migration, the Government of Guatemala has launched interinstitutional support programs.

These programs target specific population segments but focus on regular, orderly, and safe migration. In addition, labor opportunities abroad are promoted through regular work visas.

Some of these examples are listed below:

Your Job Platform

Among the tools that the Ministry of Labor provides is the Your Job platform, where people can register their resumes and personal data.

It has sections in which companies publish information on the available jobs.

Through this platform, people can register to be part of the National Employment Fair virtually and in person.

My First Job Scholarship

My First Job Scholarship is part of Mintrab’s actions to promote work experience among young people in the country. For those selected, the duration of the benefit is four months.

The portfolio subsidizes 51% of the beneficiary’s salary during that period, while the contracting company contributes 41%. After that term, the company can formally employ the participant.

The ministry ensures that the scholarship holder receives all his labor rights.

One of the objectives is for the beneficiaries to stay working in the company, giving them their first opportunity. This also fulfills one of the project’s purposes: to help prevent irregular migration.

The Employment Counters

The municipal employment counters -VUME- are a way for residents to present their resumes and receive support searching for a job in their hometown so they do not have to migrate.

Santa Cruz Naranjo and Barberena, Santa Rosa; Gualán and Usumatlán, Zacapa, and Joyabaj, Quiché are the jurisdictions this program reached in November 2022.

In this way, the Mintrab and the municipalities formalize their alliance to strengthen women’s employability and labor, youth, and people with disabilities, among other groups. The agreements are valid for two years, which may be extended.

There are now more than 30 counters nationwide with this type of employment.

Temporary Work Program

Another effort to promote regular migration is Guatemala’s Seasonal Labor Program, run by Mintrab.

This initiative offers the Guatemalan workforce to interested countries. The necessary arrangements are set up for qualified people to travel abroad with a job vacancy.

Mintrab expects to send 3,000 Guatemalan workers to other countries this year under this model.

In the last three years, more than 3 500 people have worked with this model in companies in the United States and Canada.

Investment Attraction

The Government of Guatemala has prioritized the creation of suitable employment through the attraction of investment.

The Executive Branch seeks to encourage foreign companies to establish operations in Guatemala and become a source of employment. It has also promoted the training of Guatemalan human resources so that they are qualified to apply for available jobs.

The recent establishment of the Japanese transnational Yazaki in Ayutla, San Marcos, is an example of the actions to attract investment. This automotive technology company expects to generate 1,000 new jobs by 2023 and 10,000 over the next five years.

Economic Growth

In this regard, the conditions for foreign investment have improved and, as a result, increased opportunities for proper employment.

In 2022, economic growth remained steady, despite the different circumstances that affected the country and the world. Economic development has been possible thanks to the efforts of the public and private sectors.

A key indicator is that while Latin America ended with 3.7% growth, Guatemala reached 4%.

Fighting Against Coyotaje

President Alejandro Giammattei reiterated the Government’s commitment to prevent irregular migration and combat human smuggling structures in October 2022.

In an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, President Giammattei mentioned the approval of Decree 05-2022, Reforms to the Migration Law. Such reforms strengthen the penalties against human traffickers.

He pointed out that in 2022 a law was passed to punish coyotes with 30 years in prison. This strategy seeks to prevent the population from risking their lives by traveling irregularly.

The  Guatemalan president has shared this regulation with his counterparts in the region and has underscored the importance of having appropriate legislation to face the problem. He has also addressed the issue with officials of the U.S. government.

In conclusion, Guatemala undertakes actions to reduce irregular immigration through legal protection, suitable work, and regular, orderly, and safe migration.

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