This event was in Spanish with English interpretation. This is the English interpretation.
Irregular migration from Guatemala to the United States has accelerated dramatically in recent years, much of it from the Western Highlands, a region that is among the poorest and most rural in the country. The remittances resulting from migration have been a crucial lifeline in supporting the region through the COVID-19 pandemic, almost equaling total exports in 2020.
A critical first step toward developing alternatives to irregular migration is to understand the factors that drive people to leave, including the underlying causes and the immediate triggers. The Migration Policy Institute and the Guatemalan nongovernmental organization Asociación Pop No’j undertook a study examining the patterns and drivers of emigration from Huehuetenango, one of the country’s top migrant-sending areas in the Western Highlands. The researchers also assessed potential strategies to address push factors and create alternatives to irregular migration.
This report release event features discussion on changing migration patterns from Guatemala, along with how policymakers and development practitioners can help create livelihood options and address other drivers of migration, as well as expanding legal pathways for circular migration. The conversation also explores broader lessons for policy approaches in both sending and receiving countries that, over time, could help better manage migration and provide alternatives to emigration.