On June 29th, 2018, USCRI hosted a roundtable discussion at its headquarters in Arlington, VA. The embassies of Guatemala and El Salvador joined the USCRI team, as well as organizations including CARACEN, MPI, Latin America Working Group, WOLA, Congressional Research Service and NDLON, to discuss the challenges and potential solutions to repatriated persons.
The meeting comes after the Trump administration’s decision to stop granting temporary protection status (TPS) to vulnerable populations, including nationals of ten different countries struggling with the effects of war, natural disasters and other humanitarian crises in their home countries.
With an update from Eunice Olan, Director of USCRI Central America, the event began highlighting programs like the Livelihoods Program, currently taking place in El Salvador, as a potential solution to combat gang violence, safety concerns and crippling violence that drives so many to flee their countries. The program has been a large success since its implementation a few years ago, with over 300 participants.
The discussion then shifted its focus onto solutions moving forward, given the challenges refugees and immigrants are currently facing. Many seemed to agree that there is a need for greater coordination between both the receiving country and the country repatriating select individuals. In the current context, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for example, could potentially work with the Mexican government to provide reintegration services for those dealing with the daunting journeys back to their home countries.
The group also touched upon the topics of increased mental health services for those experiencing a loss in documentation, the role of private entities in tackling this issue and the cultural influence of the U.S. that is driving many to flee their homes. Ultimately, it became clear to all involved that this complex issue would require the help of multiple organizations in order to ensure that the interests of the individuals, entities and countries are all addressed.