More than 30 Information Hubs shared their experiences in providing support to migrants
In recent months there has been a substantial increase in migration flows from Central America to North America, making it increasingly necessary to expand the coverage of secure information channels. Chief among these are the migration information hubs, which in the first quarter of 2021 alone, reported to IOM to have assisted more than 12,000 people in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
In order to exchange experiences in the implementation of the hub model, the III Regional Meeting of Migration Information Hubs in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean was held virtually in March. The event brought together an average of 70 people during each of the six sessions.
In spite of the restrictions derived from the pandemic, the information hubs implemented alternative measures to continue providing information, virtualizing many of their support services. Among the most sought-after services were information on regularization (52% of those served) and access to institutional services in transit and destination countries (44% of those who approached the hubs).
The information hub model, promoted by IOM, provides a substantial contribution through the information and advisory services offered by government and civil society partners to migrants in transit and destination countries. The model is adaptable to the needs of each community, so that some offices offer transactional services (establishing connectivity with local migration offices), or are adapted to specific contexts. This is the case of the Dominican Republic, where the Hubs have been key to implement the National Regularization Plan and for people to renew their work permits.
"I came to the Hub to get the correct information about the process, and what is more important, in my own language. Now I am satisfied with the information and I will not fall into the trap of scammers," said a woman of Haitian origin who was assisted at the Santo Domingo Hub.
During the meeting, a space was provided for the exchange of good practices for the adaptation of the model to the context of the pandemic. Opportunities for improvement were discussed, such as a strategy for the implementation of data protection. In addition, a meeting space was created between the hubs and local governments on how to promote the work of the hubs as a tool for local management of migration.
"From the Secretariat we have direct links to 46 municipalities in Guanajuato and relations with migrant groups in five key cities in the United States," explained Juan Hernandez, Secretary of Migrants and International Liaison of the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, during the fifth session of the event. "Migrants want to contribute to the development of their local state, to leave their mark in their smaller spheres, and it is up to us to applaud and dignify what they do."
The event is an initiative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which supports more than 40 hubs in the region in the training of their work teams and conditioning of physical spaces. The meeting also explored new opportunities for collaboration between the organization and local governments to further benefit migrants in the area.
“The migrant assistance centers, or "hubs", respond to a very broad model, which adapts to national and local needs. That is what makes them so rich. They are flexible and evolving, a point that has been stressed during the sessions, promoting the exchange of experiences and good practices among countries," explained Alexandra Bonnie, coordinator of IOM's Western Hemisphere Program. "For IOM these sessions are very valuable to understand how to better support them."
The III Regional Meeting of Migration Information Hubs in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean was developed within the framework of IOM's Western Hemisphere Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.