Stopping the Revolving Door: Reception and Reintegration Services for Central American Deportees (Victoria Rietig & Rodrigo Dominguez Villegas, Migration Policy Institute, 2016)

In the past five years, hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants deported from Mexico and the United States—including tens of thousands of children—have arrived back in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. For many deportees, the conditions upon arrival are worse than those that compelled them to leave in the first place. They and their families may be in crippling debt after having paid smugglers, and many return to communities that are even less safe than when they left. Thus, a significant number are in danger of entering a revolving door of migration, deportation, and remigration.

Efforts to break this cycle center on providing more and better opportunities for Central America’s people, especially its youth—an effort that includes reception programs and reintegration services for deportees once they return. Governments of Central America acknowledge the need for comprehensive policies and programs to help their deported citizens anchor themselves again upon return. All three countries offer reception services to most deportees, but reintegration services are far more limited and serve only a few. This report offers a detailed profile of the organization, funding sources, capacity, and the numbers of deportees served in reception and reintegration programs in the Northern Triangle.

While the relevance of reintegration programs is largely unquestioned, knowledge is limited about what services are already in place, and how existing programs can be leveraged effectively. The authors note that there is little in the way of program evaluation or monitoring.

This report attempts to fill these knowledge gaps by describing the types of reception and reintegration services, and analyzing common challenges to building successful initiatives in the region. An appendix provides further details on the programs surveyed, including relevant actors, organizations, budgets, evaluations, numbers of beneficiaries, and challenges.