Asylum-seeking in Latin America and the Caribbean generally remains a rare phenomenon, with rates of 18 claims per million inhabitants in 2013, roughly one-seventh of those seen in Canada and the United States (Table 3). As of 2010, the number of applications has remained at levels below half the averages registered prior to that year, largely as a consequence of the drop in the number of applications in Ecuador by Colombian nationals, since that the civil conflict in Colombia has diminished in recent years. On the other hand, Brazil presented in 2013 a level similar to that of 2011 (almost 5,000 applications), due to the influx of Haitian nationals after the 2010 earthquake in that country.
Table 3. Asylum seekers in the Americas, 2001-2013
|Average 2001-2005||Average 2006-2010||2010||2011||2012||2013||% change 2013/2010||Number per million population (2013)||Main countries of origin|
|country of asylum|
|Canada||32401.8||28505.6||22543||24985||20223||10356||-54.061127622765||294.35754447823||China, Pakistan, Colombia|
|USA||49084.2||40392.6||42971||60587||66101||68243||58.811756766191||213.22558141067||China, Mexico, El Salvador|
|Canada and the United States||81486||68898.2||65514||85572||86324||78599||19.972830234759||221.26077343954||China, Mexico, El Salvador|
|Old and bearded||0||0||0||0||0||one||11.112963271656||Syrian Arab Republic|
|Barbados||0||0||0||0||0||two||7.0263205969562||Syrian Arab Republic, Cuba|
|British Virgin Islands||0||1.2||0||one||0||3||105.85371017254||Cuba|
|Cayman Islands||0||0||0||one||0||33||564.73004192693||Cuba, Mexico|
|Cuba||42.2||17.8||23||6||63||29||26.086956521739||2.5742015825304||Syrian Arab Republic, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Miscellaneous|
|Dominican Republic||0||0.6||3||28||12||eleven||266.66666666667||1.057309947816||Cuba, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Sri Lanka|
|Haiti||0||4.6||one||two||8||12||1100||1.1630768461349||Cuba, Dem. Rep. Of Congo, Sri Lanka|
|Jamaica||0||0||0||0||one||4||1.4368394130798||Syrian Arab Republic, Cuba,|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||0||0||0||0||one||one||18.453248694433||Egypt|
|St. Lucia||0||1.4||3||two||0||one||-66.666666666667||5.4862760803849||Syrian Arab Republic|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||0||0||0||one||0||0||0||..|
|Trinidad and Tobago||0||49.4||22||29||5||44||32.807640601245||Cuba, Mexico, Bangladesh|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||0||0||0||3||24||9||271.91975345942||Cuba, Sierra Leone, Nigeria|
|US Virgin Islands||0||0||..||0||0||0||0||..|
|Caribbean||69.2||77.4||64||91||169||245||282.8125||5.7285191637671||Cuba, Syrian Arab Republic, Mexico|
|Belize||20.6||12.4||25||32||58||52||108||156.67369689666||El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras|
|Costa Rica||2437.4||961.4||991||964||1170||954||-3.7336024217962||195.80613632623||Colombia, El Salvador, Cuba|
|The Savior||9.8||36.6||55||fifteen||4||7||-87.272727272727||1.1040218886534||Honduras, Various|
|Guatemala||32.6||29.8||fifteen||twenty-one||18||48||220||3.1031400350771||El Salvador, India, Bangladesh|
|Mexico||407.6||578||1039||753||811||1296||24.735322425409||10.594086363008||Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba|
|Nicaragua||fifteen||112.6||120||39||69||105||-12.5||17.268379229396||El Salvador, Honduras, Pakistan|
|Panama||203||388.4||601||1396||756||827||37.603993344426||214.01749923011||Colombia, Cuba, Ghana|
|Central America||3201.4||2160||2914||3229||2895||3346||14.824982841455||19.989550232611||Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador|
|Bolivia (Plurinational State of)||20.6||74.6||48||32||36||twenty||-58.333333333333||1.874203463528||Colombia, Syrian Arab Republic, Various|
|Colombia||31.8||159.8||161||84||99||229||42.23602484472||4.7391006118303||Cuba, Somalia, Bangladesh|
|Peru||134.2||250.6||289||466||377||440||52.249134948097||14.485309147608||Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic|
|Andean region||19109||15132||2725||1623||1470||1655||-39.266055045872||16||Colombia, Cuba, Bangladesh|
However, the growth presented by Brazil originates from completely different countries, with Bangladesh, Senegal and Lebanon being the three most important countries of origin. With Brazil’s growing presence on the global stage and in the world economy, and with increased public attention leading up to the World Cup, Brazil has been “discovered” as a possible country of refuge for asylum seekers. The number of requests remains low compared to the levels observed in OECD countries, but they come from countries outside the region, in contrast to other Latin American countries, where requests come from other countries in the Americas.
Other countries where Bangladeshi applicants are prominent, albeit in small numbers, include Colombia, Guatemala, and Trinidad and Tobago. Costa Rica and Panama stand out for having a high rate of applications (close to 200 applications per million inhabitants) and a high number of applicants (close to 1,000) for being relatively small countries.
In Canada, asylum applications have more than halved since 2011, based on a new federal law that identifies safe countries of origin from which asylum applications are not accepted, and for applications from other countries the acceleration of procedures in cases of manifestly unfounded requests. For the year 2013, the number of applications from nationals of China, India, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, North Korea and Saint Lucia experienced a drastic drop in Canada.
Noteworthy in recent years is the emergence of asylum seekers from Syria, which is also the most important country of origin for the OECD area in general. In Latin America, Syria appears among the top three countries of origin in Argentina (where it is the main country of origin), Bolivia and Chile. In the Caribbean in general, Syria is the second country of origin of applicants, after Cuba. Cuba indeed appears as an important country of origin in many countries of the Americas.
Asylum seeking in many countries in the Americas, like immigration in general, tends to be a regional phenomenon, reflecting movements of people fleeing civil conflict or poverty, rather than persecution per se. However, the seriousness of the refugee situation in Syria is clearly having spillover effects even in the Americas, as Syrian nationals seek refuge in countries around the world.
The nature of the asylum regime, i.e. that applications must be examined on the territory of the country of destination and that applicants are granted the right of residence in the meantime, often creates a pathway for the immigration of people fleeing from conflict zones who need temporary protection and who would otherwise have difficulty getting a regular visa. Therefore, the asylum regime, originally instituted as a vehicle for people fleeing persecution, has been used, by force of circumstances, by people fleeing or leaving their countries of origin in much more diverse situations, this fact being evident both in the Americas and elsewhere.