Guatemala is both a sending and receiving country in international migration between Central America and México and the USA. Large numbers of people began to migrate in the 1980s as a result of the civil wars that affected all of these countries, with most people arriving in the USA, Canada and México. While the following two decades saw a fall in migration from these countries, in the past decade, migration has yet again increased due to high levels of extreme poverty and violence, mainly related to drug trafficking and urban gangs.
In recent years, the USA and Mexico have implemented increasingly aggressive policies to deter migration. In 2019 alone close to 55,000 Guatemalan citizens were deported by air back to Guatemala from the USA, while in the same year some 134,000 Central American citizens (from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras) were deported from Mexico to Guatemala by land. During the period January-April 2020, a total of 22,946 Guatemalan citizens have been deported from Mexico and the USA, among them 1,505 unaccompanied children.
While deported migrants come from different parts of Guatemala, the largest number originate from some 40 municipalities with a majority of indigenous populations and high levels of poverty. Eleven of these municipalities are supported by our project partner organisation CEGSS through research and technical assistance.