Central American Institute of Social Studies and Development
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Larkin is working with INCEDES (Central American Institute of Social Studies and Development) in Guatemala City. INCEDES is a non-profit organization whose focus is to create a better understanding of migrations in the region through investigations, reports, and symposia in order to reform national legislation and international agreements to better protect individuals’ rights to migrate or not migrate. Larkin will be performing an investigation into various forms of temporary work authorizations for migrant workers in the region and will produce a report comparing the protections those forms provide migrant workers.
Larkin is from Seattle and received his undergraduate degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he studied philosophy and Spanish language and literature. He is interested in immigration and international human rights issues.
July 2, 2012
My PILF grant has allowed me to collaborate with INCEDES (Central American Institute of Social Studies and Development) in Guatemala City to investigate and write a report comparing certain forms of authorization for temporary migrant work in the Americas. I am focusing on the H2A and H2B temporary work visas in the United States; a program called Immigration Form for Frontier Workers (FMTF in Spanish) which allows Guatemalan and Belizean workers to work in the southern states of Mexico; and the multilateral CA-4 agreement signed by Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The CA-4 allows citizens of those four countries to freely circulate among the countries but does not provide authorization to work. I am comparing not only the protections specifically provided, or not provided as in the case of the CA-4 agreement, but also the significance of a protection being provided by domestic law versus an international agreement.
While my investigation has been frustrated at times by a lack of information and reliable statistics, I have had the opportunity to interview various officials in different positions of government regarding their experiences with the various authorizations. I am interested in the most common abuses of workers that are seen despite the protections provided by the various work authorizations. I have been using the INCEDES offices as my base and have had the opportunity to travel to a seminar in San Salvador, El Salvador, as well as other forums and symposia in Guatemala City. My team members at INCEDES have proven invaluable with their years of experience, and contacts, in the area of migrations from, through, and to Guatemala and Central America.
My work has given me an opportunity to look at the intersection of domestic legislation, regional agreements, and international law. Reports such as the one I am working on, like many others by INCEDES and other organizations of Guatemalan Civil Society, have proven influential in the creation and reformation of domestic laws as well as international agreements. My particular area, temporary work authorization, could prove especially pertinent among the Central American nations who have expressed a desire to provide such an authorization but have yet to do so. My internship would not have been possible without the support of PILF and I am very grateful for the opportunity PILF has provided me.
July 30, 2012
My internship with INCEDES in Guatemala has finished but I am still working on my final written product. In my last week with the organization I presented my research to my colleagues and other invited guests working in various capacities in the area of migrations in Guatemala. Upon finishing, those in attendance were able to ask questions and make comments and suggestions. A number of the suggestions were very helpful and I am incorporating them into my final product. One of the attendees in particular provided an interesting perspective after having done defense work for immigrants in detention in the United States before moving to Guatemala with a grant that has allowed her to study the reunification of migrant families as a right and the realities child migrants face migrating unaccompanied by parents or family.
One of the most fascinating parts of my research was the difference in the approaches taken by the United States, Mexico, and Central American governments in providing authorization to work in their respective territories on a temporary basis. The United States has taken the clear approach of trying to minimize and control the number of migrant workers entering the country. Mexico, with its permission for Guatemalans and Belizeans to work in the south of Mexico, recognizes these migrations as inevitable and provides a way in which these workers can enter and work legally. The Central American nations, despite many regional agreements and treaties which recognize the transnational nature of the labor markets in Central America and which indicate a desire to open the Central American borders to such labor, have yet to specifically address the issue in a comprehensive manner.
Each approach has, to varying extents, been able to accomplish what it had intended; however, there is substantial room for improvement. My work with INCEDES has helped me see the importance of organizations that dedicate themselves to such research so that informed, needed changes can be made to domestic and international laws. I was also exposed to the importance of funding, such as PILF grants, in making such important work possible. INCEDES has been proactive in seeking out interns from academic institutions all over the world and it has an impressive collection of reports and studies to show for it. I am very grateful for the experience my PILF grant has allowed me and I look forward to continuing work on my research project, with INCEDES’s support, with the goal of it eventually being distributed and incorporated into other related projects in the future.