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January 2012, Volume 19, Number 1

Canada, Latin America

Canada admitted 280,700 immigrants in 2010, the most in 50 years. About two-thirds were admitted under the point selection system, which requires foreigners to obtain at least 67 points on a 100-point scale to immigrate (family members may enter with the immigrant who passes the point test).

Education is worth up to 25 points (for an MS or PhD), knowing English and/or French is worth up to 24 points, and up to 21 points are awarded for work experience. Those aged 21 to 49 get 10 points, those employed legally in Canada with a temporary work visa get 10 points, and up to 10 points are awarded for "adaptability," such as having studied or worked in Canada.

In December 2011, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that immigration would remain at similar levels in 2012 to bolster the economy. Unlike most industrial economies, Canada's economy is expanding.

Canada is cracking down on foreigners who want permanent residence status but continue to live outside Canada. Permanent residents must be in Canada at least two years during a five-year period.

Latin America. About half of the three million Central Americans in the US in 2010 were unauthorized, but the total number of Central Americans in the US has continued to climb. There were 2.2 million Central Americans in the US in 2000, including about 900,000 who were unauthorized.

The Mexican government in October 2011 reported that the number of Central Americans crossing Mexico to reach the US dropped in 2010, and attributed the drop to the increased risks of extortion, kidnapping and violence as organized crime moves into migrant trafficking. There may also be fewer Central Americans trying to move to the US because of the high unemployment rate.

Costa Rica, the only Latin American country with more Americans residents than nationals in the US, employs a peak 150,000 coffee harvesters. Most are Costa Ricans, but some are migrants from neighboring Nicaragua. In December 2011, the Costa Rican government approved the recruitment of 5,500 seasonal foreign farm workers to add 11 percent to the seasonal work force employed in fruit harvesting.

Southern Cone. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are attracting migrants from their poorer neighbors. The number of Bolivians, Paraguayans and Peruvians rose over 50 percent between 2001 and 2011. The major reason for migration from poorer to richer countries is uneven economic growth, but this migration is facilitated by the spread of cell phones and information about opportunities abroad, better roads and transport networks to move people cheaply, and improved rights, including freedom of movement rights for Mercosur countries.

Over 4,000 Haitians moved to Brazil's Amazon in search of construction and other jobs since the January 2010 earthquake, often traveling via Ecuador. The New York Times reported January 7, 2012 that the Brazilian government gave 4,000 Haitians vaccinations, food and humanitarian visas that allow them to work, and would admit up to 100 more Haitians a month to fill jobs associated with the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Some of the Haitians who arrived in the remote Amazon are making their way further inland, including to Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, and moving to S?o Paulo, the New York of South America.

Chinese firms are investing in agriculture in Brazil and other South American countries to reduce their reliance on volatile global grain markets. China has become Brazil's biggest trading partner, buying more soybeans and iron ore and investing billions in Brazil's energy sector. Over 80 percent of Brazil's exports to China were raw materials in 2010, while 98 percent of China's exports to Brazil were manufactured products.