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Bilateral Labor Agreements: A Beneficial Tool to Expand Pathways to Lawful Work

Executive Summary

Bilateral labor agreements (BLA) are international arrangements between two nations — a host country and a source country — that specify the number and qualifications of temporary migrant workers that a host country is willing to admit and a source country is capable of sending. This paper explores the rationale, benefits, and history of BLAs in the United States, including the recent labor mobility discussions with the Mexican government. It also highlights how these agreements can benefit the U.S., as they provide U.S. policymakers more control over the size of the temporary migrant workforce, while prioritizing needed skills and experience. This paper argues that BLAs are useful in addressing U.S. labor shortages, help manage the irregular migration flow at the U.S. southern border, and reaffirm the United States’ hemispheric leadership.

Recent Developments: U.S. and Mexico Discuss Entering into New BLA

On July 12, 2022, President Joe Biden met at the White House with his Mexican counterpart President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to discuss a number of bilateral issues, including migration.[1] During the meeting, President López Obrador proposed to enter into a new BLA with the United States to provide temporary work visas to Mexican and Central American workers.[2] In his opinion, a BLA would help address the U.S. workforce needs while helping to better manage and control the flow of migrant workers to the United States.[3]

Specifically, President López Obrador called for a new version of the Bracero Program, which, between 1942 and 1964, supplied the United States with over 4.5 million Mexican agricultural workers. While recognizing the human rights abuses that many Mexican workers suffered under the program, López Obrador stressed that a new and improved Bracero Program would bring prosperity to both nations and would solidify the social and economic ties between the United States and Mexico.[4]

In the view of the Mexican President, a new BLA would allow the United States to protect its food self-sufficiency and carry out all the projects foreseen in the recently approved $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.[5] According to López Obrador, without additional foreign workers, it would be difficult for the United States to achieve its economic goals due to the labor shortage that the American economy is currently undergoing.[6] For Mexico, on the other hand, the benefits of a BLA include the creation of job openings for Mexican workers and the increased number of remittances that they would send to their families.[7]

While the United States did not expressly commit to enter into a new BLA with Mexico,[8] both nations agreed to launch a bilateral working group on labor migration pathways and worker protections. Arguably, such a working group may lead to an expansion of H-2A and H-2B visas issued to Mexican and Central American workers. In the weeks before the summit, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported being in negotiations with its American counterpart to expand the number of such visas.[9]

Existing U.S. Temporary Visa Programs Are Insufficient

López Obrador’s proposal is noteworthy given persistent shortcomings in existing U.S. temporary visa programs. Both the H-2A visa program, which covers seasonal agricultural workers, and the H-2B visa program, which applies to temporary non-agricultural workers, have proven to be insufficient in a time of persistent U.S. labor shortages. Both categories of temporary workers – agricultural and non-agricultural – could stand to benefit from increased opportunities through BLAs as proposed by the Mexican government.

H-2A visas are uncapped but have onerous requirements that make them unappealing to many employers and farmworkers. Despite a massive shortage of agricultural workers in 2021, the United States issued just 258,000 H-2A visas,[10] accounting only for 10% of America’s farm labor.[11] While proposals to reform and modernize the agricultural workforce have gained traction in recent years,[12] shortcomings in the H-2A program as currently constituted have resulted in farmworker shortages and continuing reliance on unauthorized workers, who make up approximately half of the agricultural workforce.[13] In that regard, a recent report conducted by Texas A&M revealed that a higher number of H-2A workers are directly related to lower inflation, higher wages, and lower unemployment.[14]

Unlike H-2A, the H-2B visa program is capped by Congress at 66,000 visas per year.[15] However, Congress has regularly afforded[16] the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of Labor, the authority to release additional visas to help employers meet the demand for seasonal workers.[17] While providing DHS with this discretion has helped address labor shortages in a number of sectors that rely on seasonal non-agricultural workers, it has still proven to be insufficient to meet the demand for H-2B workers regularly outstripping the supply of H-2B visas.[18]

Given these shortcomings, BLAs may help fill worker shortfalls, supplementing H-2A, H-2B, and other visa programs.

History of BLAs in the United States

The United States entered into its first BLA with Mexico from 1909 through 1921.[19] The U.S. faced labor shortages in this period as a result of World War I, during which existing U.S. workers deployed as soldiers to Europe and fewer new workers joined the U.S. workforce.[20] America’s labor shortages in this period coincided with Mexico’s political uncertainty and widespread unemployment caused by the 1910–1920 period of revolution in Mexico.[21]

Later, following the U.S. entry into World War II, the United States and Mexico again entered into a BLA.[22] Facing a significant wartime agricultural labor shortage that threatened America’s food self-sufficiency, the U.S. government engaged diplomatically with Mexican officials to allow millions of Mexicans to work legally in U.S. fields under short-term labor contracts. Mexico, which had an excess of farmworkers, readily entered into an agreement – the “Bracero Program,” which lasted more than two decades.[23]

While providing a valuable and effective temporary work program that benefited both the U.S. and Mexico, The Bracero Program, which ran from 1942 to 1964, had several noteworthy shortcomings. Lacking labor protections, it led to the exploitation of many of the Mexican temporary workers, known as “Braceros,” failing to protect them from discrimination, inadequate pay, and dangerous working conditions, such as exposure to deadly chemicals. Despite its faults, which were significant, the Bracero Program was a critical labor agreement that paved the way for future BLAs worldwide.[24]

After the Bracero Program, the United States did not enter into a major bilateral (or multilateral) labor agreement until the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took effect in January 1994. NAFTA — entered into by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico – created one of the largest trading blocs in the world and included a multilateral side agreement called the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC),[25] resembling a series of BLAs between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

The NAALC consisted of 11 principles that pertained to worker rights, capacity building, technical assistance, and separate dispute procedures.[26] Among its provisions, it allowed Canadian and Mexican professionals with qualifying, pre-arranged U.S. job offers to get a temporary U.S. work authorization for up to three years through TN visas.[27] To qualify for a TN visa, the job offer must fall under one of the 63 specified qualifying professions requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.[28]

When in 2018, NAFTA was replaced by a new United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement,[29] the labor provisions of NAFTA largely remained in effect, although they incorporated additional worker safeguards. Under USMCA, the parties are required to adopt and maintain labor rights in law and practice as recognized by the International Labor Organization (ILO),[30] to enforce existing domestic labor laws,[31] and not to waive or derogate from these domestic labor laws.[32]

Under the renegotiated USMCA, the United States agreed to keep the TN visa in place. Under USMCA, TN visas remain uncapped and continue to cover significant numbers of qualifying professions in different fields for temporary work in the United States.[33] In 2021, the U.S. issued 24,904 TN visas for Mexican and Canadian professionals.[34]

In present times, as in the past, the United States would benefit from entering into additional BLAs. To fully comprehend the relevance of BLAs for the U.S., in the next paragraphs, we will explain what BLAs are. We will also highlight how these agreements can benefit the U.S., as they provide U.S. policymakers more control over the size of the temporary migrant workforce while prioritizing needed skills and experience. This paper argues that BLAs are useful in addressing U.S. labor shortages, help manage the irregular migration flow at the U.S. southern border, and reaffirm the United States’ hemispheric leadership.

What Are Bilateral Labor Agreements?

Bilateral labor agreements (BLA) are international arrangements signed between two nations — a host country and a source country — that specify the number and qualifications of temporary migrant workers that a host country is willing to admit and a source country is capable of sending. Traditionally, BLAs result from diplomatic negotiations between a nation struggling to find enough workers to fill vacancies within specific sectors of its domestic labor market (host country) and a country with a surplus of workers in those specific sectors (source country). For purposes of this paper, the term “BLA” includes international treaties and memoranda of understanding (MOU). In the United States, the main difference between the two is that that the first are binding and require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate while the latter are non-binding good-faith accords that do not require Senate approval.

Benefits of BLAs for the United States as a Host Country

Host countries obtain many benefits from entering into BLAs, including allowing the host countries to better:

  1. Control the flow and qualifications of immigrant workers;
  2. Expand the legal avenues to work;
  3. Curtail unlawful cross-border mobility; and
  4. Strengthen diplomatic relations with source countries and others.

Control the flow and qualifications of immigrant workers

BLAs allow host countries to efficiently adjust the level of temporary international workers depending on labor needs. In other words, BLAs can specify the qualifications, experience, and number of temporary workers that a host country needs to address labor needs in specific sectors.

Entering into BLAs has proven to be a helpful solution for host countries to respond to labor market needs effectively. For instance, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, America’s aging population, accelerated retirement rates, reduced net migration, and other factors, the United States has been facing an acute labor shortage in essential industries like agriculture, food, technology, transportation, hospitality, and healthcare, [35] including home healthcare.[36] If the United States negotiated additional BLAs with other nations, it would be better situated to admit pre-screened immigrants with the requisite skills to address labor shortfalls. BLAs can also improve policymakers’ control over the flow and qualifications of immigrant workers coming into the country. Moreover, in many instances, source countries would act as recruiters, helping channel workers to host countries to fill essential needs in their labor force.[37]

Expand the legal avenues to work

Throughout history, big economies have attracted migrant laborers searching for a better life from less developed economies.[38] In recent times, Western European and North American nations, as well as Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have become the most sought-after destinations for migrant workers.[39] These countries have benefited from international workers, especially those who fill vital roles that their own nationals are often unwilling or unable to fill. However, these destination countries, including the United States, do not always have sufficient legal mechanisms to permit sufficient numbers of workers to fill needed roles. When this happens, their workforce deficits can lead to reduced economic performance and lost opportunity costs.

For instance, the United States has recently faced acute labor shortages. However, there are insufficient legal avenues for immigrants and temporary workers to come to the United States. Existing regulatory and statutory limits on work visas, [40] as well as administrative delays impacting visa processing and the issuance of employment authorization,[41] have kept the supply of these workers at levels far below that which would satisfy labor market demand.[42]

Given the insufficient visa caps — in addition to USCIS delays in processing employment authorization applications and longstanding green-card backlogs[43] — BLAs can serve as a needed avenue for much-needed legal workers. Moreover, if the United States had additional BLAs with other nations, it would be capable of issuing temporary work visas at embassies and consulates abroad with the help of source countries. In turn, that would relieve pressure from all the agencies involved in issuing visas and employment authorizations in the country.

Curtail unlawful cross-border mobility

The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, international and civil conflicts, and gang violence have increased the number of displaced persons around the globe.[44]

In a time of increased global migration, BLAs can serve as a valuable relief valve, allowing host countries to direct displaced persons into legal channels. While many, if not most, of those seeking to enter host countries, may be fleeing persecution, and would likely do so regardless of work opportunities, other economic migrants seeking work and a better life. BLAs could also serve as an alternative pathway for those fleeing persecution, allowing would-be asylum seekers to opt for a work-based pathway instead of awaiting in a backlogged asylum system.

For many decades, individuals fleeing persecution have looked to the United States as a destination to seek protection from persecution and obtain a better economic future. However, even with a backdrop of a U.S. labor shortage, limited avenues exist for displaced persons to enter the U.S. and work legally. Facing a backlogged asylum system, a limited Western Hemisphere refugee program, and outdated and unwieldy temporary work and immigration pathways, many opt to migrate to the U.S. in an irregular manner. While most of these migrants would prefer to go through available legal channels, many are unable to do so and risk their lives by making a perilous attempt to cross the border irregularly. In fact, in 2021, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) documented a record 728 deaths[45] on the border. [46] Advocates have argued that restrictive policies like Title 42 expulsions and the closure of ports of entry to asylum seekers have pushed migrants to use smugglers to cross in increasingly dangerous conditions.[47]

The absence of legal channels for international workers and the manner in which this absence incentivizes irregular migration to the U.S. also contributes to another troubling trend – a parallel human smuggling market across the southern border. This market generates annual revenues ranging between $2 billion and $6 billion, the lion’s share which goes to transnational criminal organizations (TCOs).[48] The profitability of the smuggling market has contributed to historic levels of encounters across the U.S.-Mexico border.[49]

This, in turn, would improve the U.S. government’s management of its southern border while removing a key source of income from TCOs benefitting from existing irregular migration patterns.

Strengthen diplomatic relations with source countries and others

Another benefit of BLAs is that they improve the diplomatic relations between host and source countries, promoting regional cooperation. BLAs promote bilateral cooperation and strengthen ties between host countries, source countries, and others, boosting regional economic cooperation.

Beyond filling needed labor niches, international workers provide multiple additional benefits to host countries. These temporary migrant workers submerge into the country’s culture and language, eventually becoming first-line couriers of the host country’s traditions upon their return to their countries of origin. This improves the source country’s public perceptions of the host country, further driving closer cultural, economic, and governmental ties.

In the case of the United States, engaging diplomatically with partner countries in the region on BLAs would consolidate America’s leadership in the region in a challenging time. Even though the United States is the unquestioned diplomatic leader of the Western Hemisphere, other competitors are significantly increasing their presence in the region.[50] BLAs serve to solidify the United States’ diplomatic and economic ties with partner countries in the hemisphere, supporting its leadership role in the region.

Benefits of BLAs for Source Countries

Source countries also benefit from BLAs, which, among other benefits, allow source countries to:

  1. Receive remittances from workers abroad;
  2. Tackle national unemployment and address overqualification of workers; and
  3. Capitalize on the new skills of returning workers.

Receive remittances from workers abroad

The money that temporary migrant workers send to support their families in their home countries is known as remittances.[51] According to recent estimates from the World Bank, global remittances reached $589 billion in 2021.[52] While both developed and developing nations benefit from remittances,[53] developing countries’ economies heavily rely on them. [54]

For instance, Mexico — the third-largest remittance-receiving country in the world — received $51.6 billion in remittances in 2021, which represented 4% of its GDP.[55] Other countries with smaller economies are even more dependent on remittances. For example, El Salvador received $5.9 billion in remittances in 2020, representing 24% of its GDP.[56] Remittances are a key benefit to source countries entering into BLAs.

Tackle national unemployment and address overqualification of workers

Source countries often enter into BLAs in times of excess unemployment, particularly when a significant pool of workers is overqualified for the existing domestic workforce opportunities.[57] Just as in bilateral trade agreements where a country agrees to sell excess production of a good to a country that does not produce enough of that good, BLAs channel excess workers with particularized skills to host countries that need them.[58] In source countries with a shortage of opportunities for qualified workers in key sectors, BLAs provide a useful channel allowing those excess workers to find more and better legal opportunities to work abroad, fulfilling their full potential.

Capitalize on the new skills of returning workers

Source countries also benefit through the additional skills returning workers have picked up abroad. From working temporarily in host countries, returning workers bring new perspectives, ideas, and skills back to their countries of origin. In addition, these workers gain valuable perspective from being immersed in new cultures, improving their ability to solve problems and work creatively.[59]

While source countries stand to gain by exporting excess workers who lack opportunities, as well as through the skills and experiences of returning workers, “brain drain,” represents a potential problem. “Brain drain,” which can be described as “the process in which a country loses its most educated and talented workers to other countries through migration,”[60] is a real threat to source countries. The temporary nature of BLAs and their prevalence in times of high unemployment do help mitigate this concern, but sending away highly-skilled and competent workers is always a valid concern.[61] Accordingly, source countries must properly evaluate how BLAs impact their workforce, paying attention to converting “brain drain” into wisdom gain.


Bilateral labor agreements are useful options for host countries to solve labor shortages, manage the irregular flow of migrants, control the qualifications of workers needed in their domestic labor markets, and solidify their diplomatic presence. They also provide useful benefits for source countries.

Although utilized sporadically by U.S. policymakers, BLAs have proven effective in responding to economic needs and filling important labor force gaps. Recent U.S. labor shortages highlight that BLAs can be valuable alternatives in filling workforce needs. With partner countries in the region, like Mexico, expressing interest in starting BLA negotiations with the United States, the U.S. government should consider entering into additional mutually beneficial arrangements allowing temporary international workers to fill essential workforce needs.

[1] The White House Briefing Room, President Biden and President Lopez Obrador Joint Statement, July 12, 2022. Available at

[2] The White House, President Biden Holds a Bilateral Meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, July 12, 2022. Available at

[3]Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Carta del presidente López Obrador al presidente de Estados Unidos, Joseph Biden, September 20, 2021. Available at Subsequent to the letter, both presidents have agreed to enhance collaborative efforts to address irregular migration. They have also discussed the importance of working together with countries throughout the hemisphere to address root causes of migration, ensure safe and sustainable livelihoods for their respective citizens, and expand legal pathways for migrants and refugees.

[4] The White House, President Biden Holds a Bilateral Meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, July 12, 2022. Available at

[5] The White House, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Available at

[6] The White House, President Biden Holds a Bilateral Meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, July 12, 2022. Available at

[7] In recent years, remittances have become a critical pillar of the Mexican economy. Mexico is the third-largest remittance-receiving country in the world. In 2021, it received $51.6 billion in remittances, which represented 4% of its GDP. See Jazmin Aguilar Rangel, Remittances in Mexico Reach a Historic High, Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, March 15, 2022.

[8] After the meeting, both countries reached six migration-related non-binding agreements: 1) The United States and Mexico promised to launch a bilateral working group on labor migration pathways and worker protections; 2) Both countries agreed to start a working group to strengthen their response to cross-border child migration; 3) The U.S. will invest $3.4 billion in 26 construction and modernization projects at land ports of entry on the northern and southern border; 4) Mexico promised to invest $1.5 billion in border infrastructure between 2022 and 2024; 5) Both countries pledged to improve economic and social conditions throughout the Americas to tackle the root causes of migration; and 6) The U.S. promised to continue its efforts to arrest and prosecute human smugglers through Operation Joint Task Force Alpha, while Mexico promised to do the same through its Attorney General’s Office.

[9] Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico-US dialogue on labor mobility advances, June 24, 2022. Available at

[10] Philip Martin, A Look at H-2A Growth and Reform in 2021 and 2022, The Wilson Center, January 3, 2022. Available at,of%20H%2D2A%20visas%20issued.

[11] David J. Bier, H‑2A Visas for Agriculture: The Complex Process for Farmers to Hire Agricultural Guest Workers, CATO Institute, March 10, 2020. Available at

[12] The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 (H.R.1603), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support in 2021, would reform and modernize the H-2A program, among other changes. See also Danilo Zak, Bill Summary: Farm Workforce Modernization Act, National Immigration Forum, November 19, 2019. Available at

[13] U.S. Department of Agriculture: Economic Research Service, Farm Labor, August 18, 2021. Available at

[14] Sean Maddan, Claudia San Miguel, and Marcus Ynalvez, The Link Between Consumer Prices, Labor Costs, and Immigration in the U.S.: Bivariate Associations, Texas A&M, July 2022. Available at

[15] USCIS, Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants, May 31, 2022. Available at,30).

[16] Department of Homeland Security, Exercise of Time-Limited Authority To Increase the Fiscal Year 2022 Numerical Limitation for the H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program and Portability Flexibility for H-2B Workers Seeking To Change Employers, Federal Register, January 28, 2022. Available at

[17] USCIS, DHS and DOL Announce Availability of Additional H-2B Visas for Second Half of Fiscal Year, May 16, 2022. Available at

[18] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, June 1, 2022. Available at

[19] Michael E. Clemens et. al., Shared Border, Shared Future: A Blueprint to Regulate U.S.-Mexico Labor Mobility, Center for Global Development, 2016. Available at

[20] Michael E. Clemens et. al., Shared Border, Shared Future: A Blueprint to Regulate U.S.-Mexico Labor Mobility, Center for Global Development, 2016. Available at

[21] Michael E. Clemens et. al., Shared Border, Shared Future: A Blueprint to Regulate U.S.-Mexico Labor Mobility, Center for Global Development, 2016. Available at

[22] Jerry Garcia, Bracero Program, Oregon Encyclopedia, February 4, 2021. Available at

[23] Philip Martin, Mexican Braceros and US Farm Workers, The Wilson Center, July 10, 2020. Available at

[24] “An executive order called the Mexican Farm Labor Program established the Bracero Program in 1942. This series of diplomatic accords between Mexico and the United States permitted millions of Mexican men to work legally in the United States on short-term labor contracts.” Library of Congress, Bracero Program. Available at,on%20short%2Dterm%20labor%20contracts.

[25] Department of Labor, North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation: A Guide, October 2005. Available at

[26] Andrew Chatzky, James McBride, and Mohammed Aly Sergie, NAFTA and the USMCA: Weighing the Impact of North American Trade, Council on Foreign Relations, July 1, 2020. Available at

[27] USCIS, TN NAFTA Professionals, February 24, 2021. Available at

[28] The qualifying professions are accountant, architect, computer systems analyst, disaster relief insurance claim adjuster, economist, engineer, forester, graphic designer, hotel manager, industrial designer, interior designer, land surveyor, landscape architect, lawyer, librarian, management consultant, mathematician, range manager, scientific technician, social worker, silviculturist, technical publications writer, urban planner, vocational counselor, medical professional, dentist, dietitian, medical laboratory technologist, nutritionist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, physician, physiotherapist, psychologist, recreational therapist, registered nurse, veterinarian, agriculturist, animal breeder, animal scientist, apiculturist, astronomer, biochemist, biologist, chemist, dairy scientist, entomologist, epidemiologist, geneticist, geochemist, geologist, geophysicist, horticulturist, meteorologist, pharmacologist, physicist, plant breeder, poultry scientist, soil scientist, zoologist, college teacher, seminary teacher, and university teacher. USMCA, 8 CFR § 214.6 Canadian and Mexican citizens seeking temporary entry to engage in business activities at a professional level. Available at

[29] Bill Chappell, USMCA: Trump Signs New Trade Agreement With Mexico And Canada To Replace NAFTA, called USMCA, NPR, November 30, 2018. Available at

[30] USMCA, Article 23.2: Statement of Shared Commitments.

[31] USMCA, Article 23.3: Labor Rights. Available at FTA/USMCA/Text/23-Labor.pdf

[32] USMCA, Article 23.4: Non-Derogation

[33] Boundless, Everything Employers Need to Know About the TN Visa, May 25, 2021. Available at

[34] Congressional Research Service (CRS), Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Categories: Data Brief, July 11, 2022. Available at

[35] Arturo Castellanos Canales, America’s Labor Shortage: How Low Immigration Levels Accentuated the Problem and How Immigration Can Fix It, National Immigration Forum, February 28, 2022. Available at

[36] Dan Kosten, Home Health Care Workers: Immigrants Can Help Care for an Aging U.S. Population, National Immigration Forum, May 29, 2021. Available at

[37] Margaret E Peters, Immigration and International Law, International Studies Quarterly, Volume 63, Issue 2, June 2019, Pages 281–295. Available at

[38] Philipp Engler, Margaux MacDonald, Roberto Piazza, and Galen Sher, Migration to Advanced Economies Can Raise Growth, International Monetary Fund, June 19, 2020. Available at

[39] Marie McAuliffe, 5 Charts that Bust Some Myths About Migration, World Economic Forum, February 1, 2020. Available at

[40] Arturo Castellanos Canales, Forum Statement for the Record – Immigrant Farmworkers Are Essential to Feeding America, National Immigration Forum, July 21, 2021. Available at

[41] National Immigration Forum, Remaking USCIS: Supplementing a Fee-Funded Agency, April 8, 2022. Available at

[42] Arturo Castellanos Canales, America’s Labor Shortage: How Low Immigration Levels Accentuated the Problem and How Immigration Can Fix It, National Immigration Forum, February 28, 2022. Available at

[43] Refugee Processing Center, Refugee Admissions Report as of April 30, 2022, May 5, 2022. Available at

[44] UNHCR, World Refugee Day events held as displacement tops 100 million, June 20, 2022. Available at

[45] International Organization for Migration (IOM), Latest Migrant Tragedy in Texas Highlights Crisis Along Deadliest Migration Land Route, July 1, 2022. Available at

[46] According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), CBP agents tend to undercount immigrant deaths, with the number of people dying likely twice as high as has been reported. See U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), CBP Should Improve Data Collection, Reporting, and Evaluation for the Missing Migrant Program, April 20, 2022. Available at

[47] Catherine E. Shoichet and Priscilla Alvarez, Migrants are taking more risks to reach the US, CNN, June 29, 2022. Available at

[48] John A. Condon, Acting Assistant Director, International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, ICE, Statement during the House Committee on Homeland Security Hearing on DHS’s Efforts to Disrupt Transnational Criminal Organizations in Central America, July 28, 2021. Available at

[49] American Immigration Council, Rising Border Encounters in 2021: An Overview and Analysis, March 4, 2022. Available at

[50] Diana Roy, China’s Growing Influence in Latin America, Council on Foreign Relations, April 12, 2022. Available at’s,whole%2C%20after%20the%20United%20States.&text=Latin%20American%20exports%20to%20China,to%20drive%20its%20industrial%20development.

[51] Dilip Ratha, Economics in Action: What are Remittances?, International Monetary Fund, 2020. Available at,income%20for%20many%20developing%20economies.

[52] Dilip Ratha, Global Remittance Flows in 2021: A Year of Recovery and Surprises, World Bank Blog, November 17, 2021. Available at,higher%20than%20foreign%20direct%20investment.

[53] In 2020, India, China, Mexico, Philippines, Egypt, Pakistan, France, Bangladesh, Germany and Nigeria made the top ten remittance-receiving countries.

[54] Niall McCarthy, These countries are the world’s top remittance recipients, World Economic Forum, May 19, 2021.,%24548%20billion%20(%2D1.6%20percent).

[55] Jazmin Aguilar Rangel, Remittances in Mexico Reach a Historic High, Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, March 15, 2022.

[56] The World Bank, El Salvador: Remittances, percent of GDP. Available at,174%20countries%20is%205.15%20percent.

[57] Adam S. Chilton and Eric Posner, Why Countries Sign Bilateral Labor Agreements, Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics, University of Chicago, 2017. Available at

[58] In May 2022, Mexico and Cuba signed a bilateral labor agreement. Cuba, one of the countries with the highest number of doctors per capita (9 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants) will send doctors to Mexico. A decade ago, Cuba also entered into a similar agreement with Venezuela in exchange for oil. See

[59] Brock MJ, Fowler LB, Freeman JG, Richardson DC, Barnes LJ. Cultural Immersion in the Education of Healthcare Professionals: A Systematic Review. J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2019;16:4. doi:10.3352/jeehp.2019.16.4

[60] Joseph Shinn, What is Brain Drain in Economics? – Definition, Causes, Effects & Examples, Study. Available at

[61] Dodani S, LaPorte RE. Brain drain from developing countries: how can brain drain be converted into wisdom gain?. J R Soc Med. 2005;98(11):487-491. doi:10.1258/jrsm.98.11.487


Author: Arturo Castellanos-Canales

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