Towards a typology of social protection for migrants and refugees in Latin America during the COVID‑19 pandemic

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The COVID-19 health crisis has put to the test Latin America’s already precarious social protection systems. This paper comparatively examines what type of social protection has been provided, by whom, and to what extent migrant and refugee populations have been included in these programmes in seven countries of the region during the COVID-19 pandemic, between March and December 2020. We develop a typology of models of social protection highlighting the assemblages of actors, different modes of protection and the emerging migrants’ subjectifcation in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay in relation to Non-Contributory Social Transfer (NCST) programmes and other actions undertaken by state and non-state actors. The analysis is based on 85 semi-structured interviews with representatives of national and local governments, International Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, and migrant-led organisations across 16 cities, and a systematic review of regulatory frameworks in the country-case studies. The proposed typology shows broad heterogeneity and complexity regarding different degrees of inclusion of migrant and refugee populations, particularly in pre-existing and new NCST programmes. These actions are furthering notions of migrant protection that are contingent and crisis-driven, imposing temporal limitations that often selectively exclude migrants based on legal status. It also brings to the fore the path-dependent nature of policies and practices of exclusion/inclusion in the region, which impact on migrants’ efective access to social and economic rights, while shaping the broader dynamics of migration governance in the region.

  • Protection
  • México
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Uruguay
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Situation Reports
22 November 21
22 November 21
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