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Speaker Series on Migration in Latin America

With regional migrants doubling over the last decade, experts discussed intra-regional policy & programmatic solutions.

The Series features talks by distinguished scholars and policymakers with the goal of fostering discussions about successes and challenges in the field of poverty alleviation.

Event Details:

Thursday, February 15, 2024
5:00pm - 6:00pm PST


Gunn SIEPR Building


This event is open to:

General Public

No single region has experienced a greater relative increase in migration than Latin America and the Caribbean over the last decade. The number of migrants living in the region nearly doubled from 8.3 million in 2010 to 16.3 million in 2022. 

Migratory flows have been changing—driven by environmental, social, and political factors—posing challenges for governments and host communities. However, could such changing patterns also generate opportunities for the region's development?

Michael Clemens of George Mason University, Felipe Muñoz of the Inter-American Development Bank and Margaret Spears of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), discussed how different countries and international organizations approach migration issues and what challenges are faced in policy formulation and implementation. The discussion was moderated by Beatriz Magaloni, Faculty Affiliate of the King Center on Global Development. The dialogue also explored the role of regional cooperation in managing migration flows, explaining how safe legal pathways are established. Speakers also addressed the economic aspects of migration, examining both the challenges and opportunities it presents.

4:30 PM–5:00 PM: Registration check-in & reception
5:00 PM–6:00 PM: Panel discussion with Michael Clemens, Felipe Muñoz, and Margaret Spears; Q&A moderated by Beatriz Magaloni

Suggested readings:
The Real Root Causes of America’s Border Crisis
R4V Movement Report July–September 2023 
R4V Report on Venezuelan Migrants in November 2023
U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America
USAID Slides

About the Panelists:

Michael Clemens, Professor at George Mason University

Michael Clemens

Michael Clemens, a Professor in the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics since 2023, studies the economic causes and effects of migration all over the world.

For 20 years prior he built the research program on international migration at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC. He is also affiliated with the IZA Institute of Labor Economics in Bonn, Germany; the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration in the department of economics at University College London; and the Center for Global Development.

Felipe Muñoz, Migration Unit Chief at the Inter-American Development Bank

Felipe Muñoz

Felipe Muñoz leads the Migration Unit at the Inter-American Development Bank where he coordinates the banks' credit operations, technical cooperation projects, and knowledge production to support its member countries' efforts to transform migration challenges into development opportunities. 

Previous to his designation as Migration Unit Chief, he was the Presidential Advisor for the Border between Colombia and Venezuela to the President of Colombia where he coordinated the government response to the migratory flow from Venezuela at the national and local levels, as well as the related efforts of donors, international actors and organizations of civil society.

He has also served as Senior Advisor to the Board of Executive Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank and held various positions in the public administration in Colombia at the national and local level. He is a graduate of the Universidad Externado de Colombia, where he obtained a degree in Finance and International Relations, and the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, where he obtained a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

Margaret Spears, Deputy Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development

Margaret Spears

Margaret Spears is Deputy Assistant Administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), leading efforts to tackle the root causes of migration, integrate migrants into host communities, and facilitate expanded access to lawful migration pathways. 

As a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ms. Spears has held various leadership positions throughout USAID. She has served as: Deputy Mission Director and Acting Mission Director in Amman, Jordan from 2019-2023; USAID/Mexico Deputy Mission Director in Mexico City from 2015-2019;  as well as serving as Director for the Bureau of Food Security as well as for USAID in Colombia and Bolivia. 

Before joining USAID in 2002, Ms. Spears worked at the U.S. Department of State on trade policy and programs. Previous positions include work in finance and microenterprise at the World Bank, Catholic Relief Services, and as a Senior Research Analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

About the Moderator:

Beatriz Magaloni, Faculty Affiliate at the King Center on Global Development

Beatriz Magaloni-Kerpel

Beatriz Magaloni is a professor of political science at Stanford University. She is a faculty affiliate of the King Center on Global Development and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute. She is the founding director of the Poverty, Violence and Governance Lab, which aims to generate knowledge about effective methods of controlling violence, improve the functioning and accountability of security institutions, restraining human rights abuses, and increasing opportunities for at-risk youth.

In addition to her work with the Poverty, Violence, and Governance Lab, Professor Magaloni is the author of the award-winning book, Voting for Autocracy, and a co-author of The Political Logic of Poverty Relief: Electoral Strategies and Social Policy in Mexico.

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