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Irregular Migration

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    Cultivating Hope

    A story of hope for Vicenta and her two sons, and how USAID is improving the lives of farmers through Coffee Value Chains in Guatemala. Read the story

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USAID advances Guatemala’s self-reliance by focusing on indigenous peoples, women, and youth to address a lack of economic opportunity, insecurity, and inadequate access to basic services, enabling them to achieve prosperous, secure, and dignified lives at home in Guatemala.

Circular graphic depicting three pillars of countering migration, and their supporting activities

To Achieve Prosperous, Secure, and Dignified Lives in Guatemala


USAID partners with the Government to improve justice and security by strengthening community resilience, address corruption, and improve transparency and accountability.

  • Justice Services
  • Fight Human Smuggling
  • Transparency & Accountability
  • Protect the Environment
  • Community Resilience


USAID partners with the Government and the private sector to increase economic prosperity, inclusion, and stability.

  • Develop Value Chains
  • Infrastructure Investments
  • Sustainable Land Use
  • SME Development
  • Business Environment


USAID partners with the Government, Civil Society, and the private sector to strengthen governance, improve service delivery of public services, and increase civic participation in government.

  • Citizen Participation
  • Tax Collection & Accountability
  • Service Delivery

Graphs of Guatemala demographic information and a map identifying the majority of relevant activities are in Guatemala's Western Highlands

Guatemala Snapshot

Guatemala has high levels of violence, insecurity, and inequality which contribute to high levels of poverty, crime, and some of the lowest social development indicators in Latin America. Guatemala also has the youngest population in Latin America, a group that in its vast majority has insufficient training and job opportunities.

  • Population: 17,915,568
    • 54 percent rural
    • 46 percent urban
  • Gender:
    • 52 percent female
    • 48 percent male
  • Age:
    • 62 percent under 30
    • 38 percent over 30
  • Languages:
    • 30 percent Mayan
    • 70 percent Spanish

Profile of a Returnee

Graphic of returnee profile info

  • Gender:
    • 83 percent male
    • 17 percent female
  • Age:
    • 95 percent over 17
    • 5 percent under 17
  • Are vulnerable to crime and violence
  • Stopped their formal education after elementary school
  • High percentage come from the Western Highlands
  • 58 percent use a coyote to illegally cross the border
  • Have made multiple attempts to cross the border
  • Do not have a fixed or stable employment

Top Drivers of Irregular Immigration in Guatemala

Graphic identifying drivers of immigration with supporting data points

  • Lack of Economic Opportunities:
    • 59 percent of Guatemalans live below the poverty line.
    • 77 percent who intend to migrate do so in search of economic opportunities.
  • Extortion:
    • 43 percent of reported extortions are in high migration areas.
    • 54 percent higher intention to migrate among victims of extortion.
  • Crime & Violence:
    • 45 percent of Guatemalans cite insecurity as the most serious problem in the country.
    • 48 percent higher rate of migration among victims of crime.
  • Corruption:
    • 61 percent of Guatemalans feel there is widespread corruption among public officials.
    • 83 percent higher intention to migrate among victims of corruption.

Last updated: July 15, 2021

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