From Departure to Return: Understanding Migration Trends in Central America

by | Aug 30, 2023


Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are countries characterized by frequent migration and displacement of their citizens, who, in search of a promising future, embark on arduous journeys toward the United States and other high-income countries. 

Amidst the challenges and aspirations that drive people away from their homelands, different factors force many back to their roots.

Premise recently launched a survey in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, asking Contributors several questions assessing baseline trends around migration in their communities, such as how migration behaviors have changed within the last few months.

A primary goal of the survey was to understand whether any Premise Contributors had returned to their home countries after migrating elsewhere and if any of those returnees had been forcibly returned. Within 72 hours, we received over 800 submissions from the three countries.

Of those who had migrated to another country and subsequently returned home, 20% indicated they were not permitted to stay. The most common reason for returning home (29%) was for family reasons. 

Furthermore, the majority (56%) of Contributors noticed a moderate or significant increase in people leaving their community in the last six months. 

A follow-up Premise survey of the same Central American countries revealed that most migrants—or people who wish to migrate—to the United States do not have much knowledge of the country’s immigration policies. Misinformation in these communities can have different consequences, such as being forcibly returned or unable to cross the border, among others.

Out of all 800+ Contributors, 32% are aware of members of their community who were forcibly returned from a country to which they migrated. 

Understanding mixed migratory flow dynamics in places like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is pivotal for development and humanitarian organizations. By aligning their programs with returnees’ unique challenges and perspectives, these organizations can more effectively address their needs, foster sustainable progress, and contribute to a future of resilience and growth.

About Premise

Premise offers a unique ability to quickly source information from real people on the ground in hard-to-reach places. Over six million people in 141 countries use the Premise app on their smartphones, enabling our customers to monitor a situation over time and employ a data-driven approach to timely decision-making. Read more about how Premise can be used for international development and humanitarian aid work.