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Migration News Brief 6.26.20

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A compilation of recent top articles and reports related to issues of U.S. immigration and enforcement policy and migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs:lalvarez@lawg.org.

COVID-19

General

COVID-19 cases triple in Latin America in only a month
Laura Gamba, Anadolu Agency, June 25, 2020
“Since last month, cases have tripled in Latin America and the Caribbean from nearly 690,000 on May 23 to more than 2 million, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne said Wednesday.”

Latin American Presidents, IMF and IDB discuss how to deal with the effects of pandemic
The Tico Times, June 24, 2020
“Sources close to the meeting indicated the group wants to publish a non-binding statement, which will be “an appeal to international financial institutions” to articulate a “novel” mechanism with which to face the effects of the pandemic in the region, which has been severely impacted.”

Los gobiernos hablan, el crimen dispone
José Luis Pardo Veiras, Alejandra Sánchez Inzunza, The New York Times, 22 de junio de 2020
“Estos episodios muestran que, en América Latina, lo más probable es que la nueva normalidad sea una versión empeorada de la cruda normalidad antes del coronavirus. Que la crisis contraiga el tamaño y alcance de unos Estados siempre frágiles. Que haya más pobres y una brecha todavía más grande entre ellos y los ricos. Que el miedo a la incertidumbre genere más represión.”

Latin America’s Virus Villains: Corrupt Officials Collude With Price Gougers for Body Bags and Flimsy Masks
Natalie Kitroeff, Mitra Taj, The New York Times, June 20, 2020
“Dozens of public officials and local entrepreneurs stand accused of exploiting the crisis for personal enrichment by peddling influence to price-gouge hospitals and governments for medical supplies, including masks, sanitizer and ventilators. Some of the gear was so flawed that it was rendered useless — and may have contributed to even more sickness and death.”

United States

U.S. Fails to Prevent Deportation of Migrants Infected With Covid-19, Guatemalan Officials Say
Juan Montes, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2020
“Guatemalan officials see deportations from the U.S., which has been hit by the pandemic with more than two million Covid-19 cases, as one of the main potential sources of contagion in the country. The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in Guatemala and Central America, despite strict lockdowns implemented in most countries.”

6 Guatemalans deported from US test positive for COVID-19
Sonia Pérez, Associated Press, June 23, 2020
“Guatemala has temporarily suspended the deportation flights multiple times since the pandemic began in order to pressure the U.S. to better screen deportees for the disease. The U.S. began testing each deportee prior to putting them on planes and sending a medical certification with them. However, deportees have still tested positive.”

Isolated and afraid, detained migrant kids worry about virus
Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press, June 23, 2020
“The isolation of at least three families at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center in Dilley, Texas, has raised new fears of the coronavirus spreading through a facility that has long been accused of providing substandard medical care. ICE confirmed it had isolated the families but denied that they had not had access to toys.”

U.S. Reps. Sylvia Garcia, Joaquin Castro call on ICE to release migrants in immigration detention centers as coronavirus cases surge
Stacy Fernández, Texas Tribune, June 22, 2020
“As cases surge in Texas and the pandemic rages on, the representatives said ICE should release all detainees who are not a safety risk and who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus. ‘The conditions are bad. These people are living in a petri dish,’ said Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which hosted the call.”

El Salvador

El Salvador rompe su récord de contagios de COVID-19 al comienzo de la desescalada
EFE, 19 de junio de 2020
“Según cifras actualizadas este jueves por el Ministerio de Salud, el martes se confirmaron 125 casos y el miércoles se sumaron 134, la cifra más alta desde el 18 de marzo pasado, cuando se dio a conocer el primer contagio en este país, en el que sus habitantes estuvieron más de 80 días en cuarentena domiciliar obligatoria.”

El Salvador arranca con la primera fase de reactivación económica
República, 17 de junio de 2020
“La primera fase estipula la reactivación de sectores como la construcción, manufactura textil y electrónica, industria aeronáutica, puertos marítimos, servicios médicos, entre otros. De acuerdo con información oficial, el sector informal o trabajadores por ‘cuenta propia’ no están incluidos formalmente ni tampoco se les menciona en el resto de fases.”

Guatemala

Nuevo récord, 771 nuevos casos de Covid-19 en Guatemala
Edgar Quiñonez, República, 23 de junio de 2020
Guatemala registró este martes 23 de junio, 771 nuevos casos de Covid-19. Esta es la cifra más alta desde que las autoridades contabilizaron el primer caso positivo de coronavirus en el país, el pasado 13 de marzo.”

Guatemala replaces health minister mid-pandemic
Sonia Pérez, Associated Press, June 19, 2020
“Guatemala replaced its health minister Friday amid the rising pace of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the Central American country. President Alejandro Giammattei pushed out Health Minister Hugo Monroy and named Amelia Flores, a former vice minister of health in an earlier administration, as his replacement.”

Honduras

Empleos perdidos y violaciones laborales: la crisis desatendida por el gobierno de Honduras
Allan Bu, Contra Corriente, 24 de Junio, 2020
“Las pocas acciones del gobierno para sostener la economía hondureña no han beneficiado a los trabajadores y trabajadoras, en cambio el estado de emergencia ha dado oportunidad para que muchas empresas violen los derechos laborales, ante la mirada inoperante de los entes encargados de tutelarlos. Con la pérdida de empleos y la falta de oportunidades muchos hondureños y hondureñas esperan la oportunidad para abandonar el país”.

Corrupción y negligencia, el manejo de Covid-19 en Honduras
Radio Progreso, 23 de junio de 2020
“Honduras ha superado los 11 mil casos de COVID-19, con casi 400 muertes. La enfermedad avanza a pasos agigantados en este país centroamericano que cuenta con más de 9 millones de habitantes, en el que la pobreza, la desigualdad, la violencia y la corrupción son sus principales insignias”.

It’s Not Just Covid That Has Hondurans Starving. It’s Also U.S. Policy.
Megan Krausch, In These Times, June 22, 2020
“The spread of Covid-19 is terrifying in Honduras, where the healthcare system has been decimated bycorruption anddefunding. But when I talked to contacts in Honduras, the first concern on their mind was hunger. Honduran human rights lawyer Prisila Alvarado Euceda tells me “at this point,” people in Honduras are ‘suffering a famine.’”

Alto Comisionado preocupado por aumento de contagios por COVID en cárceles de Honduras
Proceso Digital, 19 de junio de 2020
“La Oficina del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos en Honduras (OACNUDH) expresó este viernes su preocupación por los crecientes contagios de COVID-19 en las cárceles de todo el país. ‘OACNUDH expresa su preocupación por la salud, la vida e integridad de las personas privadas de la libertad en el país ante el incremento de casos confirmados y sospechosos de COVID-19’, expresa inicialmente una publicación hecha por la oficina Naciones Unidas en su cuenta oficial de Twitter”.

Honduras’ president hospitalized with COVID-19 as Latin America becomes virus ‘epicenter’
Carmen Sesin, NBC News, June 17, 2020
“The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, was hospitalized for pneumonia on Wednesday, after revealing the previous day that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors determined he had pneumonia after reviewing lab work and x-rays and recommended he be hospitalized, according to a spokesperson for the Honduran health agency SINAGER.”

Mexico

Mexico’s Central de Abasto: How coronavirus tore through Latin America’s largest market
Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post, June 21, 2020
“The tomato aisle at Mexico City’s famed Central de Abasto market offers a glimpse into why the virus has hit the country so hard. It scythed its way through the sprawling complex, picking off workers made vulnerable by the problems of poverty: chronic illnesses, distrust of government, a need to keep earning money.”

U.S. Enforcement

Trump Moves to Temporarily Suspend New H-1B, Other Visas Amid Covid-19 Pandemic
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2020
“The restrictions, which are set to take effect June 24 and last through the end of the year, will prevent hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who were expected to rely on the visas to work in industries ranging from tech and consulting to landscaping and seasonal jobs at resorts. Administration officials say the move will safeguard jobs for unemployed Americans as the economy sputters—and joblessness has soared—because of lockdowns designed to contain the pandemic.”

The White House Is Quietly Deporting Children
Maria Woltjen, The New York Times, June 22, 2020
“So far, Border Patrol agents, who have not been trained on how to ask for or evaluate testimony, have turned back more than 2,000 children, either sending them back over the bridge to Mexico, or putting them on Immigration and Customs Enforcement flights back to their home country.”

Hundreds of Rights Leaders Demand US End Haiti Deportations
Chantal da Silva, Newsweek, June 19, 2020
“Signed by more than 300 human rights and racial justice leaders, including Black Live Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, Reverend Jesse Jackson, author Ibram X. Kendi and celebrity activists Danny Glover, Rainn Wilson and Susan Sarandon, the letter warns that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s deportation flights risk wreaking havoc on Haiti’s healthcare system.”

The True Costs of Deportation
Julia Preston, The Marshall Project, June 18, 2020
“Trump has broadened the targets of deportation to include many immigrants with no serious criminal records. While the benefits to communities from these removals are unclear, the costs—to devastated American families and to the public purse—are coming into focus. The hardships for the families have only deepened with the economic strains of the coronavirus.”

Securus Technologies Is Cashing in on Immigrant Detention
Garrett Hazelwood, Vice News, June 12, 2020
“Not only is Securus exploiting the country’s growing population of immigrant prisoners for profit, but through commissions it pays back to the facilities it operates in, the company also creates financial incentives for jails to increase both the number of people they incarcerate and the amount of time immigrant prisoners remain locked up. By harvesting the communications data of ICE prisoners, Securus also sells local law enforcement several powerful tools for tracking and identifying prisoners’ families and friends.”

Immigrant Rights Groups Say ICE Is Spraying Dangerous Chemicals on Prisoners During Pandemic
Democracy Now, June 9, 2020
“In immigration news, a complaint filed by two immigrant rights groups accuses Immigration and Customs Enforcement of spraying a likely hazardous coronavirus disinfectant over 50 times a day at the Adelanto Detention Center in California, in poorly ventilated and crowded areas. Prisoners there have reported nosebleeds, fainting, headaches, stomach pain and a burning sensation in their skin after coming into contact with the chemical.’

Mexican Enforcement

Urgente dar atención a migrantes ante contagios por COVID-19: ACNUR
Gerardo Valdivieso Parada, NVI Noticias, 22 de junio de 2020
“No obstante, destacó la importancia de que México haya considerado el acceso al asilo como una actividad esencial y que en consecuencia la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar), sigue recibiendo solicitudes de asilo durante la contingencia.”

Reconoce la ACNUR a México por atención a refugiados
Vanguardia MX, 21 de junio de 2020
“De acuerdo con el informe de la ACNUR ‘Tendencias globales. Desplazamiento Forzado en 2019’, el más importante en la materia, dicha agencia reconoce a la Secretaría de Gobernación, a través de la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar), por los procedimientos aplicados. De esta forma indica que México se consolida como país de asilo, al posicionarse en el octavo lugar mundial en número de solicitantes de la condición de refugiado.”

Cifra de refugiados “se ha disparado enormemente”: Comar
Fabiola Martínez, La Jornada, 20 de junio de 2020
“De mil 296 personas que solicitaron esta condición en 2013, el 2019 cerró con más de 70 mil. En el primer tercio de 2020 el incremento fue de 34 por ciento respecto al mismo periodo del año anterior. Por tanto, añadió, se hace un llamado al pueblo de México para que sea solidario, comprensivo y tenga empatía con la población que ha sido víctima de situaciones de represión, violencia generalizada, violación de derechos humanos y que se ven obligados a abandonar su país.”

Root Causes

Contradictory signals undermine U.S. credibility in Honduras and Central America
Eric L. Olson, Univision, June 24, 2020
“An innocuous sounding tweet last month from the U.S. Embassy in Honduras congratulating the government on an amended ‘aerial sovereignty law’ barely registered in either country. But this law, combined with revelations published by Univision on June 15 th about alleged senior Honduran government involvement in cocaine trafficking, including the Honduran President – Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) – should set our hair on fire. The President denies any involvement in the scheme.”

Estados Unidos aportará $ 252 millones adicionales a Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador
Proceso Digital, 24 de junio de 2020
“La administración del presidente Donald Trump ha pedido a estas naciones controlar más los flujos migratorios para impedir que lleguen a suelo norteamericano y para ello ha suscrito acuerdos bilaterales con las tres naciones, además con México, sitio obligado de paso de los centroamericanos.”

Mes del orgullo Gay es opacado por la impunidad para las agresiones de la comunidad LGTBI
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 23 de junio de 2020
“La defensora del movimiento LGTBI y mujer Trans, tuvo que desplazarse forzadamente de la ciudad de Tegucigalpa por hostigamiento hacia La paz, en la zona central de Honduras, donde tres desconocidos ingresaron a su hogar y la agredieron supuestamente para robarle, por lo que manifestó que siente temor porque no hay una respuesta de las autoridades debido a que argumentan que no pueden identificar a los agresores.”

Will Top US Prosecutor’s Ousting Impact Latin America Drug Cases?
Parker Asmann, Insight Crime, June 20, 2020
“During his tenure, US Attorney Berman has indicted Latin American elites across the political spectrum who have facilitated and benefited from drug trafficking to the United States. Berman spearheaded the prosecution of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, who was ultimately convicted of drug trafficking  in October 2019.”

The Origins of Racism in Guatemala — An Interview with Marta Elena Casaús Arzú on Anti-Indigenous Racism
Carlos Arrazola y Simone Dalmasso, El Faro, June 19, 2020
“Every country in Latin America suffered the process of conquest and colonization, which was justified by a racial ideology, by segregation. But in Guatemala, for reasons I still don’t understand, the population became immediately divided into Indigenous and Ladino (non-indigenous Guatemalans)—the mestizo was never part of the national project or the project of the colony. Francisco Marroquín (Guatemala’s first Bishop and provisional governor), for example, always denied the existence of the mestizo.”

The Bukele Clan that Rules with Nayib
Jimmy Alvarado, Gabriel Labrador, Sergio Arauz, El Faro, June 17, 2020
“Although there are 16 appointed ministers, six presidential secretaries and three commissioners, numerous sources consulted by El Faro confirm that the Bukele Ortez brothers are sometimes the only ones involved in important government decisions. They also note that a hierarchy exists even within this small leadership group. The president and Karim are the strategists who define the direction of the presidency. Yusef and Ibrajim are advisors who gather information and have their brother’s ear. Since they don’t have official government positions, none are subject to any laws regulating public employee accountability.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
United Nations Human Rights Council, May 15, 2020

“The Working Group observed the absence of a robust regulatory and institutional
framework to protect against business-related human rights abuses and to provide access to
effective remedy, in a context in which development projects and investments appear to have
outpaced the protection of people and the environment. It observed that the lack of
accountability for harm caused by businesses is often compounded by attacks, harassment
and intimidation against those who speak out against abuses and demand accountability for
victims, which in turn have fuelled social conflicts and lack of trust in State institutions, with
long-lasting negative repercussions on local communities, businesses and investors.”

Family Separation Is Not Over
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, June 25, 2020
“Today, under the pretense of protecting public health, the border is closed and nearly no children are allowed in. Some families continue to wait in the Remain in Mexico program, which the government ironically calls the Migrant Protection Protocols. The program forces families seeking protection at the U.S. border to wait in Mexico for decisions on their immigration proceedings. Since the policy began in January 2019, nearly 60,000 people have been trapped in appalling conditions at the border. Others–including unaccompanied children–have been put on ICE flights and deported, in violation of federal law.”

Migrant Protection Protocols: Implementation and Consequences for Asylum Seekers in Mexico
The Strauss Center, May 2020

Fleeting Success: The Legacy of Honduras’ International Anti-Corruption Mission
Charles Call, Social Science Research Network, June 2020
“This report draws conclusions about the legacy and lessons of MACCIH, analyzing the political, juridical, social, and institutional impact of the OAS Mission. The report considers the extent to which MACCIH has contributed to the fight against corruption and impunity. It assesses the Mission according to its mandate, but also seeks to understand its social and political significance for Honduran society. Finally, it analyzes MACCIH as an example of a particular type of tool of national and international decisionmakers – an international body created at the request of a national government to work in close collaboration with authorities and civil society in the realm of rule of law and anti-impunity.”

P.S. Do you know of someone who might be interested in receiving the Migrant News Brief? Tell them to email lalvarez@lawg.org