Migration News Brief For April 14, 2023

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The ZEDEs Law in Honduras: Sanctuary for Exploitation, Corruption, and Organized Crime – Latin America Working Group
Ana Pereyra Baron, Latin America Working Group
“What is a Zone for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDE)? Its supporters sell it as a chance for countries to attract investment and increase economic development. ZEDEs is a fancy term to cover up the fact that foreign investors can buy territory and hold complete control over a large portion of land within the state of Honduras. Yes, you read that right. This means the government of Honduras practically gives up its rights over that land.”

U.S. Enforcement

ICE Is Grabbing Data From Schools and Abortion Clinics | WIRED
WIRED, April 3, 2023
“US IMMIGRATION AND Customs Enforcement agents are using an obscure legal tool to demand data from elementary schools, news organizations, and abortion clinics in ways that, some experts say, may be illegal. While these administrative subpoenas, known as 1509 custom summonses, are meant to be used only in criminal investigations about illegal imports or unpaid customs duties, WIRED found that the agency has deployed them to seek records that seemingly have little or nothing to do with customs violations, according to legal experts and several recipients of the 1509 summonses.”

US to test expedited asylum screenings at Mexico border | AP News
Rebecca Santana and Elliot Spagat, AP News, April 7, 2023
“Migrants who enter the United States illegally will be screened by asylum officers while in custody under a limited experiment that provides them access to legal counsel, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday. The new approach will start with a tiny number of migrants next week. Officials said the trial run is part of preparations for the end of a pandemic-related rule expected on May 11 that has suspended rights to seek asylum for many.”

Advance Copy: USCIS and DOS Notice of Enhancements to the Central American Minors Program
American Immigration Lawyers Association, April 7, 2023
“Advance copy of USCIS and DOS notice of enhancements to the Central American Minors Program by, among other things, updating certain eligibility criteria for program access. The notice will be published in the Federal Register on 4/11/23. The program enhancements will be effective 4/11/23, with implementation to follow as operational updates are made to accord with the enhanced program, including required revisions to the DS-7699, Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) for Minors Who are Nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras, after a separate Federal Register notice to follow.”

Safety Net Barriers Add to Child Poverty in Immigrant Families – The New York Times
Jason DeParle, The New York Times, April 6, 2023
“Jacqueline Acevedo is a shy seventh grader who spends long hours at the Baptist church where her father serves as a volunteer pastor after earning a scant wage from his day job selling bread. Gabriel Garcia is a talkative 10-year-old whose mother is a chemist but drives for Uber and whose father squeezes grocery costs by posting receipts on the refrigerator door.”

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: Tragedy in Ciudad Juárez, thousands of “asylum ban” comments – WOLA
Adam Isacson, WOLA, March 31, 2023
“Organizations and individuals submitted over 50,000 public comments on the Biden administration’s draft rule banning asylum for most non-Mexican migrants who do not seek it in other countries along the way, or who do not opt for other narrow pathways. Below are links to dozens of organizational comments.”

Virtual wall: how the US plans to boost surveillance at the southern border
Hilary Beaumont, The Guardian, April 3, 2023
“A new map detailing the location of hundreds of surveillance towers is providing the most comprehensive public look yet at the growing virtual wall at the United States’ southern border. The map, published this month by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit focused on digital privacy, free speech and innovation, tallies more than 300 existing and 50 proposed surveillance towers along the US-Mexico border.”

GOP’s war on the cartels
Zachary Basu and Stef W. Kight, AXIOS, April 3, 2023
“Leading Republicans across the ideological spectrum are rallying behind an aggressive and controversial new approach to the fentanyl crisis: Bomb the cartels, with or without the permission of the Mexican government. Why it matters: The once-fringe idea, championed in private by former President Trump, is becoming a mainstream policy priority within the GOP — including among congressional Republicans and 2024 presidential candidates.”

Tom Cartwright, CAMigration Foreign Policy
“Over the last 12 months, all under President Biden, there have been a likely 8,218 ICE Air flight legs as compared to 4,845 in 2020, a startling, unexpected, and disappointing increase of 3,373 (70%) over 2020 and up 2,094 (34%) over 2021. Of these flights, 1,419 were removal flights, an increase of 410 (41%) over the 1,009 in 2020, and 370 (35%) over 2021. Shuffle flights, including lateral flights and those just moving people in the US to and between detention/deportation centers were 4,912 over the last 12 months, a staggering increase of 2,687 (121%) over the 2,225 in 2020, and up 1,253 (34%) over 2021. (pages 19,30,33,36).”

Mexico Enforcement 

Mexican president faces protest in Juárez over deadly fire at immigration center
Lauren Villagran, El Paso Times, March 31, 2023
“Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador faced a protest over a deadly fire at an immigration holding center when he arrived for a previously scheduled meeting with state officials. López Obrador arrived in Juárez at 1 p.m. Friday to meet with Chihuahua-based officials of his Banco Bienestar, a project he has been promoting to deliver “financial support, scholasships and pensions to the most vulnerable sectors,” according to a statement.”

Solalinde afirma que AMLO desaparecerá el Instituto de Migración
El Economista, 4 de abril de 2023
“El activista Alejandro Solalinde se reunió, la tarde de este martes, con el presidente de México Andrés Manuel López Obrador para abordar el tema de la creación de la Coordinación Nacional de Asuntos Migratorios y Extranjería, que sustituirá al Instituto Nacional de Migración”.

Mexico arrests 5 after deadly fire at migrant detention center | Reuters
Daina Beth Solomon and Raul Cortes, Reuters, March 31, 2023
“Five people have been arrested for alleged roles in the deaths of 39 people after a fire at a Mexican migrant detention center this week, authorities said Thursday, as pressure mounts to understand why victims appeared to be left in their cells as the area filled with smoke.”

Root Causes


Indigenous anti-mining activist found slain in Mexico – ABC News
ABC News, April 4, 2023
“An Indigenous anti-mining activist has been killed in a dangerous part of western Mexico, authorities confirmed Tuesday. The killing of Eustacio Alcalá comes just over two months after two other community anti-mining activists disappeared near where Acalá’s body was found. It reinforced Mexico’s reputation as the deadliest place in the world for environmental and land defense activists, according to a report by the nongovernmental group Global Witness, which said Mexico saw 54 activists killed in 2021.”

Migrantes se incorporan a trabajos en México mientras intentan cruzar a EEUU – San Diego Union-Tribune en Español
The San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 de marzo de 2023
“Migrantes, en su mayoría de origen venezolano, se incorporan a la vida laboral de la fronteriza Ciudad Juárez, en el norte de México, aunque mantienen su deseo de transitar hacia Estados Unidos.Esta situación ocurre en medio del apoyo de las autoridades locales en el norteño estado mexicano de Chihuahua y la presión porque se incorporen a la formalidad en la economía mexicana, al ser un lugar de paso en su éxodo hacia el ‘sueño americano’”.

La Sedena debe rendir cuentas sobre el espionaje realizado con Pegasus: Amnistía Internacional
Nayeli Roldán, Animal Politico, 3 de abril de 2023
“Las evidencias confirman que las Fuerzas Armadas siguen usando el software Pegasus para espiar a personas defensoras de derechos humanos y periodistas en el actual sexenio, lo cual no solo significa una violación a derechos humanos sino también una violación a la ley mexicana, advierte la directora ejecutiva de Amnistía Internacional en México (AI), Edith Olivares Ferreto.”

Mexican military accused of hindering probe of 43 missing students
Oscar Lopez and Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post, March 31, 2023
“International investigators seeking to wrap up an exhaustive investigation into Mexico’s biggest human-rights scandal — the disappearance of 43 students — said Friday that the military is obstructing their efforts at a crucial moment.”

México militariza sus playas
Alejandro Santos y Carmen Morán Brena, El País, 6 de abril de 2023
“Playas de arena blanca y agua azul turquesa, biquinis de diseño, bebidas frías, cuerpos bronceados por el sol y un desfile de ametralladoras y uniformes de camuflaje. La imagen tiene algo distópico, pero es la realidad estos días en las costas mexicanas. El contraste lo ilustra a la perfección una fotografía compartida por la gobernadora de Quintana Roo, Mara Lezama: dos soldados patrullan por una orilla en Cancún cargados con sendos fusiles, mientras, de fondo, una turista con bañador negro, sombrero del mismo color y un teléfono en la mano deja que las olas le mojen los tobillos”.

Deadly Attack Exposes Growing Threat in Mexico: the Military
Maria Abi-Habib and Galia García Palafox, The New York Times, April 6, 2023
“Gustavo Ángel Suárez Castillo, an American citizen from San Antonio, piled six friends, including two brothers, into his white pickup truck with Texas plates just before dawn, having spent the night celebrating the news that he was going to be a father. Suddenly, four vehicles filled with armed men began chasing and firing at them.”

Experts warn of new spyware threat targeting journalists and political figures | Hacking | The Guardian
Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, April 11, 2023
“Citizen Lab did not name the individuals who were found to have been targeted by clients using Reign. But it said that more than five victims – described as journalists, political opposition figures, and one employee of an NGO – were located in North America, Central Asia, south-east Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Citizen Lab also said it was able to detect operator locations for the spyware in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ghana, Israel, Mexico, Romania, Singapore, the UAE and Uzbekistan.”

María Herrera Magdaleno
Ciara Nugent, Time,  April 13, 2023
“Mexican activist María Herrera Magdaleno, 73, helps lead a thousands-strong movement that no one wants to join. Four of her eight children—Jesús Salvador, Raúl, Luis Armando, and Gustavo—have been missing for over a decade. They are among the more than 111,000 people currently missing in Mexico amid endemic violence sown by drug cartels. When Herrera’s appeal for help from the Mexican justice system bore little fruit—a common experience in a country where police lack the resources to deal with their massive caseload and are known to collude with organized-crime groups—she joined a movement of families taking the search into their own hands.”


Guatemalan Bishops decry violation of human rights in migrant centres – Vatican News
Linda Bordoni, Vatican News
“Reacting to comments issued by Mexican authorities who have pledged to deliver justice for the men killed in a fire at a migrant holding center in Ciudad Juarez this week, the Catholic Bishops of Guatemala cried out: ‘Enough with the euphemisms (…). Immigration stations are not shelters but detention centers where the human rights of people in forced mobility are violated.’”

Los defensores indígenas de la tierra en Guatemala están en “primera línea de fuego” | Internacional | EL PAÍS
Alejandro Santos CIS, El Pais, 31 de marzo de 2023
“​​Llueve sobre mojado en Guatemala. Un Estado culpable de cometer genocidio contra sus comunidades indígenas durante la guerra civil (1960-1996), según la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico, parece no haber aprendido de los errores del pasado. Los pueblos indígenas son criminalizados, desalojados y desplazados de sus tierras; despojados de sus recursos; empobrecidos drásticamente; víctimas de la “violencia de género y sexual, explotación laboral y violaciones al derecho de niñez y al derecho a la educación”, el hambre, la sed y la falta de acceso a la justicia; abandonados por un Gobierno “incapaz de impedir el uso de la fuerza y la violencia ilegítima” contra ellos”.

Resolución presentada en el Senado de EE.UU. llama a proteger a defensores ambientales – Prensa Comunitaria
Regina Pérez, Prensa Comunitaria, 30 de marzo de 2023
“Seis senadores y un miembro de la Cámara de Representantes de EE.UU. presentaron en el Senado de ese país una resolución que elogia la labor de los defensores ambientales en el mundo, incluyendo a la resistencia maya Q’eqchi’ de El Estor y llama a Estados Unidos a encabezar un liderazgo en contra de las violaciones a los derechos humanos y abusos hacia ellos”.

Identifican a migrante de Quetzaltenango entre fallecidos en Ciudad Juárez – Prensa Comunitaria
Shirlie Rodríguez, Prensa Comunitaria, 3 de abril de 2023
“La aldea Justo Rufino Barrios pertenece al municipio de Olintepeque y está situada a media hora de la cabecera departamental de Quetzaltenango. De este lugar son dos migrantes que decidieron ir a Estados Unidos, pero no lograron su objetivo. Uno de ellos falleció y el otro está hospitalizado. La familia de Cristian Alexander Ventura Sacalxot de 28 años, inicialmente, se enteró por las redes sociales que él era una de las víctimas mortales del incendio que ocurrió el pasado 27 de marzo en Ciudad Juárez, México. Ese momento fue impactante para ellos porque aún esperaban su comunicación tras haber salido de su hogar hace más de un mes”.

El Salvador

U.S. arrests retired Salvadoran officer implicated in atrocities | Reuters
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, April 6, 2023
“U.S. agents arrested a retired Salvadoran military officer this week on charges of participating in a brutal massacre of civilians during El Salvador’s grinding civil war in the 1980s, according to a statement on Thursday. Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained Roberto Garay on Tuesday in the state of New Jersey, the agency said. Garay served as section commander of a special military unit known as the Atlacatl Battalion from 1981 to 1985.”

A Year of Suspended Civil Liberties in El Salvador: When the Exception Becomes the Rule
WOLA, March 27, 2023
“One year ago, on March 27, 2022, after a wave of homicides, President Nayib Bukele summoned the Legislative Assembly to approve an emergency decree for 30 days with the intention of reducing gang-related violence. Since then, the Legislative branch has extended the state of emergency (or state of exception) 12 times, enabling the suspension of constitutional guarantees, leading to human rights abuses perpetrated by state security forces -including the military- and deepening corruption.”

El Salvador condemns staff at Mexican migrant center after deadly fire | Reuters
Reuters, March 29, 2023
“El Salvador condemned on Tuesday the action of detention center staff in Mexico during a fire that killed at least 38 migrants, including “several” Salvadorans, and demanded a thorough investigation.”

OAS panel urges El Salvador to restore suspended rights – ABC News
ABC News, April 12, 2023
“The Inter American Commission on Human Rights has called on El Salvador to restore all the rights suspended under an “emergency” anti-gang decree, which the government said Wednesday it wants to extend for yet another month. The commission, an arm of the Organization of American States, expressed concern about special powers to tap phones and detain people for extended periods. It also expressed concern about thousands of reported rights abuses, many related to arbitrary arrest.”


Sustainable Reintegration: A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Hondurans Returning Home | IOM Storyteller
IOM UN Migration, April 10, 2023
“Cofradía/Villanueva/Chamelecón, 10 April 2023 – “Due to the lack of job opportunities in Honduras, I decided to leave my town and my family to go abroad,” recalls Miguel Ayala, a Honduran migrant originally from Cofradía, in the north of the country. “Not knowing what awaited me, I became another victim on the migration route and lost both legs.” After the accident, Miguel returned to his town and, like many, faced reintegration challenges.”

Honduras to extend state of emergency, bring in military | National Post
National Post, March 31, 2023
“Honduras will again extend a suspension of constitutional guarantees and involve the military in a renewed drive to fight criminal groups operating extortions, drug trafficking and contract killings, presidential spokesperson Ivis Alvarado said.”

​​Libertad para Nolvia y justicia para Las Galileas. – IM-Defensoras
IM Defensoras, 28 de marzo de 2023
“El 26 de marzo, la Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras (RNDDH) nos encontramos con defensoras de la Empresa Campesina Las Galileas. Iniciando la jornada con una visita a la Granja Penal El Porvenir, en Atlántida, donde conversamos y ratificamos nuestro acuerpamiento a Nolvia Obando, defensora que ha sido criminalizada y privada de libertad injustamente por la defensa del derecho a la tierra y el territorio, a la alimentación y a una vivienda digna”.

[Alerta Defensoras] HONDURAS / Detienen a la defensora María Concepción Hernández.
IM Defensoras, 2 de abril de 2023
“Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras – El sábado primero de abril, en horas de la tarde y durante la visita a su compañero Santos Hernández en el Centro Penal de Nacaome, la defensora María Concepción Hernández, integrante de la Asociación para el Desarrollo de la Península de Zacate Grande (ADEPZA), fue detenida por agentes de la Dirección Policial de Investigaciones (DPI). La defensora fue detenida por una supuesta orden de captura emitida el 29 de agosto del 2019. Al momento de la detención, María Concepción se encontraba con su hijo menor de edad, dejándolo en total indefensión y vulnerabilización”.

​​Climate of Coercion: Environmental and Other Drivers of Cross-Border Displacement in Central America and Mexico – United States of America | ReliefWeb
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, International Refugee Assistance Project, and Human Security Initiative, March 30, 2023
“Climate-driven disasters can intersect with and exacerbate targeted violence, conflict, and other forms of persecution that drive people to leave their homes and cross borders to seek humanitarian protection. The Global Compact on Migration recognizes that “climate, environmental degradation and natural disasters increasingly interact with the drivers of refugee movements.” And, as a recent White House report acknowledges, “[t]here is an interplay between climate change and various aspects of eligibility for refugee status.”

Gender and LGBTQ+

Niñez y mujeres son más vulnerables al desplazamiento forzado » Criterio.hn
Breidy Hernandez, Criterio.hn, 4 de abril de 2023
“La violencia y la criminalidad han generado que cientos de familias salgan huyendo de sus hogares para salvaguardar su vida, convirtiéndose en una estadística más de personas desplazadas internamente. Recientemente en Honduras se aprobó la Ley para la Prevención, Atención y Protección de las Personas Desplazadas Internamente, que de acuerdo con defensores y organismos de derechos humanos es un paso adelante para la protección de las víctimas de desplazamiento”.

Boletín Informativo de la Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras)
IM-Defensoras, 3 de abril de 2023
“El 22 y 23 de marzo el caso Beatriz llegó ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (Corte IDH) en San José (Costa Rica). Ello fue posible gracias al trabajo incansable de su familia, de organizaciones como la Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto, la Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local, CEJIL e IPAS y al apoyo de las feministas y defensoras de los derechos sexuales y derechos reproductivos de El Salvador. La Red Salvadoreña de Defensoras y laIM-Defensoras estuvimos allí, acompañando a las defensoras que participaron en la audiencia y a las que durante esos dos días mantuvieron un plantón festivo y pacífico al exterior de la Corte. En ese marco, reconocimos la labor de las compañeras, sacamos una alerta preventiva para denunciar el clima de violencia misógina, noticias falsas y estigmatización que éstas enfrentaban desde varios días antes y documentamos diversas agresiones físicas y digitales por parte de personas y organizaciones anti derechos y afines al gobierno”.

Activists’ network in Mexico helps U.S. women get abortions
María Teresa Hernández, ABC News, April 2, 2023
“Marcela Castro’s office in Chihuahua is more than 100 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, yet the distance doesn’t prevent her from assisting women in the United States in circumventing recently imposed bans on abortion. From the headquarters of Marea Verde Chihuahua, an organization that has supported reproductive rights in northern Mexico since 2018, Castro and her colleagues provide virtual guidance, as well as shipments of abortion pills for women who want to terminate a pregnancy on their own.”

[Alerta Defensoras] HONDURAS / Nuevamente amenazan y expulsan con violencia a integrantes de la Red de Mujeres Campesinas Las Galileas.
IM Defensoras, 29 de marzo de 2023
Luego de ser desalojadas el 16 de marzo por agentes policiales en la comunidad de La Bomba, Jutiapa, Atlántida, las integrantes de la Red de Mujeres Campesinas Las Galileas regresaron al territorio, sin embargo, el viernes 24 de marzo a las 9 de la mañana bajo amenazas, fueron nuevamente expulsadas por un grupo de guardias de seguridad. Las defensoras señalaron que los guardias de seguridad son trabajadores de Luis Ramón Fernández Robles, quien se dice propietario del lugar y las ha denunciado por el delito de usurpación de tierras”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Take Action: Support the Families of the Victims of the Tragedy in Ciudad Juarez
Guatemala Human Rights Commission, April 2023
“We at GHRC express our profound sadness at last week’s news of the tragedy in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. On the night of March 27, 39 human beings perished in a fire inside a provisional detention center near the border between the US and Mexico. The detention center–run by the Mexican Federal Government’s National Migration Institute–held 68 migrants in a single cell locked from the outside. Video footage reveals that Mexican authorities failed to unlock the room when the fire broke out. As a result, 39 individuals lost their lives; sources later confirmed that most victims originated from Central America.”

International week of action to defend El Salvador´s mining ban and demand the release of the five Water Defenders of Santa Marta
International Allies, April 8, 2023
“Despite the president’s popularity, mostly due to his hard-line approach to gangs and crime, the Salvadoran economy is failing and the government is in desperate need to attract foreign investment. In 2021, Salvadoran environmental organizations denounced that the government had joined the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, a multilateral NGO that promotes “sustainable” mining, and shortly after, a law was passed in the a law to create a Directorate of Energy Mines and Hydrocarbons. Community leaders in Cabañas have also denounced the presence of employees of mining companies offering long-term leases on land located in areas of mining interest.”

Global Analysis 2022 
Front Line Defenders, April 3, 2023“Front Line Defenders launched its Global Analysis 2022 on the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk around the world today, an in-depth annual publication detailing the variety of risks, threats and attacks faced by HRDs around the world. Front Line Defenders’ Global Analysis 2022 gives a panorama of the threats faced by HRDs in all regions of the world. Despite an assault on human rights and the rule of law in many countries, human rights defenders (HRDs) showed remarkable courage and persistence in advocating for more democratic, just and inclusive societies in 2022.”

* The Migration News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.

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