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Migration News Brief 10.16.20

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Migration News Brief 10.16.20

Source: Lauri Alvarez

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.




Americas: The COVID-19 pandemic must not be a pretext for human rights violations
Amnesty International, October 15, 2020
“In countries such as El Salvador, Paraguay and Venezuela, among others, the strict measures taken to combat COVID-19 have included confining tens of thousands of people in state-run quarantine facilities under police or military control. The imposition of compulsory state-controlled quarantine, without knowledge of its duration, in environments that lack with most minimum measures of infection prevention and control, and without guarantees of independent procedures in accordance with international human rights law, could constitute arbitrary detention.”

Central Americans edge north as pandemic spurs economic collapse
Laura Gottesdiener, Lizbeth Diaz, Sarah Kinosian, Reuters, October 15, 2020
“Now, only weeks before the U.S. presidential election, the region’s complex migration machinery is reactivating, smugglers, experts and migrants say, as the collapse of Central American’s economies pushes families deeper into poverty, creating what could become a lighting rod political issue for the next U.S. administration.”

Police violence in Latin America ‘out of control’ 
Ines Eisele, DW, October 11, 2020
“The high crime rate is often cited in attempts to explain the police’s aggression — an explanation that cannot be completely dismissed, as Agustina Carrizo de Reimann of Leipzig University argues: ‘If you want to understand police violence and also tackle it, you cannot think of it in isolation,’ she said ‘It is a mirror of society in terms of violence, political polarization, racism or even corruption.’ The result, she argues, has been a vicious circle of more and more violence.”

Latin America’s new poor
Economist, October 10, 2020
“The COVID-19 recession is wiping out years of progress in Latin America in reducing poverty and inequality. Economists are starting to map just how big the social impact of the pandemic is. Many governments imposed long lockdowns. Many countries, like Peru, offset part of the lost income by expanding aid programmes to the poor.”

Latin America’s political narratives are moving from coronavirus
Latin America Risk Report, October 8, 2020
“The region may want to move on from the pandemic but as the chart I showed at the start of this newsletter shows, the pandemic isn’t done with this region. Even though it’s not the top headline in most of the region’s newsletters, the pandemic remains front and center in the minds of many of the region’s citizens. It continues to impact health systems, economies and poll numbers. Hospitalization rates remain well above their levels in March for most of the region.”

United States

Amid pandemic, sharply increased U.S. detention times put migrants at risk 
Mica Rosenberg and Kristina Cooke, Reuters, October 9, 2020
“Amid a global health emergency, immigrants are being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention for longer than any period in at least a decade, according to ICE data on monthly averages analyzed by Reuters. More than 6,400 detainees have contracted COVID-19 in ICE detention centers around the country, and eight have died.”


Honduras suma 2,533 muertos y 85,458 infectados por covid-19
El Heraldo, October 14, 2020
“El Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgo (Sinager) confirmó la noche de este miércoles el fallecimiento de 5 personas más por el mortal coronavirus; el número de muertos en Honduras llegó a 2,533.”

Termina desembarque de contenedores de hospitales móviles; mañana inicia inspección física
La Prensa, 12 de octubre de 2020
“Personal de Inversión Estratégica Honduras (Invest-h), de la Agencia Técnica de Investigación Criminal (Atic), Ministerio Público (MP) y equipos de veeduría se mantienen en las instalaciones de la Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana para revisar y verificar el contenido del embarque, el cual iniciará mañana martes en un horario de 8:00 am a 7:00 pm”.

The Pandemic Hits the Dry Corridor in Honduras 
Martín Cálix, El Faro, 9 de octubre de 2020
“The Red Cross has arrived to the communities in the so-called Dry Corridor. It has brought them aid double the cost of what was promised by the government, and six months into the pandemic, it’s the first time that many of the farming families that live in this impoverished zone of the country have seen any help. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal for its Spanish acronym) predicts that by the end of 2020, at least 83.4 million people on the continent will fall into extreme poverty, as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Confinamiento durante la pandemia no ha evitado el asesinato de 2,500 hondureños
Criterio Honduras, 9 de octubre de 2020
“Del total de muertes violentas ocurridas en diferentes ciudades del país, 132 personas fallecieron en 36 masacres, registradas oficialmente como homicidios múltiples. Muchos de estos crímenes son cometidos por las mismas personas, porque en su gran mayoría, estos casos quedan en la impunidad por falta de investigación”.


México: pandemia agrava condiciones de migrantes en tránsito a EEUU
Telemundo Local y Jazive Pêrez, Telemundo, 14 de octubre de 2020
“Entre las principales irregularidades denunciaron el hacinamiento y la falta de servicios de higiene y de salud. ‘El suministro de jabón es muy limitado, no hay agua para que la gente pueda beber, hay falta de cubrebocas’, precisa Macías’ Los migrantes, indican, han denunciado durante toda la emergencia sanitaria esta situación”.

U.S. Enforcement

Guatemala to verify report on US agents ‘unauthorized’ operation
Jeff Abbott, Al Jazeera, October 14, 2020
“The Guatemalan government has announced it would launch a process to verify and analyse a report by a United States Senate committee, which alleged that US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel engaged in an ‘unauthorised’ operation in Guatemala, rounding up Honduran migrants.”

US Border Agents Went Rogue and Illegally Detained Hundreds of Migrants in Guatemala 
Maya Averbuch, VICE, October 14, 2020
“United States agents acting like police on Latin American soil not only challenges the sovereignty of those countries, which have their own immigration and security agencies, but effectively moves the U.S / Mexico border, and the hardline immigration agenda of U.S. President Donald Trump, further south.”

U.S Agents Returned Migrants in Unauthorized Operation, Senate Report Says  
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2020
“U.S. border agents working in Guatemala detained Honduran migrants intending to make their way to the U.S. border and returned them to Honduras in an unauthorized operation last January, a review by the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee found. The agents were stationed in Guatemala, along with other countries across Latin America, to help train local police in counter narcotics and other efforts.”

Fixing a Culture that Protects and Rewards Abuse at U.S. Border Agencies 
Adam Isacson, WOLA, October 14, 2020
“CBP, Border Patrol, and ICE haven’t sunk to the level of the Latin American units: nothing on U.S. soil yet rivals El Salvador’s El Mozote massacre, Colombia’s “false positives” scandal, or the dirty wars of the 1970s. Nonetheless, these agencies are exhibiting some of the same “internal enemy” focus, politicization, wanton cruelty, dehumanization, assumption of impunity, and resistance to oversight that we’ve seen, with tragic results, in our work elsewhere in Latin America.”

Los Angeles County votes to pay $14 million to former immigration detainees
Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, October 13, 2020
“The lawsuit, filed in 2012 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, argued that the sheriff’s department overstepped its authority by effectively rearresting immigrants for the civil violation of being in the United States illegally, after the judges in their criminal cases had ordered them released. Some were held for months at a time. The case is that largest known settlement reached on behalf of detainees, lawyers for the plaintiffs said.”

Appeals court blocks further construction on Trump border wall
Celine Castronuovo, The Hill, October 10, 2020
“The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that President Trump’s use of emergency powers to allocate millions of dollars in funding for the construction of a southern border wall was illegal, the latest blow to the Trump administration’s effort to limit immigration.”

Trump’s Overhaul of Immigration is Worse Than You Think
The New York Times, October 10, 2020
“The 2016-19 drop ‘is clearly a result of Trump’s restrictive immigration measures,’ Mr. Frey told the editorial board, ‘including immigrant bans from selective countries, greater limits on refugees, and generating fear among other potential immigrant groups over this administration’s unwelcoming policies.’ Along with more obscure actions, like ending that Filipino veterans program, the administration has been methodical in ensuring that its most widely criticized efforts succeed.”

Immigration Tent Courts At The Border Have Cost Taxpayers Nearly $70 Million During The Pandemic. But There Are No Hearings.
Deniz Çam, Forbes, October 10, 2020
“No immigration hearings have been taking place at the large prefabricated border facilities built in 2019 to conduct immigration hearings. Yet the federal government has spent nearly $70 million during the pandemic to maintain these structures also known as ‘tent courts’ in Brownsville and Laredo, Texas.

Overhauling Our Immigration System Begins with Citizenship for All
Madhuri Grewal, ACLU, October 9, 2020
“Citizenship for these 11 million people would mean that no president could rip the rug out from underneath more 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, 320,000 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, or the millions of long-time residents whose lives and status have come to depend on who is in the White House. It would also mean that federal lawmakers across the political spectrum could no longer use undocumented and stateless immigrants as leverage for justifying even more enforcement.”

Federal Officials Now Say That Transferring Detainees Between Jails Holding Immigrants Contributed To Coronavirus Outbreaks
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, October 6, 2020
“Department of Homeland Security officials have acknowledged that transfers of detainees between facilities holding immigrants for ICE had ‘contributed to outbreaks’ of COVID-19 and that poor information sharing made tracking and preventing the spread of the virus more difficult, according to a draft report obtained by BuzzFeed News.”

Mexican Enforcement

Violan en instalaciones del INM derecho de migrantes a la salud
Fernando Camacho y Julia de Luc, La Jornada, 15 de octubre de 2020
“Las autoridades mexicanas no han protegido la salud de los migrantes y solicitantes de refugio que se encuentran detenidos en las estaciones del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), a pesar de que existen órdenes judiciales que las obligan a ello, e incluso han ocultado posibles contagios y fallecimientos por COVID-19 en esos sitios, advirtieron organizaciones civiles”.

Mexico says two women may have had non-consensual surgery in U.S. detention center
Reuters, October 12, 2020
“While being held at the Irwin center in Georgia, one Mexican woman was reportedly subject to gynecological surgery without her approval and without receiving post-operative care, the ministry said in a weekend statement. The ministry said its findings were based on actions taken by consular staff and interviews Mexican officials conducted at the center.”

Root Causes

Hondurans Reject Handing Over Land to Private Capital 
TeleSur, October 14, 2020
“From the peasant movement lawyers’ point of view, the decree gives land to national and international agribusiness for 30 years, becoming a harmful decree for those it purportedly represents. The CNTC warned that there are already agreements to hand over land to business people in the Colon department under this decree’s protection. The situation is causing alarm among the peasantry and leading them to continue planning protest actions.”

‘I am tired of it’: Femicides spark outrage across Guatemala
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, October 10, 2020
“More than 200 women were killed in the first eight months of this year in the Central American nation, and more than 3,000 women and girls have been killed since 2015, according to human rights groups tracking government statistics. The overwhelming majority of the cases remain unsolved.”

HRW criticizes Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala for anti-LGBT persecution
Valeria Negron, Jurist, October 9, 2020
“The study included interviews with 116 LGBT individuals from the Northern Triangle, in addition to 93 government officials, journalists and non-government officials. It found that they face high levels of violence and persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This has led to a mass exodus in the form of caravans of asylum seekers coming to the US-Mexico border.”

No More Violence! 
Libertad Para Guapinol, 14 de octubre de 2020
“This spiral of violence in our municipality is the result of corruption in the National Congress in 2013, then, in the INHGEOMIN, in the National Conservation and forest Development Institute (ICF) and the Ministry of the Environment (MIAMBIENTE). The people of Guapinol in Tocoa are suffering from state violence as they implement and legalize extractive projects in protected territory.”

Reacciones ante crimen de defensor: La violencia llegó a Guapinol con minera Inversiones Los Pinares
Dina Meza y Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 14 de octubre de 2020
“Para esta organización la presencia de la empresa Minera Inversiones Los Pinares ha generado un clima de violencia en la comunidad que ha sido atizado por la complicidad y aquiescencia del Estado de Honduras que procedió militarizar la zona.”

Los derechos humanos en el marco de la militarización y depuración policial en Honduras  
CESPAD, 14 de octubre de 2020
“El régimen actual, ha decidido mantener el orden y la estabilidad con control y represión, al margen de la protección de los derechos humanos, fortaleciendo la militarización de la policía con la creación de una Policía Militar de Orden Público, dejando la conducción de la Secretaría de Seguridad en manos de militares y fortaleciendo un modelo de seguridad antidemocrático que se sostiene bajo el paradigma militar sobre la seguridad”.

Estado de Honduras se prepara para el EPU y organizaciones alistan sus argumentos para demostrar que no ha cumplido
Dina Meza, Pasos de Animal Grande, 13 de octubre de 2020
“Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil participaron en la pre sesión del tercer ciclo del Examen Periodico Universal, (EPU), para Honduras, este 13 de octubre de 2020, donde señalaron su preocupación por el aumento del militarismo, la corrupción galopante, el resquebrajamiento del Estado de Derechos y políticas institucionales violatorias a los derechos fundamentales, situación empeorada con la pandemia por covid19”.

Salvadoran Military Turns Away Judge Seeking Files on Massacre
Latin American Herald Tribune, October 12, 2020
“A Salvadoran judge trying to investigate the army’s 1981 slaughter of a thousand people was blocked on Monday from entering a military installation in pursuit of files relating to the El Mozote massacre. It was the second time in less than a month that the military acted to obstruct the probe by magistrate Jorge Guzman.”

COIPRODEN: Honduras tiene un abordaje desastroso de los derechos de la niñez y adolescencia
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 12 de octubre de 2020
“Honduras afrontará al Examen Periodico Universal, (EPU), en noviembre del 2020, sin avances significativos de las recomendaciones que otros países hicieron, en el marco de los estándares internacionales para la protección de los niños, niñas y adolescentes (NNA), por ende el Estado mantiene un abordaje desastroso, según Lizeth Coello de la Coordinadora de Instituciones Privadas Pro las Niñas, Niños, Adolescentes, Jóvenes y sus Derechos (COIPRODEN)”.

Acuerdo de Cooperación de Asilo una amenaza para migrantes, denuncian ante CIDH 
Radio Progreso, 12 de octubre de 2020
“Las organizaciones de sociedad civil expresan su preocupación por la restricción de derechos y disminución de garantías que en contexto de pandemia COVID-19, se han acrecentado para las personas refugiadas, solicitantes de asilo y  las que residen en Estados Unidos y están bajo la amenaza de deportación”.

El último bastión: crónica de una caravana destinada a fallar 
Pia Flores, Contra Corriente, 10 de octubre de 2020
“Para justificar las medidas contra la caravana, el presidente de Guatemala utilizó la pandemia por COVID-19. Migrar en tiempos de pandemia implica aún más riesgos que los que históricamente han tenido que enfrentar los migrantes. Las condiciones de viaje para que las huyen de la situación en sus países no aseguran acceso a alcohol en gel ni agua para desinfectarse”.

Enforced Disappearances in Latin America: Not just a Crime of the Past The Situation of Mexico, Colombia and Honduras
Daniella Burgi-Palomino and Lisa Haugaard, LAWGEF, October 9, 2020
“We salute the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for holding this important hearing on enforced disappearances in Latin America. Enforced disappearances have profoundly wounded too many Latin American families and societies. The crime has a wrenching impact on family members —as Colombia scholar Alredo Molano has said: ‘To the torment of absence is added the sorrow of doubt.’ Family members are often stigmatized, excluded, and not recognized as victims.”

Are Negotiations with Organized Crime and Terrorist Organizations Legitimate?
César Niño, El Faro, 9 de octubre de 2020
“Negotiations with these groups come at a high cost if the groups and their operations are not quickly broken up. As to whether or not to engage with them, the answer rests on the premise that negotiations offer a window of opportunity to dismantle the illicit governance structures running parallel to the state in the groups’ territory.”

Exigen que El Salvador permita el aborto a niñas embarazadas por violación
Infobae, 8 de octubre de 2020
“Un grupo de mujeres defensoras de los derechos de la mujer y feministas exigieron este jueves al Estado de El Salvador que permita el aborto a las ninas que quedan embarazadas tras una violacion y pidieron que las instituciones competentes garanticen los derechos sexuales y reproductivos. Keyla Cáceres, de la Colectiva Amorales, dijo a Efe que, según datos del Ministerio de Salud (Minsal), entre enero y junio de este año se reportaron al menos 258 niñas embarazadas de 10 a 14 años, principalmente en la zona occidental y central”.

In El Salvador, a beacon of truth under threat
Joel Simon, Columbia Journalism Review, October 8, 2020
“But El Faro, through its coverage, has chipped away at Bukele’s carefully crafted image. It reported his alleged corruption, his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, his growing authoritarianism, and a secret truce with the leaders of the MS-13 gang in which the president promised more lenient prison conditions if the gangs would temper their violence and support for his political project. Critics called it a deal with the devil.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

DHS Run Amok? A Reckless Overseas Operation, Violations, and Lies
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Staff, October 2020
“‘Months before the Trump Administration used similar tactics against peaceful protestors in Portland, Oregon, we now know DHS secretly used State Department funding to rent unmarked vans in Guatemala to haul migrants back to the Guatemala-Honduras border. In doing so, DHS misused State Department funds, violated a written agreement between the two departments, and got caught lying about it.’”

ITUC Global Rights Index 2020 
International Trade Union Confederation, October 2020
“The breakdown of the social contract is exposed in the 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index with violations of workers’ rights at a seven-year high. The trends by governments and employers to restrict the rights of workers through violations of collective bargaining and the right to strike, and excluding workers from unions, have been made worse in 2020 by an increase in the number of countries which impede the registration of unions — denying workers both representation and rights.”

Closing Space for Honduran Citizens, along with the Pandemic, Poverty, Corruption, and Violence, Fuel Migration from Honduras
Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund, October 6, 2020
“Hondurans face a government that not only fails to meet their basic needs, but profits from corruption, led by President Juan Orlando Hernández, whom U.S. prosecutors, during their successful prosecution of his brother Tony Hernández for drug trafficking, claimed accepted money from drug cartels for his campaigns. Yet efforts to organize for change are met by repression against protesters and threats, attacks, and legal harassment of human rights activists and journalists.”

* 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.