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Migration News Brief 10.2.20

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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.




UN: Pandemic has cost 34 million jobs in Latin America
AP News, September 30, 2020 
“The count was up from the ILO’s previous estimates in early August that 14 million jobs had been lost in the region. The organization’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Vinícius Pinheiro, called it an ‘unprecedented challenge.’ Pinheiro said the third quarter had brought a recovery in economic activity and, according to preliminary data, a tentative recovery in employment.”

No Meat, No Milk, No Bread: Hunger Crisis Rocks Latin America
James Attwood, Valentina Fuentes, Jonathan Gilbert, Micheal D McDonald, Bloomberg, September 28, 2020
“For tens of millions like Alonso, the pandemic has exposed just how fragile economic status is worldwide. In many ways, nowhere has that been more apparent than in Latin America, where a resurgence of poverty is bringing a vicious wave of hunger in a region that was supposed to have mostly eradicated that kind of malnutrition decades ago.”

The little talked about side-effects of COVID-19
Jan Egeland, Al Jazeera, September 25, 2020
“In March, we predicted that the 70 million people fleeing violence and persecution across the world would be hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. I underestimated the impact of the disease. Its knock-on effects are proving more devastating than the virus itself.”

United States

Even When They Lost Their Jobs, Immigrants Sent Money Home
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, September 24, 2020
“Remittances historically have risen and fallen with the fortunes of the economies where immigrants have traveled to work. But after weathering the worst months of the lockdown, many immigrants are back on the job and sending their relatives even more money than before the downturn, according to newly compiled estimates.”

Farmworkers on the front lines of coronavirus and wildfires
Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming, September 24, 2020
“‘The COVID-19 global pandemic, exacerbated by unprecedented wildfires in Oregon, has demonstrated that farmworkers deemed ‘essential,’ are on the climate crisis’s front lines,’ said the study released on Tuesday. The blazes were ‘worsening already hazardous working conditions’ for field workers, it said. There are an estimated 174,000 seasonal and migrant farmworkers in the state, many of them Latinx and from Mexico or Guatemala.”

A week after warning, ICE detainee dies from COVID-19
Jeremy Redmon, Alan Judd, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 21, 2020
“Cipriano Chavez-Alvarez, 61, a Mexican national who had been held at Stewart Detention Center near Lumpkin, died early Monday in a Columbus hospital. He was the third COVID-19 fatality among Stewart detainees this year.”

What we know so far: COVID-19 outbreak at immigation detention center in Adelanto
Rebecca Plevin, Palm Springs Desert Sun, September 21, 2020
“The facility, owned and operated by private prison company The GEO Group, is one of the largest immigration detention centers in the country. As of Sunday, 53 of 394 people had tested positive for COVID-19, Valdez said in court filings. ICE previously designated 20 of those 53 people as being at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 due to their age and preexisting medical conditions.”

El Salvador

Bukele anuncia en cadena nacional que Hacienda investiga a El Faro por lavado de dinero
Valeria Guzmán, El Faro, 25 de septiembre de 2020
“El presidente de la República aseguró la noche de este 24 de septiembre que el Ministerio de Hacienda, que desde julio somete a El Faro a una auditoría, está tratando de construir un caso de lavado de dinero contra el periódico. Bukele dedicó además buena parte de una cadena nacional de casi dos horas a deslegitimar a este y otros medios de comunicación, a los que acusó de mentir sistemáticamente y de tener como objetivo atacar a su gobierno y encubrir a la oposición”.

Americares Expands COVID-19 Response in El Salvador
Reliefweb, September 23, 2020
“Americares, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is expanding COVID-19 screening, public health education and telehealth services in El Salvador. Americares operates the largest outpatient health facility in Eastern El Salvador and is the only charitable health center in the region to continue providing primary care services during the pandemic.”


Guatemala opens long-closed national parks, bars, gyms
AP News, September 29, 2020 
“The government said limits on attendance and other measures will still be in place for areas where the new coronavirus is still spreading at relatively high levels — which includes Guatemala City and most of the country’s municipalities.”


Hundreds of migrants set out from Honduras amid pandemic 
Claudio Escalon, AP News, October 1, 2020 
“But the majority of the migrants who gathered Wednesday decided not to wait for October, instead setting out in the dark of night carrying knapsacks and many wearing masks. The groups quickly strung out along the highway with some catching rides while others continued to walk toward the Guatemala border.”

Pandemia COVID-19 provoca más sufrimiento y violencia para las mujeres
Radio Progreso, 25 de septiembre de 2020
“De acuerdo a la Asociación Calidad de Vida, los datos del Sistema de Emergencias 911 revelan que, en Honduras las denuncias por violencia doméstica e intrafamiliar en 2019 ascendieron a 94 mil 720, mientras que para el primer semestre de 2020 se contabilizan 50 mil”.

Pandemia incrementa número de familias en pobreza
Radio Progreso, 24 de septiembre de 2020
“La falta de dinero para pagar el alquiler de una vivienda, obliga a decenas de familias a migrar los bordos de San Pedro Sula, donde instalan casitas de nylon y cartón, bajo la amenaza de la violencia, enfermedades y desalojo municipales”.

Hospitalizaciones por COVID19 bajaron, pero capacidad de diagnóstico sigue siendo mínima
Allan Bu, Contra Corriente, 24 de septiembre de 2020
“Los hospitales Leonardo Martínez y Mario Catarino Rivas, que estuvieron cerca de colapsar en los primeros meses de la pandemia, ahora muestran una baja sustancial en las hospitalizaciones. El 20 de septiembre, el Sistema Nacional de Riesgos (Sinager) autorizó la salida diaria de 2 personas por último dígito de la tarjeta de identidad y el transporte público está trabajando en su máxima capacidad”.

Ni la pandemia del Covid-19 ha detenido las deportaciones
El Pulso, 24 de septiembre de 2020
“Un total de 16, 287 compatriotas han sido deportados en medio de la pandemia del Covid-19, siendo México el país que más hondureños ha deportado, esto según el Observatorio Consular y Migratorio de Honduras (Conmigho) de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores y Cooperación Internacional”.


Mexico ups COVID-19 ‘estimate’ to 89,612 deaths
AP News, September 29, 2020
“Mexico has about 76,600 test-confirmed deaths and 733,717 test-confirmed cases. But officials acknowledge those are significant undercounts, because the country does so little testing: only about 1.6 million tests have been done so far. In a nation of almost 130 million, that means that only about one in 80 Mexicans has ever had a test.”

Mexico official: definitive COVID-19 toll will take 2 years
AP News, September 27, 2020
“Mexico’s top coronavirus official said Sunday that definitive data on the country’s death toll from COVID-19 won’t be available for ‘a couple of years.’ The statement by Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell is likely to revive the debate about Mexico’s death toll, currently at 76,430, the fourth-highest in the world.”

Migrants Stranded in Mexico Have 1 Year to File for Asylum. COVID-19 Is Making THat Deadline Nearly Impossible
Jasmine Aguilera, Time, September 25, 2020
“When COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S., immigration courts shut down, leading to indefinite delays for hearings. Lawyers haven’t been able to travel to Matamoros. They have adjusted to providing legal services remotely from the U.S. with the help of an on-the-ground assistant in Matamoros. But soon a realization emerged: many asylum seekers are on the verge of missing their one-year deadline to submit their applications for asylum.”

U.S. Enforcement

Trump plans to slash refugee admissions to new low
Reuters, October 1, 2020 
“The Trump administration said on Wednesday it intends to allow only 15,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the 2021 fiscal year, setting another record low in the history of the modern refugee. The State Department said the proposal reflected the Trump administration’s prioritizing of the ‘safety and well-being of Americans, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Migrant caravan sets off from Honduras with eyes on U.S. border
CBS News, October 1, 2020
“Hundreds of migrants began walking Wednesday night from this city in northern Honduras towards the Guatemala border, testing a well-trod migration route now in times of the novel coronavirus. Calls for a new migrant caravan to leave from the San Pedro Sula bus station October 1 had been circulating on social media for weeks.”

CBP Wants to Destroy Records of Misconduct. We Can’t Let Them.
Shaw Drake, ACLU, September 30, 2020 
“CBP misconduct often only becomes public via leaks, investigative reporting, or lawsuits, meaning the loss of internal records could forever buy unknown abuses. For example, the first death of a child in CBP custody in over 10 years were revealed by journalists, after CBP custody in over 10 years were revealed by journalists, after CBP failed to report the death to Congress, as required.”

The death toll in ICE custody is the highest it’s been in 15 years
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, September 30, 2020
“In the 2020 fiscal year, which ends today, 21 people died in ICE custody, according to a CNN tally of data released by the agency. That’s more than double the number of deaths in fiscal year 2019 — and the highest annual death toll since 2005.”

Trump administration in an all-out push to build border wall before election
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, September 29, 2020
“President Trump’s administration is racing to build his border wall as quickly as possible ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with construction crews now adding nearly two miles per day. It is an unprecedented pace toward meeting one of Trump’s signature campaign promises.”

ICE reverses COVID-19 measure, says it will resume arresting non-criminal migrants
Monique O. Madan, Miami Herald, September 29, 2020
“U.S. immigration officials quietly announced they would resume regular apprehension and detention practices, an apparent reversal from an earlier temporary suspension of non-criminal enforcement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Late friday afternoon, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement updated its COVID-19 information webpage to say that the agency is ‘confident that our officers can properly and safely carry out operations.’”

ICE preparing targeted arrests in ‘sanctuary cities,’ amplifying president’s campaign theme
Nick Miroff, Devlin Barrett, The Washington Post, September 29, 2020
“The Trump administration is preparing an immigration enforcement blitz next month that would target arrests in U.S. cities and jurisdictions that have adopted ‘sanctuary’ policies, according to three U.S. officials who described a plan with public messaging that echoes the president’s law-and-order campaign rhetoric.”

Immigrants Say They Were Pressured Into Unneeded Surgeries
Caitlin Dickerson, Seth Freed Wessler, Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, September 29, 2020
“Since then, both ICE and the hospital in Irwin County have released data that show that two full hysterectomies have been performed on women detained at Irwin in the past three years. But firsthand accounts are now emerging from detainees, including Ms. Dowe, who underwent other invasive gynecological procedures that they did not fully understand, and in some cases, may not have been medically necessary.”

Trump vs. Biden race to dictate fate of U.S. immigration for years to come
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, September 28, 2020
“President Trump’s reelection would allow his administration to continue cracking down on unauthorized immigrants, limiting legal immigration and curtailing humanitarian protections for foreigners. During a second term, Mr. Trump could also see through major policy changes to the U.S. immigration system that have so far been stalled in federal court. If victorious, Joe Biden will inherit an immigration system transformed by hundreds of changes made by the Trump administration, including a series of restrictive asylum policies, sweeping green card rules, broaders deportation priorities, a decimated refugee program and pandemic-era border restrictions.”

Amy Coney Barrett has a years-long record of ruling against immigrants
Nicole Narea, Vox, September 26, 2020
“She has also repeatedly refused to review cases brought by immigrants applying for humanitarian protections and other immigration benefits who claimed they had been wrongfully denied.”

Court sides with House Democrats in challenge to Trump’s border wall spending
Ann E. Marimow, The Washington Post, September 25, 2020
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously backed Congress’s power of the purse and said House lawmakers could proceed with their lawsuit alleging it was illegal for President Trump to transfer the money for the wall.”

How Biden Might Change Trump’s Immigration Policies
Adam M. Taylor, Michael Smallberg, The Washington Post, September 25, 2020
“His plan calls for undoing Trump’s country-specific bans, Trump’s expansion of the public charge rule and Trump’s new restrictions on asylum seekers and refugees.”

A Congressional Oversight Committee Found That ICE Detainees Died After Receiving Poor Medical Care
Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, September 24, 2020
“The report also frequently cited in its findings a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News that revealed a whistleblower’s complaint alleging that care at several facilities overseen by ICE was so dire, it resulted in two preventable surgeries, including an 8-year-old boy who had to have part of his forehead removed, and contributed to four deaths.”

Inside the Chaos of Immigration Court
Gabriel Thompson, Longreads, September 2020
“Under Trump, new rules have been put in place to make it more difficult to win asylum, while immigration courts — which operate largely outside of public view — have been packed with judges with prosecutorial backgrounds. In San Francisco, traditionally one of the most immigrant-friendly courts, 19 of the 26 current judges have been installed by the Trump administration.”

Mexican Enforcement

El INM desmiente la regularización de caravanas migrantes en México
Proceso, 30 de septiembre de 2020
“El organismo aseguró que se ocupa del cumplimiento de la Ley de Migración y su reglamento durante el ingreso, estancia y salida de personas en territorio nacional, así como de los protocolos que se han establecido durante la emergencia sanitaria del covid-19”.

Root Causes

Could an Ex-Money Launderer For Drug Traffickers Be the Next President of Honduras
Jeff Ernst, VICE, October 1, 2020 
“‘I think for the gringos, it’s inconceivable that there are people in Honduras thinking I might be the candidate [for president],’ said Rosentha, in an interview with a local television station. But in a country where the current president, Juan Orlando Hernández, faces serious allegations of drug trafficking himself, the idea that Rosenthal could pull off such a feat isn’t that far-fetched.”

Gunmen on motorcycle kill journalist in Honduras
AP News, September 28, 2020
“Almendares worked for Radio Globo and TV Azteca in the past. Known for his hard-hitting style, he frequently accused the police and the government of wrongdoing. Relatives said he had reported receiving death threats in the past.”

Guatemala prepara protocolo de deportación ante nueva Caravana Migrante
David Toro, Prensa Comunitaria KM169, 29 de septiembre de 2020
“A un mes de las elecciones presidenciales de Estados Unidos, una nueva caravana de migrantes hondureños podría emprender una nueva travesía el próximo 1 de octubre desde San Pedro Sula, Honduras, que pasaría por Guatemala, donde se podría implementar un Sistema de Alerta Temprana que motiva a los pobladores de las zonas fronterizas reportar la presencia de migrantes que hayan ingresado por puntos ciegos para deportarlos”.

Oxfam dice que la pandemia amenaza con aumentar la pobreza y agudizar el hambre en Honduras
El País, 26 de septiembre de 2020
“La pandemia de la COVID-19 aumentará la desigualdad, el número de desempleados y pobres en Honduras, en especial en el Corredor Seco, donde más de 1,6 millones de personas padecen inseguridad alimentaria, alertó este sábado la organización humanitaria Oxfam”.

Push within El Salvador to advance priest massacre case
Marcos Aleman, AP News, September 25, 2020
“For years, attempts within El Salvador to investigate and prosecute the masterminds of a massacre of six Jesuit priests during that country’s civil war have been delayed and deflected by legal maneuvers. The sentencing of former Salvadoran colonel Inocente Orlando Montano to 133 years in prison by a Spanish court earlier this month in relation to the case is raising calls once again for El Salvador to deal with this dark chapter in its history.”

El Salvador woman freed after six years in jail following stillbirth
Liz Ford, The Guardian, September 24, 2020
“Cindy Erazo, 29, from San Salvador, was granted conditional freedom on Wednesday after six years in jail. Morena Herrera, head of the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalisation of Abortion, said that Erazo, who has a son aged 10, had an obstetric emergency when she was eight months pregnant. She was accused of attempting to end the pregnancy and charged with aggravated homicide.”

El Salvador’s Hipster President Is Attacking the Media
Emily Green, Deborah Bonello, VICE, September 21, 2020
“Salvadoran journalists who have written critically about Bukele face criminal investigations into their work and personal life, are banned from presidential press conferences, and are regularly attacked by the president and top government officials on Twitter, inciting a wave of violent messages and sexualized threats against them.”

Diputada pide interpelar al Fiscal General por asesinato de periodistas y ambientalistas
Criterio.hn, 30 de septiembre de 2020
“La diputada Murillo, con una amplia trayectoria como docente universitaria en la Carrera de Periodismo, asegura que la Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Congreso Nacional no tiene ninguna voluntad para investigar crímenes y atentados como los registrados el pasado domingo”.

“Entre más niños hay en las calles, menos se hace para apoyarles”: Guadalupe Ruelas
El Pulso, 30 de septiembre de 2020
“El director de Casa Alianza, Guadalupe Ruelas manifestó que la mendicidad en los últimos años han aumentado, algunos estudios han revelado que más de 15 mil niños duermen en las calles solo en Tegucigalpa y San Pedro Sula, no obstante, en otros sectores continuan aumentando estos casos”.

Mexico and the Gods of Corruption
Ioan Grillo, The New York Times, September 29, 2020
“Corruption tears at the soul of Mexico, and many here see it as one of the country’s leading problems. It’s the reason killer cartels flourish, roads have potholes, and doctors treating Covid-19 don’t have better protective gear.”

Defensores de DD.HH pueden solicitar salvoconducto ante SEDH
Criterio.hn, 27 de septiembre de 2020
“Para dar respuesta a las solicitudes que las y los defensores de derechos humanos han venido haciendo para obtener el documento de Salvoconducto de Libre Circulación en todo el país, la Secretaría de Derechos Humanos (SEDH), ha realizado ante la Secretaría de Seguridad una solicitud con el fin que las organizaciones de Sociedad Civil de Derechos Humanos puedan hacer el trámite de manera inmediata y gestionarlos en el menor tiempo posible dada la importancia de su labor”.

Nuevo ataque contra Pedro Canales, defensor de la tierra y los territorios
Riccy Ponce, Defensores en Linea, 26 de septiembre de 2020
“El defensor de la tierra y el territorio de la zona sur de Honduras, Pedro Canales, denunció que está siendo objeto de intimidación y amenazas a muerte, ya que el día de ayer le asesinaron a su mascota de siete disparos, a lo que él considera como un acto de intimidación y una amenaza contra su vida”.

De 499 migrantes desaparecidos en la ruta migratoria, 59 son menores
Xiomara Orellana, La Prensa, 26 de septiembre de 2020
“Los bancos de datos forenses de migrantes no localizados del Proyecto Frontera, que lidera el Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense (Eaaf) en Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador y México, ha logrado identificar mediante muestras de ADN y el cruce de perfiles genéticos de restos encontrados en México, a varios hondureños que estaban desaparecidos en la ruta migratoria”.

Mexico issues arrest warrants on sixth anniversary of disappearance of 43 college students
Reuters, September 26, 2020
“Omar Gomez, head of the special prosecutor’s office for the case, told a new conference in Mexico City the warrants had been issued for the ‘material-and intellectual authors’ of the crime, including military members, and federal and municipal police.”

Evicting Lote Ocho
Max Binks-Collier, The Intercept, September 26, 2020
“These documents, largely unreported on until now, show that the harassment by helicopter was just one part of a much larger campaign that Skye and CGN undertook to expel Indignenous communities from a huge swath of land that the companies never had any legal right to either explore or exploit.”

El presidente Bukele dice que El Salvador no firmará el Acuerdo de Escazú
La Prensa Grafica, 25 de septiembre de 2020
“El presidente de El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, dijo este jueves que no firmará el Acuerdo de Escazú, un tratado medioambiental cuyo plazo para firmar concluye este mes, porque ‘hay un par de cláusulas que no aplican con la realidad’ del país”.

Guatemala: Criminalización y detención arbitraria de la periodista Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz
Federación Internacional Por Los Derechos Humanos, 25 de septiembre de 2020
“El Observatorio ha recibido con profunda preocupación información de fuentes fidedignas sobre la criminalización y detención arbitraria de la Sra. Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz, periodista y directora de la emisora local Xol Abaj Radio y de Xol Abaj TV. A lo largo de su carrera periodística, la Sra. Mejía Tiriquiz ha dado cobertura a casos de corrupción en el municipio de Joyabaj, departamento de Quiché, así como a movilizaciones sociales en esta localidad”.

Con asesinato de cinco personas en Lempira, Honduras suma 37 masacres en 2020 con 137 víctimas
Criterio.hn, 25 de septiembre de 2020
“El Observatorio de la Violencia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (OV-Unah) informó este viernes a Criterio.hn que el país registra 37 masacres en lo que va de 2020 tras el último homicidio múltiple registrado en la zona occidente”.

Legisladores republicanos a Bukele: “Nos preocupa el alejamiento del Estado de derecho en El Salvador”
Gabriel Labrador, El Faro, 24 de septiembre de 2020
“Seis congresistas republicanos señalaron al Gobierno salvadoreño su preocupación por el retroceso en el Estado de derecho, el uso del Ejército el 9F, el incumplimiento a sentencias judiciales y las negociaciones con la Mara Salvatrucha-13. El nuevo emplazamiento a Bukele ocurre menos de dos semanas después de que congresistas demócratas dijeran estar alarmados por los ataques del Gobierno a periodistas y medios de comunicación independientes”.

Justice, Finally, for a War Crime in El Salvador
Kate Doyle, The Nation, September 24, 2020
“The ruling is a triumph for the many who fought for justice in a case that seemed to founder from the moment the bodies were found. Evidence disappeared, documents were burned, testimony was falsified. Even after El Salvador convicted two army officers widely seen as scapegoats, tried in a sham proceeding in 1991, an amnesty law passed 18 months later quickly led to their release.”

El Salvador: Activists Decry Bukele’s Silence Over El Mozote
TeleSUR, September 24, 2020
“On September 21, law enforcement prevented Judge Jorge Guzman from examining documents filed in the records of the General State of the Armed Forces regarding the massacre of about 1000 farmers from El Mozote in 1981. After the event, Guzman and other claimants said the military followed an order from a high-level superior, probably the President.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

The Case for Transparency
Justice in Motion
“Data transparency will put data that is already collected in the hands of the workers and advocates who need it to combat trafficking. Transparency is a commonsense first step toward eliminating the scourge of human trafficking under U.S. guestworker visas.”

COVID-19 In Immigration Detention: Monthly Analysis & Update
Freedom for Immigrants, September 28, 2020
“Information included in this update was collected between August 14 and September 28. During this period, confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased significantly. ICE’s actions directly lead to the deaths of three detained people due to complications from COVID-19.”

Central America Economic Reactivation in a COVID-19 World: Finding Sustainable Opportunities in Uncertain Times
María Eugenia Brizuela de Ávila, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, María Fernanda Bozmoski, Domingo Sadurní, Atlantic Council, September 28, 2020
“As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, countries around the world face an unprecedented test: concurrent public health and economic crises coupled with the resulting political and social reverberations. In Central America, the collective test of survival is no different—at least on its surface. But, as a region plagued by weak institutions, migration, violence, and lack of economic opportunities, Central America has to not only meet this unprecedented moment, but leapfrog beyond it.”

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