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Migration News Brief 10.23.20

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Migration News Brief for October 23, 2020 

Source: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

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.



Press Release: U.S. and Latin American Civil Society Organizations Denounce DHS Border Externalization in Guatemala, Call for Immediate Investigation 
Latin America Working Group, October 22, 2020
“‘DHS enforces borders—but there are no borders for its actions. This new report makes clear that DHS treats the U.S border as if it extends south to Guatemala and that it has the authority to police and deport migrants on foreign soil. It is unconscionable that DHS may have separated even more families and returned Hondurans fleeing persecution back to danger in this reckless operation. There must be consequences for this unlawful endangerment of human life,’ states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, co-director for LAWG.”



Latin America’s recovery in doubt as fiscal worries mount, confidence wanes: Reuters poll
Gabriel Burin, Reuters, October 20, 2020
“The region was particularly hard hit by the pandemic, with Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico ranking among the top 10 countries by total cases and also reporting very steep cumulative death figures. Brazil and Mexico have now flattened their COVID-19 curves, and their economies are giving some signs of life too, as activity in Brazil picks up faster than previously expected and its northern peer bottoms out. But the Brazilian turnaround is fueled by a massive spending push that is beginning to stir investor anxiety. Business sentiment also remains fragile in Mexico for its adoption of the opposite strategy, a rigid policy framework.”

The Hardest Part is Turning Back: Migrating Under Covid-19 Rules
Rodrigo Soberanes, El Faro, October 16, 2020
“One of the busiest and most bustling border crossings in southern Mexico has fallen quiet. The conversations between the military and police forces in El Carmen, Guatemala, have been heard in Ciudad Talismán, Mexico, since the beginning of March, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the region. Before the pandemic erupted, the atmosphere in this border region resembled a market, with thousands of people crossing from one country to another every day. Now, with the border closed, the staff working there only have to whisper a little to be heard across the stalls.”

United States

U.S. Borders With Canada And Mexico Will Stay Closed Another Month
Laurel Wamsley, NPR, October 19, 2020
“Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, confirmed the news. ‘To continue to limit the spread of COVID, the US, Mexico, & Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Nov 21,’ he tweeted. ‘We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future & support our border communities.’”

‘Nunca esperé perder mi libertad’: trabajadores inmigrantes de una empresa de tomates fueron confinados en granjas
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, 19 de octubre de 2020
“Las restricciones han permitido que las operaciones de los tomates Lipman se desarrollen sin problemas, con un número de casos sustancialmente menor que el de muchas granjas e instalaciones de procesamiento en todo el país, que han luchado por contener grandes brotes. Pero han causado que algunos trabajadores se quejen de que su lugar de trabajo se ha convertido en una prisión.”

El Salvador

The Sum of All Crises – Economic Misery Confronts the Pandemic in El Salvador
Carlos Barrera, El Faro, October 16, 2020
“A group of 100 families is looking for a fresh plot of land to start over. In the wake of severe summer flooding and pandemic-induced quarantine, the families roam along the banks of the Río Grande in San Miguel in search of a vacant patch of landfill to set up shop. Almost all of them are workers living on each day’s earnings, without public assistance or pensions and with hunger nipping at their heels.”

El Salvador’s COVID-19 response is storing up health and economic problems for the worse-off
LSE Latin America and Caribbean Centre, October 16, 2020
“Our new research into the effects of El Salvador’s lockdown shows that those with the lowest incomes and the worst health have been hit the hardest. While many have skipped meals and stopped working, others have even ended treatment for chronic illnesses or taken loans from predatory lenders. These adaptations only make the situation worse, and the state must try to tackle the conditions driving them if the country returns to lockdown.”


Pandemia retrasó análisis de solicitudes de asilo 
Sergio Morales Rodas, Prensa Libre, 19 de octubre de 2020
“El director del IGM aseveró que, aparte de la pandemia, la acumulación de casos obedece ‘a la particularidad del proceso de cada persona’, y garantizó que la institución que dirige ha cumplido con la emisión de los documentos necesarios para que los solicitantes permanezcan en el país de forma provisional”.

Guatemala camina hacia recuperar la movilidad perdida con el covid-19
Sandra Vi, República, 18 de octubre de 2020
“Charles Hess, CEO de CABI Data Analytics, indica que la movilidad en algunos departamentos de Guatemala está regresando a la ‘normalidad’, pero ninguno al 100%. Aunque Alta Verapaz, con más de un millón de habitantes y a 113 kilómetros de la capital, es el único que ha regresado completamente a tener una movilidad del 100% en supermercados.”


Honduras abre fronteras con El Salvador, Guatemala y Nicaragua pese a covid-19
El Economista, 19 de octubre de 2020
“Honduras abrió este lunes sus fronteras con El Salvador, Guatemala y Nicaragua, tras más de siete meses de restricciones por la pandemia de la covid-19, enfermedad que ha causado más de 88,000 contagios en este país centroamericano. La titular del Instituto Nacional de Migración de Honduras, Carolina Menjívar, indicó que la reapertura de las fronteras comprende el ingreso y salida de hondureños y extranjeros.”


Mexico City warns of possible tighter COVID-19 restrictions
Reuters, October 19, 2020
“Mexico City’s mayor on Monday warned tighter coronavirus curbs could be imposed later in the week as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise in the sprawling capital. Hospitalizations in Mexico’s largest urban area have ticked up for nearly 10 days, and officials are monitoring the trend to determine if it indicates a rise of infections in the metropolis of some 9 million people, which is ringed by dense suburban sprawl.”

More middle-class Mexicans falling into poverty due to COVID unemployment
Franc Contreras, CGTN America, October 16, 2020
“Even before the virus outbreak, many middle-class Mexicans were struggling economically. The pandemic has made things much worse. Mexico’s public agency that measures poverty, CONEVAL, says increased hardship could force 9 million middle-class Mexicans below the minimum standard of living.”

U.S. Enforcement

Lawyers say they can’t find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration
Julia Ainsley, Jacob Soboroff, NBC News, October 20, 2020
“Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say that they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children and that about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to a filing Tuesday from the American Civil Liberties Union.”

For TPS holders, the election stakes couldn’t be higher
José Palma, The Hill, October 20, 2020
“If the current president is reelected, we’ll have two options: remain in the U.S as undocumented immigrants, living in the shadows at risk of deportation and stripped of protections and rights; or return to El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan or other countries we haven’t seen in decades and which, in many cases, are impoverished and unsafe. Either way, our lives, our children and the American economy will suffer.”

Supreme Court to Review 2 of Trump’s Major Immigration Policies
Adam Liptak, The New York Times, October 19, 2020
“The court, which might have been expected to tread cautiously while it is short-handed in the aftermath of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month, has instead seemed determined to weigh in on many aspects of the Trump presidency, even if it could end soon. The cases the court took on Monday are challenges to a program that has forced at least 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests are heard and the diversion of $2.5 billion in Pentagon money to build a barrier on the southwestern border.”

California police got hundreds of calls about abuse in private ICE detention centers. Cases were rarely prosecuted
Andrea Castillo, Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2020
“A Times investigation found that since 2017, at least 265 calls made to police through 911 and nonemergency lines have reported violence and abuse inside California’s four privately run federal detention centers overseen by ICE. Half the calls alleged sex crimes, including rape, sexual assault and abuse against detainees. The rest were to report assault, battery and other threats of violence against detainees and staff.”

What the Supreme Court’s rulings mean for the 2020 Census and Trump’s attempt to exclude the undocumented from the count
Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post, October 18, 2020
“The court Tuesday cut short the census count by two weeks, which census experts and civil rights advocates say risks producing a less accurate count. Then on Friday, the court said it would review President Trump’s efforts to omit unauthorized immigrants when apportioning congressional seats. The court will take up a lower court’s order that had blocked the Commerce Department and Census Bureau from including information about the undocumented when they deliver state population counts to the White House after the census is completed.”

Ramped-up ICE arrests amid Covid outbreaks show ‘irresponsible disregard,’ Hispanic Caucus says
Nicole Acevedo, NBC News, October 17, 2020
“In a letter to Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday, 22 members of the caucus, including its leaders, raised concerns over the arrests by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) of more than 200 immigrants in California, North Carolina, and Illinois over the last few weeks.”

2020 marca nuevo récord de migrantes que mueren en detención en Estados Unidos
Amílcar Valencia, El Faro, 12 de octubre de 2020
“En total, ocho personas han muerto por coronavirus en centros de detención hasta la fecha, un poco más de la tercera parte de las 21 que murieron bajo la custodia de las autoridades en 2019, y la cifra anual de muertes más alta desde 2005.”

‘Major blow to detention apparatus’: Private prison group loses lawsuit challenging California ban
Daily Kos, October 9, 2020
“In a major loss for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private prison profiteer GEO Group, a federal judge has largely upheld California law banning private prisons, including those that jail immigrants for the federal government. Concerned about profits over people, GEO Group sued following the legislation’s signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. On Thursday, GEO Group lost.”

Mexican Enforcement

Organizaciones civiles exponen vulnerabilidad de los migrantes en México, ante la pandemia de Covid-19
Maritza Pérez, El Economista, 18 de octubre de 2020
“A través del informe sobre los efectos de la pandemia de Covid-19 en las personas migrantes y refugiadas, organizaciones como Fundación para la Justicia, Sin Fronteras IAP o la Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, advirtieron que se había identificado que las estaciones migratorias no cuentan con servicio médico las 24 horas, la falta de chequeos de temperatura frecuentes, además de que aún existe hacinamiento al interior de dichos centros de detención. Aunando a un suministro de jabón es muy limitado, la falta de agua, cubrebocas, y otros insumos para combatir la pandemia.”

Vacío legal en materia de sanidad internacional impide mejor atención a migrantes: López-Gatell
Gaceta Mexicana, 15 de octubre de 2020
“La respuesta del funcionario ocurrió luego de que una reportera, en la conferencia vespertina, preguntó respecto a quejas de parte de organismos defensores de derechos humanos, quienes consideran que no hay atención sanitaria suficiente para los migrantes, principalmente menores de edad, en las fronteras Norte y Sur de México.”

Root Causes

Defenders of Land and Environment Further Stigmatized
Guatemala Human Rights Commission, October 19, 2020
“César Montes, once a famed guerrilla commandant whose legal name is Julio César Macías López Mayorga, was arrested in Mexico on October 10 and is charged with ordering the murder of three soldiers on September 2, 2019 in the village of Semuy II, in El Estor, Izabal. While a number of human rights groups accuse Montes himself of working on behalf of companies and large landowners rather than in favor of the indigenous communities—allegations that documents presented in a Canadian court seem to support—his arrest is being used to further sully land rights activists and environmental defenders.”

Salvadoran President: ‘Digging up in the Past Is Not Worth It’
teleSUR, October 16, 2020
“El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele Thursday said he will not allow a judge to review military files related to ‘El Mozote’ massacre where nearly 1,000 people were killed in 1981. With this announcement, Bukele is defying a Supreme Court’s decision, which declared inadmissible a Defense Ministry’s appeal that sought to stop inspections of military archives.”

Drug Flights Climb Again in Honduras and Guatemala
Alessandro Ford, InSight Crime, October 14, 2020
“The number of destroyed illegal airstrips and the volume of seized cocaine in Honduras this year are set to surpass 2019 figures, indicating aerial routes for trafficking cocaine in the region remain very much alive. On September 28, Honduran armed forces used explosives to disable an illegal airstrip used for drug trafficking in Brus Laguna, a municipality in the department of Gracias a Dios, according to Honduran news outlet Proceso Digital.”

PBI and Franciscans International call on the Human Rights Council to pay close attention to the situation in Guatemala
Peace Brigades International
“In Guatemala, 677 attacks against human rights defenders were documented between January and June 2020, nearly three times more compared to previous years. 481 of these attacks have been processes of criminalization. Indigenous and land and environmental human rights defenders have been disproportionally targeted by these processes.”

Guatemala seeks ex-minister in relation to cash discovery
Bay News 9, October 20, 2020
“Guatemalan prosecutors are seeking the arrest of the former communications minister for ex-President Jimmy Morales on money laundering charges after finding a connection to a house in which authorities found about $16 million in various currencies last week. The Special Prosecutor Against Impunity searched four properties Tuesday looking for José Luis Benito Ruiz without success.”

Estado hondureño debe implementar política pública integral dirigida a personas defensoras
Radio Progreso, 21 de octubre de 2020
“Entre 2009 y 2018 la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Corte-IDH, emitió tres sentencias contra el Estado de Honduras, que resultan claves y fundamentales para el marco internacional de protección a personas defensoras de derechos humanos y territorios. Estas sentencias son por ambientalistas asesinados en los años 90; Blanca Jannette Kawas, Carlos Luna y Carlos Escaleras.”

Cámara ordena a Nayib Bukele, Mario Durán, Rolando Castro Hernández a pagar más de $3 millones por irregularidades en Mercado Cuscatlán
Beatriz Calderon, La Prensa Gráfica, 21 de octubre de 2020
“Un total de diez reparos en la administración del Mercado Cuscatlán entre enero de 2017 y 2018, durante la administración del alcalde Nayib Bukele por el FMLN, fueron señalados en una resolución de la Cámara Sexta de Primera Instancia de la Corte de Cuentas de la República (CCR).”

Honduras se quedará sin argumentos para superar el Exámen Periódico Universal (EPU) de Naciones Unidas
Marc Allas, Defensores en Linea, 20 de octubre de 2020
“Vistas las extensas recomendaciones y observaciones del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la Organización de Naciones Unidas hechas al estado de Honduras, se concluye que el régimen de Juan Orlando Hernández se quedará sin argumentos para justificar la no aplicación de las disposiciones emanadas por el organismo mundial, enfocadas en el tema de los derechos humanos.”

Reformas a la Ley minera sirven para fomentar negocio extractivista, afirman analistas
Radio Progreso, 19 de octubre de 2020
“Una nueva jugada en favor de los grupos económicos se dio la semana pasada en el Congreso Nacional, cuando los diputados y diputadas del oficialismo aprobaron sin discusión, reformas a la Ley de Minería, las mismas van encaminadas a otorgar beneficios fiscales a las empresas mineras nacionales y extranjeras.”

Inconsistencias en los informes del Estado hondureño ante la Corte IDH, en relación a la desaparición forzada de jóvenes Garifunas de Triunfo de la Cruz
La Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, 18 de octubre de 2020
“Hoy se cumplen tres meses de la desaparición forzada de los jóvenes en la comunidad Garífuna de Triunfo de la Cruz, hasta la fecha se desconoce su paradero, y los hechos no han sido esclarecidos, incrementando de esa forma la sospecha de la participación de agentes del estado, en lo que se perfiló con un operativo de corte militar, con el claro propósito de intimidar a la comunidad al desaparecer a líderes jóvenes Garifunas que vienen defendiendo el territorio ancestral.”

The Hope of Central American Migrants: A More Compassionate North
Sonja Wolf, El Faro, October 16, 2020
“In Central America’s Northern Triangle, reasons for leaving include precarious employment, limited access to quality public services, and bad governance. Other notable factors are violence against the LGBTQ population, domestic violence, and, especially, the violence from criminal gangs as well as the state. Displaced persons hope to find decent jobs, housing, health care, and security. They also want to see changes in their countries of origin as well as their transit and destination countries: Mexico and the United States.”

Corte de Apelaciones ratifica derecho a protesta en caso Guapinol
Libertad Para Guapinol, 16 de octubre de 2020
“Las comunidades defendiendo el río Guapinol ante el proyecto minero dentro del parque nacional Carlos Escaleras tienen derecho a protesta, ratifica la Corte de Apelaciones en su fallo notificado hoy. Por unanimidad de votos, la Corte  confirma el sobreseimiento definitivamente dictado el 28 de febrero de 2019 a favor de 11 defensores y una defensora del río Guapinol por los delitos de usurpación y daños en perjuicio a la empresa minera Inversiones Los Pinares.”

Mujeres exponen las estrategias para defender su derecho de asociación y reunión
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 16 de octubre de 2020
“Mujeres de diferentes organizaciones hondureñas explicaron en un conversatorio virtual, este 15 de octubre de 2020, en el marco del Día Internacional de la Mujer Rural, las estrategias que deben ingeniarse para defender su derecho de asociación y reunión ante un Estado que les persigue, discrimina y criminaliza. Destacaron que las mujeres son discriminadas hasta por su forma de hablar, vestir o por su condición social, cuando van al Poder Judicial o a otras instancias estatales  a defender sus derechos.”

Presidente del CODEH se parcializa con autor del crimen de Berta Cáceres: COPINH
Criterio.hn, 16 de octubre de 2020
“El Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH) ha denunciado en sus redes sociales que la defensa de Roberto David Castillo, acusado por el asesinato de la ambientalista y defensora de los derechos humanos, Berta Cáceres, promueve un nuevo recurso de Habeas Corpus para facilitarles su fuga.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Family Separations Continue In South Texas, Years After They Allegedly Ended
Sarah Abdel-Motaleb, Roberto Lopez, Andy Udelsman, TCRPMag, October 21, 2020
“As reported in 2019, six months after the child separation policy supposedly ended, TCRP identified 272 children who had been separated from their families over the course of Zero Tolerance prosecutions at the federal courthouse in McAllen, Texas. Having continued to monitor that courthouse, we can now report that, between June 22, 2018, and March 17, 2020, Texas Civil Rights Project identified 939 children who were separated from a family member in McAllen alone in the context of the Zero Tolerance prosecutions.”

100+ Policy Changes That Have Devastated Immigrants and Asylum Seekers
ILRC, October 2020
“Listing more than 100 policy changes from the last four years, the report breaks down how every aspect of the immigration system is being dismantled: preventing people from entering the country; denying legal status to those who apply for it; taking away legal status from those who had it; eliminating process protections in how people are treated by the immigration agencies; detaining, deporting and terrorizing immigrant communities; and retaliating against anyone who speaks out against these policies.”

What New Official Data Tells Us About the Ongoing Tragedy at the U.S.-Mexico Border
Adam Isacson, Washington Office on Latin America, October 16, 2020
“The U.S. government’s 2020 fiscal year ended on September 30, and on October 14 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its Border Patrol component produced data about what happened at the U.S.-Mexico border in this pandemic-marred year. The numbers paint a stark picture of a man-made humanitarian disaster that, in the Trump administration’s fourth year, has entered a new phase.”

México y Centroamérica: garantizar la defensa de derechos humanos en la región es más urgente que nunca
CEJIL, 15 de octubre de 2020
“Como respuesta a la pandemia, algunos Estados de la región han implementado acciones de carácter punitivo, como toques de queda, estados de excepción o la militarización de la seguridad ciudadana, entre otras medidas contrarias a los derechos humanos de la población. En este contexto, la defensa de los derechos humanos enfrenta nuevos obstáculos y, a la vez, se vuelve más urgente que nunca.”

COVID-19 Impacts on Immigration Detention: Global Responses
International Detention Coalition
“COVID-19 does not discriminate, but laws, policies and practices concerning migration governance, immigration detention, and public healthcare shape the vulnerability of migrants, stateless persons and refugees to its spread and effects. The contributions in this joint edited collection highlight both positive and negative developments over the past year that need careful attention – and in some cases, urgent correction – for the health and wellbeing of all.”

Segundo Informe: Situación de las comunidades indígenas y equiparables ante la emergencia sanitaria por el virus SARS-COV-2
Comunidades y COVID
“En este contexto, diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil se han articulado para llevar a cabo un monitoreo de comunidades indígenas y equiparables con el que llevan a cabo labores de acompañamiento en diversas temáticas. El objetivo del monitoreo es conocer las condiciones de vida en medio de la alerta sanitaria, identificando las afectaciones por factores internos y externos, esto con el fin de generar alertas y coordinar acciones de apoyo y solidaridad en las comunidades.”

* 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 Migrant News Brief? Tell them to email lalvarez@lawg.org