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Migration News Brief 10.9.20

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Migration News Brief for October 9, 2020 

Source: Victoria Pickering/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.



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.”



Virus shatters Latin America’s middle class dreams
Adam Jourdan, Aislinn Laing, Maria Cervantes, Diego Oré, Reuters, October 7, 2020
“Millions in Latin America’s middle classes are similarly being dragged back into poverty as COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of welfare nets and governments’ lack of financial firepower. The region’s labor market has been hit harder than anywhere else in the world.”

Latam, Caribbean economies must ramp up stimulus to stay afloat amid crisis – UN agency
Fabian Cambero, Reuters, October 6, 2020
“The pandemic has hit Latin America especially hard, driving its economy this year to a predicted contraction of 9.1%, the worst since recordkeeping began in 1900, ECLAC said in July. The agency said in its Tuesday report that a full recovery hinged on the region´s nations maintaining ‘expansionary fiscal and monetary policies,’ to boost demand and stave off shocks to the exchange rates and capital flows.”

New Covid-19 Cases Started to Decline in Hard-Hit Latin America
Samantha Pearson, Luciana Magalhaes, The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2020
“The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged Latin America, killing more than 300,000 people, erasing years of social and economic gains and plunging millions back into poverty. But from Mexico to Brazil, a recent slowdown in new cases and fatalities is raising cautious hopes that the hard-hit region might be turning a corner.”

United States

Immigration detention centers are emptying out as the US cites coronavirus for deportations
Dianne Solis, Herald-Mail Media, October 5, 2020
“Coronavirus is driving the decline. Far fewer people are also being sent to centers from the border, and that has detention facilities running below capacity. The average U.S. immigrant detainee population last year was 50,000, but has since plunged to about 19,800, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.”

El Salvador

Los conflictos políticos opacan la atención a la pandemia en El Salvador
La Prensa Gráfica, 6 de octubre de 2020
“Los conflictos políticos entre órganos de Estado y gobiernos municipales por la entrega de fondos han opacado la atención a la pandemia de la COVID-19 en El Salvador, que se acerca a los 30.000 contagios del SARS-CoV-2.”


Guatemala anuncia segunda ola de casos de coronavirus
Milenio, 7 de octubre de 2020
“Guatemala entró en un rebrote de contagios de coronavirus mientras que el país transita hacia una reapertura económica, así lo informó este miércoles el presidente guatemalteco, Alejandro Giammattei.”

Guatemala sends back some 3,500 migrants amid COVID-19 concerns
Al Jazeera, October 5, 2020
“Guatemala has sent back almost 3,500 Honduran migrants from a caravan that was heading to the United States over concerns they might spread COVID-19. In a televised message broadcast on Sunday, President Alejandro Giammattei said Guatemalan security forces were able to ‘contain’ the caravan which he said was a factor in the transmission of the virus.”


Honduras amplía el toque de queda hasta el 11 de octubre
El Heraldo, 4 de octubre de 2020
“Las autoridades hondureñas extendieron el toque de queda siete días más para enfrentar la pandemia del covid-19. Las personas seguirán desplazándose únicamente el día autorizado para el último dígito de la identidad, apegándose al plan de reapertura inteligente de la economía.”

Covid-19 dejará caída histórica del PIB y engrosará informalidad en Honduras
El Economista, 30 de septiembre de 2020
“La crisis desatada por la pandemia de coronavirus en Honduras provocará una caída sin precedentes del PIB del 12%, engrosará la informalidad y empujará a miles de personas a la pobreza, por lo que el país requiere una estrategia integral que permita apoyar a los más desfavorecidos.”


Controversy in Mexico over under reporting Covid-19 infections and deaths
MercoPress, October 6, 2020
“Mexico on Monday reported a sharp increase in the daily number of coronavirus infections and deaths, breaking previous records due to what the government said was a change in methodology. The Health Ministry reported a jump of 2,789 deaths and 28,115 cases, far outstripping the prior daily records of 1,092 deaths and 9,556 cases. Total confirmed cases now stand at 789,780, with a reported death toll of 81,877.”

Covid exposes Mexico City’s water access gap between rich and poor
Kylie Madry, Climate Change News, October 1, 2020
“The family is one of many who regularly struggle to get clean water in Mexico City – an estimated 1.3 million of the city’s almost 9 million residents lack regular water access. As coronavirus rips through town, water-poor households are particularly vulnerable to infection. Last year, the general coordinator of the Water System of Mexico City (Sacmex), Rafael Bernardo Carmona, admitted that more than 40% of the city’s running water is lost to leaks.”

With Testing Already Low, Mexico Lost 93,803 Covid Lab Results
Andrea Navarro, Bloomberg, September 30, 2020
“Mexico has lost or discarded 93,803 results of Covid-19 tests throughout the pandemic, health officials said, reducing the nation’s already low levels of testing for the virus. The reasons behind the lost results vary. Some never made it to the lab from clinics and some weren’t properly refrigerated or took too long to be processed, said Health Ministry epidemiology director Jose Luis Alomia at a Tuesday evening press conference.”

U.S. Enforcement

ICE admits wrongful deportation of Guatemalan man
Debbie Nathan, The Intercept, October 7, 2020
“On August 19, Cesar Marroquín was put on a packed flight to Guatemala after spending five months in detention, waiting to pursue a claim for asylum and for protection against torture in his home country. By law, ICE cannot deport someone unless an immigration judge first orders their removal; ICE merely carries out the judges’ decisions. But before a judge could rule on whether or not Marroquín should be deported, ICE contravened the court’s authority and expelled him.”

ICE Arrested More Than 100 Immigrants In California Weeks Before The Presidential Election
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, October 6, 2020
“ICE’s acting leader, Tony Pham, and Chad Wolf, the acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, plan to slam local officials for so-called sanctuary policies, in which local officials refuse to hold immigrants in their custody who are wanted by ICE for longer than required by local laws or to inform ICE of when the immigrants will be released from custody.”

Border aid group raided again; experts say it’s a pattern
Astrid Galvan, AP News, October 6, 2020
“Agents apprehended 12 immigrants and detained seven volunteers at a No More Deaths camp near the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona in what was the second raid since the summer. The volunteers were eventually released without charges. The raid follows the two trials the federal government has brought against Scott Warren, a volunteer with No More Deaths who was eventually acquitted of harboring immigrants.”

‘We Need to Take Away Children,’ No Matter How Young, Justice Dept. Officials Said
Michael Shear, Katie Benner, Michael Schmidt, The New York Times, October 6, 2020
“Though Mr. Sessions sought to distance himself from the policy, allowing Mr. Trump and Homeland Security Department officials to largely be blamed, he and other top law enforcement officials understood that “zero tolerance” meant that migrant families would be separated and wanted that to happen because they believed it would deter future illegal immigration, Mr. Horowitz wrote.”

Undocumented Migrants Face Fast Removals in Renewed Trump Push
Shaun Courtney, Bloomberg Government, October 6, 2020
“Expedited removal since its inception had been limited to individuals encountered within 100 hundred miles of the border and within two weeks of entering the U.S. The updated Department of Homeland Security policy will apply to immigrants anywhere in the U.S. who can’t immediately prove upon an encounter with an immigration official they have been continuously in the U.S. for at least two years or have legal standing.”

Appeals court upholds ban on holding immigrant children in hotels
CBS News, October 5, 2020
“Three judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals left in place a lower court’s order that requires the U.S. to stop using hotels in most situations to detain children unaccompanied by a parent. The judges denied the U.S. government’s request for a stay of that order. Border agents since March have placed at least 577 unaccompanied children in hotel rooms before expelling them from the country without a chance to request asylum or other immigration protections.”

Ex-officials denounce ICE billboards of undocumented immigrants as “wildly inappropriate”
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, October 5, 2020
“ICE said the billboards are designed to ‘educate the public’ about the ‘dangers’ of so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies that limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The billboards include photos of individuals who ICE calls ‘public safety threats,’ some of their charges, the name of the local jurisdiction that released them and a phone number to call with information about the cases.”

‘She was really a warrior’: Transgender migrant reaches U.S. only to die
Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2020
“Transgender women are often assaulted and killed. In August, two men were charged in an alleged hate crime attack and robbery of three transgender women in Los Angeles. At least 30 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed this year, according to the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign — more than all of last year. And in the last five years, more transgender people have been killed in Texas than in any other state.”

Pence ordered borders closed after CDC experts refused
Jason Dearen, Garance Burke, AP News, October 3, 2020
“Vice President Mike Pence in March directed the nation’s top disease control agency to use its emergency powers to effectively seal the U.S. borders, overruling the agency’s scientists who said there was no evidence the action would slow the coronavirus, according to two former health officials. The action has so far caused nearly 150,000 children and adults to be expelled from the country.”

Rights groups appalled as Trump cuts US refugee admissions to record low
The Guardian, October 1, 2020
“Donald Trump’s administration has announced plans to let only 15,000 refugees resettle in the United States in the 2021 fiscal year that began on Thursday, setting another record low in the history of the modern refugee program and prompting outrage from civil rights groups. The US state department said the ceiling reflects the Trump administration’s prioritizing of the ‘safety and wellbeing of Americans, especially in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic’.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexican Congress Affirms the Rights of the Child
International Detention Coalition, October 8, 2020
“Last Thursday 29 September, all 389 members of the Mexican Congress unanimously declared that immigration detention is no place for children. This historic political moment came to fruition following more than a decade of multi-level advocacy, and collaboration between civil society organisations, international partners, government authorities, and communities.”

Guatemala toma el relevo de México para frenar las caravanas de migrantes
Elena Reina, El País, 6 de octubre de 2020
“La primera caravana de migrantes centroamericanos de la pandemia ha sido disuelta antes de que tocara territorio mexicano este fin de semana. El Gobierno de Guatemala, comprometido desde el año pasado con el Gobierno de Donald Trump para frenar la migración, ha utilizado los protocolos sanitarios por la pandemia de la covid-19 para deportar a más de 3.500 hondureños, según cifras oficiales.”

El Gobierno mexicano utilizará drones para vigilar a migrantes hondureños que buscan entrar a EU
Sin Embargo, 4 de octubre de 2020
“México mostró este domingo que puede vigilar por tierra y por aire, mediante drones, su frontera sur ante la posible llegada de migrantes hondureños que en las últimas horas han quedado divididos tras deshacerse la caravana de unos dos mil integrantes que procedía de Honduras.”

Mexico deploys army on southern border to block migrant caravan
Al Jazeera, October 3, 2020
“Thousands of mostly Honduran migrants and refugees were travelling through Guatemala, heading for the US via Mexico, just weeks before a tense US presidential vote in which immigration is a key issue. ‘It seems very strange to us. It’s very strange that this caravan leaves on the eve of the election in the United States,’ Lopez Obrador told reporters.”

Root Causes

The Other Americans: Police Violence Isn’t Just on the Rise in the United States
Jeff Abbott, The Progressive, October 7, 2020
“In a security video released on social media, Ic Pérez was pulled over by the Guatemalan National Civilian Police, who proceeded to remove him from his car and shoot him in the head. The Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s office is investigating the apparent execution, and according to prosecutors, the officer will face charges.”

Encuesta del CESPAD: “hondureños, con temor y prudencia por la pandemia, pero descontentos con la corrupción en su manejo”
Centro de estudio para la Democracia, 7 de octubre de 2020
“La encuesta presenta las percepciones de la ciudadanía sobre la pandemia, se aproxima a conocer en los hogares los efectos de la crisis sanitaria y la crisis económica asociada. Asimismo, las valoraciones de la población acerca de cómo el gobierno maneja la crisis, la percepción sobre la corrupción en la gestión gubernamental y cómo afecta su vida cotidiana.”

How Honduras became one of the most dangerous countries to defend natural resources
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, October 6, 2020
“‘My dad has been jailed for defending a river which gives our community life, for trying to stop the exploitation of natural resources by rich companies who the government helps to terrorize us,’ said Sorto, 28. ‘Every day that passes we know less about him. He’s weak, he’s had Covid symptoms, we worry about his health and safety in the prison.’”

A Massive Migrant Caravan Headed for the U.S. Just Got Dismantled in Guatemala
Maya Averbuch, Jeff Abbott, Vice, October 5, 2020
“A caravan of thousands of migrants that departed Honduras last week heading to the United States never made it more than 400 miles. The Guatemalan military blocked the roads along which people were hitchhiking and walking, forcing the majority of migrants to board buses back to the Honduran border and leaving the remainder with no routes forward.”

Giammattei: personal de ACNUR fue retirado por entorpecer estado de Prevención
Perspectiva, 5 de octubre de 2020
“Giammattei dio a conocer que solicitó la salida temporal de los representantes de la Agencia del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), por dificultar el trabajo de las autoridades que coordinaban el retorno de los hondureños que ingresaron al país con la Caravana de Migrantes.”

Some things never change: repression and the militarization of public security in El Salvador
Astrid Valencia, Diana Sánchez, Amnesty International, October 5, 2020
“With little more than a year passed since President Nayib Bukele took office, one thing has become crystal clear: the country is still trying to resolve its different historical problems through repression. President Bukele has yet to keep the promises he made at the start of his term in office and he simply seems to be continuing a repressive and militarized response, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Guatemala, el nuevo muro antimigrantes
Ricardo Marroquín, Plaza Pública, 5 de octubre de 2020
“Esta es la primera vez que una caravana de migrantes se desintegra en Guatemala. En octubre de 2018 partió la primera que rompió con la clandestinidad y que se mantuvo masiva y compacta desde Honduras hasta Tijuana, México. Entonces, unas 3,000 personas lograron romper el cerco que formaron las fuerzas de seguridad mexicanas en la frontera de Tapachula, en Chiapas, y continuó con el recorrido.”

Honduras. Perfiles del periodista y del miembro de Caritas asesinados
Patricia Ynestroza, Vatican News, 5 de octubre de 2020
“Caritas hizo enérgicos pronunciamiento y reclamos para exigir el esclarecimiento de la muerte de Antonio Teruel y su familia. Pero hasta ahora han ignorado esa petición, señaló Cálix, sin embargo, la institución seguirá insistiendo hasta que el gobierno asuma su responsabilidad y clarifiquen el asesinato y someta a las leyes a los culpables.”

‘There is no work’: Hondurans brave risks in US-bound caravan
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, October 3, 2020
“Honduras is one of the top countries of origin of migrants to the US, which deported more than 100,000 Hondurans in 2019. Several such migrant caravans have formed in the past two years amid political turmoil, violence, and rampant corruption in Honduras and as the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated already high levels of unemployment and poverty.”

Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of journalist Luis Alonso Almendares in Honduras and urges to investigate the relation to his journalistic work
Organization of American States, October 2, 2020
“The IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression condemned the journalist’s death, warning that he is ‘another victim of violence for Honduran journalism this year.’ This Office has repeatedly warned about violence against journalists and communicators in Honduras. In 2019, at least 6 murders were reported, which could have a link to journalistic work.”

Seis jóvenes condenados por muerte de un miembro de la comunidad LGTBI en SPS
Ministerio Público de la República de Honduras, 2 de octubre de 2020
“La Fiscalía Especial Delitos Contra la Vida (FEDCV), en audiencia de procedimiento abreviado logra una pena de 20 años de reclusión contra seis jóvenes al declararse responsables de haber ultimado a un miembro de la comunidad de Lesbianas, Homosexuales, Bisexuales, Transexuales e Intersexuales (LGTBI).”

Camila, the First Transgender Victim to Find Justice in 25 Years
María Luz Nóchez, El Faro, October 2, 2020
“The Camila Díaz murder trial, for the first time, broke a pattern of impunity that dates back to the mid-1990s: 600 murders of LGBTI people without justice. A judge concluded that Camila was murdered by three National Civil Police officers. Although the Prosecutor’s Office did not prove a hate crime, the ruling sets an important precedent against impunity.”

“If They Don’t Behave, They Disappear”: Alison Renderos and the Disappeared Teen Girls of El Salvador
Gabriela Cáceres, Valeria Guzmán, El Faro, October 2, 2020
“In the last eight years, 10,144 women have been reported missing in El Salvador. Teen girls, who make up nearly forty percent of these cases, face the highest risk of disappearance. When families and friends of the missing seek answers, they face government authorities who cannot say whether their loved ones are alive or dead. Police, prosecutors, judges, and experts all point to the reality they know best: in gang territory, women are in constant danger.”

Gangs, Vendors and Political Capital in Downtown San Salvador
InSight Crime, October 1, 2020
“The notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 street gangs have steadily tightened their grip on almost all aspects of life in a city center housing the heart of El Salvador’s informal urban markets – a gold mine for extortion, contraband, drug-peddling, and more. This two-year InSight Crime investigation chronicles how the gangs, with their ever-increasing control of territory and criminal revenue, have used their stranglehold on the Historic Center to expand their power in El Salvador.”

Mecanismo de Protección: Entre las migajas estatales y el incremento de los ataques a la población meta
Pasos de Animal Grande, September 30, 2020
“La madrugada del 18 de julio anterior, Albert Sneider Centeno, defensor del derecho ancestral de la tierra- que en papel gozaba de medidas de protección por parte del Estado- fue sacado de su casa por sujetos vestidos con uniforme de la Dirección Policial de Investigación, (DPI) y desde esa fecha se encuentra desaparecido junto a otros tres dirigentes de la comunidad garífuna del Triunfo de la Cruz, ubicada en Tela, Atlántida.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT People in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and Obstacles to Asylum in the United States
Human Rights Watch, October 7, 2020
“Given the high levels of violence and discrimination that many LGBT people face in the Northern Triangle, the US government should be rigorously protecting LGBT asylum seekers’ ability to safely cross the border into the United States and apply for asylum. Instead, the Trump administration has implemented a seemingly unending series of obstacles, blocking LGBT people’s path to safety at every turn.”

Report: ICE Air Flights September 2020 and Year to Date
Witness at the Border, October 7, 2020
“To be sure the past month or so has been filled with horrendous events including unaccompanied children held in hotels by transportation specialists, despicable medical conditions and encounters at Irwin Detention Center, detainee deaths reaching an all-time annual high, and ICE Air activity at record in-pandemic levels, just to name a few. While these incidents are individually abhorrent and deserve our attention, we have to stay focused on the fact that they are merely products of a corrupt system.”

University of Minnesota launches the “Immigrants in COVID America” project
University of Minnesota, October 5, 2020
“Researchers on the project found four issues that have particularly affected immigrants, refugees and asylees during the pandemic: immigration policy, health, labor and the economy, and anti-Asian xenophobia.”

Tearing Families Apart: The Impact of Trump’s Immigration Agenda
FWD.us, September 29, 2020
“Over the next four weeks, we will examine some of the Trump Administration’s most consequential immigration policies and identify the impact of these policies on our families, communities, and economy. We will also detail the overwhelming rejection of these actions by the American public, which has been galvanized by the courageous leadership of the people most severely impacted by these policies, and further assess the political ramifications.

An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy
American Immigration Council, January 8, 2020
“Until recently, the United States offered refuge each year to more people than all other nations combined. But the Trump administration has drastically reduced the maximum number of refugees that can enter the United States. Moreover, the United States government has imposed new security vetting procedures on refugees before they can be admitted into the country, which has greatly lengthened waiting times and left many refugees in dangerous situations for prolonged periods. In 2017, for the first time in modern history, the United States settled fewer refugees than the rest of the world.”

The Cost of Citizenship Denied
The Emerson Collective
“This series examines how our failure to acknowledge and accommodate 11 million undocumented Americans has far-reaching consequences—for an expensive and counterproductive enforcement regime, a fragile and unequal economy, the future and potential of young immigrants, a straining healthcare system, and our tenuous democracy.”

* 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.