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Migration News Brief 12.11.20

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Migration News Brief for December 11, 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.

 

Hurricanes Eta and Iota

U.S. prolongs migration accord for disaster-hit countries
Ted Hesson, Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, December 7, 2020
“Washington has agreed to prolong a set of temporary migration protections that allow immigrants from six countries to live in the United States, officials said on Monday. The so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for some citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras and Nepal was extended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until at least October of 2021.”

Un mes después de que los huracanes miles de personas siguen esperando ayuda humanitaria
Criterio.hn, 8 de diciembre de 2020
“Nuevas cifras de la ONU revelan que, de 5,5 millones de personas afectadas por las sucesivas tormentas tropicales Eta y Iota en Honduras y Guatemala el mes pasado, 400.000 permanecen en albergues temporales mal equipados y 140.000 hogares fueron destruidos por las tormentas. Alrededor de 330.000 personas siguen sin recibir asistencia de emergencia debido a la destrucción de las vías y la interrupción de las comunicaciones en Honduras. Esta crisis ha golpeado a una región con necesidades humanitarias que ya superan ampliamente los recursos disponibles.”

‘No tenemos nada’: los huracanes podrían generar una oleada de migrantes de Centroamérica
Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times, 4 de diciembre de 2020
“Ya paralizada por la pandemia del coronavirus y la crisis económica resultante, Centroamérica se enfrenta a otra catástrofe: la destrucción masiva causada por dos feroces huracanes que llegaron en rápida sucesión el mes pasado, afectando a esos frágiles países, dos veces. Las tormentas, dos de las más poderosas de una temporada récord, demolieron decenas de miles de hogares, arrasaron con la infraestructura y se tragaron vastas extensiones de tierra de cultivo. La magnitud de la ruina solo empieza a comprenderse, pero es probable que sus repercusiones se extiendan mucho más allá de la región en los años venideros. Los huracanes afectaron a más de cinco millones de personas —al menos un millón y medio de ellas son niños— y crearon una nueva clase de refugiados con más razones que nunca para emigrar.”

Honduras president seeks assistance, warns of increased migration in wake of devastating hurricanes
Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, December 4, 2020
“Weeks after Hurricanes Eta and Iota struck Central America in quick succession, nearly 100,000 Hondurans are living in shelters, many of which have become coronavirus hotspots. The country’s economy has been paralyzed. It is an unprecedented crisis, Honduran President, Juan Orlando Hernández said in an interview with The Washington Post on Friday. Hernández warned that in the absence of a coordinated international response, migration from Honduras to the United States could surge.”

COVID-19

General

‘Just unimaginable’: Latin America’s Covid crisis lurches from bad to worse
Tom Phillips, William Costa, Analy Nuño, The Guardian, December 10, 2020
“The Brazilian city is far from the only part of Latin America – where more than 460,000 lives have already been lost – facing what many call a second Covid wave. In Mexico, which with over 110,000 fatalities has the world’s fourth highest death toll, the World Health Organization (WHO) last week warned of a ‘very worrisome’ situation after the number of weekly deaths doubled between mid-October and late November. ‘Mexico is in bad shape,’ the WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared.”

Devastated by Covid, Latin America Is Now Unprepared for Vaccine
Andrea Navarro, Julia Leite, Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg, December 8, 2020
“With 8% of the globe’s population and 30% of its Covid deaths, Latin America is facing the pandemic’s next phase — mass vaccination — with alarm. ‘Vaccine distribution will be complicated in developed countries but in Latin America you have to add a lack of transparency, lack of governance and corruption,’ said Sergio Litewka, director of global bioethics at the University of Miami. ‘Will the same people who were incapable of handling the pandemic be able to handle the vaccine?’”

Remittances show promise in the face of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic
Gabriella Cova, Atlantic Council, December 7, 2020
“Peculiarly, as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to soar and the global economy plummeted, some countries observed a rise in their remittance levels. By June, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and El Salvador saw 26 percent, 15 percent, and 10 percent increases, respectively, in remittances compared to June 2019. In August, Mexico’s $3.57 billion remittance total became the second-highest ever recorded amount in a month for the country.”

El Salvador

El Salvador Overspent on Hotels Used for Coronavirus Quarantine
Alicia Flórez, Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, December 9, 2020
“Hotels seized from accused Salvadoran drug kingpin Chepe Diablo were awarded lucrative government contracts to serve as quarantine centers, according to an audit of pandemic spending by El Salvador’s Court of Accounts that could serve as the basis for cases against officials accused of misusing funds.”

Ministro de Salud admite que El Salvador no es seguro por COVID-19 para la OMS
Carlos López Vides, Noticias de El Salvador, 4 de diciembre de 2020
“Los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) de Estados Unidos tienen a El Salvador como país “de riesgo muy alto” para contagiarse de COVID-19, el más alto en la escala, por lo que ha recomendado a los viajeros que no vengan a suelo cuscatleco. El tema fue abordado la mañana de este viernes por el ministro de Salud, Francisco Alabí, en el Noticiero Hechos de Canal 12.”

Guatemala

La vacuna contra el covid-19 está cerca, pero no llegará fácilmente a todos los guatemaltecos
Ana Lucía Ola, Prensa Libre, 7 de diciembre de 2020
“Mientras que en el Reino Unido ya se aprobó la vacuna de Pfizer/BioNTech contra el covid-19, en Estados Unidos se espera la aprobación de la creada por la compañía Moderna para comenzar a inmunizar a unos 10 millones de estadounidenses antes de finalizar el año, pero la realidad para Guatemala es distinta, podrían pasar varios meses antes de que una vacuna contra el nuevo coronavirus llegue y que comience a ser distribuida entre la población.”

Honduras

Pandemia complica delicada situación de la comunidad LGBTI de Honduras
Signy Fiallos, Criterio.hn, 9 de diciembre de 2020
“En su cuarta entrega de la serie especial de reportajes de profundidad “Los marginados de siempre viviendo en pandemia”, Criterio.hn muestra la difícil situación de la comunidad LGBTI, como grupo históricamente excluido de la sociedad y que durante esta situación de crisis por la pandemia y efectos de los fenómenos naturales ha sido más vulnerado en sus derechos.”

Crece desconfianza sobre compra de vacuna del Covid por Gobierno de Honduras
Criterio.hn, 7 de diciembre de 2020
“Durante la sesión informativa semanal sobre la evolución de la enfermedad, el subdirector de la OPS, Jarbas Barbosa, explicó que en la región hay 27 países que pagarán por las vacunas y 10 que la recibirán gratis. Entre la nómina de naciones que recibirán gratis la vacuna se encuentran: Bolivia, Dominica, El Salvador, Granada, Guyana, Haití, Honduras, Nicaragua, Santa Lucía y San Vicente.”

Mexico

Mexico to launch COVID-19 vaccinations this month
ABC News, December 8, 2020
“Mexico plans to begin vaccinating its people against COVID-19 at the end of the third week of December, starting with health workers, the government announced Tuesday. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the vaccines will be ‘universal and free’ — and also voluntary — and he hopes the full population will be vaccinated by the end of 2021.”

U.S. Enforcement

Migrants in US on temporary status get 9-month extension
AP News, December 9, 2020
“DHS said the program is being extended until a court finalizes an order allowing the administration to end the program for four countries that are part of a legal challenge. The extension also applies to Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan. In September, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction that blocked the government from ending TPS for people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan.”

Trump administration awarded millions to companies with checkered records to care for migrant children
Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, December 8, 2020
“The bipartisan report details grants from HHS to two companies — VisionQuest National, Ltd. and New Horizon Group Home, LLC — despite their previous issues over inadequate care. ‘HHS did not require either company to disclose prior adverse actions their respective state and local governments had taken against them, and the Department did not research the disciplinary history of either company,’ Tuesday’s 59-page report states, adding that the oversights could’ve put children ‘trusted to the care of these companies’ at risk.”

Thousands of Cubans in South America planning caravans to the U.S. border to seek asylum 
Mario Pentón, Miami Herald, December 9, 2020
“Hundreds of other Cubans are preparing to leave for the United States from Chile, Uruguay and Peru, according to dozens of WhatsApp and other social media posts viewed by el Nuevo Herald and telephone interviews. José Yans Pérez, a Cuban who has lived in Chile for three years but dreams of living in the United States, is one of the migrants ready to travel through Latin America to reach the U.S. border.”

More underage migrants are testing positive for coronavirus
Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, December 7, 2020
“The number of unaccompanied migrant children testing positive for the coronavirus has jumped more than 35 percent in recent weeks as federal officials prepare for the possibility of a new immigration surge at the U.S.-Mexico border. A total of 1,061 minors in U.S. immigration custody have tested positive since March, up from 781 cases in mid-November, according to federal records. Most minors arrived at the U.S. border already infected with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the federal agency that cares for minors until they are placed with a parent or guardian.”

Court’s DACA ruling welcome news, but immigration reform needed, advocates say
John Hilliard, Boston Globe, December 5, 2020
“Local immigrants and advocates Saturday hailed a federal judge’s order for the Trump administration to restore a program designed to protect young undocumented people from deportation, but warned that legislative action was urgently needed to reform the nation’s outmoded immigration system. While they deemed the court order a win for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, they also said Congress and the incoming Biden administration must create sweeping new measures for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the US who have lived with uncertainty and fear under President Trump’s toughened immigration enforcement.”

Judge slams for-profit ICE detention facility for treatment of immigrants
Anagha Srikanth, The Hill, December 4, 2020
“United States District Judge Vince Chhabria did not mince words in case against two Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, calling their response to the coronavirus pandemic ‘abominable’ ‘From the start of the public health crisis until now, the conduct of the key ICE and GEO officials in charge of operations at Mesa Verde has been appalling,’ Chhabria said in his decision.

Lawyers say Trump administration has handed over new data that will help reunite separated migrant families
Julia Ainsley, Jacob Soboroff, NBC News, December 2, 2020
“In a federal court filing in California late Wednesday, the lawyers said Justice Department data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which includes information for parents and children in immigration court proceedings, was released to them last week. ‘Among other things, the information includes phone numbers that had not previously been known,’ the lawyers said in the filing.”

The Trump Administration Will Inflict More Damage to the Immigration System Before Leaving Office
Shev Dalal-Dheini, Immigration Impact, December 2, 2020
“The Trump administration’s immigration legacy is based on paralyzing humanitarian protection programs, making the legal immigration system harder to access, and keeping out foreign workers under the guise of protecting American workers. And we can expect more of the same in these final days. Studying the Trump administration’s presidential orders and agenda will be a helpful guide—though anything goes in the next two months.”

Mexican Enforcement

Más de 4800 cubanos han solicitado asilo en México en 2020
Alex Gónzalez, Directorio Cubano, 10 de diciembre de 2020
“La Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar) informó que en los primeros 11 meses de 2020 ha recibido más de 36 mil solicitudes de asilo, y más de 4 mil provienen de ciudadanos cubanos. Las autoridades del país azteca señalaron que exactamente 4893 cubanos pidieron refugio en México, aunque los ciudadanos de Honduras y Haití son quienes encabezan la lista de solicitudes.”

Inside Look: How COVID-19 Further Endangers Migrant Children In Mexico
Maryanne Murray Buechner, Forbes, December 8, 2020
“Since mid-March, more than 6,500 unaccompanied children were returned from the United States to Mexico without due process. This shouldn’t happen. Returning children during a pandemic is not only a question of child protection, it’s a public health concern. There needs to be a lot more thought put into protecting these children for their health, of course, but also protecting them from violence. These children, once returned by U.S. authorities to Mexico, are not only at greater risk of being exposed to COVID, they are also vulnerable to kidnapping, extortion and other forms of violence and exploitation.”

Flujo migratorio en México, uno de los más grandes del mundo: SG
Rosa Elvira Vargas, La Jornada, 4 de diciembre de 2020
“México asumió hoy la presidencia pro témpore de la Conferencia Regional sobre Migración (CRM) y donde la secretaria de Gobernación, Olga Sánchez Cordero asumió que el fenómeno del tránsito de personas es para el país ‘un tema sumamente relevante con una realidad compleja’ porque se tiene uno de los flujos migratorios más grandes del mundo y al que se ha añadido en 2020 el fenómeno de la crisis sanitaria que ‘ha agravado los problemas pre existentes’ como la pobreza, la desigualdad, la violencia y los desastres naturales.”

Root Causes

Policía frena caravana de migrantes en la frontera de Agua Caliente
Radio Progreso, 10 de diciembre de 2020
“‘Estamos aquí para orientar a los hondureños sobre las restricciones que está poniendo Guatemala para poder ingresar. Lo que se piden son las pruebas de Covid-19 que son las pruebas PCR. Hay personas que tampoco llevan sus documentos entonces se han tenido que regresar’, dijo en Radio Progreso el Comisario de Policía José Ferrufino.”

Central America and Mexico reaffirm commitment to address the needs of hundreds of thousands forced to flee
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, December 8, 2020
“Facing a growing number of people forced to flee in Central America and Mexico, MIRPS countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama – took stock of the current context and identified much needed policies at the national and regional levels to offer comprehensive solutions on protection, education, health, jobs and livelihoods to those forcibly displaced in the region.”

The 39-Year-Old Massacre That Still Haunts El Salvador
Elizabeth Hawkins, Slate, December 8, 2020
“War crimes were committed by both sides, but the United Nations later found that U.S.-backed Salvadoran government troops and their allies were behind most of them. Perhaps the worst atrocity—the massacre of around 1,000 innocent villagers in the hamlet of El Mozote on Dec. 11, 1981—looms large over society in El Salvador today, pushing the country into a constitutional crisis and raising crucial questions about justice, memory, and the country’s fragile institutions.”

Senior El Salvador Official Resigns, in Blow to President
U.S. News, December 8, 2020
“Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said on Tuesday a senior official had stepped down to address allegations he has schemed to cover up financial wrongdoing by the government, dealing a setback to the leader of the Central American country. The opposition accuses police chief and deputy security minister Mauricio Arriaza of failing to make Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya comply with a lawmakers’ order to give account of the government’s spending during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Estudiantes y campesinos de Guatemala mantendrán el pulso contra el Gobierno
La Vanguardia, 7 de diciembre de 2020
“Al menos nueve organizaciones guatemaltecas estudiantiles, campesinas, indígenas y religiosas anunciaron este lunes que mantendrán en pie las ‘jornadas de lucha ciudadana’ contra el Gobierno de Alejandro Giammattei ‘hasta lograr transformaciones reales y estructurales’. Las organizaciones esgrimieron, en un comunicado y una rueda de prensa, que el país centroamericano ‘necesita transformar el sistema desde su raíz y, en lo inmediato, acciones reales de atención a las necesidades urgentes de vivienda, alimento y salud’ de la población, sobre todo para enfrentar la pandemia de covid-19 y los fenómenos tropicales que ‘han profundizado la pobreza’.”

DDHH: La indiferencia del gobierno, el hambre y la inseguridad obliga a migrar 
Nosmara Castellanos, Tiempo.hn, 5 de diciembre de 2020
“No obstante, a los embates de los fenómenos naturales y el desempleo post pandemia, se debe sumar la inseguridad, la violencia, la falta de apoyo a los emprendedores de las micro y medianas empresas; los últimos, en su mayoría, determinaron cerrar sus negocios, por la crisis económica o porque los perdieron. La defensora de Derechos Humanos, Itsmania Platero, informó sobre una nueva convocatoria para dos caravanas migrantes.”

Who Should Regulate Free Trade Zones in Honduras?
Lizz Gabriela Mejía Raudales, El Faro, December 4, 2020
“Over a September weekend in Roatán, there was a protest against ‘Honduras Prospers,’ a Special Zone for Employment and Development project that began development on the island last May. The conflict that has been unleashed over the project has, so far, not gained the attention of the ZEDE’s Committee for the Adoption of Better Practices, better known as CAMP. In this committee, made up of 21 people, only 4 politicians and Honduran government officials stand out, the remaining members are recognized political strategists, businessmen, bankers and foreign activists. To date, at least 2 people from this committee have died and there is no known plan to restructure the committee. A committee in charge of regulating a project of major proportions is, in many ways, inactive.”

Curfews, Tear Gas, Poverty Wages, and Threats of Infection – Sweatshop Conditions in Honduras
Allan Bu, El Faro, December 4, 2020
“The Government of Honduras gave contracts to the maquila industry to manufacture medical supplies at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but maquila workers couldn’t use public transportation. A police attack on a private bus carrying more than 30 female employees of a textile factory forced the government to admit that police officers did not follow authorized protocols.”

El Salvador’s Attorney General Asks Congress to Create New Police Agency in Light of Government Corruption
Gabriela Cáceres, Roxana Lazo, El Faro, December 3, 2020
“Melara’s proposal—the most notable in a series of reforms requested by the FGR, and one which will allow federal prosecutors to act alone, without requiring PNC collaboration—comes two weeks after the National Civil Police obstructed anti-corruption prosecutors in their efforts to conduct an investigation into irregularities in pandemic-related government contracts, a move that underscored ongoing concerns about the politicization of state security forces and caught the attention of members of the U.S. Congress.”

¿En dónde están los expedientes de miles de víctimas de la guerra?
Nelton Rivera, Prensa Libre, 3 de diciembre de 2020
“Un grupo de representantes de asociaciones de víctimas del Conflicto Armado Interno (CAI), llegó este jueves 3 de diciembre por la mañana al edificio del Programa Nacional de Resarcimiento (PNR), en la zona 2 de la ciudad capital de Guatemala, para encontrar respuesta a la sustracción de los expedientes de las víctimas que eran resguardados en las sedes regionales del programa.”

Cejil condena asesinato de activista en Honduras y exige investigación
La Vanguardia, 3 de diciembre de 2020
“‘Desde el Cejil condenamos enérgicamente el asesinato de la defensora, así como los demás hechos de violencia en contra de la población garífuna, y hacemos un llamado al Estado hondureño para cumplir con su obligación de dar inicio inmediato a la investigación diligente de estos hechos y determinar las respectivas responsabilidades’, indica un comunicado de la organización.”

El Estado sin respuestas ante la CIDH por ataques a periodistas
Nelson Rauda, Gabriel Labrador, El Faro, 3 de diciembre de 2020
“El Estado salvadoreño no respondió qué investigaciones está haciendo o qué acciones concretas diseña para frenar los ataques a periodistas y medios independientes de El Salvador protagonizados por instituciones del Ejecutivo, el presidente Bukele y algunos de sus funcionarios, en una audiencia ante la CIDH en la que incluso se evocó el pasado de las dictaduras militares para asegurar que no existen persecuciones ni acoso ni bloqueos. Los emisarios del Gobierno Bukele argumentaron que lo que se ve son “críticas de la población”. El relator Pedro Vaca exigió al Estado ‘reconducir el tono y la actitud de garantía en la libertad de expresión’.”

El Salvador: de la esperanza a la locura
Hilary Goodfriend, Revista Común, 30 de noviembre de 2020
“Veintinueve años después de la formalización de una guerra civil que dejó unos 75,000 muertos y 10,000 desaparecidos, 17 años después de la firma de los Acuerdos de Paz que desmilitarizaron al Estado y sentaron las bases para una nueva institucionalidad liberal, el Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) había pasado por un complejo y conflictivo proceso de desmovilización y transición para ganar las elecciones presidenciales, entrando al Estado como primer gobierno de izquierda de la joven democracia salvadoreña.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Top 10 Priority Requests to the Biden-Harris Administration that Protect Border and Immigrant Communities
SBCC, December 2020
Rescue and Recovery. Policies and programs between ports of entry should focus squarely on the protection, rescue, and recovery of migrants. ‘Prevention through deterrence’ strategies must be a thing of the past. Halt the use of tactics that threaten the life and safety of migrants (such as dusting and fast-speed vehicle pursuits), initiate a working group with relevant state, local, and federal authorities and stakeholders to protect life, expand rescue operations, and provide humanitarian care in the border region.”

Policy Framework
Root Causes Initiative
“We are grassroots and faith organizations, with the support of faith leaders from Central America, Mexico and the United States, who believe in the fundamental dignity of each person, are conscious of the injustices committed against indigenous peoples and the poor across our region, and work to address the deep causes of poverty, violence, and corruption that force people to flee their homes in the region. We offer this action framework with the goal of fundamentally changing the economic, migration, human rights and development policies in the region, at the same time that we help all of our families survive this crisis and reconstruct a better, more just and equitable future.”

* 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.