en English

Migration News Brief 4.17.20

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

U.S. Enforcement

Stephen Miller’s hardline policies on refugee families make a comeback at HHS
Dan Diamond, Politico, April 16, 2020
“The office — which takes custody of thousands of migrant children — is now seeking to delay placing migrant children in shelters operated by the health department, which would instead leave those children in the custody of the border patrol for an extended length of time, according to an internal email sent last week and reviewed by POLITICO.”

Supplies for coronavirus field hospital held up at U.S.-Mexico border
Julia Love and Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, April 15, 2020
“Red tape and rules on exporting medical gear have delayed work on a field hospital for migrants in an asylum camp near Mexico’s border with Texas, undercutting efforts to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic, according to organizers of the project.”

75% of migrants deported to Guatemala on single flight tested positive for coronavirus: Health minister
Conor Finnegan, ABC News, April 15, 2020
“He also suggested that between 50% and 75% of all migrants deported from the U.S. recently have tested positive, without specifying what time frame he was talking about or providing a total number, but he later walked that back, saying he was referring to one flight. The country’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance has reported 180 cases in total, with five deaths. If Monroy is correct, it could mean dozens of Guatemala’s cases are tied to U.S. deportations.”

Guatemala walks back claim that majority of deportees from U.S. are infected with covid-19
Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, April 15, 2020
“On Tuesday evening, Monroy said that 50 to 75 percent of all deportees who have been sent to Guatemala during the pandemic had tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. In an updated statement Wednesday, he did not explain how his initial error was made.”

Mexican Workers Hit by U.S. Lockdowns Struggle to Send Money Home
Alejandro Lazo and Robbie Whelan, Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2020
“‘Anytime there’s a problem in the United States, a crisis or lots of deportations, and people can’t send money, we always feel it,’ said Patricia Barragán Mora, Ms. Aguilar’s sister, an elementary school teacher in the small town of Huajuapan de León, in Oaxaca.”

US plans new aid to Central America, year after Trump cutoff
AFP, France24, April 14, 2020
“‘To support further progress, additional targeted Department of State and United States Agency for International Development funding will be made available,’ Pompeo said in a statement. ‘This funding will support programs to continue our joint efforts to deter illegal immigration to the United States.’ Pompeo said that money would also back security programs and assist economic development led by the private sector.

US-Mexico border: The ‘sidewalk school’ teaching migrant children
Dylan Baddour, Al Jazeera, April 13, 2020
“Once a housewife in Brownsville, Rangel-Samponaro had long volunteered to help the many migrants who passed through her city. But after new US migration rules last year known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ began blocking asylum seekers from entering her country, Rangel-Samponaro, saddened by what she saw, got fully involved. She founded a school. She moved to Mexico.”

The Impending Mass Grave Across the Border From Texas
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, New York Times, April 12, 2020
“Under normal circumstances, if you can call any of this normal, doctors and nurses can’t do much aside from tending to a wound that requires stitches, and diagnosing strep throat or the flu. They aren’t able to get tests to diagnose Covid-19.”

This crisis requires political courage to respect our values. Trump isn’t doing that.
Editorial Board, Washington Post, April 12, 2020
“Mr. Trump had severely tightened asylum procedures before the pandemic but had not, and could not, expunge the possibility that migrants with reasonable asylum claims could apply and be heard in court. Respecting those asylum procedures, like respecting civil liberties, presents few challenges during prosperity and peacetime. It is more difficult, and requires political courage, when the country is reeling economically, and on what amounts to a war footing, as it is today.”

“Me montaron en un carro y me tiraron para México”: las deportaciones exprés en tiempos de covid-19
Jorge Cancino, Univision Noticias, 12 de abril de 2020
“Las deportaciones aceleradas en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos no se detienen. Las autoridades no están procesando casos de asilo, sino que envían a los migrantes de regreso inmediatamente. Mientras, en el lado mexicano, los albergues están llenos o cerrados”.

Trump Threatens to Deny Visas to Countries Refusing Deportees
Michelle Hackman, Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2020
“The memo, issued by President Trump on Friday night, gives the administration authority to suspend visa access to any country that ‘denies or unreasonably delays’ accepting citizens that the U.S. is seeking to deport, on grounds that the deported immigrants might be infected with  the new coronavirus.”

Migrant Children Still Face Speedy Deportation Hearings in COVID-19 Hotspots
Julia Preston, The Marshall Project, April 10, 2020
“They are children who were caught crossing the southwest border without papers and sent to migrant shelters in New York when the coronavirus was silently spreading… In two courthouses in the center of the besieged city, hearings for unaccompanied children—migrants who were apprehended without a parent—are speeding forward. The U.S. Department of Justice, which controls the immigration courts, has said it has no plan to suspend them.”

U.S. judge orders ICE to say how many detained migrants are being released under expanded coronavirus medical reviews
Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, April 9, 2020
“U.S. immigration officials must disclose the number of releases they have granted or denied from detention centers in five southern states to migrants considered at higher risk of dying from coronavirus. The order from U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg came during a hearing Thursday — days after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement expanded the categories of detainees who should be considered for release beyond pregnant women and those over age 70.”

 

Mexican Enforcement

Thousands of Migrants in Matamoros Set to be Moved to a New Encampment, Advocates Say
Acacia Coronado, Texas Observer, April 10, 2020
“Rudnik believes the move has little to do with the virus: Now 2,000 people will be in close quarters. Rather, she thinks it’s about having greater control over the migrants in the camp. She said Mexican officials have not provided a plan for how the migrants will be fed and what liberties they will have to move about and travel.”

Conapred: pide a INM explicar abandono de migrantes
Alexis Ortiz, El Universal, 14 de abril de 2020
“El Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación mencionó que fueron traslados 500 migrantes del Norte al Sur del país, y poteriormente abandonados en el municipio de Tapachula ante la saturación de la Estación Migratoria Siglo XXI”.

How Migrant Shelters in Mexico Are Facing COVID-19
Mia Armstrong, Slate, April 13, 2020
“Given all this, migrant shelters face a difficult dilemma: Do they stay open and continue providing services to the people who need them now more than ever? Or do they close their doors in an effort to protect the people they already have inside? I spoke with officials from three migrant shelters—one each in north, central, and southern Mexico—about how they’ve responded to the pandemic and their concerns for the future.”

Migrantes frente al COVID-19: entregados por EU, abandonados en México y con fronteras cerradas
Alberto Pradilla, Animal Politico, 12 de abril de 2020
“Nunca en la historia México había recibido a migrantes de otros países deportados como si fueran mexicanos. Tampoco se había establecido una ruta de expulsión por la que Estados Unidos entrega a los centroamericanos en la frontera y México se encarga de regresarlos lo más cerca posible a sus países”.

México admite riesgo por hacinamiento en estaciones migratorias ante pandemia
Eduard Ribas i Admetlla, Diario Libre, 12 de abril de 2020
“El coordinador general de la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar), Andrés Alfonso Ramírez, admitió que existen ‘riesgos de hacinamiento’ en las estaciones migratorias del país y apoyó la idea de reubicar a migrantes durante la pandemia del COVID-19. ‘Está habiendo una política novedosa de estar desalojando a gente de estaciones migratorias por riesgo de hacinamiento’, explicó este domingo en entrevista telefónica con Efe Ramírez, titular del organismo encargado de gestionar las solicitudes de refugio en México”.

 

Root Causes 

Bad News for Democracy in Central America
José Luiz Sanz, El Faro, April 15, 2020
“None of the four heads of state in northern Central America are currently facing unified, viable opposition parties. The tendency toward centralized pandemic responses could end up further normalizing the image of the political strongman and the wielding of patriotism as a cudgel against dissent and criticism. To ask the press to put off damage assessments as the panorama unfolds is to suggest that entire countries stick their heads in the sand for months to wait out the crisis.”

Autoaislamiento: medida insegura para las mujeres
Nancy García, Criterio, 31 de marzo de 2020
“Para las autoridades de salud la propagación del virus puede ser frenada mediante el confinamiento, pero para las víctimas de violencia doméstica el aislamiento es sinónimo de inseguridad. Un espacio que no garantiza salud física, psicológica y/o emocional”.

Abogados y defensores advierten abusos en nuevo decreto de cuarentena
Gabriela Villarroel, Diario El Mundo, 15 de abril de 2020
“Abogados constitucionalistas y defensores de derechos humanos coinciden en que las nuevas medidas del Gobierno para reforzar la cuarentena domiciliar obligatoria y combatir la pandemia de COVID-19 podrían provocar abusos y violar derechos establecidos en la Constitución de la República”.

Quetzaltenango: Pobladores rechazan llegada de deportados y les tiran piedras
Raúl Barreno Castillo, El Periódico, 15 de abril de 2020
“Vecinos de la colonia Vista Bella, zona 11 (una de siete colonias en aquel sector de la ciudad altense), protestaron este día porque el gobierno central dispuso usar el centro recreativo Atanasio Tzul (a cargo del Ministerio de Trabajo), para albergar a 80 migrantes retornados desde México. Al final, las autoridades decidieron llevarlos del lugar, debido a que temían por su seguridad. Algunos pobladores tiraron piedras a los guatemaltecos deportados”.

El Gobierno no puede violar la morada con decreto ejecutivo, según abogados
Eugenia Velásquez, Violeta Rivas y Mario González, Elsalvador.com, 15 de abril de 2020
“Los profesionales advierten que obligar a la ciudadanía a que abran las puertas de sus casas a personal de Salud sin tener sustento legal, el decomiso de vehículos cuando las fuerzas de seguridad pública valoren que el conductor ha violado la cuarentena domiciliar y enviarlos a centros de contención, va en contra del Artículo 20 de la Constitución que regula la inviolabilidad de la morada y que el decomiso del vehículo solo se puede hacer vía decreto legislativo pero con mesura”.

Mujeres son invisibilizadas en el marco del covid-19
El Pulso, 15 de abril de 2020
“‘El “Quedate” en Casa para salvaguardar tu salud física es contradictorio, nos expone a un conjunto de escenarios por los roles que desempeñamos las mujeres de violencia, se han agudizado la permanencia en casa, aumentan las tareas y el teletrabajo con labores domésticas’, explicó Maritza Perdomo, representante del Instituto Nacional de la Mujer (INAM)”.

IMF approves $389 million in emergency aid to help El Salvador face coronavirus
Daina Beth Solomon, Reuters, April 14, 2020
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday said it has approved a request from El Salvador for about $389 million in emergency financial assistance to help the Central American nation cope with the coronavirus pandemic.”

¿Qué dice el nuevo decreto 19 que regula la cuarentena nacional en El Salvador?
Diario El Mundo, 14 de abril de 2020
“El ministro de Salud firmó un nuevo decreto ejecutivo para regular la cuarentena nacional o el resguardo domiciliar como medida para contener los contagios de COVID-19. El decreto fue publicado la noche de este lunes por la cuenta de Twitter de Casa Presidencial e inicia su vigencia este martes 14 de abril. Este es un resumen”.

Mesa de derechos humanos expone el “estado crítico de la nación en tiempos de coronavirus”
Bella Carrillo, Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, 14 de abril de 2020
“La Mesa de Derechos Humanos, después de elaborar el Informe “Estado Crítico de la Nación en Tiempos de COVID-19”, expresa su preocupación por la ineficacia y falta de legitimidad en las medidas tomadas por el gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández para enfrentar la crisis humanitaria debido a los efectos de la pandemia por COVID-19 y el nivel de afectación que ésta ha tenido en el goce real de los derechos humanos, particularmente, para los grupos con altos niveles de exposición y vulnerabilidad”.

Coronavirus Affects Extortion Payments in Mexico and Central America
Maria Alejandra Navarette, InSight Crime, April 13, 2020
“According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI), despite certain criminal organizations showing greater flexibility in collecting extortion payments, they will want to ensure money continues to flow as quickly as possible. Therefore, GI suggested there is a high likelihood that these groups will start to collect extortion fees retroactively once quarantine measures start to be lifted.”

Covid-19 in El Salvador: safeguarding public health or restricting human rights?
Amaral Arévalo and Clare Wenham, LSE, April 13, 2020
“In this way, initial health measures have morphed into a regime of restrictive measures far harsher than those introduced elsewhere in the Americas. To implement such measures, the government has deployed an ambiguous communication strategy, allowing the revival of military action under the pretext of combating the virus. Anyone carrying the disease has become a new ‘enemy within.’”

Will President Bukele Lift El Salvador Out of Its Economic Slump?
Peter Schechter, Brink News, April 13, 2020
“But President Bukele is also trying to lift the country up by its economic bootstraps and give Salvadorans a reason to stay. If President Bukele succeeds — while respecting the nation’s democratic institutions (and this last item is not so obvious) — he could provide a new blueprint for migration policy around the world.”

Qué pasa en Honduras en el contexto de DDHH
Pasos de Animal Grande, 12 de abril de 2020
“Pasosdeanimalgrande Noticias informa en esta semana sobre la situación de violencia contra las mujeres, la cual es más letal que el Covid-19, según lo que han denunciado las organizaciones de mujeres y feministas. También  alrededor del calvario que viven los migrantes que pasan por el Sur del país. Asimismo otro tema humanitario que no podría faltar es la situación de los periodistas desplazados y exiliados por hacer periodismo crítico en el país y que pasan por más obstáculos en la emergencia del Covid-19”.

El Gobierno también puso en cuarentena el acceso a la información pública
Jimmy Alvarado, El Faro, 9 de abril de 2020
“La Presidencia de la República, ministerios e instituciones adscritas al Ejecutivo han cerrado las Oficinas de Información y Respuesta (OIR), y han dejado de entregar información pública, porque argumentan que la emergencia nacional declarada por el COVID-19 ha suspendido los procesos administrativos en el Estado”.

In El Salvador, gangs are enforcing the coronavirus lockdown with baseball bats
Kate Linthicum, Molly O’Toole, Alexander Renderos, L.A. Times, Yahoo News, April 7, 2020
“The street gangs that have long terrorized El Salvador have now turned their attention from extortion and killing to a more pressing matter: enforcing social distancing restrictions, often with threats and baseball bats.”

 

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

The Latest Brick In The Wall: How The Trump Administration Unlawfully ‘Expels’ Asylum Seekers & Unaccompanied Children In The Name Of Public Health
Azadeh Efrani, National Immigrant Justice Center, April 15, 2020
“On March 20, 2020, the Trump administration took the unprecedented step of sealing the U.S. border under the guise of curbing the COVID-19 pandemic. This sweeping executive action has raised many questions related to the intersection between public health and immigration law, particularly as countless asylum seekers and children have been “expelled” at the U.S. border.”

A Demographic Profile of TPS Holders Providing Essential Services During the Coronavirus Crisis
Nicole Prchal Svajlenka and Tom Jawetz, Center for American Progress, April 14, 2020
“While Americans continue to grapple with the coronavirus crisis, an estimated 131,300 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti are helping to support the nation by serving as essential workers. These individuals, who, due to their jobs, do not have the option to shelter in place or work from home, are exposing themselves to the risk of infection by continuing to report for duty as home health aides, repair workers, food processors, and more.”

Coronavirus Border Expulsions: CDC’s Assault on Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Minors
Lucas Guttentag, Just Security, April 13, 2020
“The Trump administration’s novel COVID-19 border ban invokes public health authority to erect a shadow immigration enforcement power in violation of the Refugee Act, legal safeguards for unaccompanied minors, and fundamental procedural rights. Relying on an obscure 1944 provision that provides no authority for immigration removals, the Centers for Disease Control purports to authorize summary Border Patrol expulsions of asylum seekers.”

Immigrant Workers in Low-Wage Frontline Jobs Need COVID-19 Workplace Protections Now
Holly Straut-Eppsteiner, National Immigration Law Center, April 10, 2020
“The federal response to COVID-19 should include reforms that recognize immigrants’ contributions during an unprecedented crisis. All workers deserve to be treated with dignity and have safe and sanitary working conditions so they can go to work each day without fear of risking their lives.”

Metering and COVID-19
Stephanie Leutert, Savitri Arvey, Ellie Ezzell, and Marianne Richardson, Strauss Center for International Security and Law, University of Texas at Austin, April 2020
“This report by the Robert Strauss Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (USMEX) at the University of California San Diego aims to provide an update on how metering’s suspension has affected asylum seekers and metering lists along the border. It also looks at how migrant shelters are preparing for COVID-19 cases among asylum seekers.”

Crisis within a Crisis: Immigration in the United States in a Time of COVID-19
Muzaffar Chishti and Sarah Pierce, Migration Policy Institute, March 26, 2020
“The anxiety triggered by the pandemic for long-term residents and recently arrived immigrants alike, legal and unauthorized, is exacerbated by fear of immigration enforcement, suspension of immigration benefit processing, and the high number of asylum seekers and other migrants in immigration detention.”