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Migration News Brief 5.1.20

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A compilation of recent top articles and reports related to issues of U.S. immigration and enforcement policy and migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs: lalvarez@lawg.org.

Source: Peg Hunter/Flickr

COVID-19

General 
‘Another pandemic’: In Latin America, domestic abuse rises amid lockdown 
Lucila Sigal, Natalia A. Ramos, Miranda, Ana Isabel Martinez, Monica Machicao, Reuters, April 27, 2020 
“‘In a situation of confinement, what is happening is that women are locked up with their own abusers in situations where they have limited outlets,’ Maria Noel Baeza, regional director for UN Women, told Reuters. ‘Last year we had 3,800 femicides in the region, how many are we going to have this year?’”

We’re deporting people to vulnerable countries — and sending the virus with them 
Editorial Board, The Washington Post, April 29, 2020 
“Guatemala has pleaded with Washington to test detainees for the virus before deporting them. But U.S. officials have committed only to screen them for obvious symptoms; they are not tested before being loaded onto flights…The story is similar in Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest nation, which, fearing the arrival of infected individuals has asked U.S. officials to suspend deportation flights, only to be rebuffed.”

Economic Freeze Cuts Remittances, a Lifeland for Migrants’ Families 
Kirk Semple, New York Times, April 25, 2020 
“The money would arrive like clockwork: $300 every couple of weeks, sent by her husband, a day laborer and undocumented immigrant living in Indianapolis. It was the only source of income for María Alejandre and six other family members in Áparo, a small town in the western Mexican state of Michoacán. But more than four weeks have gone by since Ms. Alejandre’s husband last sent money, and with his work opportunities drying up amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Alejandra is deeply worried.”

Covid-19 causará otra “explosión” migratoria en Centroamérica
Confidencial, 24 de abril de 2020 
“La pandemia de covid-19, además de fortalecer el autoritarismo, va acrecentar la desigualdad, el hambre y la pobreza en Centroamérica, lo que se va a ver en una nueva ‘explosion’ de la migración hacia Estados Unidos, sostuvo el investigador salvadoreño José Miguel Cruz”.

UN alarmed by migrants caught in a no-man’s land at borders
AP News, April 23, 2020 
“The office said about 2,500 migrants are stuck in Panama after Costa Rica closed its border. Migrants are also trapped at Honduras’ border with El Salvador. And Mexican authorities have taken Central American migrants to the Guatemalan border and left them on their own, even though the Guatemalans are loathe to let them in, or allow them to travel through Guatemala to reach their homes.”

United States 
ICE Moved Dozens Of Detainees Across The Country During The Coronavirus Pandemic. Now Many Have COVID-19.
Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, April 29, 2020
“The idea, it appears, was to protect these immigrants, and other detainees, from the spread of the coronavirus by reducing jail populations in the northeast to create more “distancing.” But in the time since their journey, nearly two dozen of the detainees who were moved have tested positive for COVID-19, BuzzFeed News has learned — and Jalili fears the flight, and a subsequent bus ride, put him and the others at risk.”

The invisible, immigrant heroes of this pandemic
Bob Menendez, Univision News, April 28, 2020
“In the absence of action by the President to protect America’s TPS holders, Congress can and must step up and do the right thing. It is time to lift the cloud hanging over TPS holders’ futures by providing them with a pathway citizenship.”

“Exporting the virus”: Migrants deported by U.S. make up 20% of Guatemala’s coronavirus cases
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, April 27, 2020
“At least 99 migrants recently deported to Guatemala by the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday, according to the nation’s public health ministry. Deportees from the U.S. make up nearly 20% of the 500 coronavirus cases in Guatemala, which has had 15 pandemic-related deaths.”

Trump’s immigration crackdown is creating new coronavirus hotspots
Adam Isacson, World Politics Review, Business Insider, April 25, 2020
“The fourth hot zone is in southern New Mexico and Arizona, on the construction sites where sections of the border wall are being hastily built. New influxes of work crews are constructing fencing 24 hours a day, through the night, earning generous overtime from the defense budget so that Trump can claim to have built hundreds of miles of border wall by Election Day in November.”

US Judge Orders Release of Migrant Children Detained During COVID Pandemic
VOA News, April 25, 2020
“Gee concluded that ‘ORR and ICE shall continue to make every effort to promptly and safely release’ the detained children who are represented by the plaintiffs.”

Angustia en las procesadoras de pollo: hay casos de COVID-19 y los empleados dicen estar desinformados y desprotegidos
Milli Legrain, Telemundo Noticias, 25 de abril de 2020
“Trabajadores de tres compañías procesadoras de alimentos en Carolina del Norte – oriundos de México, Guatemala, Honduras y Cuba– alzan la voz para demandar mayores protecciones de sus empleadores, ayuda estatal, y acceso a pruebas e información en español”.

U.S. to test some immigrants for coronavirus before deportation
Ted Hesson and Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, April 23, 2020
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will acquire 2,000 tests per month from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to screen deportees, the official said, without mentioning the timing. The agency is unlikely to have enough tests for all deportees and will need to prioritize, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

El Salvador 
Deportados amanecieron inundados en centro de cuarentena 
Evelyn Machuca, La Prensa Grafica, 28 de abril de 2020 
“‘Están peor que en un centro de detención, porque son personas que no están siendo procesadas por la comisión de un delito. Están bajo confinamiento en el contexto del covid-19, pero al pasar 45 días privados de libertad sin que siquiera se les hayan efectuado pruebas de covid-19 para verificar si son portadores del virus, estamos hablando de situaciones violatorias que están muy lejos de responder a las necesidades de contención y propagación del virus’, expresó Medrano”.

El Salvador offers loans, salary subsidies to ease coronavirus impact
Reuters, April 24, 2020 
“The package also features a salary subsidy for employees of small and medium-sized businesses equivalent to half of workers’ earnings each month, which is expected will cost some $140 million, plus a $50 million monthly food assistance scheme that will provide basics to 1.7 million families.”

Identidades LGBTI+ frente a la pandemia: ni descartables ni pasadas por alto
Amaral Arévalo, El Faro, 24 de abril de 2020
“Quienes no “encajamos” en el modelo binario heterosexual públicamente nos vemos en los márgenes de dichas políticas públicas, y seremos quienes padeceremos mayoritariamente sus consecuencias, silenciadas en el discurso de la maquinaria publicitaria gubernamental”.

PDDH constata “tratos crueles e inhumanos” contra los detenidos en la cuarentena
Roxana Lazo, El Faro, 24 de abril de 2020
“La Policía y el Ejército han cometido ‘detenciones ilegales’ y ‘tratos crueles, inhumanos y degradantes’ contra los detenidos en la cuarentena, concluye un informe que la Procuraduría para la Defensa de Derechos Humanos presentó a la Asamblea Legislativa y a la Corte Suprema de Justicia”.

Guatemala 
Unwelcomed in US – and at home: Deported Guatemalans face threats
Jeff Abbott, Al Jazeera, April 27, 2020
“’We saw several actions persecuting people returned to our country,’ President Alejandro Giammattei said during a television address last week. ‘We are doing what we can to stop the flow of migrants who arrive without guarantees of health,’ he said. ‘I ask everyone when they see a deported migrant who has documents that say they were in quarantine that we don’t see them as a criminal, but rather as a brother that has returned home.’”

Honduras
Migrantes deben entrar en cuarentena dentro de centros de aislamiento temporal 
La Prensa, 29 de abril de 2020 
“Los espacios acondicionados bajo los protocolos de bioseguridad estarán listos para la recepción de al menos 300 personas entre ambas instalaciones, donde los migrantes recibirán desayuno, almuerzo y cena, atención médica y psicológica gratuita, además de insumos de bioseguridad y la revisión constante para detectar la sintomatología del    coronavirus.”

Mujer deportada con orden de captura esta sospechosa de COVID-19 en Copán
Radio America Honduras, April 29, 2020 
“El sistema nacional penitenciario del país ha reportado este miércoles un caso sospechoso de coronavirus tras la muerte de un reo en la máxima cárcel de seguridad en llama, Santa Bárbara, el cual estaría siendo investigado por las autoridades en Honduras. Este caso sospechoso se tratra de una mujer deportada el recién pasado lunes de Estados Unidos, acusada de haber participado en el asesinato de su comparnero de hogar en el ano 2017”.

Local Leaders Combat Food Insecurity in Honduras
Fund for Global Human Rights, April 27, 2020
“Through years of collective action and successful resistance to these exploitive development projects and unsustainable agricultural practices, the Garifuna have developed new ways of ensuring their communities have access to food. As COVID-19 disrupts supply chains and drives up food prices, these innovative solutions are offering critical relief to Garifuna communities facing hunger.”

La Corrupción en Tiempos del COVID-19
Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción, 27 de abril de 2020
“El Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción (CNA) dando continuidad a la veeduría que rea- liza fuera del entorno de la ejecución del presupuesto destinado para hacer frente a la pan- demia mundial COVID-19, presenta ante la ciudadanía la segunda parte de la investigación efectuada a la adquisición de insumos por parte del Estado, específicamente haciendo alu- sión a las tan polémicas mascarillas N95 y las descartables, las cuales han venido siendo objeto de numerosas denuncias ciudadanas que llegan a diario a la plataforma del Consejo por sus elevados precios”.

Monitoreo del COVID19 en Honduras: 26 de abril del 2020
Centro de estudio para la Democracia, 26 de abril de 2020
“Desde el CESPAD, les compartimos el resumen diario de noticias sobre el Covid-19 en Honduras. Al 26 de abril se reportan 531 casos activos, 61 personas muertas y 69 recuperadas, en 12 de los 18 departamentos”.

In already poor Honduras, coronavirus pushes some into homelessness
Marvin Valladares, Reuters, April 24, 2020
“Since March 25, the government has been delivering care packages of basic foodstuffs door-to-door, which include items like beans, rice, hand sanitizer, and face masks. They estimate that some 3.2 million people had received the packages. But the newly homeless who Reuters spoke said that without their own place, they had received nothing.”

Mexico
Despite pandemic restrictions, people fleeing violence and persecution continue to seek asylum in Mexico
Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR, April 28, 2020
“By designating the registration of new asylum claims an essential activity, Mexico has ensured that people receive protection from being forced to return to their countries of origin, where their lives may be in danger, as their cases are processed. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, says these practices show that long-standing principles of international refugee law can be upheld even as governments take measures to protect public health.”

INM vacía estaciones migratorias: deportan a 3 mil 653 quedan 106 extranjeros detenidos
Alberto Pradilla, Animal Politico, 27 de abril de 2020 
“Lo que no aclara el boletín es cuántos de los centroamericanos deportados habían sido previamente entregados por Estados Unidos. Desde el inicio de la contingencia, Washington anunció que rechazará de forma inmediata y sin opción a pedir asilo a las personas que fuesen sorprendidas cruzando irregularmente la frontera. En una decisión sin precedentes Mexico anunció que aceptaría recibir también a detenidos procedentes de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador”.

Mexico all but empties official migrant centers in bid to contain coronavirus
Reuters, April 26, 2020
“In a statement, the National Migration Institute (INM) said that since March 21, in order to comply with health and safety guidelines, it had been removing migrants from its 65 migrant facilities, which held 3,759 people last month. In the intervening weeks, Mexico has returned 3,653 migrants to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador by road and air, with the result that only 106 people remain in the centers, it said.”

Emergencia sanitaria frena solicitudes de asilo en México
La Verdad Juárez, Conexión Migrante, 25 de abril de 2020
“El confinamiento, las restricciones al tránsito de personas y el cierre de fronteras provocadas por la proliferación del coronavirus en Latinoamérica frenó ligeramente la tendencia al alza”.

U.S Enforcement

Pentagon weighs replacing active duty troops on US-Mexico border with National Guard 
Ryan Browne, CNN, April 28, 2020 
“Shifting the mission to the National Guard is also likely to increase the cost of the border operation, as the federalized National Guard personnel serving there will now be eligible for benefits that they would not have received otherwise. As of April the cost of deploying active duty forces to the border in fiscal year 2019 and 2020 was approximately $175.3 million according to the Pentagon. The cost of deploying the National Guard to the border during that same period was approximately $465.8 million.”

Let’s Call it a Wall
Theo Deutinger, E-Flux, April 26, 2020
“Until the Secure Fence Act, there were no clear design guidelines for border barriers, which resulted in a large variety of fence typologies. We have identified eight barrier and wall typologies, plus eleven fence typologies.”

How the Supreme Court has enabled Trump on immigration
Joan Biskupic, CNN, April 24, 2020
“Trump’s travel ban, which traced to his early days in office, ‘is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President,’ Roberts wrote. He stressed that the court was considering ‘the authority of the Presidency itself,’ rather than focusing on past statements Trump had made.”

Stephen Miller has long-term vision for Trump’s ‘temporary’ immigration order, according to private call with supporters
Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post, April 24, 2020
“‘As a numerical proposition, when you suspend the entry of a new immigrant from abroad, you’re also reducing immigration further because the chains of follow-on migration that are disrupted,’ said Miller, one of the executive order’s main authors. ‘So the benefit to American workers compounds with time.’”

Trump administration ducks and dodges to justify wall spending
David Rogers, Politico, April 24, 2020
“The second is back in Washington, where the Defense Department continues to withhold information as to how precisely it diverted $3.6 billion in military construction appropriations to help speed this work. This secrecy is a great riddle, given how open the administration once was in claiming its authority to toss aside laws under the president’s emergency powers.”

The translators giving indigenous migrants a voice
Victoria Stunt and Megan Janetsky, BBC News, April 20, 2020
“In about 10 to 15% of cases, Mr Reyes says, the migrant he is working with does not speak English or Spanish. Most are from Guatemala, a country where nearly half of the population is indigenous. For many of these migrants, a translator – the ability to communicate their cases, including credible fear or previous cases of torture or political prosecution – could be the difference between life and death.”

Mexican Enforcement

El gobierno estudia alternativas para reiniciar procesos migratorios detenidos por la pandemia
Jorge Cancino, Univision, 23 de abril de 2020
“‘No me sorprendería si los procesos migratorios entran en una era virtual’, dice José Guerrero, un abogado de inmigración que ejerce en Miami, Florida. ‘La pandemia está obligando al gobierno a buscar formas electrónicas de continuar con los procesos y al mismo tiempo proteger a sus empleados y al publico, agregó”.

Mexico: Free Detained Migrants Amid Pandemic
Human Rights Watch, April 14, 2020
“Mexican authorities should comply with their international legal obligation to urgently release migrants if they can no longer be deported to their country of origin or are being held in arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Such releases are not only in line with international human rights law, but also critical to reduce the risk that migrants face in detention centers unable to ensure protection from transmission of the new coronavirus.”

Root Causes 

Former police chief of Honduras accused of trafficking drugs to US
Jeff Ernst, The Guardian, April 30, 2020 
“According to the complaint filed on Thursday by the Southern District of New York, the former police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla ‘participated in extreme violence, including the murder of a rival trafficker, to further the conspiracy.’ Prosecutors also allege that Bonilla was entrusted with ‘special assignments including murder’ by President Hernández – who is identified as a co-conspirator – and his brother, Tony.”

Former Chief of Honduran National Police Charged With Drug Trafficking And Weapons Offense 
U.S. Attorney’s Office, April 30, 2020 
“DEA Special Agent in Charge Wendy Woolcook said: ‘Juan Carlos Bonilla-Valladares allegedly used his high ranking position to influence those working for him and violently protect the politically connected drug traffickers who would smuggle cocaine destined for the United States. As alleged, this was a blatant and horrific violation of the oath taken by Bonilla-Valladares to protect the citizens of Honduras. The filing of these charges is another positive action taken by the United States to bring corrupt officials to justice.’”

The President of El Salvador has authorized lethal force by police and military against gangs after a deadly weekend
Flora Charner, Tatiana Arias, and Hollie Silverman, CNN, April 28, 2020
“El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has authorized the use of lethal force by the police and army against gang members he says are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, after a weekend of violence left at least 50 people dead across the country. The president authorized lethal force ‘against the terrorists who are carrying out imminent threats against the physical integrity of the population,’ he explained.”

Suspender elecciones violaría nuestro derecho a elegir
Malcolm Cartagena, El Faro, 28 de abril de 2020
“Y así podrían darse muchos otros ejemplos, pero la intención de suspender las elecciones no solo enfrenta una indoblegable voluntad de la gente y su vocación democrática, sino también un valladar legal consignado en nuestra Constitución”.

OACNUDH llama a que las autoridades investiguen denuncias de uso excesivo de la fuerza y tomen medidas para prevenir su repetición
OACNUDH, 27 de abril de 2020
“En un incidente ocurrido el 24 de abril en la comunidad El Paraíso, en Omoa, Cortés, dos hombres resultaron heridos con arma de fuego en un operativo de control llevado a cabo por agentes de la Policía Militar del Orden Público y uno de ellos falleció al día siguiente en el hospital”.

Piezas para entender la súbita alza de homicidios 
Carlos Martínez, Óscar Martínez, Efren Lemus, El Faro, 27 de abril de 2020 
“Hace un mes, la Mara Salvatrucha-13 y las dos facciones del Barrio 18 enviaban mensajes conciliatorios y prometían, en sus propias palabras, contener su fuerza criminal en el contexto de la pandemia de COVID-19 que atraviesa el país. Pero el viernes 24 de abril, ese tembloroso equilibrio se rompió y El Salvador termino el dia con 23 asesinatos”.

El Salvador authorizes use of lethal force against gangs
Reuters, Yahoo, April 26, 2020 
“The government this weekend also ordered members of rival gangs into shared cells in a bid to break up lines of communication between members of the same group, and carried out searches in at least five prisons.”

Gobierno mezcla reos de diferentes pandillas en las mismas celdas ante emergencia total en sistema penitenciario
René Gómez, La Prensa Gráfica, 26 de abril de 2020
“Ayer, el presidente salvadoreño, Nayib Bukele, ordenó decretar emergencia total los centros penitenciarios ocupados por pandilleros ya que según informes de inteligencia desde estos lugares se habían girado órdenes de aumentar los homicidios en el territorio”.

Solicitan medidas cautelares ante CIDH para proteger la vida de defensores del Río Guapinol
Radio Progreso, 24 de abril de 2020
“Esta solicitud se genera ante la existencia de un riesgo inminente de daño irreparable a los derechos a la vida, la salud y la integridad de los defensores, en virtud de las condiciones de detención preventiva en las que se encuentran, las cuales se han visto recrudecidas en el marco de la crisis penitenciaria que atraviesa Honduras y la pandemia de COVID-19 que afecta actualmente a la humanidad”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

COVID-19 & Immigration Detention: What Can Governments and Other Stakeholders Do?
Working Group on Alternatives to Immigration Detention, United Nations Network on Migration, April 29, 2020
“The present document aims to provide practical guidance to States and other stakeholders in preventing and responding to COVID-19 in the context of immigration detention, highlighting instances of promising practices as useful models to draw from.”

COVID-19 in ICE Custody: Biweekly Analysis & Update
Freedom for Immigrants, April 29, 2020
“Information included in this update was collected between April 15-April 29, 2020. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by 348 during this time, with the largest concentrations of confirmed cases occurring in New York, Louisiana, and California. During this period officials from other government entities stated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suppressed their ability to publicly report the results of their own COVID-19 testing at facilities where ICE is co-located with other law enforcement entities.”

Deportation and Disease: Central America’s COVID-19 Dilemmas
International Crisis Group, April 28, 2020
“Central American governments should respond by urging the U.S. either to pause deportations or to reform how they are handled, ensuring that strict health checks are in place before any more migrants are sent back.”

Exporting COVID-19: ICE Air Conducted Deportation Flights to 11 LAC Countries, Flight Data Shows
Jake Johnston, CEPR, April 27, 2020
“Amid the global pandemic, which has led to countries shutting down air travel and closing borders, ICE Air continues to deport thousands of immigrants held in detention centers throughout the United States. Those facilities themselves have become hotspots of COVID-19 outbreaks, meaning the US is now exporting the virus to countries throughout the region.”

Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and Norwegian Refugee Council
“This year’s GRID breaks down data by conflict, violence and disasters across 145 countries. This edition looks at policy and operational practice from across the world and shows what is being done by countries to prevent, respond to and resolve internal displacement.”

COVID-19 and the Remaking of U.S. Immigration Policy? Empirically Evaluating the Myth of Immigration and Disease
Tom K. Wong, US Immigration Policy Center, April 22, 2020
“The myth that immigration brings disease is a centuries-old trope used to heighten anti-immigrant fears and anxieties. To be clear, the myth of immigration and disease is not supported by the academic literature.”