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Migration News Brief 6.12.20

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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.


Graphic: Expulsions and Deportations During the COVID-19 Epidemic
Benji Toruno, Daniella Burgi-Palomino, The Latin America Working Group, June 10, 2020
“Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, CBPis illegally expelling asylum seekers and sending them back to harm. We must work to end inhumane policies domestically and abroad!”

Infographic: How COVID-19 is Exposing Repression in Latin America
Antonio Saadipour, The Latin America Working Group, June 4, 2020
“Governments across Latin America & the Caribbean are using this pandemic to repress or take authoritarian actions against their citizens. We urge Congress to pass the Protecting Human Rights During Pandemic Act.”



Where Are Latin Americans Most At Risk of Starvation?
Latin America Advisor, June 12, 2020
“The World Food Program reported that the food situation is acute in Haiti; among migrant populations from Venezuela that are in neighboring Colombia, Ecuador and Peru; and along the ‘Dry Corridor’ of Central America. Also, Cuba faces the double burden of Covid-19 and the long-standing U.S. embargo, and the political situation in Venezuela is exacerbating hunger and starvation.”

“Take Them Away or We’ll Set Them on Fire!” With Covid-19, Communities Fear Return of Deported Migrants
Sofía Menchú, Ángeles Mariscal, El Faro, June 11, 2020
“Cumes is now emblematic of another reality: the rejection facing thousands of deported Central American migrants as they attempt to return to their native communities amid the pandemic. Between March and April, the U.S. government deported 20,860 migrants of all nationalities from its southwest border, claiming such action was “required in the interest of public health,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

Latin America hits 70,000 pandemic deaths, daily record in Mexico
Reuters, June 10, 2020
“Latin America’s coronavirus crisis reached a grim new milestone on Wednesday with total deaths exceeding 70,000, according to a Reuters count, as Mexico hit a daily record for confirmed infections.”

IRC data shows an increase in reports of gender-based violence across Latin America
International Rescue Committee, June 9, 2020
“New data from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and partners show a dramatic increase in reports of gender-based violence across Latin America since the COVID-19 pandemic. In El Salvador, reports have increased 70% since the pandemic, and in Mexico femicides increased by 65% between March and April.”

WHO Americas director concerned about pandemic surging in new Latin America regions
Reuters, June 9, 2020
“The World Health Organization’s regional director for the Americas Carissa Etienne said on Tuesday that data has raised concerns that novel coronavirus cases are surging in new places in Latin America as some areas show ‘exponential’ rises. Etienne, who heads the WHO’s regional branch the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), cited a rising number of cases in countries, including Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Haiti and Suriname.”

La normalidad antes del COVID-19 en Latinoamérica mataba más que el virus
El País, 5 de junio de 2020
“En declaraciones a Efe en Tegucigalpa, vía Zoom, Ramos subrayó que desde hace una semana y media el Consejo Latinoamericano de Investigación para la Paz (CLAIP) promueve el ‘Manifiesto por una nueva normalidad» como parte de la campaña. Una nueva normalidad es posible (y necesaria)’ .Agregó que la campaña pretende ‘propiciar el desarrollo de un movimiento global de raíz latinoamericana orientado a la construcción participativa de otro mundo posible’”.

United States

U.S. policy of expelling migrant children during pandemic faces first court challenge
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, June 9, 2020
“Lawyers for a 16-year-old boy from Honduras on Tuesday made a last-ditch attempt to stop his swift deportation from U.S. soil, mounting the first legal challenge against the Trump administration’s policy of rapidly expelling migrant children from the southern border during the coronavirus pandemic”

Stranded in Central America, migrants demand passage to U.S. border
Eddie Moreno, Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, June 4, 2020
“The migrants were stranded when lockdown measures imposed across Central America weeks ago to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus stopped their long journey toward the United States.”

El Salvador

El Salvador President, Court Clash Over Virus Measures
Marcos Alemán, NPR, June 10, 2020
“President Nayib Bukele is again locked in battle with El Salvador’s Supreme Court after its constitutional chamber ruled his government’s obligatory stay-at-home decree unconstitutional.”

Remittances, a Lifeline for El Salvador, Plummet Amid Pandemic
Santiago Pérez, The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2020
“The money being sent back to the Central American country dropped 40% in April from the same month last year, as the jobless rate surged in the U.S. The slum in El Salvador where María Graciela Barrera lives is dotted with white flags, outside homes, serving as distress signals that people inside don’t have enough food. The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout thousands of miles away in the U.S. is hitting people like Ms. Barrera, 89, who is no longer getting the $50 a month that two of her grandchildren send from Los Angeles.”


COVID-19 Delays Ruling on Dos Erres Massacre Charges
Marie Burt, Paulo Estrada, International Justice Monitor, June 11, 2020
“The United States deported Jordán earlier this year after he served ten years in prison for immigration fraud and for lying about his role in the massacre. Now back in Guatemala, he faces charges of crimes against humanity and aggravated sexual assault. The hearing was suspended, however, as Jordán did not appear in court. The judge requested information from prison authorities about Jordán’s failure to appear.”

IMF approves $594 million in aid for Guatemala’s COVID-19 response
Reuters, June 10, 2020
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $594 million emergency assistance package for Guatemala’s response to the coronavirus crisis, the lender said on Wednesday.”

Guatemalan Farmers Going Hungry Amidst Pandemic
Jeff Abbott, El Faro, June 4, 2020
“The efforts, while meant to keep people safe, are afflicting local communities: as markets are closed, crops are lost, and people are unable to access their land. Hunger and economic collapse looms over many small farmers throughout Guatemala.”


Honduras Begins Reopening Economy Despite Coronavirus Risk to Health System
The New York Times, June 8, 2020
“Honduras on Monday began gradually reopening its economy after almost three months of paralysis during the coronavirus pandemic, even as some doctors warned the healthcare system may be overloaded.The Central American nation imposed a nationwide curfew in mid-March, closing shops, industries and public offices.”

Honduras: Saqueo extractivista y defensa del territorio en tiempos de COVID-19
CESPAD, 5 de junio de 2020
“En medio de la reapertura inteligente de negocios, el aumento de los contagios por COVID19, protestas sociales en demanda de alimentos y represión policial, comunidades continúan siendo asechadas y saqueadas por las políticas extractivistas con la venia del Estado”.


‘We’re forgotten.’ Mexico City paramedics say government failing to support them amid the pandemic
Matt Rivers, Natalie Gallón, CNN, June 11, 2020
“CNN interviewed seven paramedics and one doctor who work in Mexico City public ambulances, belonging to two different sections of the country’s Health Ministry. All eight said they feel a sense of betrayal because they argue the government has not helped to keep them safe.”

U.S Enforcement

Despite “Concerns,” State Department Certifies El Salvador as Eligible for U.S. Aid
Jaimie Quintanilla, El Faro, June 12, 2020
“The U.S. State Department has determined that the government of El Salvador is operating with sufficient respect for human rights and democratic institutions, that at the same time expresses “significant concern” over President Nayib Bukele’s seizure of the Legislative Assembly in February, as well as the president’s attempts to silence journalists and media outlets critical of the government.”

Trump administration proposes sweeping asylum restrictions
Elliot Spagat, Star Tribune, June 10, 2020
“The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed sweeping restrictions on asylum, seeking to align a legal framework with the president’s efforts to limit immigration to the United States.The moves are only the latest in a series of measures that Trump has taken to limit asylum — this time aimed at changing complicated guidelines and procedures governing immigration courts.”

Groups Challenge Trump Administration’s Illegal Border Expulsions
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, June 10, 2020
“The American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and Oxfam have filed a legalchallenge to the Trump administration’s order restricting immigration at the border based on an unprecedented and unlawful invocation of the Public Health Service Act, located in Title 42 of the U.S. Code.”

ACLU files lawsuit against border coronavirus restrictions
Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, June 10, 2020
“The American Civil Liberties Union, along with two other immigrant advocacy organizations, filed the first lawsuit Tuesday against stringent border restrictions related to coronavirus that largely bar migrants from entering the United States.”

The U.S. gave her refuge from gangs. But her 13-year-old daughter was expelled under Trump’s new border policy
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, June 10, 2020
“‘I didn’t know what was going to happen to my daughter,’ Magdalena said, recounting the moments after the call. ‘She was going back to a place she fled to seek asylum, refuge and safety in this country. And she was sent to that very same place to run the same risk.’”

Deportation flights to Guatemala resume
Associated Press, June 9, 2020
“The United States resumed deportation flights to Guatemala Tuesday, nearly a month after the Central American country refused to accept them. A flight from Alexandria, Louisiana landed in the Guatemalan capital Tuesday afternoon. The plane carried 40 adults and 10 children.”

Trump administration OKs aid to Central American countries praised for immigration help
Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles, Times, June 5, 2020
“In documents filed with Congress and reviewed by The Times, State Department analysts reported limited success in the countries’ efforts to improve human rights, police practices and governance, or in curbing corruption and violence. Where the three received the highest marks, however, was in their cooperation with President Trump’s immigration policies, designed to drastically reduce legal and illegal migration from Central America to the U.S.”

People are sawing through and climbing over Trump’s border wall. Now contractors are being asked for ideas to make it less vulnerable.
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, June 4, 2020
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection has asked contractors for help making President Trump’s border wall more difficult to climb over and cut through, an acknowledgment that the design currently being installed along hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico boundary remains vulnerable.”

Mexican Enforcement

EU no ha cumplido con apoyo en CA para disminuir migración: AMLO
Fabiola Martínez, Alma Muñoz, La Jornada, 12 de junio de 2020
“El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador aseveró que el gobierno de Estados Unidos no cumplió su compromiso de generación de empleos para el sur-sureste del país, en el contexto del fortalecimiento del área y de Centroamérica, como alternativa para disminuir la migración hacia el norte.”

From Angola to America. African migrants now stuck at Mexico’s border
Pedro Cardoso, ZAM, June 11, 2020
“On 18 April, for fear of creating hotbeds of COVID 19 contagion, a Mexico City judge ordered the release of migrants from sixty-five overcrowded immigration centres in the country. By the end of that month, with both the northern and southern border lines under lockdown, the Mexican National Migration Institute (INM) estimated that over twenty thousand migrants were stranded at border lines.”

Root Causes 

Tracing the Causes of Berta Cáceres’ Life and Death
Oliver Balch, America’s Quarterly, June 11, 2020
“Menacing text messages, unmarked cars, informants, phone taps: all formed regular parts of her daily routine. “We fear for our lives,” she told a foreign radio station more than a year before her murder. The volume of threats could fill an entire chapter of a book, a possibility on which Nina Lakhani’s Who Killed Berta Cáceres? duly delivers.”

Organismos sociales proponen a Asamblea una CICIES independiente
Violeta Rivas, elsalvador.com, 11 de junio de 2020
“Organismos sociales presentaron a la Asamblea Legislativa una iniciativa para la creación de unaComisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en El Salvador (CICIES) que sea liderada por una autoridad internacional, “y no creada por un decreto del Gobierno”, dijo Celia Medrano, directora de programas de Cristosal, institución de derechos humanos”.

Outrage as Guatemalan Maya spiritual guide is tortured and burned alive
Jeff Abbott, The Guardian, June 10, 2020
“His murder has prompted indignation in Guatemala and beyond, and evokes dark memories of the country’s genocidal civil war, in which the indigenous population was subject to systematic cruelty. ‘We are indignant How is it possible that our own people could behave so ignorantly?’ said Jose Che, the secretary of Guatemala’s Relebaal Saqe association of councils of spiritual guides.”

El Salvador: Broad Powers Limit Accountability
Human Rights Watch, June 9, 2020
“The government of El Salvador’s decision to suspend public information requests, including for COVID-19 individual test results and quarantine conditions, is putting the health of Salvadorans at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. The decision strips the right of access to information of all meaning.”

Airspace Law Further Exposes Contradictory US-Honduras Drug Partnership
Alex Papadovassilakis and Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, June 8, 2020
“The approval of a new law targeting drug planes will afford the Honduras government improved access to US counternarcotics intelligence at a time when US prosecutors have repeatedly alleged the Honduran president has links to the drug trade.”

Se profundiza la discriminación contra grupos vulnerables en Honduras en contraste con el silencia informativo de los medios corporativos
Dina Meza, Pasos de Animal Grande, 7 de junio de 2020
“Asimismo describe cómo el Estado de Honduras no está protegiendo a los migrantes que pasan por el país. Otro de las informaciones que devela discriminación a grupos vulnerables es la demanda de derechos de las trabajadoras domesticas. Por último la violencia contra mujeres, niños, niñas y jóvenes no está siendo resuelta por el Estado de Honduras”.

Según expertos: Estados de la región siguen aprovechándose de la pandemia para restringir derechos
Dina Meza, Pasos de Animal Grande, 5 de junio de 2020
“Entre los derechos que no son sujetos de suspensión están el reconocimiento de la personalidad jurídica, a la vida, la integridad personal, la prohibicion de la esclavitud y servidumbre, el principio de legalidad y de retroactividad, la libertad de conciencia y religion, a la proteccion de la familia, el derecho al nombre, los derechos de las y los niños, a la nacionalidad y los derechos politicos”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

Dead Ends: No Path to Protection for Asylum Seekers Under the Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement
Georgetown University Law Center, June 10, 2020
“The report reveals concerning gaps in protection in Guatemala’s Migration code, significant departures from the law in practice, and a general lack of capacity to handle an influx of asylum claims. The absence of Guatemalan governmental capacity shifts the burden of providing assistance to asylum seekers to a few overstretched and under-resourced civil society organizations, who are not a party to the Agreement.”

Política migratoria en Estados Unidos: un boletín para organizaciones mesoamericanas- mayo 2020
CEJIL, 9 de junio de 2020
“En esta edición del boletín, analizamos los siguientes avances y retrocesos..CDC adopta extensión indefinida de la suspensión de asilo en frontera. Jueza reitera la orden de liberará niñez migrante detenida y rechaza la práctica de ‘elección binaria’ que amenaza con la separación familiar. Corte federal anula el retorno de personas ya en territorio estadounidense a México de acuerdo con el MPP”.

One Year After U.S.-Mexico Migration Deal, a Widespread Humanitarian Disaster
Elyssa Pachico and Maureen Meyer, Washington Office on Latin America, June 6, 2020
“Moving forward, these harmful and chaotic policies are likely to endure under the false pretext that they’re needed to contain further spread of the COVID-19 virus and to prevent mass migration to the United States. Migrants and asylum seekers are not responsible for the pandemic. The blame lies with insufficient testing, a slow response, and poor coordination by both federal governments.”


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