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Migration News Brief 6.5.20

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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: Daniel Arauz/Flickr




Evolution of Pandemic in South, Central America of Great Concern to WHO
Latin American Herald Tribune, June 4, 2020
“The executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, Michael Ryan, discussed Latin America in greater detail, first praising the smaller countries in the region, including the Caribbean, for managing to contain the virus in their territories, with the exception of Haiti, where the situation is considered serious due to the fragility of the country and because the virus has been spreading among vulnerable groups.”

Latin America had time to prepare for the coronavirus. It couldn’t stop the inevitable.
Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post, June 3, 2020
“In the end, Latin America’s efforts to stall the disease were undone by a familiar cast of foes. Poverty, inequality, corruption, plunging faith in institutions — many of the societal problems that predate the pandemic are now being magnified by it. Countries that tried to enforce complete lockdowns haven’t been able to maintain them for long as hunger mounts, misinformation spreads and distrust grows.”

Latin America: COVID-19 Challenges Higher Education
Eric Hershberg, Alexandra Flinn-Palcic, Christopher Kambhu, AULA Blog, June 2, 2020
“Fully 84 percent of respondents predict a drop in undergraduate registration, with half estimating a 10 to 25 percent decline. Predictions are only slightly better at the graduate level. Roughly two-thirds of the institutions surveyed host some international students, and of those, 60 percent of respondents from public universities and 30 percent from private institutions predict enrollment to decline by more than 50 percent.”

In Some Nations, Coronavirus Is Only One of Many Outbreaks
Kirk Semple, The New York Times, May 30, 2020
“As the coronavirus pandemic stalks the globe, some nations, particularly in the developing world, find themselves under extraordinary strain as they simultaneously contend with other outbreaks, chronic public health problems and challenges posed by government mismanagement, poverty and armed conflict.”

COVID-19 cases rise in overcrowded Central American prisons
Agencia EFE, May 30, 2020
“With almost 1,000 prisoners infected with COVID-19 in Central American prisons, and one death, the worst is feared due to overcrowding in the jails where it is impossible to maintain basic measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus.”

United States

Closing the Borders Won’t Flatten The Curve—If Anything, It’s Making Things Worse
David Miliband, Newsweek, June 1, 2020
“The deportation of thousands of people to countries from which they have fled in Latin America and the Caribbean is also a multiplier of insecurity. Through our humanitarian programs in Northern Central America, the IRC has witnessed the reality on the ground: on top of the violence, terror, and crises that have forced so many to flee in the first place, these countries are woefully ill-equipped to cope with the impacts of this pandemic.”

Covid-19 Spreads Deportation Fears Among Immigrant Doctors in U.S.
Russell Gold, Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2020
“Dr. Kumar, who is 37 years old and works in Grand Rapids, Mich., is one of an estimated 15,000 physicians in the country on a temporary H-1B visa while they wait years in line to become permanent residents. Their visas are tied to their employment, meaning that if a prolonged illness costs them their job—even temporarily—or their life, they and any dependents could lose their legal status in the U.S.”

El Salvador

El Salvador’s Congress OKs law to reopen economy, President Bukele vows veto
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, May 31, 2020
“Bukele has repeatedly angered rights groups, who say he has shown authoritarian tendencies, and clashed with lawmakers. In February, Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied congress.”

Four Confirmed Cases of Covid-19 among People Deported to El Salvador
Gabriela Cáceres, Nelson Rauda Zablah, El Faro, May 30, 2020
“Just five days after his deportation, Guillermo says that he developed a fever, sore throat, headache, and burning sensation in his eyes. José developed a temperature on his tenth day in quarantine. Miguel also reported a brief fever and sore throat. Claudia is the only of the four to report no symptoms; doctors have told her that she is an asymptomatic carrier. Each of the four received the first test on Sunday, May 3, after 27 days in detention.”


Coronavirus en Guatemala: Acuerdo sobre las 4 fases del confinamiento se publicará de nuevo por errores de forma
William Cumes, Roberto Morales, Prensa Libre, 2 de junio, 2020
“Al mismo tiempo que se vayan desarrollando las distintas fases de la desescalada, las autoridades sanitarias implementarán estas 3 acciones concretas para contener la epidemia: La masificación de las pruebas, uso de la tecnología para que la información fluya de mejor manera y el rastreo de contactos para la identificación y el control de posibles brotes.”


Migrantes haitianos se cansaron de esperar la voluntad política y humanitaria del gobierno de Honduras
Criterio.hn, 2 de Junio, 2020
“Agotados de la indiferencia de las autoridades hondureñas, y una caravana integrada por 42 mujeres (tres de ellas en estado de embarazo), 57 hombres y ocho menores de edad, tres de estos nacidos en territorio catracho, salieron en búsqueda de su libertad”.

IMF ups support for Honduras as coronavirus bites
Reuters, June 1, 2020
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday it has increased overall financing access for Honduras to about $531 million, immediately releasing $233 million, more than five times the amount initially approved.”

Honduras: Protestas se agudizan en la emergencia por mal manejo de la cuarentena
Conexihon, 27 de mayo, 2020
“En los 18 departamentos del país se han pronunciado empleados de sectores de maquilas, transporte, salud, comerciantes individuales, ciudadanos y pobladores de colonias y barrios pobres que demandan una mejor respuesta estatal que les permita trabajar para obtener ingresos y alimentar a sus familias.”


Why We Won’t Know Whether Mexico Is The Next Coronavirus Epicenter
Colm Quinn, Foreign Policy, June 3, 2020
“On Tuesday, Mexico’s health ministry reported 3,891 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily number since the outbreak began. A senior health official has sought to play down the increase..At over 10,000, the number of recorded deaths from coronavirus in Mexico is the third-highest in the Americas, behind United States and Brazil.”

Migración en la zona sur se redujo casi 90% tras Covid-19: INM
Forbes, 29 de mayo de 2020
“En ese sentido, se dio el retorno asistido a Centroamérica a 4,935 personas desde el 21 de marzo a la fecha; de las cuales 2, 461 se dirigieron a Honduras, 406 a El Salvador y 67 a Nicaragua, así como 2,001 vía terrestre a Guatemala, señaló.”


U.S. Enforcement

Border Patrol Gloating On Twitter About Being Deployed to Clamp Down on Protesters
Yesenia Padilla, Southern Border Communities Coalition, June 5, 2020
“The Border Patrol has long had aspirations on becoming a national police force, and with these deployments, they are a step closer to making those aspirations a reality. It started last week when the Border Patrol flew a predator drone over protesters in Minneapolis, while days later a bystander captured these terrifying images of border agents marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., en route to White House.”

Could Covid-19 Mean the End of Asylum Law in the United States?
Jack Herrera, Quito Tsui, The Nation, June 3, 2020
“For almost all of the people who made this kind of journey but were unlucky enough to complete it in the past two months, their time in this country has lasted less than a few hours before they were summarily—and illegally—deported back into Mexico. Since March 21, the Trump administration has sent over 20,000 people back across the border, thousands of whom would have otherwise sought refugee protection. In that same time, only two people were allowed to stay to seek asylum.”

The Government is Regularly Flying Predator Drones Over American Cities
Joseph Cox, Vice News, June 3, 2020
“The news comes after Motherboard previously verified that CBP flew a Predator drone above Minneapolis last week as protesters pushed back against police brutality and the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd by a white police officer. The data is a reminder that CBP does not only work along the U.S. border, and raises questions about the purpose of each CBP drone flight.”

US: Investigate ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program
Human Rights Watch, June 2, 2020
“Under the MPP program – known as “Remain in Mexico” – non-Mexican asylum seekers in the United States are sent to cities in Mexico while awaiting asylum hearings in US immigration court. The program has had serious rights consequences for returned asylum seekers. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly urged the US government to immediately end the program, stop returning asylum seekers to Mexico, and instead ensure them access to humanitarian support, safety, and due process in immigration court proceedings.”

African, Haitian migrants in Honduras defy border closure in attempt to reach U.S.
Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, June 2, 2020
“An activist in the town the group left from said 102 had started out in the morning, including a dozen Cubans. Lizandro Vallecillo, a spokesman for the national migration institute, said he counted 50 people from television images.”

Factbox: Who Are Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ and Why Is Their Fate Tied to the U.S. Supreme Court?
Reuters, June 1, 2020
“A group of states including California and New York, people enrolled in DACA and civil rights groups sued to block Trump’s plan to end the program, saying his administration failed to follow the proper lawful steps. Lower courts have issued rulings blocking Trump’s action. As a result, renewals of existing DACA permits have continued but acceptance of new DACA applications has been suspended by the administration.

Customs and Border Patrol deploys troops to DC
Justine Coleman, The Hill, June 1, 2020
“The deployment of the CBP in D.C. came as Trump announced in the Rose Garden Monday that he was dispatching the military across the city. In his announcement, the president threatened to send American troops to U.S. cities if governors did not use their state National Guards to “dominate” their streets and gain control following the demonstrations.”

Supreme Court rules immigrants who fear torture can appeal deportations in court
Harper Neidig, The Hill, June 1, 2020
“In a 7-2 decision, the high court rejected the Trump administration’s argument that foreigners tagged for deportation have no right to judicial review if their request for relief under the international Convention Against Torture (CAT) is denied.”

Supreme Court Rules on Pension, Immigrant Deportation Cases
Brent Kendall, Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2020
“The deportation opinion, also written by Justice Kavanaugh, gave immigrants a lifeline to the federal courts if they feared torture in their home countries. By a 7-2 vote, the court extended the power federal appeals courts have to review decisions by the Justice Department’s immigration-court system involving claims under the Convention Against Torture, a treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and ratified in 1994.”

Immigrants in Limbo Speak Out
James Goodman, The Progressive, May 29, 2020
“Congress’s inability to provide a pathway to citizenship for the almost 11 million undocumented immigrants already here is the backdrop to DACA as well as another program—Temporary Protected Status—also under attack by Trump.”

ICE has been testing migrants before deportation. But how it’s doing so is problematic.
Monique Madman, Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, May 29, 2020
“Earlier this month, the FDA cautioned that early data “suggests potential inaccurate results from using the Abbott ID NOW point-of-care test to diagnose COVID-19. Specifically, the test may return false negative results.”

An Immigrant Says She And Two Others Were Raped Inside An ICE Detention Cell Right Before Being Deported
Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed, May 27, 2020
“Doe said shortly after returning to Mexico, she discovered she was pregnant. She knew it was from the rape because she hadn’t had sex for two years before being attacked or anytime between the assault and the birth of her daughter in 2019, the complaint states.”


Mexican Enforcement

No hubo enfrentamientos con migrantes extranjeros, aclara comisionado Julián Hernández
Proceso Digital, 02 de Junio, 2020
“El jefe de la Dirección Nacional de Servicios Policiales Fronterizos (DNSPF), comisionado Julián Hernández, aclaró que no hubo enfrentamiento ni ataques de funcionarios policiales con un grupo de migrantes extranjeros que transitaba por la zona sur del país”.


Root Causes 

Berta Cáceres was exceptional. Her murder was all too commonplace
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, June 2, 2020
“Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world; in 2009, a military-backed coup ushered in an authoritarian pro-business political party, which has since been accused by Honduran prosecutors of deep-seated corruption, and implicated by American prosecutors in drug trafficking and money laundering. The nightmare which has unfolded over the past 11 years has forced hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to flee a toxic mix of poverty, dire public services, corruption, gang- and state-sponsored violence.”

For Murdered Honduran Organizer Berta Cáceres, “Any Injustice Was Her Battle”
Hilary Goodfriend, Jacobin, June 2, 2020
“She would never have identified herself as an environmentalist, even though that’s how she became known. I think she first and foremost thought of herself as a social warrior — a luchadora social. She was first and foremost a human rights defender and understood that human rights and land rights and indigenous rights are all part and parcel of the same thing. She was a pioneer in the fight for equality and women’s rights and LGBT rights as well, but she always saw them under the umbrella of a much broader struggle for equality and human rights in general.”

Primer año de gobierno de Bukele: 365 días de derechos humanos en cuarentena
Ricardo Avelar, Elsalvador.com, 2 de junio de 2020
“En los informes que cada 5 días remite la Procuraduría Para la Defensa de Derechos Humanos (PDDH) a la Sala, esta institución da cuenta de 1,637 denuncias de violaciones de todo tipo durante la pandemia, 622 de las cuales son por detenciones arbitrarias, 350 por falta de atención médica oportuna, 226 por derecho al trabajo, 200 por falta de acceso a información y 160 por falta de acceso a agua y alimentos.”

Ante COVID-19, personas LGBTI sufren de violencia
Daniela Grajales, NVI Noticias, 2 de junio de 2020
“En la frontera del estado, Centroamericanos homosexuales y trans que viajan en caravanas migrantes procedente de Honduras piden la atención y la ayuda de la comunidad LGBT mexicana por el riesgo que corren sus vidas y la discriminación que padecen tanto de sus compañeros de viaje como de las autoridades migratorias, miles de personas, y decenas de ellas formaron un grupo lésbico, gay, bisexual y transexual para visibilizar que deben escapar de Centroamérica debido a la persecución que sufren por su orientación sexual e identidad de género.”

New Honduran law targets ‘narco jets’ carrying cocaine from Venezuela
Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, May 29, 2020
“The legislation allows Honduran security forces to intercept planes suspected of transporting drugs and to participate in more-comprehensive intelligence-sharing with the United States and countries in Latin America.”

Tropical storm kills 17 in El Salvador and Guatemala
Associated Press, June 1, 2020
“El Salvador Interior Minister Mario Durán said Monday some 7,000 people were scattered across 154 shelters. He said a quarter of the rain that the country normally receives in a year fell in 70 hours. That set off landslides and flooding, especially in the western part of the country. A day earlier officials had said at least 900 homes had been damaged.”

Bukele cierra su primer año insultando a los diputados bajo la tormenta
Nelson Rauda Zablah, El Faro, 1 de junio
“El presidente Bukele no habló de bóvedas pero aseguró que realizarán, a través del Ministerio de Obras Públicas (MOP), una inversión de $10,000 para la construcción de cada una de las 50 viviendas que sucumbieron ante el agua. No hubo pésame, tampoco hubo recuento nacional de daños en el pronunciamiento presidencial. Fue hasta la pregunta de un periodista que Bukele estimó en $200 millones las pérdidas materiales por la tormenta.”

Un año para descubrir a Bukele
El Faro, 1 de junio de 2020
“El autoritarismo, hace años que lo advierten las encuestas, no es un problema para la mayoría de salvadoreños, a quienes la democracia ha sido incapaz de resolver necesidades urgentes y que idealizan liderazgos mesiánicos.”

Tropical storm Amanda kills 20 in Central American countries
Al Jazeera, June 1, 2020
“The storm came as the country of some 6.6 million people is grappling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. To date, El Salvador has reported 2,582 confirmed infections and 46 related deaths. ‘We are experiencing an unprecedented situation: one top-level emergency on top of another serious one,’ said San Salvador Mayor Ernesto Muyshondt.”

Siete personas mueren diariamente en tiempo de cuarentena en Honduras: Observatorio de la Violencia
Radio Progreso, 1 de junio de 2020
“Honduras ha registrado en lo que va del año 15 homicidios múltiples con 56 víctimas, pero en el contexto de COVID-19 han ocurrido 9 eventos, es decir, el 60.0% del total. Los hechos ocurrieron en Francisco Morazán (4), Cortés (4) y Ocotepeque (1) y sumaron 30 víctimas, el 69.6% hombres y 30.4% mujeres. Durante el mismo período en análisis, 174 personas fallecieron a consecuencia del COVID-19.”

Gobierno aprueba concesionar a 100 HNL la manzana, ante crisis agrícola por pandemia
Ana Irías, Contra Corriente, 29 de mayo de 2020
“La declaración de que es prioridad nacional el apoyo al sector productor de alimentos y de la agroindustria, conlleva una serie de medidas para lograr el aseguramiento de la soberanía alimentaria.”

A Rot in Honduras That Goes All the Way to the Top
Hilary Goodfriend, Jacobin, May 27, 2020
“The coup inaugurated an auction of sorts on Honduras’s natural resources. Honduras was ‘open for business,’ as post-coup president Porfirio Lobo declared. Most of these concessions are opaque at best. Following the money in Honduras is hard, Lakhani stresses, and it is only because of COPINH’s attention to the Agua Zarca dam and Berta’s murder that anything is known about the deal.”


Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

Immigration Detention and COVID-19 Timeline: Administration Fails to Heed Warnings, Worsens Spread of Coronavirus
Human Rights First, June 1, 2020
“1,406 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 2,781 tested overall (50.6%); 44 ICE employees at detention centers positive for COVID-19, 123 other ICE employees test positive.”

The United States puts migrants and asylum seekers at greater risk during the pandemic
Alianza Americas, May 28, 2020
“Since March, hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have been left in limbo in the Central America-Mexico-United States corridor due to border closures and agency shutdowns.  These people are then forced into living conditions that put them at extreme risk for contracting the virus. A similar situation is taking place on the southern border of Central America.”

Mujeres defensoras de Honduras ante el Covid-19
Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras, abril de 2020
“Pronto todo se derrumbó, y las agresiones de este tiempo lo muestran. El dinero no llegó a los hospitales, ni alimentó a las más pobres y sus familias, no pararon los proyectos de muerte que despojan, continuaron quitando la vida a las compañeras, y en medio de ello lo que se mantuvo fue la creatividad, fuerza y colectividad de las mujeres luchadoras para hacerle frente al hambre y la enfermedad.”