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Migration News Brief, 7.10.2020

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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.

COVID-19

General

Pandemic Outpaces Testing Capacity in Latin America
Latin America Herald Tribune, July 8, 2020
“Test, trace and isolate. That has been the mantra of the World Health Organization (WHO) since coronavirus emerged as a global threat, but Latin American nations trying to implement the strategy face resource constraints. The region of 650 million people has 2.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 120,000 fatalities. If the disease continues to spread at the present rate, the regional death toll could top 400,000 in October, yet few Latin American countries are testing at the level recommended by the WHO.”

‘It’s a tsunami’: pandemic leaves vulnerable Latin America reeling
Tom Phillips, The Guardian, July 5, 2020
“Two months later, Virgílio’s nightmare has come true. Brazil’s death toll has risen to more than 60,000 – the second highest in the world after the United States – with some now predicting it could overtake the US, where 130,000 have died, by the end of July. Latin America – home to 8% of the global population but nearly half of recent Covid-19 deaths – is in the eye of the storm, with more than 120,000 of the world’s 524,000 coronavirus fatalities, and counting.”

Foro Interamericano: COVID-19 doblega sistema alimentario de América Latina
VOA, 3 de julio de 2020
“América Latina es ahora el foco mundial de la pandemia del COVID-19. Pero el flagelo del virus también afecta la cadena alimenticia, que empieza a ceder ante la agresividad de la enfermedad. Según un informe de CEPAL, el 53 % de los trabajadores latinoamericanos se emplean en el sector informal, lo que se traduce en un golpe dramático que dispara la hambruna y la pobreza. Entrevista a Alicia Bárcena, Secretaria Ejecutiva de CEPAL”.

In Haiti, coronavirus spreads in slums, showing challenge for Latin America
Andre Paultre, Sarah Marsh, Reuters, June 28, 2020
“From Argentina to Mexico, nearly one in five of Latin America’s urban population lives in crowded slums, like Cite de Soleil. In such poor, densely-packed neighborhoods – with little or no access to running water, sanitation and health facilities – residents struggle to follow even the basic hygiene guidelines that experts recommend to prevent contagion with the highly infectious virus. And, given a large informal labor sector and insufficient government welfare, many people cannot afford to quarantine – even when they are ill.”

United States

A Family Separated Between El Salvador and the U.S., First Blocked by Trump and Then Coronavirus
Anna-Catherine Brigida, The Intercept, July 8, 2020
“The coronavirus was another reminder to the Martínez sisters of their precarious situation. Their flight was canceled when Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele closed the airport during the pandemic. Soon after, on March 19, the U.S. stopped receiving refugee arrivals except in emergency cases.”

Die in detention or at home? U.S. pandemic forces cruel choice on asylum seekers
Laura Gottesdiener, Reuters, July 6, 2020
“Fifteen immigration lawyers and advocates, who together say they have received hundreds of requests from detainees seeking to leave facilities in eight U.S. states for health reasons, told Reuters they are seeing increases in the number of people considering abandoning their cases. Reuters found 12 cases of detainees who stopped fighting their cases and instead agreed to deportation or voluntary departure due to the pandemic.”

Covid-19 has come to our migrant camp. It makes ending the MPP policy even more urgent.
Sister Norma Pimentel, The Washington Post, July 5, 2020
“These families are living in donated tents at the mercy of extreme weather. Here, the temperatures can rise above 100 degrees, and when it rains, the downpours knock down their only refuge and leave them in mud pits. Imagine living in such uncertainty, where even such basics as running water and a place to shower are nonexistent; where you have to depend on outside organizations for food, which you have to cook over a campfire. Like the prisons and nursing homes that have been breeding grounds for the virus in the United States, the camp is crowded with people who for now are not going anywhere.”

El Salvador

El Salvador delays next steps in reopening economy as COVID-19 cases rise
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, July 5, 2020
“El Salvador’s presidential office on Sunday postponed the second phase of the economy’s reopening by two weeks, citing a still-rising number of coronavirus infections. President Nayib Bukele has imposed some of the toughest measures in the Americas against the pandemic, which has caused 217 deaths and 7,777 infections in the Central American country”.

El hambre blanca
Carols Dada, El Faro, 2 de julio de 2020
“Las banderas blancas, que alguna vez significaron paz, son ahora el SOS en las puertas de miles de salvadoreños. Visibilizan el hambre, consecuencia de una enfermedad crónica de desigualdad, miseria y vulnerabilidad ante la que el estado salvadoreño solo ha respondido, gobierno tras gobierno, con placebos. El coronavirus, con su parálisis económica, ha convertido el hambre en hambruna. Pero las banderas blancas han encontrado una respuesta espontánea de la sociedad civil”.

La pandemia agudiza más la falta de atención a comunidad LGTBI de El Salvador
Sara Acosta, La Vanguardia, 29 de junio de 2020
“La pandemia por la COVID-19 ha agudizado más la falta de asistencia y atención a la población LGTBI de El Salvador, lo que ha llevado a las organizaciones que defienden los derechos de esta comunidad a intensificar su trabajo en plena emergencia. La comunidad de Lesbianas, Gais, Transgénero, Bisexuales e Intersexuales (LGTBI) históricamente ha sufrido atropellos a sus derechos humanos y esta situación se ha agravado en la actual crisis por la COVID-19, la cual ha llevado a que todo el aparato institucional centre su atención en un solo objetivo: contrarrestar la pandemia”.

Guatemala

Tribunales de Guatemala cerrarán por dos semanas, lo que deja en suspenso las audiencias de extradición de los hermanos Martinelli Linares
La Prensa, 8 de julio de 2020
“Estados Unidos tiene entre 40 y 90 días para sustentar ante Guatemala el pedido de extradición; mientras, los hermanos Martinelli Linares permanecerán en un área aislada de la prisión militar de Mariscal Zavala. Sus abogados alegan que ambos son diputados suplentes del Parlamento Centroamericano (Parlacen), y por tanto, gozan de una inmunidad diplomática”.

In Guatemala, the Virus Shows Its Power to Kill Trust
Emi Sasagawa, The Tyee, July 3, 2020
“Decades of neglect due to a 36-year-long civil war led to a severely under-financed health-care system, whose budget has been 6.3 per cent of the country’s GDP. Lack of coordination among services translates into service gaps or duplication in the best of times, and with the pandemic, this fragmentation has only been exacerbated.”

Honduras

Disminuyen un 59.6% los hondureños deportados en el primer semestre de 2020
La Prensa, 8 de julio de 2020
“Esta cifra es superior a 59,6% a los 58.969 hondureños deportados en el mismo periodo del año pasado, alcanzado los 109.185 en todo 2019, una cifra récord. Las autoridades de EE.UU deportaron en los primeros seis meses de este año a 10.614 migrantes hondureños indocumentados, entre ellos 888 menores, detalla el documento”.

Dos millones de niños y niñas sin acceso a educación en crisis pandémica
Criterio.hn, 6 de julio de 2020
“A pesar que la Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU),  decretara el internet como un derecho humano, en Honduras, apenas el 16.6 por ciento de la población cuentan con ello, dato que se refleja en el reciente estudio de la Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa (ASJ), indicando que apenas un 33% de niños y niñas del sistema público cuentan con computadoras para recibir sus asignaturas en casa. Los resultados fueron presentado en la conferencia, ‘Inaceptable: dos millones de estudiantes de centros educativos públicos sin recibir atención escolar’”.

Más de 1.6 millones de hondureños sufren inseguridad alimentaria por COVID-19
La Tribuna, 2 de julio de 2020
“Más de 1,6 millones de personas en Honduras padecen una situación de inseguridad alimentaria debido a la pandemia de la COVID-19, un considerable aumento comparado con los menos de un millón antes de la emergencia, alertó este jueves el Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA). En los últimos meses, en Honduras se reporta ‘un aumento muy fuerte de la inseguridad alimentaria’, dijo el director adjunto del PMA en Tegucigalpa, Etienne Labande, en una entrevista con Efe, vía zoom”.

Mexico

Mexico’s COVID deaths pass 30,000, world’s 5th highest total
Associated Press, July 4, 2020
“Mexico topped 30,000 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, overtaking France as the country with the fifth-highest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began. Officials reported 523 more confirmed coronavirus deaths for the day, bringing the nation’s total to 30,366 for the pandemic. Mexico’s total confirmed infections rose by almost 6,000 to 251,165, about on par with Spain, the eighth highest caseload.”

Mexican governors want tighter border controls to keep Americans from bringing coronavirus south
Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, July 3, 2020
“Now, with coronavirus cases soaring in the southwestern United States, it’s Mexican leaders who are asking for tighter border enforcement to keep their communities safe.  ‘The situation is very bad in Texas and [cross-border travel] would only bring us problems in northern Tamaulipas,’ said Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, the governor of Tamaulipas state, who tested positive for the virus this week.

Mexico ‘more violent’ and ‘worse’ two years after AMLO election
Jihan Abdalla, Al Jazeera, July 1, 2020
“But instead of the sweeping change that captured the imagination of millions of Mexicans who were fed up with traditional politicians, the left-wing leader’s time in office has been beset by a badly managed pandemic, economic recession, a record-high homicide rate, and pressure from the Trump administration to curb US-bound migrants.”

U.S. Enforcement

Trump expected to refile paperwork to end DACA this week
Brett Samuels, The Hill, July 6, 2020
“President Trump is expected to refile paperwork this week to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that offers protections for thousands of young immigrants, according to multiple people familiar with the planning. Trump was initially expected to move to once again rescind the Obama-era program last week, but it was pushed back, according to one source. The exact timing remains in flux, but Trump is now expected to file the paperwork this week.”

Mexican president’s visit to Trump draws questions, criticism in both countries
Mary Beth-Sheridan, Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, July 6, 2020
“The visit Wednesday has puzzled and angered politicians in both countries. Thirteen Democrats of the 38-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus called on President Trump to postpone the meeting, calling it “a blatant attempt to politicize the important U.S.-Mexico relationship” and a ploy to shift attention from the coronavirus pandemic. Mexicans, too, worry that the leaders’ first face-to-face meeting will imply López Obrador’s support for Trump’s reelection bid.”

One Brother Got DACA, One Didn’t. It Made All the Difference.
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, July 3, 2020
“In June, the Supreme Court rekindled hope among those waiting to apply when it ruled that the Trump administration’s rescission of the program lacked sufficient justification. Though it did not opine on the underlying legality of the program, the court preserved the program at least temporarily for the 650,000 current beneficiaries. But the decision left the fate of undocumented young people — like Owen — who are hoping for permission to apply hanging in the balance.”

What asylum stories teach us about the US response to racial justice protests
Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 3, 2020
“Many immigration attorneys — and the asylees they have represented — see the repressive and violent tactics that law enforcement officers have used across the country to shut down protests against police brutality that particularly affects the Black community as the kinds of human rights abuses that the United States criticizes in other countries. They recognize the same kinds of human rights abuses that many asylum seekers who win protection in the United States were fleeing.”

‘Suddenly they started gassing us’: Cuban migrants tell of shocking attack at Ice prison
Ike Swetlitz, The Guardian, July 2, 2020
“The 14 May “attack”, in the words of Bacallao and other migrants, took place at Torrance county detention facility, a sprawling complex located about an hour south-east of Albuquerque. Set off from the desert scrub by a tall chain-link fence draped in rolls of razor wire, it is run by CoreCivic, a private prison company, and mostly houses migrants under the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

ICE unlawfully jails unaccompanied migrant children once they turn 18, judge rules
Spencer S. Hsu, The Washington Post, July 2, 2020
“A federal judge ruled Thursday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has unlawfully transferred thousands of unaccompanied children who turned 18 to adult detention facilities without considering alternatives, in violation of a 2013 law. U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of Washington, D.C., said he will order changes “in the near future” after a bench trial in a class-action lawsuit brought in March 2018 on behalf of immigrant teenagers by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).”

A new migrant caravan forms as Trump continues deportations
Oscar López, Al Día, July 2, 2020
“A new caravan of over 1,000 people, including children, set off this week from San Pedro Sula, Honduras to the United States.  Human rights defender, Itsmania Platero, claims that many of the caravan members are people that recently came back deported from the U.S. After continuing to see a lack of opportunity in their native country, they are willing to make the dangerous journey again.”

‘The Centers Are on Fire’: Judge Demands 3 ICE Centers Release Detained Children
Virginia Isaad, Remezcla, July 1, 2020
“A federal judge ordered that children held in family detention centers be released amid the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California reportedly criticized the Trump administration for allowing prolonged detentions during the pandemic. Gee’s order applies to children who have been held at three ICE-operated family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. Most children have been held for more than 20 days, with some having been detained since last year.”

New Trump immigration policy would disqualify asylum for people from countries with spreading disease
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, July 1, 2020
“The Trump administration is preparing broad new immigration restrictions that would deny humanitarian refuge to anyone from a country with a disease outbreak, deeming those asylum seekers to be a danger to public safety. The policy, which the administration outlined this week among several new attempts to tighten border controls and restrict immigration, is likely to be announced by the Department of Homeland Security next week, according to two DHS officials who were not authorized to publicly discuss the internal plans.”

An Attorney Says ICE Tried To Stop Her From Speaking With An Immigrant Family Facing Immediate Expulsion
Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed News, July 1, 2020
“Krystle Cartagena, a staff attorney with the immigrant advocacy organization RAICES representing the family of four, tried to speak with her clients on Tuesday but was told by a man she believes is an ICE agent not to call the hotel room. The phone inside the hotel room in San Antonio, Texas, was then disconnected.”

Mexican Enforcement

Diagnóstico internacional revela militarización de la frontera sur y falta de información que afectan llegada de migrantes a Chiapas
Yessica Morales, Chiapas Paralelo, 1 de julio de 2020
“En los últimos años, debido a los cambios en las dinámicas migratorias a nivel regional, esta ciudad se ha destacado por ser un referente de tránsito y un receptor temporal para migrantes regionales y extrarregionales. Una gran cantidad de estas personas migrantes han tenido que permanecer como residentes en áreas urbanas de uno a tres meses, incluso mucho más, debido a la espera de resolución estatus migratorio o condición de refugiado, otorgada por Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) o la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (COMAR)”.

Activista denuncia abandono de la Frontera Sur
Sergio Garcia, NVI Noticias, 1 de julio de 2020
“El activista mexicano y director del Centro de Dignificación Humana, Luis Rey García Villagrán acudió a la cámara alta del poder legislativo  para denunciar el fenómeno migratorio y el abandono de la Frontera Sur. A los senadores Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar de Morena, Sasil de León Villard del Partido Encuentro Social, Noé Castañón Ramírez de Movimiento Ciudadano y el senador Emilio Alvarez Icasa, les entregó el documento exponiendo el problema de la migración mexicana.”

Root Causes

Video Recording of Killing Triggers Alarm in Guatemala Over Police Brutality
Ricardo Marroquín, El Faro, July 3, 2020
“A video recovered by the Guatemalan Public Ministry shows that the victim had already been apprehended when he was shot in the head. The images contradict the official version of the events: according to two people who have seen the recording, there was no struggle, an attempt to escape or an accidental shooting. Experts describe the event as exceptional yet a possible consequence of the weakening of the Policía Nacional Civil (PNC) — the Guatemalan police — that occurred during the government of Jimmy Morales.”

La criminalización de la protesta en la UNAH aún no es un caso cerrado
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 3 de julio de 2020
“Un juicio aún en proceso contra más de 20 estudiantes de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras en el 2017 , les mantiene atados de pies y manos para conseguir un trabajo y continuar sus estudios. El sistema de justicia, el Ministerio Público y las autoridades universitarias enredaron todo para terminar con la protesta social en la máxima casa de estudios de Honduras”.

Development Bank of El Salvador Ignored Internal Warnings in Awarding Loan to Sister of Presidential Commissioner
Efren Lemus, El Faro, July 3, 2020
“he Development Bank of El Salvador, commercially known as Bandesal, ignored internal conflict-of-interest warnings in its dealings with two siblings of Presidential Commissioner Carolina Recinos: it hired one as manager of funding and cooperation and issued a loan of over $22,000 to another to finance an in-house cafeteria at the Treasury Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Relations and the National Records Center each hired another of the commissioner’s siblings.”

Veinte arrestados por delitos sexuales
Juan Carols Díaz, La Prensa Gráfica, 2 de julio de 2020
“Una veintena de hombres acusados de delitos contra la libertad sexual de niños y adolescentes fueron detenidos en La Unión, durante un operativo denominado “Impacto II”, informó la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC). Las capturas se efectuaron en los municipios de Yayantique, Concepción de Oriente, Santa Rosa de Lima, Anamorós, Conchagua, San Alejo, Yucuaiquín y la cabecera departamental”.

Mexico Has a Second Pandemic: Femicide
Rose Minutaglio, Elle, July 2, 2020
“These cases—just two of almost 1,000 Mexican women killed in 2020—led to mass protests outside Palacio Nacional in Mexico City, where demonstrators called for action against the femicide crisis that’s terrified women for years. Femicide, or “feminicido” in Spanish, is the murder of a woman because of her gender. Cases in Mexico have increased by 137 percent in the last five years, the country’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said in February.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

How Many Could Executive Action Protect? Estimating the Scope of Protection Through TPS and DACA
CLINIC, July 2, 2020
“In July 2020, the CLINIC-led Temporary Protected Status Advocacy Working Group released a report, which provides estimates on the number of people the next administration could protect and provide employment authorization to through Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The report estimates that the next administration could protect upwards of 3.5 million people through these executive actions.”

Fallo de Juez Federal sobre la regla de asilo relativo al requisito de haber solicitado asilo en un país por el que cruzaron antes de ingresar a Estados Unidos
Alianza Americas, 1 de julio de 2020
“La decisión judicial del 1 de julio es importante en tanto termina con una regla que había sido creada como parte de la estrategia de la administración Trump para acabar con el asilo en EE. UU. La decisiónjudicial se fundamenta en la violación de la Ley sobre Procedimiento Administrativo, la misma ley quefundamentó la reciente ​decisión​ de la Corte Suprema sobre DACA.”

In Children’s Best Interests: Charting a Child-Sensitive Approach to U.S. Immigration Policy
Social Science Research Network (SSRN), July, 2020
“For over a century, the “best interests of the child” standard has served as the cornerstone of a robust legal architecture erected by every state in the U.S. to safeguard the well-being of children, regardless of their immigration status. At the state level, the principle guides decision-making regarding a child’s custody, placement, and other critical life issues, such as access to services. A global consensus, embodied in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), has also embraced the best interests standard as the fundamental framework to guide decision-making involving children.”

The Hidden Curve: Estimating the Spread of COVID-19 among People in ICE Detention
The Vera Institute, June 29, 2020
“The Vera Institute of Justice has built an epidemiological model to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 in detention. Using the most recent publicly available ICE data, the model specifically explores how new book-ins to—and frequent transfers between—detention centers may be contributing to COVID-19’s spread among people in immigration detention.”

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