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Migration News Brief 7.17.20

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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.


Spotlight 

Foro Internacional por los DDHH: Posicionamiento ante asesinatos de personas defensoras de los derechos humanos en Honduras 
Foro Internacional por los Derechos Humanos en Honduras, July 2020 

“Estos hechos evidencian las represalias y violencia sistemática contra quienes están defendiendo los derechos humanos en Honduras en un contexto que les expone todos los días, sin la debida atención, reconocimiento y protección por parte del Estado”.

COVID-19

General

Coronavirus updates: Too many countries headed in wrong direction, WHO says
Claire Heald, BBC, July 13, 2020
“Latin America has overtaken the US and Canada to become the second worst-hit region in terms of coronavirus deaths. Almost 145,000 people have died there so far, half of them from Brazil.”

Latin American coronavirus deaths overtake North American fatalities
Javier Leira, Reuters, July 13, 2020
“However, Latin America struggled to contain the spread of the virus once it left the more affluent neighborhoods where it was first detected, usually in those who had traveled abroad. A problematic combination of widespread poverty, informal labor, and poor healthcare, particularly in remote areas, contributed to the spread. The leaders of the region’s two most populated countries, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, initially dismissed the severity of the virus.”

United States

Mexican man with coronavirus dies in ICE custody
Associated Press, July 14, 2020
“Onoval Perez-Montufa, 51, died Sunday afternoon at a Palm Beach County hospital, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release. He had tested positive for COVID-19 on July 2 at the Glades County Detention Center in Moore Haven, which is west of Lake Okeechobee. Medical staff at the facility began treating him a day earlier after he complained of shortness of breath.”

“They Don’t Care About Our Health”: Hunger Striker at Otay Mesa ICE Jail Speaks Out as COVID Spreads
Anthony Alexandre, Democracy Now!, July 7, 2020
“We didn’t want to leave, because our body was so feeble because we were on a hunger strike. And they decided to come in and pepper-spray us. There was like people on the floor. It was like 20 minutes, 20 minutes of pain. Just like you could see Floyd is struggling for air, that’s how we were at this point.”

El Salvador

The White Flag of Hunger
Carlos Dada, El Faro, July 10, 2020
“There are now 30 people working for Solidaritón—most of them volunteers, although some have been hired to drive the microbuses. Other employees coordinate the distribution of donations, medical transportation routes or the acquisition of supplies for those who have lost their homes or need new mattresses due to the recent tropical storms. The volunteers handle the desk work, tending to the GoFundMe page, social media, processing relief applications, coordinating and receiving supply shipments, etc.”

La realidad es más catastrófica que las cifras oficiales de covid-19 en El Salvador, dice presidente del Colegio Médico
Beatriz Calderon, La Prensa Gráfica, 14 de julio de 2020
“Según el Gobierno, el lunes fallecieron 11 personas a las que se les había confirmado mediante prueba que tenían covid-19 y se registraron 325 contagios confirmados nuevos; sin embargo, Brizuela dijo que el estimado que tienen es que hay de siete a diez casos más fuera del registro por cada confirmado.”

Guatemala

COVID-19 Linked Hunger Could Cause More Deaths Than The Disease Itself, New Report Finds
Melissa Godín, TIME, July 9, 2020
“The report found that 121 million more people could be ‘pushed to the brink of starvation this year’ as a result of disruption to food production and supplies, diminishing aid as well as mass unemployment. The report estimates that COVID-19 related hunger could cause 12,000 deaths per day: the peak global mortality rate for COVID-19 in April was 10,000 deaths per day.”

Honduras

Honduras extends coronavirus curfew for another week – security ministry
Reuters, July 12, 2020
“Honduras first imposed a curfew in March but the government has in recent weeks been talking about slowly reopening businesses to help the economy.”

El hambre expulsa a más personas a las calles tras la pandemia
Martín Cálix, Contra Corriente, 10 de julio de 2020
“Luego de la declaratoria de emergencia que impuso un toque de queda permanente e instó a la población hondureña a llevar una cuarentena (para la que no estaba preparada), miles de personas han sido obligadas a salir a los principales bulevares de la ciudades para pedir dinero, comida y cualquier cosa que ayude a sobrellevar la adversidad que implica afrontar la expansión del virus en territorio hondureño.”

Desde el pueblo garífuna construimos una alternativa de salud y vida digna que desafía al sistema actual
Pikara, 8 de julio de 2020
“Contra la idea del distanciamiento social, nos enfocamos en fortalecer nuestra respuesta colectiva a través de redes comunitarias de salud. Redes que involucran a todas las personas -adultas y jóvenes, hombres y mujeres- en las acciones de prevención, higiene, información, protección y cuidado de las personas más vulnerables. Si toda la comunidad se involucra, toda la comunidad se hace responsable de la salud y se beneficia de las acciones. No dejamos a nadie atrás, no sembramos el miedo que nos aísla a unos de otros, todas nos acompañamos y nos hicimos responsables de la propia salud y de la salud de las otras.”

Encerradas y sin derechos: así viven la pandemia las mujeres trans en Honduras
Catherine Calderón, Contra Corriente, 7 de julio de 2020
“La Guía de recomendaciones sobre atención integral de la salud de las mujeres trans en Latinoamérica y El Caribe afirma que la expectativa de vida de una mujer trans en la región de Latinoamérica y El Caribe es de 35 años. Cristina está convencida de que la única forma de vivir más que eso, es yéndose del país, muy lejos. Desde que se involucró en política, Cristina ha recibido amenazas por parte de grupos delictivos y considera que no solamente es perseguida por su identidad de género, sino también por haber militado en un partido político.”

Mexico

Mexico records near-record daily deaths, coronavirus cases
Associated Press, July 15, 2020
“Mexico recorded 836 more confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and 7,051 more coronavirus cases Tuesday, both among the highest figures the country has registered as continued high infection rates stymie reopening efforts. Mexico now has an accumulated total of about 311,500 confirmed cases and 36,327 deaths.”

‘No había vivido en la calle’: perder casa y empleo por culpa del COVID-19
Alberto Pradilla, Eréndira Aquino, Animal Político, 15 de julio de 2020
“Pasaron de tener una habitación en la que cobijarse, una cama en la que dormir y armarios en los que guardar sus pertenencias a acostarse en el suelo y cargar con lo poco que les quedaba en una bolsa de plástico.”

U.S. Enforcement

U.S. Rescinds Plan to Strip Visas from International Students in Online Classes 
Miriam Jordan and Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times, July 14, 2020
“In a rare and swift immigration policy reversal the Trump administration on Tuesday bowed to snowballing opposition from universities, Silicon Valley and 20 states and abandoned a plan to strip international college students of their visas if they did not attnd at least some classes in person.”

Remains of migrants who died of COVID-19 in US arrive in Puebla
Agencia EFE, July 14, 2020
“The 105 urns containing the ashes of Mexican migrants who died from COVID-19 in the cities of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in the United States arrived in the central Mexican state of Puebla on Monday.”

Trump Wants to Gut Asylum Claims. LGBTQ+ People Will Die.
Neela Ghoshal, Advocate, July 14, 2020
“To qualify as persecution, the threat would need to be ‘exigent,’ disqualifying the cumulative harm so many LGBTQ+ people suffer from thousands of discriminatory cuts that add up to intolerable misery. Finally, the regulation lists ‘failure to seek asylum in a country through which the applicant transited’ as among ‘significantly adverse’ factors to granting asylum. This would affect virtually all LGBTQ+ asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle, as they pass through Mexico.”

The Trump Administration Must Immediately Resume Processing New DACA Applications
Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, Tom Jawetz, Philip E. Wolgin, Center for American Progress, July 13, 2020
“Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision to vacate the administration’s 2017 DACA rescission memorandum, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has taken no public steps to restore DACA to the way it operated pre-rescission. Rather, the agency has been silent—with exception of a post-decision statement that opened by questioning the legitimacy of the Supreme Court itself. As of the date of publication, the Trump administration is in open defiance of the law.”

Elaine Duke on Leading Homeland Security Under President Trump
Michael D. Shear, The New York Times, July 10, 2020
“A lifelong Republican who describes herself as ‘a kid from the Cleveland, Ohio, area,’ Ms. Duke said she supported tougher enforcement of immigration laws, as long as it was tempered by a sense of humanity that she tried to exhibit when she volunteered to teach naturalization classes. But she described an administration that is often driven by ideology instead of deliberation, values politics over policy and is dominated by a president who embraces ‘hate-filled, angry and divisive’ language.”

ICE Offering ‘Citizens Academy’ Course with Training on Arresting Immigrants
Chantal da Silva, Newsweek, July 9, 2020
“Speaking with Newsweek on Thursday, however, Chicago Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ García said he was disturbed by the program, which he fears will lead to racial profiling, surveillance and potential violence. The ‘Citizens Academy’ was first brought to García’s attention when his wife spotted a social media post about it.”

Arrests along Mexico border jumped 40% last month, despite Trump administration’s immigration crackdown
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, July 9, 2020
“CBP figures show the vast majority of those detained in June — 89 percent — were promptly turned back to Mexico using the rapid-expulsion system that is facing a legal challenge from rights groups and immigrant advocates. The administration has defended the expulsions as a necessary measure to keep detention cells along the border empty and avoid the risk of spreading infection.”

The Trump Administration will force international students to depart the U.S. before Fall 2020
FWD.US, July 6, 2020
“Despite the fact that COVID-19 cases are surging across the United States, ICE has now rescinded those accommodations. According to ICE’s July 6 guidance, the agency will no longer allow students to remain in the United States unless they are able to attend at least some classes in person. They are also barred from re-entering the United States using their F-1 visas for an unspecified period of time. The change in policy comes with no explanation, and creates even more chaos and confusion for international students living and studying in the United States.

 

Mexican Enforcement

“Acampa” el INM en el centro de Tapachula 
José Cancino, Diario de Chiapas, 17 de julio de 2020
“Los oficiales migratorios descienden de estas unidades y van en busca de migrantes, que se han asestado en la periferia del mercado Sebastián Escobar y comercios aledaños a la presidencia de Tapachula”.

Migrants in Mexico have few coronavirus protections
Lexie Harrison-Cripps, Al Jazeera, July 10, 2020
“‘I was thinking of handing myself in to the [National Institute of Migration (INM)]’ he said. But the conditions inside INM detention centres are not much better, he added, citing reports of overcrowding, extended detentions and crackdowns on detainees who have demanded their release due to the pandemic.”

Mexico criticized for misreporting data on migrant trafficking victims 
Christine Murray, Reuters, July 8, 2020
“The erroneous numbers come at a time when advocates say the government has little to show for its fight against trafficking. Top officials rarely discuss the issue and a national plan to combat it – scheduled for last year – has not been published.”

Root Causes

Signs that Guatemala’s justice system is under attack
Sonia Perez, Associated Press, July 15, 2020
“With the departure of the United Nations-backed anti-corruption commission last year that supported a war against some of the country’s most powerful political, business and criminal leaders, Guatemala’s pursuers have become the pursued. The assault has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, as corrupt interests take advantage of a population distracted by the health crisis to extend their tentacles back into the justice system.”

Honduras: Advocates Denounce Another Trans Woman Killing
TeleSUR, July 14, 2020
“In 2019, nine trans women were murdered. So far this year, Caceres murder sums up to the other four Trans hate crimes and seven violent acts against openly gay people. All accountable remain unpunished.”

Body of missing environmentalist found in Honduras
France24, July 14, 2020
“Castro, who was a member of a network of environmental defense groups in southern Honduras, had last week expressed fears for his life to the National Protection System, a government body set up to protect human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers.”

MS13 in Honduras Gets Creative With Video Surveillance
Angel Olaya, Insight Crime, July 13, 2020
“The MS13 in Honduras has shown increased logistical capabilities of late. In February, the gang conducted a military-style operation to free one of its senior leaders, Alexander Mendoza, alias “El Porky,” who escaped when heavily armed gunmen dressed in police fatigues stormed the courthouse where he awaited a hearing. The creative use of the camera security systems is a sign that the gang is becoming more sophisticated in even its most basic function: territorial control.”

Centroamérica en alerta por devoradora langosta
Deutsche Welle, 12 de julio de 2020
“Los países donde se podría “reactivar” el problema de la langosta son Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras y Nicaragua, en virtud que desde mayo han sufrido inundaciones, así como en Costa Rica y Panamá, que en el pasado han tenido la plaga. La langosta centroamericana, según un informe técnico del OIRSA,”es una especie de polífagas” que pueden afectar a más de 400 especies de plantas que les sirven como alimento.”

Corrupción: Fiscalía coordinó capturas y allanamientos por caso de Libramiento de Chimaltenango
Ministerio Público de Guatemala, 10 de julio de 2020
“El Fiscal detalló que la licitación para el referido proyecto fue creada especialmente para Renova Ingenieros, S.A., empresa que no estaba inscrita en el registro de precalificados de obras del Ministerio de Comunicaciones y presentó documentos falsos. Conforme avanzó la investigación el personal fiscal detectó una serie de anomalías y hallazgos los cuales fueron identificados en seguimiento a las pesquisas preliminares y que permitieron gestionar las órdenes de captura y diligencias de allanamiento.”

La Reconfiguración del Militarismo En Centroamérica
Divergentes
“Los países que cuentan con fuerzas militares en la región están cerrando la década sentando un precedente grave de regresión autoritaria y militarismo. En todos estas naciones, los presidentes han aparecido flanqueados por los militares intentando sofocar las crisis institucionales que se han presentado en distintos momentos.”

The Wheels of Justice in Mexico Are Failing. What Can Be Done?
María Novoa, Americas Quarterly, July 9, 2020
“In Mexico, for example, 90% of crimes go unreported. For those that are called in, impunity is astronomically high: 96.1% in local cases and 94.6% in federal ones. In other words, of all the cases investigated by authorities, only 4%-6% reach an adequate conclusion.”

Los homicidios cayeron un 62,8 % en el primer semestre de 2020 en El Salvador
Yahoo News, 9 de julio de 2020
“El Gobierno de Nayib Bukele, quien cumplió un año en el poder Ejecutivo el 1 de junio pasado, atribuye esta baja a su plan de “control territorial”. Este estrategia concentra a 7.000 miembros de la Policía y del Ejército en 22 localidades para tratar de cortar la fuentes de financiación de las pandillas, señaladas históricamente de perpetrar la mayoría de asesinatos.”

¿Milagro o espejismo? Pandillas y el desplome de la violencia en El Salvador
International Crisis Group, 8 de julio de 2020
“La caída de las tasas de homicidios puede deberse no solo a las políticas de seguridad pública del gobierno, sino también a la decisión de las pandillas de detener el derramamiento de sangre, posiblemente a raíz de un frágil acuerdo de no agresión con las autoridades. Además, el estilo beligerante de Bukele, que se ha exacerbado durante la pandemia de COVID-19, pone en riesgo sus reformas de seguridad al enredarlas en batallas políticas.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Covid-19 In Immigration Detention Monthly Analysis & Update July 16, 2020
Freedom for Immigrants, July 16, 2020
“During this period, ICE’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in detention increased dramatically, with the largest confirmed outbreaks currently reported in Eloy, Arizona, Anson, Texas, and Farmville, Virginia. However, ICE continued to separate its reporting on cumulative COVID-19 cases since the outbreak of the pandemic from its reporting on current COVID-19 cases ‘under isolation or monitoring,’ without providing information as to how people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are removed from ICE’s tally of current cases.”

Asylum Denied, Families Divided: Trump Administration’s Illegal Third-Country Transit Ban
Human Rights First, July 15, 2020
“On June 30, 2020, a federal court in Washington DC vacated the ban, and in early July 2020, in a separate suit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction against the ban. But rather than abandon this illegal and inhumane policy, the Trump administration is doubling down. It is proposing additional changes to U.S. regulations that would deny asylum to refugees who travel through other countries and expand this ban to all asylum seekers, whether or not they initially sought protection at the southern border.”

The Flores Settlement and the False Choice Between Family Detention and Separation
Women’s Refugee Commission, July 15, 2020
“The agreement sets national standards regarding the detention, release, and treatment of all—both unaccompanied and accompanied— children in immigration detention and underscores the principle of family unity.”

All the President’s Trolls: Real and Fake Twitter Fights in El Salvador
Jane Esberg, International Crisis Group, July 13, 2020
“Focusing on competing hashtags – #BukeleDictador (#DictatorBukele) and #QueBonitaDictadura (#WhatALovelyDictatorship) – both sides of the political divide engage in ferocious online slanging matches. The result is to present Salvadorans with artificially polarised choices: reject Bukele, despite his apparent successes; or support him, and ignore the abuses committed by his government.”

Behind the Fight to Hijack Guatemala’s Justice System
Adriana Beltrán, WOLA, July 10, 2020
“A law was adopted in 2009 to make the selection process more transparent and regulated and to allow for greater civil society oversight. In practice, however, the process has been plagued by conflicts of interests and overrun by private, political, and criminal interests seeking to control membership of the commissions and, consequently, the makeup of the courts.”

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on U.S. asylum changes
UNHCR, July 9, 2020
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is concerned about planned changes to the asylum system in the United States. We are worried that the proposed “Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear Review”, currently being circulated for public comment, mark a departure from humanitarian policies and practices long championed by the United States and rooted in international law.”

Express Injustice
Vera, July 2020
“These changes speed proceedings, depriving vulnerable and traumatized children of due process as they seek protections granted by U.S. and international law. Many courts have also mandated video or telephonic hearings in which children and judges sit in separate courtrooms hundreds of miles apart. Together, the changes appear to form a targeted strategy to deport children as quickly as possible.”