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Migration News Brief 9.10.21

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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.

U.S Enforcement

U.S. extends deportation relief for immigrants from 6 countries
Ted Hesson and Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, September 9, 2021 
“The United States will extend deportation relief and work permits for more than 300,000 Salvadorans, Hondurans and other immigrants in the United States and enrolled in a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), according to an announcement on Thursday.”

Biden Admin Extends TPS for 400,000 People Through 2022
Democracy Now, September 2021
“In immigration news, the Biden administration has extended temporary protected status, or TPS, by another 15 months for some 400,000 immigrants from Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and Nepal. This means they’ll be able to continue working and living in the U.S. without the threat of deportation through December 2022. Meanwhile, immigrant justice advocates continue to urge Congress to pass permanent immigration relief that includes a path to citizenship for TPS holders and millions of undocumented people in the U.S.”

Judge weighs international implications to Trump-era metering of asylum seekers
Bianca Bruno, Courthouse News Service, September 10, 2021
“A federal judge Tuesday was tasked with deciding a historic case challenging the Trump-era policy of turning back asylum seekers in search of refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border in a case which could set international precedent on border jurisdiction and human rights claims. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant, a Barack Obama appointee, noted during the court hearing in the Southern District of California on Tuesday, ‘This is not the only country that has been struggling with pushbacks.’”

As Migrants Surge Toward Border, Court Hands Biden a Lifeline
Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times, September 7, 2021
“But among some Biden officials, the Supreme Court’s order was quietly greeted with something other than dismay, current and former officials said: It brought some measure of relief. Before that ruling, Mr. Biden’s steps to begin loosening the reins on migration had been quickly followed by a surge of people heading north, overwhelming the southwest border of the United States. Apprehensions of migrants hit a two-decade high in July, a trend officials fear will continue into the fall.”

In Schumer’s Brooklyn neighborhood, and in migrant communities across the U.S., hopes that the Senate majority leader can deliver immigration reform 
Maria Sachetti,The Washington Post, September 4, 2021
“The fates of approximately 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally are in the hands of the U.S. Senate, where Schumer is leading Democrats in a precarious bid to pass a budget that would introduce sweeping changes to health care, the tax code and education. And it would grant ‘lawful permanent status’ to undocumented immigrants, putting them on the path to U.S. citizenship.”

After U.S. meeting, Guatemala sees end to remote border deportations
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, September 2, 2021
“The United States will send immigration deportees back to Guatemala directly by air, the Central American country’s foreign minister said on Thursday, in a policy shift that may end a practice by which hundreds of deportees were left at a remote jungle border. Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo’s comments followed meetings at the White House with U.S. officials this week that he described on Twitter as very productive.’”

Federal judge says forcing asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico is illegal
Associated Press, NBC News, Sept 2, 2021
“U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant’s ruling has no immediate impact but could prevent the government from limiting entry for asylum-seekers because it says it lacks resources. It could also bring relief to some of the tens of thousands of people who put their names on unofficial waiting lists in Mexican border towns.”

A Sanctuary Takes Shape, Framed Around Migrants
Alastair Gordon, New York Times, September 2, 2021
“The Cañón de Alacrán (Scorpion’s Canyon) is a rough and craggy valley that butts up to the U.S. border wall, just west of Tijuana, Mexico. It winds through an arid landscape of garbage-strewn arroyos, yucca and sagebrush, without paved roads or sewerage. Roughly 93,000 inhabitants, many of them refugees from Central America, live there in illegal squatter settlements inside roughly built lean-tos, tents and ad hoc shacks made from scavenged refuse. Up until now, the area’s impoverished population has made do with these rudimentary shelters. But deep within the fractured landscape, a bold new experiment in social housing is being realized. It’s called El Santuario Frontera,  or the Border Sanctuary, a live-work collective for homeless refugees.”

Menendez on SCOTUS Decision to Reinstate “Remain in Mexico” Policy
Senator Menendez, August 25, 2021
“‘At a time when the United States is encouraging countries around the world to open their doors to refugees, including those fleeing Afghanistan, the Supreme Court’s decision will undercut our diplomatic efforts. I urge the Biden-Harris administration to take swift action in its executive power to curtail and put a lawful end to the implementation of this disgraceful policy.’

Mexican Enforcement
Migrants denounce Mexico’s crackdown amid bilateral talks in Washington
Jose Torres, Reuters, September 9, 2021
“The migrant comments contrasted with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s promises of humane treatment ahead of Thursday’s high-level meeting between Mexican and U.S. officials in Washington, where the two countries agreed that development of poor regions was a long-term solution to slow migration north. ‘Mexican authorities are mistreating us migrants,’ said Guillermo Rivas, 25, from El Salvador, who said he was beaten by agents while in a detention center in the southern city of Tapachula.”

Where L.G.B.T.Q. Migrants Find the True Meaning of Shelter
Tara Pixley, New York Times, September 8, 2021 
“Casa, which opened in February 2019, is one of a handful of Tijuana shelters catering to a group that includes trans women, gay men and mothers traveling alone with children — among the most vulnerable and endangered refugee populations, according to a 2017 Amnesty International Report. Casa de Luz houses 35 residents, on average, many of whom are from Central America, seeking asylum in the United States as they escape dangerous homophobia, extreme economic instability and various threats of violence in their countries of origin. Residents of the shelter say Mexico’s government does not condone such mixing of shelter populations and therefore will not provide federal or state funding to those who serve mixed communities.”

Groups sue Mexico seeking to stop mass removal of migrants
AP News, September 8, 2021
“The groups contend the government is acting illegally by expelling migrants ‘before dawn and at unestablished (border) points’ and also by participating in chain expulsions of migrants first flown from the U.S. to southern Mexico and then carried over land by Mexican officials to the border with Guatemala. The migrants are not told of the possibility of seeking protection in Mexico, the groups said.”

Recupera INM 46 cuerpos de migrantes; fallecieron en su paso México
Victor Gamboa Arzola, El Universal, 6 de septiembre de 2021
“La Secretaría de Gobernación (Segob) informó que la mitad de ellos no portaban algún tipo de identificación, por lo que se encuentran en calidad de desconocidos; del resto, seis son originarios de Honduras, cinco de Guatemala, tres de Haití, tres de Nicaragua, dos de Cuba, y uno de Venezuela, así como tres cuerpos de mexicanos. El personal de los 22 Grupos Beta, distribuidos en estados del norte y el sur de México, donde transita el mayor número de migrantes, contabilizó 37 que correspondían a hombres y 8 a mujeres y a un varón menor de edad”.

Detenciones, enfrentamientos y redadas: la caza de migrantes que ocurre en Chiapas
Alberto Pradlla, Animal Politico, 3 de septiembre de 2021
“‘Es muy complicado. No puedes hacer nada, no puedes trabajar, no nos ayudan a conseguir papeles, no hay casa, se queja’. El tránsito es tranquilo, con frecuentes paradas para descansar. Algunas ONG ofrecen servicios médicos para quienes llegan agotados y otras reparten botellas de agua. En la cola de la comitiva hay personas con heridas en los pies a las que le cuesta seguir el paso”.

EXPLAINER: Mexico confronts complex position on immigration
María Verza, AP News, September 3, 2021
“President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Thursday the strategy of containing migrants in the south was untenable on its own and more investment is needed in the region to keep Central Americans from leaving their homes. But the groups of migrants walking north from southern Mexico in recent days have mostly been Haitians, a group that would not be addressed by the president’s proposed tree planting and youth employment programs in Central America.”

Mexican president to urge Biden to help migrants get work visas
Raul Cortes and Cassandra Garrison, Reuters, September 2, 2021
“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he would send a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to make it easier for migrants to obtain work as the two governments seek to tackle a jump in immigration. Migrants who enroll in apprentice or work schemes should be granted temporary work visas of six months to the United States, Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference.”

Mexico president says containing migrants not enough
Marco Ugarte and Fabiola Sánchez, Yahoo News, September 2, 2021
“Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador expressed frustration with a strategy of containing migrants in the south on Thursday and said he would write to U.S. President Joe Biden to insist that country contribute to his favorite development projects in the region.The president’s comments came after days of groups of 200 to 300 migrants walking out of the southern city of Tapachula. Mexico’s National Guard and immigration agents have broken up the groups and detained many, in some cases using force that drew heavy criticism.”

“Quédate en México” es una amenaza al sistema de asilo”: ONU
Alberto Pradilla, Animal Politico, 29 de agosto de 2021
“Triggs se mostró muy preocupada por ambas medidas y apeló a los países a cumplir con las obligaciones internacionales en un contexto internacional en el que más estados tratan de impedir que personas que buscan protección accedan a su territorio.Para la funcionaria de la Alta Comisión de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (Acnur), lo que hace preocupante al programa ‘Quédate en México’ es que viola el estándar internacional de que todo el mundo tiene derecho a pedir protección”.

‘We can’t survive’: Migrants in Mexico protest slow asylum system
Al Jazeera, August 28, 2021
“The caravan comes after days of protests by migrants in Tapachula, who have been demanding their cases be expedited so they could leave the southern state and relocate to other parts of Mexico or head to the United States border without risking deportation, according to local news reports.‘We can’t survive in Tapachula,’ said Carlos Correa, a 31-year-old Colombian man, who said he joined the caravan on Saturday after waiting for three months without receiving a response to his asylum application.”

Root Causes
Is El Salvador’s President Trying to Shut Down a Hearing on the Infamous El Mozote Massacre
Peter Conley, The New Yorker, September 10, 2021
“This May, with several of his executive orders being challenged as unconstitutional, and a number of his ministries under financial investigation, he replaced the attorney general and all five judges of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, the nation’s highest, with political allies. The newly appointed judges then voided El Salvador’s ban on Presidential second terms.”

“El Salvador isn’t a democracy anymore”
José Luis Sanz, El Faro, September 8, 2021
“Santiago Cantón, former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, asks the Organization of American States (OAS) to invoke article 20 of the Inter-American Charter to redirect El Salvador to its constitutional framework. He compares Nayib Bukele to Fujimori and Chávez, saying that the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly has become ‘a mere rubber stamp for Executive orders’  and that judicial independence no longer exists. He laments that the president, after his overwhelming electoral victory in February, has chosen the authoritarian path instead of uniting the country.”

Violencia contra la mujer se ha agudizado en el 2021
Criterio Honduras, 8 de septiembre de 2021
“Los índices de violencia contra la mujer y las niñas en Honduras continúan en aumento, según el Centro de Derechos de Mujeres en Honduras (CDM) en lo que va de 2021 ya se registran 45,969 denuncias por violencia y al menos 174 femicidios. En comparación con el año 2020, el presente año refleja un incremento en las denuncias por agresiones físicas y sexuales así como asesinatos contra mujeres y niñas, al tiempo que el Observatorio Nacional de la Violencia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) indica que cada tres horas una mujer es agredida”.

Continúa el aumento del analfabetismo en Honduras ya que supera el 12 por ciento 
Selvin Sanchez, El Pulso, 8 de septiembre de 2021
“Expresó que el próximo presidente debe implementar que proyectos de alfabetización como ocurrió en gobiernos anteriores, ya que esos programas desaparecieron debido a decisiones políticas e ideológicas.Mencionó que están dispuestos a seguir luchando contra el analfabetismo, ya que es una responsabilidad establecida en el Estatuto del Docente”. 

Bukele ha puesto a El Salvador al borde del abismo autoritario. Hay que detenerlo
José Miguel Vivanco, New York Times, 8 de septiembre de 2021
“Es muy pertinente examinar los casos de Nicaragua y Venezuela porque alertan sobre líderes que, como Bukele, llegaron al poder mediante elecciones, pero gobiernan con un total desprecio por el Estado de derecho. Acaso la principal diferencia entre Bukele, Chávez y Ortega, es que el presidente de El Salvador ha logrado apoderarse de las instituciones democráticas mucho más rápido que sus contrapartes en Venezuela y Nicaragua”.

Central banks of Honduras, Guatemala eye digital currencies as El Salvador launches bitcoin
Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, September 8, 2021
“The central banks of Honduras and Guatemala are eying digital currencies, officials said on Wednesday, following El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin as legal currency.”

United States Struggles to Pick a Side in Upcoming Honduran Elections
John Perry, NACLA, September 8, 2021
“H​​onduras’s neoliberal economy and lax regulation allow the exploitation of the country’s natural resources at any cost to local communities. Honduras has low taxes, public services decimated by underfunding and corruption, and one of the continent’s biggest gaps between rich and poor. Although largely unmentioned in official discourse, such policies align with U.S. business interests and are not seen as a problem for U.S. foreign policy. Instead, it is the mixed economy and social programs of neighboring Nicaragua that are regarded as “an extraordinary and unusual threat” to U.S. security.”

LA ONU pide 588 millones de dólares para hacer frente a la pobreza en el Triángulo Norte
El Flores, 8 de septiembre de 2021
“Según el organismo ‘8,3 millones de personas precisan asistencia de emergencia en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras’, ya que debido a los efectos del cambio climático y de la pandemia del COVID-19 se ha agudizado el hambre severa. En una nota de prensa ONU explicó que los recursos solicitados les permitirían ejecutar el Plan de Respuesta Humanitaria para el Triángulo Norte, el cual comenzó a ejecutarse el mes pasado y tiene previsto concluir en diciembre de 2022”.

El Salvador’s world-first adoption of bitcoin hits snags 
Anthony Esposito and Nelson Renteria, Reuters, September 7, 2021
“Over a thousand people protested against the implementation of bitcoin around noon, marching to the Supreme Court building, burning a tire and setting off fireworks. Some say the move may fuel money laundering and financial instability.”

El Salvador adopts Bitcoin as president dismantles democracy
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2021
“But the rollout of cryptocurrency has been upstaged by a more urgent concern: a series of withering attacks by Bukele and his ruling party on El Salvador’s three-decade-old democracy. In recent days, Bukele loyalists on the Supreme Court systematically cleared the way for him to seek reelection in 2024, despite a constitutional ban on consecutive presidential terms. Meanwhile, his supporters in the Assembly passed a law to remove one-third of the nation’s judges and prosecutors — an apparent response to Bukele’s public calls for a ‘purge’ of the judicial branch.”

In Global First, El Salvador Adopts Bitcoin as Currency
Oscar Lopez and Ephrat Livni, New York Times, September 7, 2021
“In El Salvador, many are viewing the move with confusion and distrust, afraid that the volatility inherent to using virtual tokens with no physical backing, which are apt to soar and crash in value, could be dangerous for the economy — and their own savings. ‘We really don’t know how that system is going to work,’ said Evelin Vásquez, 52, who sells mobile phones in San Salvador, the capital, and knows Bitcoin’s fluctuations in value could make her savings disappear.”

Guatemala’s National Strike Demands Structural Change
Giovanni Batz, NACLA, September 7, 2021
“The Indigenous communities, ancestral authorities, and campesinos that have historically resisted state violence again have been at the forefront of these protests, as they have been the primary forces organizing strikes and blockades throughout the country. Their demands range from calls for the resignation of Giammattei and Porras to structural changes that include a plurinational constituent assembly. Thelma Cabrera, a member of CODECA, which has led calls for a plurinational state, explains that resignations alone are not enough.”

Honduras suma 2 mil 327 nuevos positivos de COVID-19 y acumula 346 mil 134
Proceso Digital, 6 de septiembre de 2021
‘Honduras sumó este lunes 2 mil 327 nuevos positivos de la COVID-19, de manera que la cifra acumulada desde el inicio de la pandemia ascendió a 346 mil 134, en tanto que la de fallecidos agregó 58 alcanzando los 9 mil 81 en casi 18 meses de pandemia. El reporte diario del Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgo (Sinager) señala que se realizaron 5 mil 852 nuevas pruebas para diagnosticar el virus, de las cuales 2 mil 327 resultaron con diagnóstico positivo sumando así un total de 220 mil 577 casos en 2021, con un acumulado de 346 mil 134 casos de COVID-19 a nivel nacional”.

Entre 50 y 100 mil personas se quedarán sin votar en elecciones, advierte el RNP
El Heraldo, 6 de septiembre de 2021
“De acuerdo con la información recavada en las últimas horas, cerca de ‘5.4 millones de hondureños que se enrolaron en el proyecto ‘Identificate’, es una cifra muy satisfactoria en vista de que tuvimos tantas adversidades, pero se logró, llegar a más de un 98% de la población de 18 años para poder conformar el censo’, detallado Brevé”.

Exfiscal anticorrupción de Guatemala rechaza orden de arresto
Alex Papadovassilakis y Seth Robbins, InSight Crime, 3 de septiembre de 2021
“En una abrupta decisión, Consuelo Porras, fiscal general de Guatemala, destituyó a Sandoval de su cargo como director de la Fiscalía Especial contra la Impunidad (FECI), aduciendo falta de confianza en la relación; sin embargo, no dio detalles de sus acusaciones. Luego de su despido, Sandoval ofreció una conferencia de prensa en la que acusó a Porras de obstruir las investigaciones de la FECI en múltiples oportunidades, entre ellas una indagación por sospecha de corrupción que implicaba a la administración del actual presidente Alejandro Giammattei”.

Guatemala Investigates Claim of Bribe Paid to Its President
Jody García and Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times, September 3, 2021
“Guatemala’s top anti-corruption prosecutor had begun to look into the allegations with a small team of investigators, determining that the witness had likely stumbled upon a plot by a Russian-backed mining company to bribe the president for the right to operate part of a key port. But just weeks after their inquiry began, the prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, was abruptly dismissed by the attorney general and fled to the United States with the evidence he had compiled.”

Guatemala Investigates Claim of Bribe Paid to Its President
Jody García and Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times, Sept 3, 2021
“Guatemala’s top anti-corruption prosecutor had begun to look into the allegations with a small team of investigators, determining that the witness had likely stumbled upon a plot by a Russian-backed mining company to bribe the president for the right to operate part of a key port. But just weeks after their inquiry began, the prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, was abruptly dismissed by the attorney general and fled to the United States with the evidence he had compiled.”

Personas condenadas por corrupción ya no tendrán que ir a prisión, según fallo de la CC 
El Periodico, 3 de septiembre de 2021
“El máximo tribunal constitucional dejó sin vigencia la norma establecida en el inciso 7) del artículo 51 del Código Penal. Esta detallaba que los condenados por delitos contra la administración pública y administración de la justicia no tendrían derecho a que se les conmute la pena. Esa disposición había surgido en el marco de la Ley contra la Corrupción, por medio de la cual se reformó el Código Penal. Pero ahora la norma ya no será aplicable, porque según la CC la ‘prohibición absoluta del beneficio de la conmuta –para los ilícitos mencionados–, resulta desproporcionada’”.

Organizaciones de mujeres indígenas demandan inclusión de pueblos indígenas
Norma Sancor, Prensa Comunitaria, 2 de septiembre de 2021
“Marta Roche, de la Asociación Política de Mujeres Mayas, Moloj, indicó que por más de 13 años han demandado la paridad para los pueblos indígenas en general y las mujeres en particular, en los puestos de representación política. En la actualidad se han sumado más organizaciones, agregó. La articulación de mujeres indígenas también denunció el proceso de cooptación del Estado, especialmente el sistema de justicia, por parte de redes criminales, formadas por políticos y empresariales”.

UNHCR warns of unprecedented displacement in Central America and Mexico
UNHCR, September 2, 2021
“Ms.Triggs highlighted the need for states to provide protection to refugees, but also to offer regular migration pathways through education, labor mobility, family unification and other immigration processes. “Different needs require different responses,” she said.  She expressed deep concern over recent restrictive border practices in the region that risk returning vulnerable individuals and families to their countries of origin, citing often urgent protection needs.”

Giammattei insiste en el uso del estado de calamidad 
Nelton Rivera, Prensa Comunitaria, 2 de septiembre de 2021
“Giammattei nuevamente recurre al mecanismo de usar la ley de orden público para ‘enfrentar la pandemia’, la comisión de salud solicita nuevas disposiciones y medidas, no un estado de calamidad. Medidas que el presidente y el consejo de ministros pudieron aprobar a través de un acuerdo gubernativo sin recurrir a la restricción de garantías constitucionales”.

Record Remittances from US to Mexico Raise Money Laundering Concerns
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, September 1, 2021
“The figure represents a 23 percent increase from the almost $23 billion in remittances sent during the same time period in 2020, according to Banxico data. By the end of 2020, Mexico received a record $40 billion in remittances from the United States, according to government data. This year is on pace to surpass that amount. After a small drop in remittances sent from the United States to Mexico in April 2020 – one month after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the COVID-19 health crisis as a “pandemic” – those payments bounced back, according to the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think-tank based in Washington, DC.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Doubling Down on Deterrence: Access to Asylum Under Biden
WRC, LAWGEF, WOLA, HRF, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Global Justice Clinic, Witness at the Border, CGRS, IMUMI, Asylum Access Mexico, September 9, 2021
“This document summarizes how the U.S. and Mexican governments block and expel people seeking international protection and provides recommendations for the U.S. and Mexican governments to restore access to asylum.”

Mexico: Mass Expulsion of Asylum Seekers to Guatemala
Human Rights Watch, September 8, 2021
“Also in August, Mexican immigration authorities began busing at least 300 migrants of various nationalities each day, including some expelled from the United States and others apprehended in Mexico, to the Mexican side of the remote El Ceibo border crossing in the Lacandón Jungle. At times, the buses have arrived late at night. The authorities have then forced the migrants to cross the border by foot. Mexican authorities have also expelled groups of migrants this way through the border crossing in Talismán, Chiapas, also on Mexico’s southern border.”

Addressing Instability in Central America: Restrictions on Civil Liberties, Violence, and Climate Change
María Fernanda Bozmoski, María Eugenia Brizuela de Avila, Domingo Sadurní, Atlantic Council, September 1, 2021
“This brief is the third in a three-part series by the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and DT Institute that provides policy recommendations for the United States and its northern Central American partners to address the root causes of migration.”

* The Migration News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.

P.S. Do you know of someone who might be interested in receiving the Migrant News Brief? Tell them to email lalvarez@lawg.org