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Migration News Brief 9.18.20

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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).

 

Spotlight

Press Release: Appeals Court Ruling Could End TPS, The Fight for Permanent Protections Goes On
Latin America Working Group, September 15, 2020
“‘Amidst a global pandemic, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are feeling the brunt of the Trump Administration’s harsh anti-immigrant policies. This latest court decision exacerbates a situation of uncertainty and fear for hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries and their families, including 130,000 TPS beneficiaries who are essential workers, placing their protections at risk next year. While the courts have been able to extend protections temporarily in the short-term, the longer-term solution is for the Congress to immediately advance permanent protections for these members of our communities,’ states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG co-director.”

COVID-19

General

Latin America, unable to flatten its curve, struggles to cope with pandemic
Sebastián Lacunza, Anthony Faiola, Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post, September 11, 2020
“Seven months after Latin America diagnosed its first case of covid-19, the region continues to rack up some of the worst numbers in the world — failing to flatten its curve as it reels from persistently high infection levels and devastating mortality rates. Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and now Argentina make up half the global top 10 in total coronavirus cases. Add Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador, and Latin America accounts for eight of the 12 countries suffering the most deaths per capita. (The United States leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths.)”

La pandemia empodera a las Fuerzas Armadas en América Latina
Federico Rivas Molina, Javier Lafuente, Beatriz Jucá, Rocío Montes, El País, 12 de septiembre, 2020
“Las necesidades de control social han empoderado a las armas. El fenómeno no es homogéneo en la región, pero sigue como patrón que los uniformados han tomado el control de las calles. ‘En los países donde las Fuerzas Armadas ya tenían un rol importante, como Brasil, México, Perú, Bolivia y Colombia el coronavirus acentuó ese rol. En el caso de México, por ejemplo, hasta se les cedieron puertos y autopistas’, dice el politólogo argentino y experto en seguridad Fabián Calle. Los uniformados han sumado protagonismo sin ruido, como si la gente considerase el nuevo statu quo una consecuencia natural e inevitable de la pandemia”.

United States

“A Silent Pandemic”: Nurse at ICE Facility Blows the Whistle on Coronavirus Dangers
José Olivares, John Washington, The Intercept, September 14, 2020
“The whistleblower, Dawn Wooten, says that Irwin, which is run by the private corporation LaSalle Corrections, has underreported Covid-19 cases, knowingly placed staff and detainees at risk of contracting the virus, neglected medical complaints, and refused to test symptomatic detainees, among other dangerous practices. On September 8, Wooten submitted a letter detailing her complaints to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, with the help of attorneys from the Government Accountability Project. The grim situation inside the facility reflects what she called ‘a silent pandemic’ running rampant behind the prison bars.”

Central American refugees stopped by Trump, then by pandemic
Gisela Salomon, Claudia Torrens, AP News, September 13, 2020
“Only about 338 — or 12% — of 2,700 people approved to come to the U.S. through a small refugee program have arrived since a court settlement more than a year ago, according to the latest government data. President Donald Trump has shut down the program, but a judge said those already cleared could travel. After navigating legal snags and rigorous checks requiring they show they’re in danger in Central America, the refugees faced more delays as the pandemic grounded flights, canceled interviews and closed clinics that conduct needed medical exams.”

About 8,800 unaccompanied children expelled at U.S. border under coronavirus-related measure
NBC News, September 11, 2020
“The administration ‘immediately’ expelled most children and families to Mexico but more than 2,200 unaccompanied children and 600 people who came in families were held until flights could be arranged to return home, Ortiz said.”

Guatemala

Guatemala suma 82 mil 172 casos de coronavirus y casi tres mil muertes por covid-19
Julio Román, Guatevisión, 14 de septiembre de 2020
“Con los contagios de las últimas 24 horas, Guatemala llegó a 82 mil 172 casos de coronavirus, 2 mil 972 personas han muerto, 71 mil 352 son los casos recuperados estimados y hay 7 mil 848 casos estimados activos. La incidencia acumulada de casos por cada 100 mil habitantes es de 487.4, la tasa de mortalidad por esa misma cifra de pobladores es de 17.6 con una letalidad de 3.6%”.

Honduras

In Honduras NGOs step up to fight hunger linked to COVID-19
Veronique Durroux (UN OCHA), María Elena Calix (UN Honduras), Medium, September 15, 2020
“As vulnerability grew in Honduras, NGOs with ongoing operations have tried to scale up their emergency assistance, with a particular focus on food security. Plan International Honduras, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), CARE International, Ayuda en Acción and World Vision immediately redirected funds from their existing programmes and projects to increase food assistance and other emergency relief. Food aid is in the form of food packages as well as pre-paid supermarket cards.”

Tal como lo advirtieron los especialistas, el Covid-19 se propaga en la zona rural
Criterio.hn, 15 de septiembre de 2020
“Hace unos días, el cinco de septiembre, para ser exactos, el presidente de la Asociación de Médicos del Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social manifestó que el virus del Covid 19 se está transportando de la ciudad a las zonas rurales donde no hay ventiladores artificiales ni equipos de bioseguridad. Y esa versión se confirma con setenta casos positivos que en las últimas horas confirmó el Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos (SINAGER) para el departamento de Copán”.

A pesar del riesgo, transporte público se reanuda en Honduras
Lizz Gabriela Mejīa Raudales, Contra Corriente, 15 de septiembre de 2020
“Durante 6 meses de la emergencia sanitaria en Honduras, el transporte público estuvo paralizado, pero esta semana se habilitó en un 100% de su capacidad. El riesgo de contagio en las malas condiciones del sistema de transporte se contrapone a la calamidad a la que miles de transportistas han sido condenados en medio de la pandemia. La reapertura del transporte se ha realizado sin escuchar opiniones científicas en un país que sigue teniendo altos índices de contagio”.

La comunidad Trans vulnerable, violentada y discriminada durante la pandemia por covid-19
Conexihon, 14 de septiembre de 2020
“‘Nos vemos en una realidad donde el Gobierno no cumple con nuestras garantías, porque aparte de ser trans somos seres humanos dentro de esta misma sociedad, nos venimos a encontrar con el no reconocimiento legal que tanto deseamos que nos merecemos como ciudadanas de este país’ agregó, Ávila”.

Monitoreo del COVID19 en Honduras: 14 de septiembre del 2020
CESPAD, 14 de septiembre de 2020
“Autoridades hondureñas determinaron extender la alerta roja y el toque de queda absoluto en los 18 departamentos de Honduras. El Sistema Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos (SINAGER) y la Secretaría de Seguridad anunciaron que la alerta roja y el toque de queda absoluto se extiende hasta el domingo 20 de septiembre, como medida de prevención para evitar la propagación del coronavirus. Además, se informó que a partir del lunes 14 de septiembre se autoriza la circulación de la población mediante el último dígito de la tarjeta de identidad, pasaporte o carné de residente para extranjeros, solo por un dígito por día”.

¿Qué hay detrás de la apatía del gobierno para enfrentar la pandemia?
Radio Progreso, 11 de septiembre de 2020
“‘En todas partes, y también en este gobierno, tratan de justificar esa lentitud y ese retardo diciendo que nadie estaba preparado para enfrentar una pandemia de esta naturaleza, y eso es cierto, pero cuando paran varios meses y no se nota ningún arranque, entonces uno empieza a preguntarse qué otras cosas hay si no es una visión deformada que ve la pandemia como una posibilidad de enriquecimiento ilícito, de hacer movimientos políticos, de contrarrestar la movilización social. Uno se queda pensando qué hay detrás de la apatía del gobierno’, manifestó”.

Mexico

On the Texas border amid coronavirus, families are seeking medical care in Mexico
Gandi Schwartz, Julio Vaqueiro, Marina E. Franco, NBC News, September 10, 2020
“Her husband had contracted COVID-19 and was having difficulty breathing, but the Texan family has little income and does not have health insurance. So the best bet was to look for medicine on the Mexican side, across the border from their home in Texas. In the following weeks, Sáenz and her daughter also became infected; it was in Mexico where they were able to pay for a doctor’s visit.”

Mexico Registers 59% More Excess Deaths Than Expected Amid Covid
Amy Stillman, Bloomberg, September 6, 2020
“Mexico reported excess deaths of 122,765 from March to August, a 59% increase from what was expected, as the novel coronavirus put the country fourth on the global list of Covid-19 fatalities.”

U.S. Enforcement

Without DHS Witness In Hearing, Whistleblower Claims Likely Go Unaddressed
Philip Ewing, NPR, September 17, 2020
“Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf rejected a subpoena to appear, but DHS says acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli was prepped in his place. Majority democrats on the committee suggested Thursday that the move was an attempt to shield department leadership from facing difficult problems within the sprawling department.”

ICE arrested an undocumented immigrant on church grounds. They lied to coax him out, family and attorney say.
Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post, September 17, 2020
“Now Siahaan’s attorney and clergy at Glenmont United Methodist are rallying to stop Siahaan’s deportation, accusing ICE of breaching its own protocol by arresting him on church property under false pretenses and while his appeals are still pending.”

U.S. watchdog to investigate whistleblower’s detention allegations
Mimi Dweyer, Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, September 15, 2020
“U.S. immigration officials said on Tuesday a federal watchdog would investigate complaints made by a whistleblower nurse in a Georgia immigration detention facility who alleged detainees had improperly received hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures.”

400,000 Immigrants Can Be Forced to Leave the U.S., Court Rules
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, September 14, 2020
“The Trump administration has argued that the emergency conditions that existed when people were invited to come to the United States — earthquakes, hurricanes, civil war — had occurred long ago. The program, it said, had inadvertently conferred permanent immigration status for people from places like El Salvador, Haiti and Sudan, most of whom it said no longer needed safe haven. The long-awaited decision does not immediately end the protections. The Trump administration has agreed to maintain them until at least March 5, 2021, for people from five of the affected countries and until November 2021 for people from El Salvador.”

U.S. court allows Trump to phase out immigrant humanitarian protections
Ted Hesson, Reuters, September 14, 2020
“In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of three judges in the California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that had blocked Trump’s move to phase out so-called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. The ruling is also expected to affect the status of people from Honduras and Nepal, who filed a separate lawsuit that was suspended last year pending the outcome of the broader case.”

Biden Pledges To Dismantle Trump’s Sweeping Immigration Changes — But Can He Do That?
John Burnett, NPR, September 14, 2020
“’Because of the intense volume and pace of changes the Trump administration enacted while in office, even if we have a new administration, Trump will continue to have had an impact on immigration for years to come,’ Pierce says. The Trump administration has undertaken more than 400 executive actions on immigration, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Those include tougher border and interior enforcement, restricting asylum, rolling back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), slashing refugee visas, streamlining immigration courts and creating Remain in Mexico.”

After a Pandemic Pause, ICE Resumes Deportation Arrests
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, September 12, 2020
“Ms. Flores was seized during a new nationwide enforcement operation announced this month, the first large-scale arrests and deportations in the interior of the country since the coronavirus pandemic halted field operations for several months. Since mid-July, immigration agents have taken more than 2,000 people into custody from their homes, workplaces and other sites, including a post office, often after staking them out for days.”

ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the places could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed.
Antonio Olivo, Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, September 11, 2020
“The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official. After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.”

ICE usó un vuelo con migrantes para enviar agentes especiales a las protestas. Un brote mortal de coronavirus causó luego estragos
Noticias Telemundo, 11 de septiembre de 2020
“Tras este traslado, que contravino las restricciones de vuelos chárter por la pandemia de coronavirus, se detectaron contagios de coronavirus entre los migrantes, lo que provocó un brote en el centro de detención de Farmville, Virginia, que infectó a más de 300 presos, uno de los cuales falleció, según ha informado este viernes el diario The Washington Post ICE asegura que trasladó a los migrantes en sus aviones chárter (bautizados informalmente como ICE Air) para evitar el exceso de presos en instalaciones de Arizona y Florida y como precaución ante la pandemia. Pero fuentes del citado diario indican que la razón principal fue soslayar la prohibición de que empleados de la agencia viajen en esos vuelos si no es para trasladar presos”.

Trump officials propose collecting DNA from citizens sponsoring immigrants
Celine Castronuovo, The Hill, September 11, 2020
“Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the new expansion an ‘unprecedented’ level of data collection. ‘Collecting a massive database of genetic blueprints won’t make us safer — it will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare,’ Flores said in a statement on Sept. 2.”

Report: Immigration Detention Center Should Release Inmates
Matthew Barakat, AP News, September 8, 2020
“An outside expert who inspected an immigration detention center in Virginia that experienced a massive coronavirus outbreak is recommending that some high-risk inmates be released after finding flaws in the center’s screening procedures. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ordered the inspection last month after several detainees filed a lawsuit with the help of legal activist groups. Brinkema faulted the detention complex in Farmville for an outbreak that affected more than 90% of the center’s nearly 300 detainees, including a 72-year-old detainee who died.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico asks for information on alleged migrant abuse at U.S. centers
Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2020
“The Mexican government said Wednesday it has requested information from the United States about claims that migrants were subjected to hysterectomies at a detention center in Georgia and that a migrant allegedly suffered sexual abuse at a facility in Texas.”

Mexico rights agency faults gov’t in migrant COVID-19 death
Border Report, September 14, 2020
“Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said Friday the country’s immigration agency was to blame in the death of a Salvadoran migrant who died of COVID-19 after a stay at a detention center in Mexico City.”

Root Causes

Star investigation: US supports Honduran government that forces many to migrate as it protects drug trafficking
Tim Steller, Arizona Daily Star, September 12, 2020
“What Hondurans long suspected and Americans later found out was that the president of Honduras, who has functional control of all branches of government, is also deeply implicated in drug trafficking to the United States.”

OACNUDH y CIDH manifestan su preocupación por la situación de las personas privadas de libertad en Honduras
CIDH, 16 de septiembre de 2020
“En el contexto de la pandemia, OACNUDH y CIDH advierten esfuerzos realizados por el Estado a fin de reducir la sobrepoblación penitenciaria. Entre estos, destacan la emisión del Decreto No. 36-2020 de 10 de junio de 2020, dirigido principalmente a la revisión obligatoria de las medidas cautelares de prisión preventiva en el caso de personas que tengan una enfermedad de base que las ponga en mayor riesgo frente al COVID-19, con miras a la aplicación de medidas no privativas de la libertad. Esta normativa también abre la posibilidad de que se impongan medidas alternativas a la detención en delitos para los que en el Código Procesal Penal se estipulaba la prisión preventiva como única medida cautelar posible”.

Represión policial: Detenciones y heridos en manifestación popular por aniversario de independencia 
CLibre, 15 de septiembre de 2020
“Siempre en el centro de la capital, una tanqueta lanzó agua con un químico de color azul hacia los y las manifestantes. Por este hecho, el joven Cristian Espinoza, de 26 años, artista circense, resultó con heridas en sus ojos y según conoció C-Libre, se encuentra en el Hospital Escuela Universitario (HEU),con lesiones graves en sus ojos. Las fuerzas policiales dieron persecución hacia los y las manifestantes por los alrededores del centro de la ciudad, específicamente en el barrio La Ronda y la Avenida Cristóbal Colón, donde se encuentra un centro hospitalario privado”.

Donan 41 millones de dólares a Honduras y El Salvador por acuerdos suscritos con gobierno mexicano
Criterio.hn, 15 de septiembre de 2020
“Así lo ha informado la revista mexicana Forbes, quien especificó que, entre la distribución de los fondos, ‘ uno de los donativos autorizados al gobierno de Honduras es por 381 millones 930 mil pesos (o 20 millones de dólares) para detonar Sembrando Vida, un proyecto que busca la conservación del medio ambiente plantando árboles maderables y frutales’”.

Series of Corruption Allegations Stains El Salvador’s Promise — What Political Impact Will It Have?
Roman Gressier, El Faro, September 11, 2020
“And yet, only 14 months into his five-year term, there is mounting evidence that it is business as usual in the new administration. In the past five months since the president announced the country’s pandemic lockdown, Salvadorean newsrooms have published at least 14 investigations into evidence of corruption related to the administration’s emergency response, including multiple cases of self-dealing to the family members of administration officials and party insiders. The pandemic has also been marked by accusations of partisan aid distribution, the deletion of publicly-accessible government expenditures, resistance to audits on emergency spending, and the unlawful refusal of most of the ministries to report emergency spending to the Legislative Assembly.”

Honduras anuncia un “Registro Nacional de Detenciones” como respuesta a demandas dictadas por el Sistema Interamericano de DDHH
Marc Allas, Defensores en Línea, 11 de septiembre de 2020
“El estado de Honduras, a través de la Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) anunció hoy que a mediados de 2021, contará con un ‘Registro Nacional de Detenciones’, en cumplimiento al Acuerdo de Solución Amistosa en el caso Dixie Miguel Urbina y a la sentencia del caso Juan Humberto Sánchez, que demandó al estado, la creación de dicho registro”.

Zozobra, tristeza e impotencia se vive en Triunfo de la Cruz por secuestro de garífunas
Radio Progreso, 11 de septiembre de 2020
“‘A más de 55 días del secuestro de cinco garífunas, y al no tener noticias de su paradero, ni de su estado físico y mental, vivimos un ambiente de zozobra, tristeza e impotencia en la comunidad Triunfo de la Cruz’, indicó Jenny Herrera integrante del patronato, quien además manifestó que, no se cansarán de seguir exigiendo el regreso sus hermanos sanos y salvos. Remarcando la consigna ‘vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos’”.

Mexico gender violence: Victims’ relatives occupy rights office
Manuel Rapalo, Al Jazeera News, September 11, 2020
“Relatives of missing children and survivors of rape in Mexico have occupied the offices of the National Human Rights Commission for more than a week. They say they will not move until authorities bring perpetrators to justice.”

Corrupción durante pandemia suma más de 811 millones de lempiras, afirma el CNA
Radio Progreso, 10 de septiembre de 2020
“Al cumplirse seis meses de la emergencia por el Coronavirus en Honduras, el Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción (CNA) ha presentado 10 informes investigativos en los cuales ha revelado actos de corrupción en la gestión de los fondos públicos para la compra de equipo e insumos médicos, a través de la Comisión Permanente de Contingencias (COPECO) e Inversión Estratégica de Honduras (INVEST-H)”.

Policía a la espera de órdenes de captura en caso secuestro de garífunas
Radio Progreso, 9 de septiembre, 2020
“El vocero de la Policía Nacional, Jair Meza, afirma que están a la espera que se emitan órdenes de captura vinculadas a la desaparición de los cinco pobladores de la comunidad garífuna El Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela, departamento de Atlántida”.

Las que no olvidan: mujeres y organizaciones que buscan a desaparecidas en Honduras
Viena Herrera, Contra Corriente, 7 de septiembre de 2020
“Más de 3037 mujeres fueron reportadas como desaparecidas en Honduras en los últimos 12 años, según datos del Ministerio Público (MP). Del estado de las denuncias se conoce poco, pero los datos revelan que las mujeres son blanco de delitos como trata de personas, secuestro y explotación sexual comercial, que pueden estar ligados a su desaparición. Ante la ausencia de información y protocolos, mujeres organizadas en el país se dedican a buscar y presionar a las instituciones para obtener respuestas y que las desaparecidas no queden en el olvido”.

Transportistas hondureños bloquean calles para exigir ayuda estatal y trabajo
EFE, Yahoo! Noticias, 7 de septiembre, 2020
“Centenares de conductores de taxis y autobuses del transporte público iniciaron este lunes un paro en las principales ciudades de Honduras para exigir que el Gobierno les permita trabajar o les entregue un subsidio ante la falta de trabajo por el confinamiento para frenar la expansión de la COVID-19”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Border Lens
Southern Border Communities Coalition
“Border Lens is a data / research and story hub created by the Southern Border Communities Coalition to provide a comprehensive view of the southern border region — from the people who live and work in our region.”

Welcoming Week: Celebrating & Supporting Our Refugee Neighbors 
Refugees International, September 16, 2020
“The conversation will explore the barriers that refugees face in contributing at their full potential in medical, teaching, and other fields—and how effective policies can remove these barriers and generate benefits for refugees, their families, and long-time residents. We will also discuss how storytelling and advocacy can be used to help achieve policy change.”

Policy Brief | 5 Reasons To End Immigrant Detention
Heidi Altman, Marta Ascherio, National Immigrant Justice Center, September 14, 2020
“The U.S. immigrant detention system began to grow into its current form only a few decades ago. It has evolved into a behemoth that makes communities less safe, not more. The federal government should not abuse or mistreat people, or deprive them of their liberty solely because they are facing civil immigation proceedings. It should not further punitive systems of incarceration and enforcement that perpetuate racism against Black and Brown immigrants. Rather, the government should permit people to pursue their cases from the safety of their homes and communities, with case management available when needed.”

Pregnant Immigrants and Asylum Seekers During COVID-19
Center for Reproductive Rights, American Friends Service Committee, Human RIghts First, Women’s Refugee Commission, September, 14, 2020
“The U.S. government has exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to further eviscerate humanitarian and human rights protections for immigrants and people seeking asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Política migratoria en Estados Unidos: un boletín para organizaciones mesoamericanas AGOSTO 2020
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), 14 de septiembre de 2020
“En este documento, presentamos un resumen mensual de iniciativas ejecutivas, decisiones judiciales y debates legislativos de Estados Unidos con el fin de identificar nuevos espacios para las estrategias de promoción y protección de los derechos humanos de las personas migrantes en Centroamérica y México”.

The Digital Divide Hits U.S. Immigrant Households Disproportionately during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Alexis Cherewka, Migration Policy Institute, September 3, 2020
“Yet neither access to the internet nor vulnerability to the coronavirus are spread equally. Immigrants are over-represented in frontline pandemic-response occupations such as doctors, home health aides, and grocery store workers, leaving them more exposed to the disease. Meanwhile, the foreign born also make up a disproportionately large share of groups with lower levels of digital skills. As such, questions surrounding digital inclusion and a push for digital equity have come to the fore, especially for populations that have been disproportionately hit during this public-health crisis.”

The deadly impact of immigration detention in the United States
Wavering Stripes
“Immigration detention is plagued by fatally flawed medical care, a lack of transparency, and ongoing abuse. These stories illuminate only a few of the many tragedies that have occurred inside ICE and CBP custody.”

*This is a compilation of news articles that don’t all reflect the viewpoints of Latin America Working Group