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Migration News Brief 9.25.20

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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

Deportations. Family Separations. Halt the DHS nomination!
Lauri Alvarez, Latin America Working Group, September 23, 2020
“Chad Wolf helped implement the cruel child separation “Zero Tolerance” policy under Secretary Nielsen.  The image of children in cages reaching for their mothers being taken is forever etched in our mind. He led the evisceration of our asylum system through the so-called ‘Safe Third Country Agreements’ and the closure of the border to all seeking humanitarian refuge.”

Press Release: LAWG Opposes Chad Wolf Nomination, Urges Investigation into His Actions & Calls for his Resignation
Latin America Working Group, September 23, 2020
“‘Under Chad Wolf’s watch, DHS has become an agency that considers Central American families and children a threat to the United States. A vote for him is a vote for family separation, the border wall, forcibly sterilizing immigrant women, and exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 through detentions and deportations that export COVID-19 to Latin America and the Caribbean. The only hearing that should be held for Chad Wolf is a hearing to investigate all of these policies,’ states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, co-director for the Latin America Working Group (LAWG).”

COVID-19

General

Covid warnings ring out as Latin America bids to return to normality
Joe Parkin Daniels, Dom Phillips, David Agren, The Guardian, September 19, 2020
“But while Braga is delighted that Rio’s beaches are packed once again, international health officials are worried. This week, the World Health Organisation warned that countries across Latin America, are rushing back to normality prematurely – a mistake that could prove catastrophic in a region that already accounts for a third of global pandemic deaths.”

Coronavirus could create a lockdown generation in Latin America if governments don’t act
Luciana Zorzoli, The Conversation, September 14, 2020
“Coronavirus has hit the healthcare systems and societies of the global south even harder than the rest of the world due to their already weak economies and high debt levels. Latin America is no exception, and has been particularly affected due to very high infection numbers. With more than 7.9 million cases and more than 300,000 deaths, the region has been described as the world’s worst hit region. That is why, according to the World Bank’s June assessment, the Latin American economy will contract 7.2% in 2020 as a whole.”

United States

U.S.-Mexico border closure extended days after State Dept. lifts ‘do not travel’ advisory
Shannon McMahon, The Washington Post, September 18, 2020
“Mexico announced Thursday that its border with the United States will remain closed for another month to further prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The border closure was due to expire on Sept. 21. The Mexican secretary of foreign affairs said that Mexico and the United States would continue the terms of that closure, which have been in place since March, until at least Oct. 21.”

El Salvador

Ordenan cerco sanitario en municipio de El Salvador
Diario Las Américas, 19 de septiembre de 2020
“El presidente de El Salvador Nayib Bukele ordenó al Ministerio de Salud y a las fuerzas de seguridad pública establecer un cerco sanitario en el municipio de Corinto, fronterizo con Honduras, para prevenir un posible rebrote del nuevo coronavirus en esa zona y en lugares aledaños.La decisión fue tomada luego de que entre el miércoles y el jueves se reportaron 47 pruebas positivas de 300 realizadas en ese pequeño municipio de 15.000 habitantes ubicado a 203 kilómetros al noreste de la capital salvadoreña.”

Nayib Bukele desafía a la CSJ y exigirá a pasajeros prueba negativa de covid-19 para ingresar a El Salvador
Merlin Delcid, CNN en Español, 17 de septiembre de 2020
“El presidente de El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, y los magistrados de la Sala de lo Constitucional de la Corte Suprema de Justicia protagonizan una nueva polémica. Esta vez por la decisión del gobierno de exigir a todos los pasajeros que deseen ingresar a El Salvador, incluidos los salvadoreños y residentes, una prueba PCR con resultado negativo para covid-19, entregada por el laboratorio como máximo 72 horas antes de haber iniciado el viaje.”

Guatemala

Guatemala’s president says he’s a ‘high-risk’ patient after coronavirus diagnosis
Reuters, September 22, 2020
“Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, who last week confirmed he tested positive for the coronavirus, said on Tuesday that he is a ‘high-risk’ patient due to his pre-existing medical conditions and history of heavy smoking.”

Guatemala reabre frontera con México, tras 6 meses cerrada por la pandemia
Fredy Martín Pérez, El Universal, 18 de septiembre de 2020
“Guatemala reabrió este viernes sus fronteras con México, El Salvador, Honduras y Belice, después de seis meses de haber sido cerradas por la pandemia. Además, el Aeropuerto Internacional La Aurora fue reabierto este viernes, después de seis meses de permanecer cerrado por la pandemia. El Ministerio de Salud ha implementado protocolos para el ingreso de viajeros de Guatemala y otras naciones que arriben al vecino país.”

Honduras

Honduras: Gov’t Company Committed Fraud in PPE Purchase, Report
Telesur, September 22, 2020 
“CNA also found the investors accepted an excessive price for the sanitary equipment without legal justification or a quality report. After auditing the purchase of the masks, the anti-fraud organization found Invest-H paid 649,000 USD over the regulated tariff.”

Honduras solicita participar en pruebas de vacunas contra COVID-19
La Tribuna, 21 de septiembre de 2020
“Mediante gestiones ante la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), las autoridades de la Secretaría de la Salud confirmaron el interés del gobierno de Honduras para que se logre acceder a las pruebas de la última fase de algunas vacunas contra la COVID-19.”

Aprueban salida de dos dígitos y sigue fase 1 de la reapertura en Honduras
El Heraldo, 20 de septiembre de 2020
“A través de la cadena nacional de radio y televisión, las autoridades explicaron que 31 municipios siguen en fase cero, es decir que en estos sectores del país únicamente se permite que abran sus puertas supermercados, farmacias, bancos, cooperativas, ferreterías, sistema financiero, restaurantes del pilotaje, mercados autorizados y el sector maquilador. El resto del territorio nacional continúa en fase 1.”

Incremento de casos en menores de edad positivos de Covid-19, genera preocupación en Honduras
Criterio.hn, 18 de septiembre de 2020
“De acuerdo a datos del Sistema Nacional en Gestión de Riesgos (SINAGER), Honduras registra a nivel nacional más de 69 mil casos positivos de Covid-19, de los que al menos el 33% son de menores de edad. La Red COIPRODEN ha estudiado las cifras del Gobierno y a través de un informe sobre la situación de la niñez y juventud durante la pandemia, ha detallado que al menos 18 mil 344 jóvenes  (19 a 30 años) y 4 mil 222 niños (entre 0 y 18 años de edad) han padecido de Covid-19.”

Pandemia favorece el espionaje a las reuniones y asociaciones de la sociedad civil
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 17 de septiembre de 2020
“Desde el 16 de marzo del 2020, el gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández, decretó suspensión de derechos Constitucionales, entre ellos el artículo 78, 79 y 80 que dictan que el Estado debe garantizar de libertad de asociación y reunión, en relación de sus intereses comunes de cualquier índole y presentar peticiones a las autoridades para obtener respuesta en el plazo legal.”

Mexico

In the Epicenter of Mexico’s Epicenter, Feeling Like a ‘Trapped Animal’
Azam Ahmed, The New York Times, September 23, 2020
“Here in Iztapalapa, the neighborhood in southeastern Mexico City that holds the market, it was clear from the start that the virus would strike hard. Of all the districts in the Mexican capital, it is the most populous and densely populated, with some two million people packed into 45 square miles of heaving commerce and virtually uninterrupted construction.”

Coronavirus en México: AMLO rechaza la posibilidad de un rebrote de COVID-19
Clarín, 22 de septiembre de 2020
“El presidente mexicano, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aseguró hoy que en México no existe ningún indicio de rebrote de coronavirus, lo que indicaría, según AMLO, que el país se encuentra en la recta final hacia una salida de la emergencia sanitaria.”

In Pictures: Mexico’s Indigenous children struggle for education
Al Jazeera, September 20, 2020
“Children across the country began a new school year last month with remote learning via television, a move aimed at curbing the spread of the disease in a country that has reported 73,000 COVID-19 deaths – the fourth-highest tally in the world. But in the homes of San Miguel Amoltepec Viejo, a windswept village in one of the country’s poorest regions, there are no such modern-day luxuries.”

U.S. Enforcement

DHS awarded $6 million in contracts to firm where Acting Secretary Wolf’s wife is executive
Julia Ainsley, NBC News, September 23, 2020
“The consulting firm where the wife of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is an executive has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since September 2018, according to records on the federal government website USA Spending.”

Migrant women to no longer see doctor accused of misconduct
Nomaan Merchant, WFMJ, September 22, 2020
“Immigration authorities have stopped sending detained women to a rural Georgia gynecologist accused of performing surgeries without consent, a government spokesman said Tuesday. Dr. Mahendra Amin faces allegations that he administered hysterectomies and other procedures that women held at the Irwin County Detention Center didn’t seek or fully understand.”

ICE Often Gives Detained Immigrants Poor Medical Care And Uses Segregation As Punishment, A New Report Says
Adolfo Flores, Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, September 21, 2020
“The report, launched by the House Homeland Security Committee in 2019, is based on tours of eight ICE detention centers, interviews, and facility inspection reports. The committee found that ICE and its contractors frequently demonstrated an indifference to the mental and physical care of immigrants in their custody. The committee is set to release the report on Monday.”

Inside Ice’s pattern of medical neglect as immigrants flown on its planes
Angelika Albaladejo, The Guardian, September 19, 2020
“In February, when her cross-country journeys started, Ice knew Marta’s lupus and asthma could increase her risk of contracting the virus and experiencing severe symptoms. By late June, she had tested positive for Covid-19. The detention center clinic gave her pills to suppress her cough, she said. ‘Nothing else.’”

ICE Is Planning To Expand DNA Collection Of Detained Immigrants Nationwide
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, September 18, 2020
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are expected to begin collecting the DNA samples of people arrested across the country later this year, according to two former Department of Homeland Security officials with knowledge of the program. The expansion, spurred by federal regulations that went into effect earlier this year, will take place in stages as ICE officials in different regions across the US begin to collect DNA from October into 2021, according to the two sources.”

Mexico asks US for answers about alleged migrant detention abuse
Frank Jack Daniel, Nasdaq, September 16, 2020
“Mexico said on Wednesday said it had formally requested a report from U.S. authorities regarding alleged negligent practices in U.S. immigration detention centers, citing accusations of sexual abuse and unauthorized hysterectomies. The request comes after a complaint by a whistleblower nurse alleging that detainees in a Georgia immigration detention facility had improperly received hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures.”

ICE deported a key witness in investigation of sexual assault and harassment at El Paso detention center
Lomi Kriel, The Texas Tribune, September 15, 2020
“The U.S. government late Monday deported a crucial witness in an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment at an El Paso immigrant detention center, the witness’ lawyers said. The 35-year-old woman has been held in the facility, which is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for about a year and told lawyers about a “pattern and practice” of abuse there, including that guards systematically assaulted her and other detainees in areas that were not visible to security cameras.”

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.”

Mexican Enforcement

ICE whistleblower: Mexico investigating US immigrant ‘sterilisations’
BBC News, September 23, 2020 
“On Monday Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his government could take legal action against the US if the allegations were confirmed, Mexican newspaper El Universal reports.”

INM da de baja a mil 48 funcionarios por diferentes anomalías
La Jornada, 20 de septiembre de 2020
“El Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), informó ayer que dio de baja a mil 48 funcionarios de esa institución, entre ellos ocho directores generales y 640 agentes federales como parte del combate a la corrupción, quejas, mala atención, actos indebido y contrarios a la ley, entre otras cosas.”

Mexico skirts U.S. criticism of anti-drug enforcement
AP News, September 17, 2020
“President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that Mexico will respond ‘softly, softly’ and with ‘love and peace’ to the finding by the U.S. government that his country needs to do more to stop drug trafficking. López Obrador said he did not agree with all the findings in the U.S. annual report, which listed Mexico among ‘major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.’ He said Mexico ‘is working every day’ to fight drug trafficking and ‘our conscience is clear.’”

Root Causes

The Logging Barons of Catacamas, Honduras
Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, September 18, 2020
“Catacamas is the largest municipality in Central America, home to thousands of square kilometers of pristine forest. Political elites in this remote part of Honduras have maintained a profitable relationship with timber traffickers for decades. Their power, cemented by allowing corporations to pillage Catacamas’ natural wealth and their government connections, has allowed them to murder those who speak out against them, grow rich off the deforestation of cedar, mahogany and pine trees, and even possibly assist drug traffickers.”

Trudging towards Justice: The El Mozote Massacre’s Decades Long Trials
Felipe de la Hoz, El Faro, September 18, 2020
“To say the words ‘El Mozote’ in El Salvador is to conjure up an event that is at once concrete and obscure—an atrocity whose basic facts are well known and documented in grisly detail, but whose motivations and architects have remained stubbornly obscure, or unaccountable. Legal proceedings currently underway hope to finally change that, and clarify one of the darkest chapters of El Salvador’s gruesome war.”

Liberación inmediata para defensores de Guapinol encarcelados hace un año de forma arbitraria
Conexihon, 22 de septiembre de 2020
“A un año de encarcelamiento de ocho defensores de la Comunidad de Guapinol en el Bajo Aguan al norte de Honduras, organizaciones nacionales e Internacionales, defensores de Derechos Humanos y pobladores de la comunidad exigen su liberación.”

Alarmante incremento de violaciones sexuales en menores hondureñas
Radio Progreso, 21 de septiembre de 2020
“Entre julio y agosto de 2020, un total de 15 niñas fueron víctimas de violencia sexual en Honduras, según el monitoreo en medios de comunicación que realiza el Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM).”

Acnur abrirá en El Salvador una sede operativa para funciones de asistencia
El Diario, 17 de septiembre de 2020
“La Agencia de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (Acnur) abrirá en El Salvador una sede operativa para brindar asistencia a personas refugiadas, solicitantes de asilo y víctimas de desplazamiento interno, informó este miércoles la Cancillería.”

Más de 470 manifestaciones en 190 días de confinamiento, reflejan descontento de los hondureños
Criterio.hn, 21 de septiembre de 2020
“De acuerdo a la herramienta de monitoreo, las principales expresiones de descontento ciudadano se han realizado en los municipios del Distrito Central con 145 y San Pedro Sula con 43. Seguido por El Progreso con 24, Choloma con 22, en Villanueva 14, Choluteca 11 y Comayagua 9, entre otros municipios. Entre las principales motivaciones de las manifestaciones se encuentran: el acceso a la alimentación, el incumplimiento en el pago de bonos estatales, el retorno al trabajo y el temor al contagio por Covid-19, entre otros.”

El examen es en noviembre: Honduras llegará con recomendaciones incumplidas al EPU 2020
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 20 de septiembre de 2020
“El Estado hondureño llevará una enorme mora en cuanto a cumplimiento de recomendaciones del Examen Periódico Universal, EPU, del año 2015, entre ellas las relacionadas con la libertad de expresión y la protección de las personas que en el país ejercen el periodismo.”

Mujeres sobrevivientes del genocidio Ixil rinden declaración
Stef Arreaga, Prensa Comunitaria, 17 de septiembre de 2020
“Este 16, 17 y 18 de septiembre se tiene previsto que catorce víctimas sobrevivientes de masacres ocurridas en los municipios del área Ixil brinden su declaración en calidad de anticipo de prueba para garantizar su palabra y su verdad y evitar la revictimización durante el proceso penal.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Frontline Physician Letter to ICE
AAP, ACOG, ACP, APA, September 22, 2020
“We call on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to conduct an immediate internal investigation followed by swift and decisive corrective action as warranted should the complaint be substantiated. We urge ICE to investigate whether similar incidents of alleged medical abuse and neglect are occurring at other detention facilities.”

New research shows devastating economic impact of Covid-19 on displaced
Norweigan Refugee Council, September 21, 2020
“More than three quarters of displaced and conflict-affected people surveyed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) have lost income since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The devastating economic impact is tipping many into a hunger, homelessness and education crisis, the organisation said in a report released today.”

When Protection Becomes Repression: Mandatory Quarantines Under COVID-19 in the Americas
Amnesty International, September 21, 2020
“In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries in the Americas – specifically Venezuela, El Salvador, and Paraguay – have placed tens of thousands of people in state-run quarantine centres in insanitary conditions, sometimes without adequate food, water and medical care. They have also repeatedly extended their quarantine or isolation periods without clear communication of the scientific reasons for doing so.”

When Police Repression is Not Enough: A U.S. Corporation is Suing Guatemala to Crush Local Mining Opposition
Jen Moore, Ellen Moore, Inequality.org, September 18, 2020
“Across the Global South, and especially in Latin America, international mining companies are using a combination of pressure tactics to forcibly open mining operations in places where communities have resisted them. First, they resort to deception and repression. Then, if that fails, they sue governments in international tribunals — which can force governments to pay massive awards to the corporations and undermine public decision making in the people’s interest. A new report we co-authored looks at one U.S. corporation’s efforts to use the pressure of an expensive lawsuit to strong-arm the Guatemalan government into green-lighting an unwanted mine.”

Organizaciones internacionales envían carta pública a presidente Giammattei
CEJIL, 17 de septiembre de 2020
“Las organizaciones Amnistía Internacional, Front Line Defenders Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-D), Asociadas por lo Justo (JASS) y el Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), enviamos este día una misiva dirigida al presidente de Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei Falla.”

Rostros y Voces del Conflicto
“Los hechos que marcaron a El Salvador entre 1972 y 1992 parecen lejanos. Este sitio busca dar rostro y voz a esos sucesos. Graves violaciones a los derechos humanos, crímenes de guerra y de lesa humanidad cometidos por unos y por otros, quizá sean un recuerdo borroso en la memoria de quienes sobreviven a esos hechos, pero son fragmentos de memoria que aún marcan sus vidas y la de todo un país.”