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Migration News Brief for 7.23.21

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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.

Photo by: Lauri Alvarez


Letter to Biden Administration: NGOs call for TPS for Central American Countries Impacted by Hurricanes
Latin America Working Group and Alianza Americas, July 22, 2021 
“Designating TPS for Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala must be considered as an essential part of the U.S. strategy to address the root causes of migration from Central America. TPS would allow the citizens of these countries to continue living and working in the United States, to support their families in Central America still suffering from the impacts of the hurricanes, and to strengthen those countries’ economies –creating positive impacts for communities in the United States and in Central America.”

Press Release: 209 Advocacy Groups to Biden Admin: Grant New Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations to Central American Nations
Alianza Americas, Latin America Working Group, Presente.org, July 22, 2021 
“The letter follows previous petitions from organizations across the country and members of Congress. In its first six months, the administration has granted TPS for Yemen, Somalia, Haiti, Burma, and Venezuela. As the climate crisis rages on, the conditions in Central America, including economic damage, loss of homes and livelihoods, widespread and growing food insecurity, and destruction of critical infrastructure, are still more than sufficiently serious to warrant TPS designations.”

U.S Enforcement

Marooned in Matamoros, Part 1
The Washington Post, July 22, 2021
Fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, Nancy sought asylum in the U.S. Instead, she got stuck in a Mexican border camp. In this two-part series, we explore what Nancy’s ordeal reveals about the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.”

Harris to meet with DACA recipients after federal court ruling
Sabrina Rodriguez, Politico, July 21, 2021
“Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday will meet with recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and immigrant advocates as the White House urges Congress to move quickly on immigration reform — potentially in a budget reconciliation bill Democrats hope to vote on this year.”

Biden admin rethinks plan to lift Covid restrictions at southern border
Julia Ainsley, NBC News, July 20, 2021
“Currently, under Title 42, all migrants except for children who cross the border unaccompanied may be sent back into Mexico without having a chance to have their asylum cases heard in the United States. While many families and some single adults have been allowed in as exceptions, immigration advocacy groups had sued the federal government to guarantee that families be allowed to make their claims in U.S. immigration courts. Last month alone, CBP expelled over 55,000 parents and children who attempted to cross the border together. Since October, over 752,000 migrants have been expelled under Title 42.”

“Heartbreaking”: Judge’s Suspension of DACA Renews Push for Comprehensive Immigration Bill 
Democracy Now!, July 20, 2021
“For immigrants, in general, it would be a life-changing opportunity to be able to come out of the shadows, to be able to fully integrate into U.S. society and to live a life free of fear, free of the constant fear that you may just be working, and for some reason, one reason or another, you’re going to be stopped by police and subsequently be deported. So, for many people, it would be life-changing.”

DACA immigrants in Houston call on Congress to take action to protect Dreamers 
Olivia P. Tallett, Houston Chronicle, July 19, 2021
“​Immigrants in Houston called on Congress to take immediate action to provide permanent legal status for young people impacted by the decision of a federal judge in Texas that struck down as unconstitutional a program that protects “Dreamers.”

‘We’re tired of living like this’: DACA ruling leads to frustration and devastation for young undocumented immigrants 
Maeve Reston, CNN, July 18, 2021
“After Hanen’s ruling, many DACA recipients are unsure of how long the program will exist or when the next court ruling could reshape their fates. Some say the Biden administration should have moved more quickly to address the backlog of applications — because the delay in processing the applications of so many in the DACA pipeline now means those young people have missed their chance to get DACA protections.”

Judge Andrew Hanen just declared DACA unlawful. Here’s what that means.
Cameron Peters, Vox, July 17, 2021
“As a result of the back-and-forth between the courts and the Trump administration, DACA recipients, who have lived their entire adult lives in the US, have long been stuck in an uncertain position — something which many lawmakers were quick to point out after Friday’s decision. ‘Not a surprise, just a painful reminder that we need to stop relying on temporary immigration fixes,’ Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said in a tweet Friday. ‘Congress must seize the moment and any and all opportunities to finally provide a pathway to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants.’”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico City shelter offers second chance for transgender residents
Yariel Valdés González, Los Angeles Blade, July 19, 2021
“Ríos arrived in July 2020 amid the pandemic. She said the shelter and its residents are now her family, because she has not seen her biological relatives since 2007. ‘It is my home, a refuge from discrimination, violence, prostitution, drugs and alcohol,’ Ríos told the Blade. ‘Staying here gives people the opportunity to grow, to achieve their dreams. It tells you that you can still dream. I am 41-years-old and I am dreaming. I am learning to dream here. The house has opened my horizons, it has given me the opportunity to be a different person.’”

Wave of Haitian migrants in Tapachula; 2,000 applied Monday for asylum
Mexico News Daily, July 17, 2021
“Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in the early hours of July 7, an event that triggered significant unrest in the Caribbean nation and is predicted to lead to a new exodus of asylum seekers. Most of the Haitians already in Tapachula likely left their homeland before the assassination occurred, and some have been stranded in the city for months. Thousands more Haitian migrants have arrived in Mexico in recent years, typically via South American and Central American countries, and some have settled in Mexico, especially in Tijuana.

Root Causes 

El Salvador orders arrest of ex-president Sanchez Ceren in graft probe
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, July 23, 2021
“Sanchez Ceren was vice president at the time, before becoming president in the following term. His successor, President Nayib Bukele, has drawn rebukes for a string of controversial moves, including removing the attorney general and closing an anti-corruption office.The Attorney General’s office said Sanchez Ceren and the other officials – including former heads of the health, finance, labor, agriculture and environment ministries – are wanted on charges of money laundering, embezzlement and illicit enrichment after they were transferred unauthorized funds.”

Observatorio de Cattrachas registra 167 muertes violentas de mujeres hasta el 19 de julio Criterio Honduras, July 22, 2021
“El 29 por ciento de las mujeres que murieron de forma violenta en Honduras tenían edades comprendidas entre los 28 y 33 años; el 28 por ciento tenía entre 22 y 27 años; el 21%, entre 34 y 39 años; y el 20% eran menores de 17 años. De las 167 mujeres, 90 se encontraban en el área urbana y 77, en la zona rural. Del total, 6 presentaban indicios de violencia sexual, según el observatorio de Cattrachas”.

Organizaciones garífunas exigen al Ministerio Público respuestas ante rapto de cuatro activistas
Criterio.hn, 20 de julio de 2021
“Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (Ofraneh) manifestó que están exigiendo que se nombre un fiscal especial sobre la desaparición forzada porque no pueden seguir permitiendo que les mientan y les digan que distintas fiscalías están llevando la investigación. ‘Son cuatro o cinco fiscalías y cada una tiene su versión y cada uno muestra algo’ señaló Miranda,  quien recalcó que necesitan un fiscal especial que pueda investigar la desaparición forzada de los lideres garífunas”.

As Pandemic Pummels Guatemala, Government Stalls
Jeff Abbott, July 15, 2021
“Guatemala is currently at the bottom of vaccine distribution rate in the region, trailing nearly every other country in Latin America, with the exception of Nicaragua, Haiti, and Venezuela. According to the Pan-American Health Organization, only about 175,000 vaccines have been administered in Guatemala. According to officials, however, the country has over 3.1 million doses available. But in May, President Giammattei promised the country could vaccinate 75,000 to 100,000 people per day if they had vaccines. This promise has failed to materialize. Why those shots aren’t going into arms is largely due to a debilitated health care system and lack of personnel.”

Central American Climate Migration is a Human Security Crisis
Amali Tower, The Center for Climate and Security, July 13, 2021
“Somewhat lost in all this is that many of the Central American migrants at the U.S. border are rural and Indigenous Peoples, historically oppressed and marginalized by development policies, land grabs, expulsions, and disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change, who have been on the move internally and across borders for several years. A deeper understanding of this complex human rights situation in parts of Central America and its connections to development policies, killings of environmental leaders, climate change and forced migration is needed in order to better respond to this population’s asylum and refugee needs in a predictive way.”

Honduras alcanza los 282 mil 686 casos positivos y 7 mil 507 decesos por COVID-19
Proceso Digital, 20 de julio de 2021
“En ese sentido, el total de personas que vencieron el COVID-19 durante la pandemia llegó a 96 mil 542. Respecto al estado de salud de mil 429 personas hospitalizadas, el reporte indica que 739 están estables, 603 graves y 87 se encuentran en las unidades de cuidados intensivos”.

Crimen e inseguridad impulsan una Honduras desigual, destaca informe del Cohep
Proceso Digital, 20 de julio de 2021
“En el informe del Cohep se indica que los altos niveles de delincuencia e inseguridad obligan a las empresas hondureñas a utilizar la seguridad privada para proteger sus negocios. El número de personal empleado de seguridad privada es elevado, especialmente en comparación con el número total de agentes de policía. Todos estos factores, sumados al del desempleo-que solo por pandemia y los fenómenos Eta y Iota dejaron al menos 500 mil personas desempleadas-más el fenómeno de la migración, hacen que las desigualdades se profundicen en el país y que las perspectivas de crecimiento, igualdad e inclusión se ensanchen”.

Mexico Used Private Israeli Spyware Pegasus to Surveil President’s Family & a Murdered Journalist 
Democracy Now!, July 20, 2021
“Mexico appears to have submitted more phone numbers for potential surveillance to the NSO Group than any other client country — over 15,000 — including the numbers of teachers, journalists, judges, activists and politicians. Mexico is one of the deadliest countries for journalists and human rights defenders. As part of The Pegasus Project, The Guardian reports at least 50 people close to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, including his wife, children, aides and doctor, were included in the list for potential surveillance before AMLO’s election.”

US bars Honduran ex-president Lobo over alleged corruption
Reuters, July 20, 2021
The designations under U.S. law, ‘due to their involvement in significant corruption,’ also apply to former Lady Rosa Elena Bonilla, who the department alleged had misused ‘public funds for her personal benefit,’ as well as to their children, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. ‘While their corrupt acts undermined the stability of Honduras’ democratic institutions, former President Lobo has not yet been convicted and Rosa Lobo has been released from prison awaiting a retrial,’ Blinken said, adding: ‘These designations reaffirm U.S. commitment to combating the corruption and disregard for the rule of law that hinders progress in Honduras.’”

Letter from Guatemala: It’s Not a Border Crisis. It’s a Climate Crisis
Sabrina Rodriguez, Politico, July 19, 2021
“There was a time here in Xucup — and in other neighboring villages — where people rarely, if ever, talked about leaving. Most have lived here for generations. Few left home. But that’s changing. Now, like the Cuc Cac sisters, thousands of rural Guatemalans — as well as Salvadorans and Hondurans in agrarian areas — increasingly are leaving their communities. These days, migration — including the record number of unaccompanied children — is on the rise in rural areas, as an increasing portion of the country’s land and population faces the fallout from climate change.”

Putting Justice to a Vote? Q&A on Mexico’s August 1 Referendum 
Stephanie Brewer and Moses Ngong, WOLA, July 19, 2021
“Although accountability for former presidents and other political actors is of transcendental importance, reducing impunity in several areas cited in López Obrador’s referendum request—such as violence and human rights violations—requires changes beyond shedding light on political decisions of the past or prosecuting former presidents. The need for these broader changes cannot be overstated in a country whose homicide count remains at record levels and where the government recognizes the existence of almost 90,000 disappeared and missing people.”

Feminicidio y violencia sexual contra mujeres, delitos que se normalizan en Honduras
Aimée Cárcamo, Criterio.hn, 19 de julio de 2021
“‘Es un dato escalofriante y enorme’, además de que estos hechos ‘se han seguido normalizando en los medios y no se está haciendo nada al respecto’, lamentó Ocampo. Más bien, el Congreso Nacional disminuyó en el nuevo Código Penal, vigente a partir de junio de 2020, las penas por delitos contra mujeres, entre ellos el femicidio, cuyo castigo se redujo de entre 30 y 40 años de cárcel a entre 20 y 25. ‘Eso lo que evidencia es cómo se prioriza o no se prioriza dentro del Estado el bienestar de las mujeres’ y en lugar de ‘eficientar los procesos de investigación y de justicia se reducen las penas’, expresó la defensora del CDM.”

Migration Is Not a “Crisis.” It’s Survival and Resistance to Ongoing Genocide. 
Aviva Chomsky and TomDispatch, Truthout, July 19, 2021
“At present, migration is a concrete way that Central Americans are trying to solve their all-too-desperate problems. Since the nineteenth century, Indigenous and peasant communities have repeatedly sought self-sufficiency and autonomy, only to be displaced by U.S. plantations in the name of progress. They’ve tried organizing peasant and labor movements to fight for land reform and workers’ rights, only to be crushed by U.S.-trained and sponsored militaries in the name of anti-communism. With other alternatives foreclosed, migration has proven to be a twenty-first-century form of resistance and survival.”

Nayib Bukele’s recipe for limiting the exercise of human rights 
Astrid Valencia and Josefina Salomón, Amnesty International, July 19, 2021
“The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, was elected in June 2019 on a platform in which he promised, among other things, to promote and defend human rights. More than two years later, the country is facing what seems more like a campaign to stigmatize and silence those who dare to question the politics of the government and defend the human rights of all people than the electoral promise. Some of the official tactics seem to have been taken from neighbouring countries, others have been designed taking advantage of new technologies. In all cases, they are eroding human rights in El Salvador in an alarming manner.”

Alejandro Giammattei anuncia que implementará estado de Prevención en todo Guatemala por protestas en su contra
Julio Román y Douglas Cuevas, Prensa Libre, 12 de julio de 2021
“El estado de Prevención en Guatemala es una disposición legal establecida en la Ley de Orden Público, aprobada en 1965. La Ley de Orden Público aprobada en noviembre de 1965 por el Congreso, contempla entre sus consideraciones que es ‘obligación de las autoridades mantener la seguridad, el orden público y la estabilidad de las instituciones del Estado’”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Arrests of Former FMLN Cabinet Members are Illegal and Politically-Motivated
CISPES, July 23, 2021
“After carrying out the detentions, representatives of the PNC and Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado announced that the FMLN functionaries were being accused of embezzlement and money laundering, though none of those detained were aware that they were being investigated, let alone facing charges.”

Secretary Mayorkas Pledged to End His Agency’s Anti-Immigrant Abuses. Here’s What He’s Delivered.
Naureen Shah & Jonathan Blazer, ACLU, July 21, 2021 
“Here’s how Secretary Mayorkas’ record in three key areas — reining in ICE abuses, closing ICE detention centers, and taking a fair and humane approach to border policy — matches up with his rhetoric and voters’ mandate to dismantle Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and bring humanity and fairness to our immigration system.

Mexico’s Use of Differentiated Asylum Procedures: An Innovative Approach to Asylum Processing 
Rachel Schmidtke and Daniela Gutiérrez Escobedo, Refugees International, July 20, 2021
“The Cartagena Declaration recognizes a basic reality: that people who must flee their countries of origin due to ‘generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive human rights violations, and other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order’ should not be forced to return to such dangers. They also merit protection and the enjoyment of human rights. Thus, the adoption and the application of the Declaration should be warmly endorsed by governments in the region—and the protection given to people fleeing the circumstances contained in its refugee definition should be replicated well beyond Latin America.”

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border 
InSight Crime, July 20, 2021
“We have published a new US-Mexico Border InDepth page, to provide a home for our growing coverage of this region. InSight Crime will also build an online platform that will spotlight data trends and patterns so policymakers, stakeholders and others can better channel their limited resources to protect the most vulnerable populations. Finally, InSight Crime will continue to investigate the major push factors of migration, many of them happening in the Northern Triangle.

* 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.