Migration News Brief for August 11, 2023

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Welcome to LAWG’s Migration News Brief, 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.


One of a Kind: The Influence of Guatemala’s Corrupt System
Citli Valencia Córdova and Marco Navarro Stanic, LAWG, August 11, 2023
“Democracy in Guatemala hangs by a thread. On June 25th, Guatemalans headed to the ballots to make their voices heard in the general presidential elections. But the first round of the elections proved Guatemala is a country like no other.”

U.S. Enforcement

State of emergency declared for surge of migrants seeking shelter in Massachusetts
CBS News, August 8, 2023
“Gov. Maura Healey has declared a state of emergency around the situation in Massachusetts’ shelter system, as a rapidly rising uptick of immigrants has strained state resources. Close to 5,600 families are currently housed in the state’s emergency shelter system, Healey said during a press conference at the State House on Tuesday morning.”

Miami and Florida public officials call on Biden to expand immigration protections
Syra Ortiz Blanes, Miami Herald, August 8, 2023
“More than 30 public officials from South Florida and the state asked President Joe Biden in a letter on Tuesday to expand immigration protections for migrants in the U.S. who are without pathways to permanent immigration or whose protections from deportation are nonexistent or potentially at risk.”

Biden’s asylum restrictions for migrants may remain in place, federal appeals court rules
Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, Washington Post, August 3, 2023
“A federal appeals court panel Thursday approved the Biden administration’s emergency request to keep its asylum restrictions in place on the U.S.-Mexico border while the legal battle over the policy makes its way through the courts.”

Dead body found stuck to Texas Gov. Abbott’s border buoys in the Rio Grande
Marian Navarro and Dan Katz, Texas Public Radio, August 3, 2023
“A dead body was found caught in Texas’ floating buoy barrier in the Rio Grande on Wednesday. It was the first of two bodies found in the water boundary between the United States and Mexico. The second was found three miles upstream from the border buoys in Eagle Pass. Mexican officials identified one of them as a child from Honduras.”

Wisconsin’s Dairy Industry Relies on Undocumented Immigrants, but the State Won’t Let Them Legally Drive 
Melissa Sanchez and Maryam Jameel, ProPublica, August 3, 2023
“But the state makes it almost impossible for workers to have lives outside the farm without breaking the law. In Wisconsin, undocumented immigrants can own and register their cars and trucks, but they aren’t allowed to drive them. Those who drive anyway are pulled over again and again and again, and issued tickets that eat away at their wages.”

Abuses at the U.S.- Mexico Border: How To Address Failures and Protect Rights
WOLA, August 2, 2023
“A U.S.-Mexico border that is well governed and that also treats migrants and asylum seekers humanely can go hand in hand and should not be seen as an unattainable aspiration. For this to happen, U.S. government personnel who abuse human rights or violate professional standards, must be held to account within a reasonable amount of time and victims must receive justice.”

In the Twilight Zone: Record Number of U.S. Immigrants Are in Limbo Statuses
Muzaffar Chishti and Kathleen Bush-Joseph, Migration Policy Institute, August 2, 2023
“The Biden administration’s embrace of executive authority to grant immigration protections has resulted in a ballooning number of individuals living in the United States with temporary statuses.” 

Senate Spending Bill Continues Misguided Enforcement Approach
National Immigrant Justice Center, July 28, 2023
“Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed its funding proposal for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for Fiscal Year 2024, which disproportionately favors detention and punitive enforcement at the expense of humane immigration processing and logical border management.”

The True Impact of Biden’s Asylum Transit Ban
Dara Lind, Immigration Impact, July 28, 2023
“On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Biden administration’s asylum transit ban was illegal and should be vacated. The ruling isn’t in effect yet – it was delayed for 14 days and may be stayed indefinitely by the 9th Circuit or the Supreme Court.” 

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: Asylum rule struck down, Mexico record migration, Texas updates
Adam Isacson, WOLA, July 28, 2023
“A federal judge has vacated the Biden administration’s two-month-old rule restricting access to asylum for many migrants at the border. The rule, which puts asylum out of reach for migrants who don’t make an appointment or first seek it in another country en route, went into effect after the Title 42 policy’s termination.” 

Immensely Invisible
Maria Hinojosa, Zeba Warsi, and Roxanne Scott, Futuro Unidad Hinojosa, July 21, 2023
“How is ICE handling complaints of sexual abuse from detainees? Maria Hinojosa teams up with Zeba Warsi, and they investigate how women in ICE detention are sexually abused when they were at their most vulnerable — in a medical setting — and how ICE has done very little to stop it.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico’s AMLO Proposes Work Training Plan for Foreign Migrants
Maya Averbuch, Bloomberg, August 1, 2023 
“President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government may provide labor-training programs for migrants to work on infrastructure projects in the southern part of the country. Even if those migrants are in the process of seeking one of the limited number of slots for travel authorization to the US, they could be trained for jobs such as welding and metal-work, said the president at a press briefing.”

Mexican National Guard fires toward migrants in Juárez, video shows
Blanca Carmona, El Paso Times, July 27, 2023
“Members of the Mexican National Guard fired at a group of migrants who were spending the night under the Paso del Norte Bridge in Juárez early Wednesday – just hours ahead of a visit by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar.”

Root Causes


Investigators recall surreal moments during years-long investigation in Mexico’s missing students
María Verza, Associated Press, August 2, 2023
“Independent investigators leaving Mexico after eight years searching for answers to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from a teachers’ college say they experienced a ‘double reality’ unlike anything they ever encountered in other international missions.”

Mexican president says Israel’s Netanyahu showed interest in missing students case
Reuters, July 28, 2023
“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday he received a letter from the Israeli prime minister offering to help with a probe into the 2014 disappearance of 43 students, after requests from Mexico to extradite a former top official.”

Biden administration officials head to Mexico for meetings on opioid crisis, migration|
Melissa Quinn, CBS News, July 24, 2023
“The group will be in Mexico City on Monday and Tuesday for bilateral and trilateral meetings with officials from Mexico and Canada to discuss efforts to combat the opioid crisis and ‘cooperation to address our regional migration challenge,’ a White House official said.”


We Are Not Invaders in Our Own Lands! Testimony from Maya Q’eqchi’ Ancestral Authorities
Liga Maya/Mayan League, YouTube, August 9, 2023
“In 2022, the Maya Q’eqchi’ communities of Nuevo Chicoyou and Chapin Abajo in Iximulew (Guatemala) were violently evicted and displaced from their ancestral homelands.  A large military presence carried out the evictions, reminiscent of violent tactics deployed during the internal armed conflict and genocide of the 1980s. The evictions displaced dozens of families and approximately 500 people between the two communities.”

“The role of Guatemalan migrants in the United States is fundamental for developing the fragile democracy of Guatemala.”
Alianza Americas, August 8, 2023
“To address the democratic and human rights crisis that has affected Guatemala for several years, Alianza Americas, a network of 57 civil society organizations in the United States… developed the tour titled, ‘Dialogues on Human Rights in Guatemala’. The tour, which took place July 24-31, was led by Jordán Rodas, former Human Rights Ombudsman in Guatemala, with the participation of Thelma Aldana, former Attorney General of Guatemala, and Juan Francisco Sandoval, former Special Prosecutor against impunity in Guatemala.”

«No nos van a ver venir». ¿Por qué el movimiento Semilla y su candidato Bernardo Arévalo llegaron a la segunda vuelta? Interpretación sociológica en tres tiempos (Primer momento)
Marta Elena Casaús Arzú, Plaza Pública, 6 de agosto de 2023
“Siempre que hay fenómenos inesperados, o que pocos son capaces de vislumbrar, todos nos preguntamos con asombro qué fue lo que pasó, y la primera pregunta que surge es: ¿por qué no los vimos venir?, ¿en qué fallaron nuestros análisis? o ¿qué fue lo que no fuimos capaces de analizar?”

Guatemala anti-graft candidate Arevalo seen winning presidential runoff, poll shows
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, August 2, 2023 
“Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arevalo is seen winning an Aug. 20 runoff election with 63% of valid votes against his rival, Sandra Torres, according to a CID Gallup poll published on Wednesday by a local think tank.”

Will Voters or the Courts Choose Guatemala’s Next President?
Alexander Aizenstatd, Gabriela Carrera, Juan Cruz, Stephen McFarland, Carlos Mendoza, and Mary Speck, Institute of Peace, August 2, 2023
“Because the real contest seems to be taking place not on the campaign trail, but in the country’s judicial system. Guatemala’s courts have repeatedly injected chaos into the campaign by excluding candidates from the left and right for seemingly minor campaign violations in an apparent attempt to favor the governing party.”

Guatemala president meets with OAS head, says he is committed to ensure elections
Reuters, August 1, 2023
“Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Tuesday met with the Organization of American States chief Luis Almagro and expressed his commitment to ensuring peaceful elections in the country, he said in a post on messaging platform X on Tuesday.” 

La calle aún exige otra primavera en Guatemala
Gabriel Labrador, El Faro, 27 de julio de 2023
“Desde hace dos semanas, el edificio de la sede central del Ministerio Público se ha convertido en un tablero para quejas escritas, un mural, un gran collage de insultos y reclamos de chapines cansados de la corrupción”.

Guatemala: UN Human Rights Chief concerned at attempts to undermine electoral process
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, July 27, 2023
“UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Thursday expressed deep concern at attempts to undermine the electoral process in Guatemala, which could result in the will of the voters not being respected.” 

CPJ’s press conference on Guatemala’s criminalization of journalists
Committee to Protect Journalists, July 27, 2023
“On July 26, 2023, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) held a press conference in Washington, DC to mark the one-year anniversary of Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora’s imprisonment and call for due justice in his case so that he may be released without further delay.” 

El Salvador

Mass Trials in El Salvador Reflect Unsustainability of the State of Emergency
Ana María Méndez Dardón, WOLA, August 3, 2023
“The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) warns about recent reforms to the Law Against Organized Crime approved by the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador and controlled by the ruling Nuevas Ideas party. The modifications were made within the framework of the state of emergency in force since March 2022 and apply to persons detained since then.”

Nayib Bukele impone un nuevo cerco a las pandillas al movilizar a 7.000 militares en El Salvador
El País, 1 de agosto de 2023
“El controvertido mandatario ha anunciado un nuevo operativo en su guerra contra las llamadas maras, que incluye un cerco militar en una zona del centro del país para evitar que los integrantes de las pandillas puedan movilizarse con libertad y para romper sus cadenas de suministro. La nueva ofensiva incluye la movilización desde esta madrugada de 7.000 militares y 1.000 policías fuertemente armados.”. 

Análisis jurídico reformas penales: un nuevo atentado al estado de derecho y a las garantías procesales
Cristosal, julio de 2023
“El día 11 de julio de 2023, el grupo parlamentario de Nuevas Ideas introdujo dos iniciativas de Ley del presidente de la República por medio del ministro de Justicia y Seguridad Pública, una denominada: ‘Disposiciones Transitorias Especiales para Ordenar el Procesamiento de Imputados Detenidos en el Marco del Régimen de Excepción Decretado a partir del veintisiete de marzo de dos mil veintidós’, y la otra referida a ‘Reformas a la Ley contra el Crimen Organizado’”.

Critics of El Salvador mass trials suspect reelection ploy
France 24, July 29, 2023
“A new law allowing as many as 900 alleged gang members to be tried at a time in El Salvador, where tens of thousands have been arrested in a crackdown, has alarmed justice experts and rights groups who fear it is a reelection ploy by President Nayib Bukele.” 

Q&A: Voices Opposing Mano Dura Policies in Latin America Are Silenced
Gavin Voss, InSight Crime, July 25, 2023
“The long-term consequences of mano dura, or iron fist, law enforcement policies have become a growing consideration for Latin American governments in the wake of El Salvador’s all-out attack on gangs. While President Nayib Bukele’s reputation has grown off the back of over 60,000 arrests and a steep reduction in El Salvador’s homicide rate, would-be mano dura copycats may be put off by widespread allegations of human rights abuses.”  


Porque violenta la Ley: CONADEH instruye a sus delegados a nivel nacional no inscribir organizaciones o recibir candidaturas de sociedad para el Consejo de Protección
Dina Meza, Pasos de animal grande, 8 de agosto de 2023
“La titular del Comisionado Nacional de Derechos Humanos, Blanca Izaguirre, instruyó este 08 de agosto de 2022, a todas las personas delegadas departamentales y regionales a nivel nacional para que se abstengan de inscribir organizaciones ni candidaturas de sociedad civil para la asamblea de este sector donde se elegirán nuevos concejales ante el Consejo Nacional de Protección, porque violenta la Ley”.

Avances alentadores, pero no suficientes en el proceso de instalación de una CICIH en Honduras
Centro de Estudio para la Democracia, 6 de agosto de 2023 
“El Centro de Estudio para la Democracia (CESPAD), presenta el VIII informe de monitoreo de la Agenda Anticorrupción del Congreso Nacional (CN), con el propósito de analizar los avances y retrocesos en la lucha contra la corrupción en el país, especialmente en torno a la agenda legislativa dentro del Congreso Nacional que busca acompañar los esfuerzos para la instalación de una Comisión Internacional contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras (CICIH)”.

Gobierno y Lenir Pérez acuerdan suspender por dos años a la mina Los Pinares
Fernando Silva, Contra Corriente, 4 de agosto de 2023
“La controversial mina Los Pinares, del empresario Lenir Pérez, en Guapinol, será suspendida por dos años después de que el empresario y el gobierno se pusieran de acuerdo. La mina estaba en operaciones a pesar de no contar con una licencia ambiental, y ha sido el centro de un conflicto socio ambiental por varios años”.

Veto presidencial es considerado un retroceso al reconocimiento de los derechos de las mujeres
Breidy Hernández, Criterio.hn, 4 de agosto de 2023
“Como un retroceso para los derechos humanos de la niñez y adolescencia, calificaron las organizaciones de mujeres el veto presidencial a la Ley de Prevención de embarazos, anunciado recientemente por la presidenta Xiomara Castro”. 

Denuncia OFRANEH: Por unos dólares más el Congreso Nacional dio la espalda a los pueblos indígenas al aprobar la Ley Especial de las Transacciones de Carbono para la justicia climática
Pasos de animal grande, 1 de agosto de 2023
“<<Rechazamos categóricamente la aprobación y puesta en práctica de la Ley Especial de las Transacciones de Carbono para la justicia climática, aprobada por este gobierno, sin ninguna consulta con nuestros pueblos y al mismo tiempo que se están impulsando proyectos para el despojo de nuestros territorios>>, señaló la Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras, OFRANEH, este 31 de julio de 2023”. 

World Bank must stop repression of Honduran democratic processes
Impact Policies, August 1, 2023
“Bremen and investors have looked to capitalise on the ‘Employment and Economic Development Zones’ or ZEDE’s introduced by former President Porfirio Lobo Sosa. The ZEDE law allows for the creation of a type of administrative (semi-)autonomous zone where private investors and corporate entities have their own political, judicial, economic and administrative mechanisms with very limited (criminal jurisdiction only) oversight by the Honduran state.”

Caso Aurora I: una lectura para abordarse desde la justicia ambiental
Lucía Vijil Saybe, Centro de Estudio para la Democracia, 26 de julio de 2023
“En el presente escrito se retoma el caso de la instalación de la hidroeléctrica Aurora I, ubicada en el departamento de La Paz, Honduras. A la luz de la línea histórica del conflicto y desde un enfoque de justicia ambiental, se establecen algunos puntos específicos que permiten explicar el racismo ambiental, la necesidad del reconocimiento y la participación comunitaria, en medio de una dinámica por la disputa del bien común: el agua”. 


Americas Migration Brief – August 7, 2023
Jordi Amaral, Americas Migration Brief, August 7, 2023
“The US and Colombia have agreed on the details for the US Regional Processing Centers in Colombia that will facilitate migration for Haitians, Cubans, and Venezuelans. There will be three centers, located in Soacha (outside Bogotá), Medellin, and Cali, with the Medellín center open since August 1.”

Amazon Summit: Commit to Protect Rainforest, Defenders
Human Rights Watch, August 4, 2023
“Latin American countries meeting at the Amazon Summit in Brazil on August 8 and 9, 2023, should commit to ratify and carry out the Escazú Agreement, Human Rights Watch said today as it released a video explaining the importance of this treaty. The regional agreement would help shore up protection of the Amazon rainforest and other vital ecosystems across the region by requiring countries to protect environmental defenders, guarantee access to information, and ensure public participation in decision-making on environmental matters.” 

Can Amazon Basin Presidents Find Consensus on Protecting the Forest?
Cecilia Tornaghi, Americas Quarterly, August 3, 2023
“Preservation of the Amazon rainforest is increasingly under international scrutiny as headlines across the globe point to climate-related disasters. But the Amazon basin is also home to 50 million people, among them 420 Indigenous groups, that want to be part of any policy discussions happening in the area.”

Latin America Is Embracing—and Empowering—the Military
James Bosworth, World Politics Review, July 31, 2023
“Last week, an international panel of experts investigating the disappearance of 43 Mexican students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in 2014 issued its final report. In it, the group said the Mexican military was complicit in the events of 2014 and continues to actively cover up evidence and block investigators from learning the truth today.”

Los migrantes que han cruzado el Darién en lo que va de año superan el récord de todo 2022
EFE, 31 de julio de 2023
“Un total de 248.901 migrantes irregulares han cruzado el Darién, la peligrosa selva que divide Panamá y Colombia, en lo que va de 2023, una cifra histórica que supera la cantidad récord de transeúntes que atravesaron esa frontera durante todo el año pasado, informó el Gobierno panameño”.

Technology Can Be Transformative for Refugees, but It Can Also Hold Them Back 
Amanda Alencar, Migration Policy Institute, July 27, 2023
“There is a simple narrative that digital technology makes migration easier for refugees and other forcibly displaced people… Yet while these technologies can assist decision-making, they do not always improve migrants’ lives.”

Gender & LGBTQ+

Liderazgo LGBTIQ+ de Honduras visita México
Dunia Orellana, Reportar sin miedo, 5 de agosto de 2023
“Personas líderes LGBTI+ de Honduras estuvieron entre más de 650 invitados al Sexto Encuentro de Liderazgos Políticos LGBTI+ de las Américas y el Caribe que se realizó en Ciudad de México del 20 al 23 de julio de 2023. El encuentro organizado por el Consorcio de Organizaciones Convocantes fue un hito para la comunidad LGBTIQ+ de la región, dándoles un espacio de diálogo y fortalecimiento para líderes políticos LGBTI+ en América y el Caribe”.

LGBTI, HIV-positive migrants denounce discrimination on Mexico’s southern border
La Prensa Latina Bilingual Media, August 2, 2023
“Activists from A Friendly Hand in the Fight Against AIDS (UMA) and LGBTI migrants on Wednesday complained that during their stay on Mexico’s southern border waiting to move northward they have been facing violence, stigmatization, discrimination and harassment both from Mexican citizens and authorities.”

Plan International pide acciones urgentes para proteger a niñas y mujeres de la trata
Efecto Cocuyo, 31 de julio de 2023
“Plan International pidió este lunes una respuesta “urgente” para proteger a las niñas y mujeres víctimas de trata, particularmente en América Central y el Caribe donde más del 50 % de las víctimas de explotación sexual son niñas, según un estudio de Naciones Unidas citado por la ONG”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Conversatorio Memoria HISTÓRICA y el presente Pueblos Mayas y las Elecciones 2023
International Maya League, 13 de agosto de 2023, 7pm EST, Regístrese aquí
“Les invitamos a unirse a nosotres el domingo 13 de agosto para análisis y reflexión dirigidos por la académica y activista Maya Dra. Aura Cumes (Maya Kaqchiquel) y Periodista Maya Q’eqchi’, Carlos Choc. Discuten el contexto histórico y las realidades políticas actuales dentro de las elecciones guatemaltecas y su impacto en los pueblos originarios.”.

*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 Migration News Brief? Tell them to email tdelmoral@lawg.org.