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Migration News Brief for February 18, 2022

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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.


Senator Merkley and Rep.Schakowsky Lead Colleagues in Letter Encouraging the Administration to Cultivate a Strong Relationship with New President Xiomara Castro of Honduras 
February 17, 2022

“They encourage the administration to seize the opportunity presented by new Honduran leadership to seek a fresh and more constructive pathway for U.S.-Honduran relations, one that prioritizes human rights, respect for the rule of law, and inclusive economic development that all Hondurans deserve.”


“Sería una traición del gobierno de Biden”, activistas reaccionan a la posibilidad de que se expanda el centro de detención de Folkston
Univision, 5 de febrero de 2022 

“Esta semana, obtuvimos un documento que mostraría que se han tomado los primeros pasos para aumentar el número de camas para detenidos bajo custodia de ICE”.

Eight years. Three Presidents. And still no resolution on an asylum claim.
Prisicilla Alvarez, CNN, February 8, 2022

“Last year, the backlog reached nearly 1.6 million cases, with cases climbing more rapidly between October and December, the clearinghouse found. In other words, cases have been piling on faster than judges can keep up, resulting in the largest increase on record last quarter.”

Internal investigation confirms Border Patrol failures leading up to a 16-year-old’s death on his cell floor
Robert Moore, El Paso Matters, February 8, 2022

“A government investigation into the 2019 death of a Guatemalan teenager in Border Patrol custody has found serious problems with the agency’s handling of sick detainees.”

Texas lidera a nivel nacional detenciones de ICE: más de 5,000 en lo que va del año fiscal
Maria Ramos Pacheco, Al Día Dallas, 9 de febrero 2022

“Texas es el estado con más personas detenidas en los centros de la Agencia de Control Migratorio y Aduanas (ICE) desde que comenzó el año fiscal 2022 con 5,758 detenidos”.

Immigration agency adds ‘respect’ and ‘welcome’ to mission statement after Trump-era controversy
Geneva Sands, CNN, February 9, 2022

“The agency’s new mission statement reads: ‘USCIS upholds America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve.’”

Federal Court Restores Access to Work Permits for Many Asylum Seekers
Gianna Borroto, Immigration Impact, February 9, 2022

“The decision restores access to work permits—or employment authorization documents (EADs)—for asylum seekers who were barred from employment authorization or whose work permits were delayed because of the regulations.”

U.S. Immigration Detention System: “A Living Hell”
Joseph Nevins, North American Congress on Latin America, February 11, 2022 

“Although immigration detention is not officially framed as punishment—detainees, because they are held under civil law, are not classified as criminals and thus not subject to criminal penalties—it functions in a punitive fashion.”

More Americans dissatisfied with immigration level: Gallup
Rafael Bernal, The Hill, February 14, 2022

“According to the poll, 58 percent of all Americans are dissatisfied with current immigration levels.”

Immigration Policies At USCIS Lead To Denials Of L-1B Petitions
Stuart Anderson, Forbes, February 16, 2022

“USCIS adjudications of L-1B petitions have frustrated employers and discouraged foreign investment in the United States.”

Migrants Left in Limbo After Policy Change to Help Busy Border Officials
Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times, February 16, 2022 

“Republicans say the new policy helps undocumented immigrants disappear; many immigrants say it has prevented them from following the government’s instructions.”

Private prison company to test U.S. house arrest program for immigrants
Ted Hesson and Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, February 16, 2022

“BI Incorporated, a subsidiary of the private prison company GEO Group, will operate the so-called “home curfew” pilot program, a DHS spokesperson and two U.S. officials said. Immigrants enrolled in the program would be confined to their place of residence in the United States for 12 hours a day and monitored electronically while waiting for their court hearings.”

Congressional Democrats Ask Biden to Review Treatment of Black Migrants
Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times, Feb. 16, 2022

“More than 100 Democratic members of Congress pressed President Biden on Wednesday to address “disparate and often inhumane treatment” of Black migrants by the immigration enforcement system, reviving concerns over the mass deportations last fall of asylum-seeking Haitians despite the ongoing crisis in their country.”

Migrant Protection Protocols Cohort Report
Office of Immigration Statistics, February 2022

“The report summarizes information on enrollee nationalities, fear claims, vaccinations, and processing outcomes (returns to Mexico or disenrollments) by month of MPP enrollment.”


Mexico Human Rights Commission asks immigration authorities to speed up admissions
Nandini Dwivedi, Jurist, February 6, 2022

“Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) on Saturday called on immigration authorities to speed up visa processing so that nearly 2000 migrants seeking asylum in the US and Mexico could access documents to regularize their stay in Mexico or let them travel through Mexico without being detained.”

México como barrera: el hartazgo de los varados en Tapachula
Julieth Riaño, France 24, 10 de febrero de 2022 

“Tras meses de espera, algunos decidieron empezar una huelga de hambre frente a las oficinas del Instituto Nacional de Migración de la ciudad. Otros se encadenaron como forma de protesta”.

INM detiene a 119 migrantes en Oaxaca
Conexión Migrante, 11 de febrero 2022 

“El INM aclaró que el operativo a través del cual detuvieron a los migrantes indocumentados forma parte de la estrategia nacional para atender el flujo migratorio irregular”.

U.N. Official Urges Mexico to Find Alternatives to Migrant Detention or Asylum
Lizbeth Diaz, US News, February 11, 2022

“Mexico must seek alternatives to detention and asylum for migrants, especially ahead of an anticipated increase in arrivals this year, the U.N. refugee agency’s representative for the country said Friday.”

Capturan a presunto diputado trasladando a migrantes hondureños en Oaxaca con más de 2 mil dólares
Infobae, 13 de febrero 2022

“We believe that we must be quite creative in various public policy initiatives and surely containment, detention, return and asylum are not enough,’ Lepri said. ‘We must seek additional solutions for a phenomenon that is not going to stop.’”

Sin capacitación previa, Guardia Nacional manda a exfederales de caminos a combatir secuestros
Arturo Angel, Animal Político, 16 febrero 2022

“Sin analizar previamente si sus perfiles eran los adecuados y sin haberles impartido una capacitación especializada, el comisario en jefe de la Guardia Nacional (GN), el general Luis Rodríguez Bucio, ordenó que 101 expolicías federales de caminos – relevados de sus puestos por militares – sea comisionados, ahora, a tareas de investigación y combate al secuestro”.

Migrants sew mouths shut in quest for Mexico passage to U.S. border
Jose Torres, Reuters, February 16, 2022

“The migrants are sewing their lips together as a sign of protest,’ said Irineo Mujica, an activist at the demonstration. ‘We hope that the National Migration Institute can see that they are bleeding, that they are human beings.’”


Hurdles remain for Biden’s ‘root causes’ strategy in Central America
Teresa Welsh, Devex, February 4, 2022

“U.S. funding for security efforts in Central America’s Northern Triangle region decreased in 2021, while funding for civilian peace building and democratic participation rose significantly.”

65 % de la población LGBTI es discriminada por agentes municipales, según estudio
Gabriela Méndez, Gato Encerrado, 9 de febrero de 2022

“Muchos salvadoreños se enfrentan a problemas de pobreza, violencia, delincuencia y falta de oportunidades de empleo, entre otros; pero esta realidad se vuelve peor cuando la viven las personas lesbianas, bisexuales, gais, transgénero o intersexuales”.

Guatemala’s Indigenous Mayan community testifies before human rights court
NBC News, February 10, 2022

“Mining operations and other exploitation of natural resources on Indigenous lands are frequently sources of conflict in the Americas and that problem is expected to grow as the pressure increases to produce valuable minerals needed for green energy initiatives, the center said. The cloudy ownership status of lands near Lake Izabal has been the source of disputes in the area for decades.”

EU, US caution Guatemala over persecution of lawyers, judges
The Washington Post, February 11, 2022 

“The EU said in a statement that the arrests and other actions were preceded by a campaign of intimidation and threats. Brian Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, wrote in his Twitter account that the arrests ‘undermine the rule of law.’”

Guatemala: Organizaciones internacionales rechazamos criminalización de la abogada Leyli Santizo y la ex fiscal Siomara Sosa
Center for Justice & International Law, 11 de febrero de 2022

“El día de ayer, tras diligencias de allanamiento, fue detenida la abogada Leyli Indira Santizo Rodas, ex mandataria de la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad (CICIG) y se libró orden de aprehensión en contra de Eva Siomara Sosa, ex fiscal de la Fiscalía Especial contra la Impunidad (FECI).”

11 mil niños no acompañados retornados a GT durante la pandemia
Fabiola Toledo, La Hora Editorial, 13 de febrero de 202
“Según el IGM, la recepción vía aérea de los retornados se realiza en el centro de recepción ubicado en la Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca y ahí desarrollan acciones con más de 15 instituciones, organizaciones sociales y organismos internacionales”.

Ex-Honduran president Hernandez agrees to cooperate after U.S. requests his extradition on drug charges
Jeff Ernst and David Adams, Univision, February 14, 2022

“Hernández’s extradition request is an extraordinary conclusion to an in-depth DEA investigation into drug trafficking in the Central American country, which prosecutors have described as ‘state-sponsored drug trafficking.’”

Unexpected Rulings from Higher Court & Delay Tactics To Continue Illegal Detention
Honduras Now, February 14, 2022
“Today, all parties were convened to discuss the amnesty request (to comply with the three day scheduling requirement). The defense team representing the water defenders revoked their request for the amnesty and asked the court, in light of resolutions published by the Constitutional chamber, to change the pre-trial detention status of the water defenders.”

Sigue en el aire libertad de los ambientalistas de Guapinol
Radio Progreso, 14 de febrero de 2022

“‘Qué es lo que tiene el Tribunal, qué es lo que está pasando, Tribunal corrupto, Ministerio Público confabulado, con razón dice la Palabra del Señor que la raíz de todos los males es el amor del dinero, estudiaron para corrupción’, dijo en Radio Progreso una vecina de la comunidad de Guapinol en Tocoa, Colón”.

Record remittances boost Central America’s pandemic recovery
Christine Murry, Financial Times, February 14, 2022

“Bumper US growth and pandemic stimulus helped boost remittances to Mexico and northern Central American countries more than 25 per cent last year to record levels, providing much-needed support to those economies as they struggled to rebound from the coronavirus crisis.”

“State-sponsored drug trafficking”; the case against Juan Orlando Hernández
Jeff Ernst and David Adams, Univision, February 15, 2022

“‘There’s more than enough evidence to indict – and convict – him,’ said former DEA chief of operations, Mike Vigil. ‘The DEA doesn’t do things lightly because U.S. prosecutors are among the most conservative in the world. They will not take a case unless it’s totally airtight and winnable,’ he added.”

US asks Honduras to arrest, extradite ex-President Hernández
Marolon González and Christopher Sherman, AP News, February 15, 2022

“With a weak and co-opted Honduran justice system, Hondurans’ hope for justice had rested for years with U.S. federal prosecutors in New York, where a string of revelations against Hernández was closely followed back home.”

Former US Ally in Cuffs
El Faro, February 15, 2022

“His capture ended months of speculation about his whereabouts and post-presidency plans, including widespread rumors he would seek asylum in Nicaragua.”

Former Honduras President Accused of Drug Conspiracy That Moved 500 Tons of Cocaine
Seth Robbins and Alex Papadovassilakis, Insight Crime, February 15, 2022

“Now that the United States has asked for his extradition, US legislators are not only taking aim at Hernández but grappling with Washington’s longtime support of him.”

El nacimiento del Programa México de la MS13
Carlos García, Insight Crime, 15 de febrero de 2022

“El día de su detención Flaco se veía desmejorado, con una cara lánguida y colgada, acorde con su apodo. Era uno de los prófugos más buscados tanto por el gobierno salvadoreño como por el estadounidense. Fue el primer pandillero del liderazgo de la MS13 en ser reclamado por un tribunal del distrito Este de Nueva York en Estados Unidos”.

A stunning fall for former Honduran president, now wanted in U.S.
NBC News, February 16, 2022

“Hernández was scheduled to make his initial court appearance in Tegucigalpa on Wednesday. He was arrested Tuesday at the request of the U.S. government on charges of drug trafficking, using weapons for drug trafficking and conspiracy to use weapons in drug trafficking.”

Tribunal de Sentencia de Trujillo decide mantener en prisión a los ambientalistas de Guapinol
Radio Progreso, 16 de febrero de 2022

“Fallando a favor de la Empresa Inversiones Los Pinares, el Tribunal de Sentencia de Trujillo, Colón, decidió denegar la solicitud de cambio de medidas cautelares a favor de seis ambientalistas presos desde hace unos 30 meses en una cárcel de Olanchito, Yoro”.

Guatemala: la justicia bajo ataque
Diego García-Sayan, El País, 17 de febrero de 2022

“En el país centroamericano se han visibilizado varios zarpazos —y graves— contra jueces independientes, que apuntan al deliberado debilitamiento del sistema judicial”.


International Organizations Reject the Criminalization of Judge Pablo Xitumul and Denounce the Persecution of Justice Operators in Guatemala
Washington Office on Latin America, February 10, 2022

“On February 9, 2022, the Supreme Court of Justice declared admissible the request to strip Judge Pablo Xitumul de Paz of his judicial immunity, leaving him vulnerable to impeachment. Pablo Xitumul de Paz is the judge of the First Court of Criminal Sentencing, Drug Trafficking and Crimes against the Environment, with jurisdiction to hear high-risk cases of group ‘C’.”

Report on human rights violations at international border: trends, prevention and accountability 
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

“Through the report, the Special Rapporteur also intends to assess the human rights impact of border management measures, including temporary ones introduced in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic or as part of a state of emergency. In addition, the Special Rapporteur aims to showcase attempts to enhance accountability for human rights violations at international borders, including through international and regional bodies and courts, and developing border governance and border monitoring standards. Finally, the Special Rapporteur will examine recent developments with regards to the use of “safe third country” concepts and bilateral and multilateral re-admission agreements as part of border entry and asylum procedures.”

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: Tijuana migrant encampment cleared, “house arrest” for asylum seekers, National Guard
Adam Isacson, Washington Office on Latin America, February 11, 2022

“At about 4:00 AM on February 6, authorities in Tijuana, Mexico cleared out a year-old migrant encampment outside the city’s main pedestrian border crossing to San Diego.”

ICE Air Flights January 2022 & Last 12 Months
Thomas Cartwright, Witness at the Border, February 13, 2022

“Although the increase in removal flights of 48 (5%) may seem small, it is incredibly disappointing in light of the change in Administrations, and the hopes so many of us had based on promises made during the campaign and transition to implement a more compassionate and just border policy, none of which we have seen in action, and worse yet, in planning for the future.”

* 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 ysanchezesparza@lawg.org!