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Migration News Brief for February 26, 2021

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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

Press Release: LAWG Supports the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021
Latin America Working Group, February 24, 2021

“LAWG supports the introduction of the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021—a bill that proposes a comprehensive framework for combating corruption, impunity, and human rights violations in the Central American country. In Honduras, there is widespread collusion among government officials, security forces, businesses, and organized crime, resulting in threats, assassinations, and forced disappearances against human rights and environmental defenders, indigenous and Garífuna leaders, political opponents, and journalists. See our action alert here for how to get involved.”

¡Dianna Ortiz, Presente!
Latin America Working Group, February 22, 2021

“With heavy hearts yet mindful that her work continues in the world we mark the passing today of Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU. Dianna worked at the Guatemala Human Rights Commission from 1994 to 2002. A survivor of torture in Guatemala, Dianna bravely pursued her case through the Guatemalan court system in the early 90s, to no avail, and bravely continued fighting for the rights of survivors of torture, founding the Torture Abolition and Survivor’s Support Coalition in 1998, as a project of GHRC.”

COVID-19

General

Vaccine Delays Leave Latin America’s Economies in the Mud
Andrew Rosati, Bloomberg, February 23, 2021

“Latin America and the Caribbean, the region where the coronavirus outbreak caused the worst economic destruction and more than a quarter of the world’s deaths, is now falling victim to a slow inoculation campaign. Political fights and production bottlenecks are stymieing Brazil’s vaccination efforts. Mexico is struggling to source doses as its death toll surpasses India’s. Colombia only began administering shots last week. Such sluggishness alongside a recent spike in infections risks hampering an already slow-going economic recovery. ‘If vaccination and public health policy don’t succeed at reversing the trend that we’ve seen in recent months, clearly this recovery is at risk,’ Alejandro Werner, the International Monetary Fund’s western hemisphere director, said earlier this month.”

‘Held to ransom’: Pfizer demands governments gamble with state assets to secure vaccine deal
Madlen Davies, Rosa Furneaux, Iván Ruiz, and Jill Langlois, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 23, 2021

“Pfizer has been accused of ‘bullying’ Latin American governments in Covid vaccine negotiations and has asked some countries to put up sovereign assets, such as embassy buildings and military bases, as a guarantee against the cost of any future legal cases, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal. In the case of one country, demands made by the pharmaceutical giant led to a three-month delay in a vaccine deal being agreed.”

United States

U.S. reaches 500,000 deaths from the coronavirus
By Daniel Arkin, NBC News, February 21, 2021

“The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000 on Sunday, according to an NBC News tally — a milestone that underscores the grave threat the virus still poses even as more people are vaccinated. The coronavirus has killed more than 2,462,000 people worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than a fifth of all deaths worldwide have occurred in the the U.S., which has less than 5 percent of the global population. More than 28,206,600 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the NBC News tally. The average number of daily new cases has declined in recent days, however. The number fell below 100,000 on Feb. 12 for the first time in months.”

El Salvador

El Salvador comienza la vacunación contra la covid dando prioridad a los sanitarios
elDiario.es, 18 de febrero de 2021

“El Salvador comenzó este miércoles la vacunación contra la covid-19 dando prioridad a los trabajadores de la salud, como parte de un proceso de inmunización del Gobierno propiciado por la llegada del primer cargamento de 20.000 dosis de la farmacéutica AstraZeneca. El presidente salvadoreño, Nayib Bukele, señaló que ‘los trabajadores de la salud son los que más están en riesgo, y por eso es que se priorizan’. ‘Son (los sanitarios) los que tienen que batallar día a día con el virus, y por ende deben ser los primeros, y creo que nadie debe de estar en contra ello, todos debemos de reconocerlo. Ellos son los que están batallando con el virus todos los días y luchan por salvar la vida de las personas y, pues, tenemos que priorizarlos a ellos’, dijo en una conferencia de prensa el mandatario”.

Guatemala

Guatemala: Denuncian compra de pruebas falsas de COVID-19
Sonia Pérez D., LancasterOnline, February 21, 2021

“El Ministerio de Salud de Guatemala denunció la compra de pruebas falsas para COVID-19 por casi un millón de dólares, las cuales se habrían utilizado en varios departamentos del país. Amelia Flores, ministra de salud, presentó la denuncia el lunes pasado ante el Ministerio Público por los delitos de distribución y comercialización de medicamentos falsificados, productos farmacéuticos falsificados, dispositivos médicos y material médico quirúrgico falsificados, todos relacionados a la compra por casi un millón de dólares de pruebas para detectar al coronavirus”.

Honduras

Sistema sanitario de Honduras no tiene presupuesto para seguir atendiendo la pandemia
Enrique Medina, Diario El País, 22 de febrero de 2021

“El sistema sanitario de Honduras no tiene presupuesto para atender la pandemia de covid-19, al grado que en los hospitales públicos se dice que cada quien tiene que hacerse cargo de la compra de su equipo de protección personal, según la presidenta del Colegio Médico Hondureño (CMH), Suyapa Figueroa. La falta de presupuesto obedece a que ‘el Gobierno ha visto en cada uno de los manejos una oportunidad para favorecer negocios de tipo ilícitos o corruptos’, dijo Figueroa a Efe en Tegucigalpa. Agregó que la corrupción y el derroche de millonarios recursos se ha visto en la «compra incompleta» de un equipo de bioseguridad como de ‘ventiladores mecánicos que no eran los adecuados para el manejo de los pacientes con covid-19’”.

Advierten que reformas a la ley de vacunas es una puerta que abre otro acto de corrupción
Radio Progreso, 22 de febrero de 2021

“Al reformar los artículos 2, 4, 6 y 7 de la Ley de Vacuna Gratuita para Todos Contra el COVID-19, contenida en Decreto Legislativo 162-2020, el Congreso Nacional da luz verde para que el  Poder Ejecutivo a través de la Secretaria de Estado en el Despacho de Salud SESAL, realice compras directas de la vacuna sin sujeción a las disposiciones establecidas en la Ley de Contratación del Estado. También se autoriza comprar de forma directa, sin licitación, toda la cadena logística, dispensaría y de suministros que se necesitan la aplicación de dicha vacuna”.

Mexico

Teachers, Not Nurses, Get Covid-19 Vaccine Priority in Some Corners of Mexico
Santiago Pérez, The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2021

“The government’s own guidelines call for front-line hospital workers and seniors in Mexico’s hard-hit cities to get jabbed first. But teachers in rural Mexico are a key voting bloc. Critics of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador say vaccinating teachers ahead of all doctors is the latest evidence of how the leftist president is playing politics with vaccinations in a country with the third-highest official Covid-19 death toll in the world, close to 180,000.”

U.S. Enforcement

Migrants in refugee camp in Matamoros to begin coming to U.S. Thursday, local volunteers ‘ramping up’ aid
Sandra Sanchez, BorderReport.com, February 24, 2021

“Starting Thursday, a small group of asylum-seekers who have been living at a refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico, will be allowed to cross into the United States via Brownsville, Texas, a spokesperson with the Department of Homeland Security told Border Report on Wednesday afternoon. And if all goes well, hundreds more could be brought across in the days following, volunteers told Border Report. The migrants will cross on Thursday over the Gateway International Bridge, which is just blocks from where over 1,000 asylum-seekers have been living in an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande, the spokesperson said.”

Lawyers have found the parents of 105 separated migrant children in past month
Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff, NBC News, February 24, 2021

“The lawyers working to reunite immigrant parents and children separated by the Trump administration reported Wednesday that they have found the parents of 105 children in the past month. The steering committee of pro-bono lawyers and advocates working on reunification said it had yet to find the parents of 506 children, down from 611 on Jan. 14, the last time it reported data to a federal judge overseeing the process. The lawyers said the parents of about 322 of the 506 children are believed to have been deported, making it more difficult to find them. The lawyers are not required by the judge to say how many of the parents and children have been reunited.”

Eight Cuban migrants rescued after styrofoam boat capsizes off Florida
The Guardian, February 23, 2021

“Six men and two pregnant women from Cuba have been rescued off the Florida coast after their makeshift styrofoam boat capsized following 16 days at sea, in the latest in a string of incidents involving migrants from the island. The capsize and interdiction was captured on video on Sunday by authorities, whose rescues of the past few weeks appear to follow a rise in Cuban refugees seeking to reach the United States.”

Deported to Death
David Mora and Emily Green, Vice News, February 23, 2021

“It was 7:10 a.m. and Edgar López was coming off the overnight shift at the chicken plant when dozens of officers in tactical gear flooded the parking lot and set up a perimeter around the massive factory. ‘There’s something going on. Immigration is here,’ López hurriedly told his wife on the phone. Then the line went dead. They handcuffed López with zip-ties, herded him onto a bus and took him to a National Guard airplane hangar for processing. The timing of the raid was executed for maximum impact: Agents apprehended undocumented workers coming off the night shift as well as those headed in for the day shift. Nearly 700 were arrested at seven chicken plants across Mississippi that August 2019 morning, in one of the largest workplace immigration stings in U.S. history.”

First migrant facility for children opens under Biden
Silvia Foster-Frau, The Washington Post, February 22, 2021

“Dozens of migrant teens boarded vans Monday for the trip down a dusty road to a former man camp for oil field workers here, the first migrant child facility opened under the Biden administration. The emergency facility — a vestige of the Trump administration that was open for only a month in summer 2019 — is being reactivated to hold up to 700 children ages 13 to 17.”

U.S. shelters for migrant children near maximum capacity as border crossings increase
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, February 22, 2021

“Last week, U.S. border agents apprehended more than 1,500 migrant children, according to government statistics reviewed by CBS News. On Sunday, an additional 300 minors were taken into custody. Due to the steady increase in border crossings by unaccompanied children, nearly 90% of the 8,000 available beds administered by the federal agency charged with housing these minors are being occupied. On Monday, the number of children housed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reached 7,100, leaving fewer than 900 empty beds.”

Delays rattle asylum seekers waiting in Mexico as hopes of quick U.S. entry fade
Ted Hesson and Laura Gottesdiener, Reuters, February 22, 2021

“The United States abruptly canceled plans on Monday to bring asylum seekers into Texas at two ports of entry, dashing the hopes of hundreds who have been waiting for months in Mexico under a Trump-era policy President Joe Biden promised to unwind. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement that ‘given current operational considerations,’ it could no longer say when it would begin bringing in migrants through ports in Brownsville and El Paso, Texas.”

At the border, confusion, anxiety and hope as U.S. unveils new process for asylum seekers
Patrick J. McDonnell and Gabriela Minjares, Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2021

“Angelina Baltazar, stranded here since August 2019 while waiting for her asylum case to move forward, was fiddling with her smartphone, having little success in registering online to cross the border to wait instead on the U.S. side with her family. ‘I need to ask someone for help,’ said an exasperated Baltazar, 40, a native of Guatemala who lived for more than a decade in Los Angeles — and is now keen to get back there and be reunited with her three U.S.-born children. ‘I’m afraid of being left out,’ said Baltazar, standing on the grounds of a shelter in this border city across the Rio Grande from El Paso. ‘If I don’t get enrolled, they’ll just ignore me.’”

Eight-year-old boy dies as migrants risk Arctic conditions to cross river into US
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, February 19, 2021

“An eight-year-old Honduran boy has become the latest victim in a string of drownings on the US-Mexico border as migrants attempt to cross the Rio Grande in treacherous winter conditions. The child, who has not been named, drowned on Wednesday while attempting to cross the freezing river with his family amid unprecedented Arctic conditions in the borderlands which have killed more than 30 people and left millions in Mexico and Texas without power, water and food. The family was attempting to cross the river from Piedras Negras in the Mexican state of Coahuila to reach Eagle Pass, Texas, in frigid conditions. The boy’s parents and sister apparently made it to the US, but were returned to Mexico by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

First ‘Remain in Mexico’ asylum seekers enter U.S. at San Ysidro
Kate Morrissey, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, and Molly O’Toote, The San Diego Union Tribune, February 19, 2021

“Two years and 21 days after the first asylum seeker was walked back from San Diego to Tijuana under the Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, a small group of asylum seekers was escorted in the other direction to wait out immigration court cases in the United States. Under President Biden’s direction, border officials Friday began processing the first of the estimated 26,000 people who have pending cases in U.S. immigration courts and have been waiting in Mexico under the Trump administration’s program, officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.”

“Dying of Cold”: Ice Detainees Freezing in Southern Prisons
Alleen Brown, The Intercept, February 19, 2021

“In Louisiana and Texas, immigrants seeking asylum are facing dire conditions in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers hit by this week’s extreme cold. At the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, advocates say parents and children have been living with overflowing toilets, thirst, poor hygiene, and heat that fades in and out. Twenty miles away, at the South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall, advocates say detainees who complained about the cold faced retaliation. At the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center in Louisiana, a detainee interviewed by The Intercept reports that the segregation unit, akin to solitary confinement, has no heat.”

Not Enough Water, Toilets Full Of Human Excrement, No Showers: ICE Detainees In Texas Described The Storm’s Misery
Adolfo Flores and Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, February 19, 2021

“As millions across Texas endured freezing temperatures without running water or electricity this week, immigrants detained by ICE said they have endured their own misery with not enough to drink, toilets full of human excrement that couldn’t be flushed, and days without being able to shower. At the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, Adrian, a Honduran man who was seeking asylum in the US, said there hasn’t been running water at the ICE detention facility since Monday.”

Biden administration rolls out new rules placing stricter enforcement parameters on ICE
Maria Santana and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, February 18, 2021

“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is rolling out new guidelines that would curtail enforcement measures, focusing more narrowly on immigrants who pose a national security, border security or public safety risk, the agency announced Thursday. The new guidance was prompted by an executive order signed by President Joe Biden shortly after taking office and marks a return to Obama-era immigration enforcement measures based on a priority system instead of the more aggressive approach taken under the Trump administration.”

Biden Spent Black History Month Deporting Black Immigrants. Where’s the Outrage?
Tina Vásquez, Truthout, February 17, 2021

“Haiti is in the midst of political turmoil and advocates are calling these deportations ‘death flights.’ Soon, hundreds more Black immigrants are expected to be deported, including 135 Haitian immigrants. Most of them are families. While the coverage of these deportations hasn’t been extensive, what does exist largely frames the large-scale deportation of Black immigrants as an example of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operating as a ‘rogue agency’ that is refusing to comply with the Biden administration’s orders, which instructed ICE to only remove suspected terrorists and people who have been convicted of felonies.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexican president to visit border city, discuss security
Salvador Rivera, Norfolk CT News Station, February 17, 2021

“Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will visit Tijuana on Saturday to discuss security in this corner of Mexico where more than 2,000 murders were recorded last year. López Obrador, referred to by many in Mexico as AMLO, will also cut the ribbon and inaugurate a National Guard armory in Tijuana. ‘He has been touring cities with security problems, aside from that, there will be intense meetings on other subjects,’ said Alejandro Ruíz Uribe, a federal delegate from Baja California.”

The United States, a Special Operations Unit and a Massacre in Mexico
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, February 12, 2021

“Authorities have identified 16 of the victims through DNA analysis. Of these, 14 were Guatemalan migrants traveling to the United States. The other two were Mexican nationals. On February 8, the Attorney General’s Office in Tamaulipas announced there was sufficient evidence against 12 members of the Tamaulipas special operations group known as the Grupo de Operaciones Especiales (GOPES) to charge them for the massacre.”

Root Causes

El Salvador election could remake political landscape
Marcos Aleman, The Washington Post, February 25, 2021

“In the two years since President Nayib Bukele won a stunning victory over El Salvador’s established political parties, the hold that the opposition maintained on the congress and other key positions has been a point of constant frustration for the young president and his fervent supporters.”

Climate crisis and Covid have left 8m people in Central America chronically hungry
Louise Boyle, Independent, February 25, 2021 

“Nearly eight million people in Central America are now chronically hungry, including nearly 2 million in an ‘emergency’ level of food insecurity, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reported. A year of extreme climate-driven events compounded by the coronavirus pandemic has left millions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua struggling for basic needs. WFP reported on Tuesday that hunger has increased almost fourfold in the region in the past two years, and called for $47.3 million in urgent food assistance.”

Hunger in Central America skyrockets, U.N. agency says
Reuters, February 23, 2021

“The number of people going hungry in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua has nearly quadrupled in the last two years, the United Nations said on Tuesday, as Central America has been battered by an economic crisis. New data released by the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) showed nearly 8 million people across the four countries are experiencing hunger this year, up from 2.2 million in 2018. ‘The COVID-19-induced economic crisis had already put food on the market shelves out of reach for the most vulnerable people when the twin hurricanes Eta and Iota battered them further,’ Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a statement.”

‘Deeply alarming corruption’: US bill would sanction Honduran president
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, February 23, 2021

“A group of influential Democratic senators are introducing legislation which would sanction the president of Honduras – an alleged drug trafficker and key US ally – and cut off financial aid and ammunition sales to the country’s security forces which are implicated in widespread human rights abuses and criminal activities. The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act, co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Van Hollen, would suspend certain US assistance to the Central American country until corruption and human rights violations are no longer systemic, and the perpetrators of these crimes start facing justice.”

“Corrupción desenfrenada”: proyecto de ley busca sancionar al presidente hondureño
David C Adams y Jeff Ernst, Univision, 23 de febrero de 2021

“Un grupo de ocho senadores demócratas presentó el martes un proyecto de ley que pide al gobierno de Joe Biden imponer sanciones al presidente de Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, por ‘actos de corrupción significativa y violaciones de derechos humanos’, así como por evidencia de su implicación en el tráfico de drogas. La ‘Ley sobre los Derechos Humanos y Anti-Corrupción del 2021’ prohibiría a Hernández ingresar a los Estados Unidos y también suspendería la ayuda estadounidense a la policía y las fuerzas armadas de ese país”.

Merkley, Leahy, Durbin, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Tackle Corruption, Human Rights, Violations in Honduras
United States Senator Jeff Merkley for Oregon, February 23, 2021

“Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) today led a group of eight lawmakers in introducing the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021—legislation that lays out a comprehensive framework for combating corruption, impunity, and human rights violations in Honduras. The introduction comes as U.S. federal prosecutors made public that they are investigating Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández for accepting large bribes from, and giving assistance to, an alleged drug trafficker who delivered thousands of kilos of cocaine throughout the United States.”

Guatemala: Migrants supported with food, care on their journey
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, February 23, 2021

“Salesian missionaries at the Salesian parish in San Benito Petén operate the Casa Bethania for Migrants, one of two homes for migrants in Petén, Guatemala. In addition, two Salesian parishes on the border in Naranjo and Melchor are stopovers for migrants who cross the country on their way to Mexico and the United States. ‘At the moment, the flow of migration is very strong as everyone wants to try to reach the ‘American Dream’,’ said Father Giampiero De Nardi, a Salesian missionary in charge of the Salesian house in San Benito. ‘We have also prepared the corridors of the house so that people can sleep there. They have a clear goal and do not want to delay their journey. They just want to eat something, sleep and move on.’”

Honduras: nearly one third of the population face severe hunger
CARE, February 22, 2021

“CARE Honduras is working to reduce the impact of the food crisis on the lives of vulnerable families through its programs, with a focus is on women and girls who predominantly work in high-risk, informal, sectors and have a high dependence on natural resources for their livelihoods. Through its response activities during the COVID-19 pandemic and the two hurricanes; Eta and Iota in November 2020, CARE provided food support to 24,675 people. Another 7,137 (the majority of whom were women) received assistance in cash or vouchers to mitigate the socio-economic impacts associated with these crises. CARE is also providing support to enhance reactivate rural livelihoods and women’s economic activities in rural and urban settings through the provision of seed capital, agricultural kits and technical support.”

Minor Players Take Center Stage in Guatemala Drug Trade
Alex Papadovassilakis, InSight Crime, February 22, 2021

“An anti-narcotics operation targeting an alleged trafficking ring in Guatemala has shed light on the increasing importance of small, often discrete transport networks in the country’s cocaine trade. On February 11, the Guatemala Attorney General’s Office (Ministerio Público — MP) conducted a series of raids aimed at breaking up a suspected cocaine-smuggling group, known as ‘Los Pelones,’ who are active along the country’s eastern border with Honduras. Guatemalan authorities arrested 25 people, including six police officers accused of collaborating with the group, according to a statement released by the MP following the raids.”

26 meses después de estar encarcelado por caso Guapinol: Jeremías Martínez enfrentará esta semana juicio oral y público
Pasos de Animal Grande, 22 de febrero de 2021

“El Juicio oral y público de Jeremías Martínez, criminalizado por la empresa minera Los Pinares y el Ministerio Público, de Tocoa, Colón,  por defender los ríos Guapinol y San Pedro y  el Parque Nacional Carlos Escaleras, iniciará este lunes 22 de febrero hasta el jueves 25 del mismo mes, en la Sala 1, Tribunal de Sentencia con Competencia Territorial Nacional, de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Honduras. Martínez, líder campesino de 60 años, fue capturado en Tocoa en noviembre 2018 y enfrentó su proceso judicial ante el juez de Jurisdicción Nacional Carlos Irías León en San Pedro Sula, quien le dictó auto de formal de procesamiento por los delitos de usurpación y daños en perjuicio de la empresa minera Inversiones Los Pinares relacionado a su participación en el campamento ‘Por el Agua y la Vida’ instalado en Guapinol el 1ro agosto de 2018”.

Centroamérica acuerda poner freno a migrantes extracontinentales
Eduardo Torres, El Sol de México, 22 de febrero de 2021

“La Comisión Centroamericana de Directores de Migración (OCAM), integrada por autoridades de El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panamá y Nicaragua, determinaron no permitir el ingreso irregular de flujos de migrantes extracontinentales (haitianos, cubanos, asiáticos y africanos) que se mantienen varados en Sudamérica. Durante la reunión extraordinaria, el director General del Instituto Guatemalteco de Migración, Guillermo Díaz, presentó un plan de actuación para la atención de eventos de movilización masiva de migrantes”.

Climate change is upending Central America — the US must take action
Kayly Ober and Rachel Schmidtke, The Hill, February 20, 2021

“Climate change, migration and displacement issues have taken center stage for the Biden-Harris administration. On Jan. 27, President Biden signed an executive order that established climate change as a foreign policy and national security priority. On Feb. 4, he signed an executive order that requests a report on climate change and its impact on migration. While this constitutes the first time a president of the United States has signaled a willingness to work on climate and migration issues, it does not come in a vacuum. For our regional neighbors in Central America, the threat of climate displacement is becoming more urgent by the day. Swift action from the Biden administration will ensure that the region remains stable and secure in the face of increasing and frequent climate impacts.”

Dianna Ortiz, American Nun Tortured in Guatemala, Dies at 62
Katharine Q. Seelye, The New York Times, February 20, 2021

“Dianna Ortiz, an American Roman Catholic nun whose rape and torture in Guatemala in 1989 helped lead to the release of documents showing American involvement in human rights abuses in that country, died on Friday in hospice care in Washington. She was 62. The cause was cancer, said Marie Dennis, a longtime friend. While serving as a missionary and teaching Indigenous children in the western highlands of Guatemala, Sister Ortiz was abducted, gang-raped and tortured by a Guatemalan security force. Her story became even more explosive when she said that someone she believed to be an American had acted in concert with her abductors.”

In-Custody Death Sparks Allegations of Femicide against Honduran Police
Vienna Herrera, El Faro, February 19, 2021

“Her family is calling for justice amid widespread protests. ‘I want to set a precedent to allow the many women who have been viciously murdered to rest in peace,’ said Norma Rodríguez, Martínez’s mother, in a family press conference just two days after her burial. Rodríguez says her daughter’s death is a femicide. ‘While my daughter is known around the world, I would have wanted it to be under different circumstances. Police officers strangled her, so we’re demanding justice.’”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

US: Take New Approach at Mexico Border
Human Rights Watch, February 22, 2021

“The administration of United States President Joe Biden should move swiftly to ensure fair, dignified, and humane treatment of asylum seekers and migrants at the border, Human Rights Watch and the Iowa City Catholic Worker said in a video released today. The video follows a family still separated after almost two years under the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).”

Undocumented Immigrant Essential Workers – 5 Things to Know
FWD.us, February 22, 2021

“Essential workers who are undocumented are playing a crucial part in America’s COVID-19 recovery. Despite their personal sacrifice and service, essential workers who are undocumented have been largely excluded from COVID-19 relief, and most important, continue to live every day with fear and uncertainty about their future in the U.S. To stabilize our essential workforce and properly recognize their vital contributions, President Biden and Congress should include protections and a pathway to citizenship for essential workers who are undocumented in future COVID-19 legislation.”

ICE Air Weekly Activity – Week of 15 Feb 2021
Tom Cartwright, Witness at the Border, February 15, 2021

“Week severely impacted by weather. Average daily flights are around 18 and this week the daily flights were M-F, 6, 7, 3, 3, This week there and 18, respectively. In a typical week there are 21 removal flights. This week there were only 12. In a typical week there are 89 total ICE Air legs. This week there were only 37.”

Voices from the Border
Refugees International, February 2021

“The United States has a responsibility to welcome people seeking protection from persecution. But this is not only something we should do. It is something Americans can and want to do. Take action now and tell the Biden administration that #WeCanWelcome those arriving at our border in search of safety with compassion, fairness, and dignity.”

Biden Administration Is Making Quick Progress on Asylum, but a Long, Complicated Road Lies Ahead
Doris Meissner and Sarah Pierce, Migration Policy Institute, February 2021

“The Biden administration has begun admitting migrants enrolled in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) to the United States to await decisions on their asylum applications, instead of keeping them stranded in northern Mexico. This most recent step in unwinding Trump administration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border follows the decision to end MPP, also known as Remain in Mexico, and to unravel other actions that blocked vulnerable populations, largely from Central America, from crossing the border in search of safety.”

DWN First Ten to Communities Not Cages
Setareh Ghandehari, Luis Suarez, and Gabriela Viera, Detention Watch Network, 2021

“The United States operates the world’s largest immigration detention system with a network of over 200 detention centers across the country. The system, run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has always been cruel, inhumane and deadly as shown by an extensive and well documented history of abuse and neglect. The facts are undeniable. People in detention, their loved ones and communities have been sounding the alarm and organizing to shut down detention centers across the country. Today thanks to this tireless work of directly impacted communities, organizers and advocates more people than ever before are demanding that the inherently flawed immigration detention system be abolished.”

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