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Migration News Brief for January 31, 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.


Press Release: LAWG Encourages U.S. Government to Support Incoming President Xiomara Castro’s Anti-Corruption Efforts, Vice President Harris to Attend Inauguration
LAWG, January 25, 2022
“The election of Xiomara Castro offers a rare, valuable opportunity to strengthen the rule of law and address the root causes of migration from Honduras. Vice President Harris’s scheduled attendance at the inauguration shows that the Biden Administration recognizes and welcomes this opportunity.”

U.S. Enforcement

ICE Is Detaining More Immigrants. Covid Is Putting Them in Danger.
Sophia Gurulé and Abdullah Shihipar, The Nation, January 25, 2022
“The Biden administration is placing millions of incarcerated people—including over 20,000 who are in ICE detention—at risk of a Covid-19 illness, disability, and death.”

EXCLUSIVE: DHS Secretary Had a Disastrous Meeting with Border Patrol Agents
Julio Rosas, Townhall, January 26, 2022
“Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ meeting with Border Patrol agents in the Yuma Sector on Wednesday did not go well after he admitted the staggering number of illegal border crossings has made the agents’ job more difficult”

Migrants Detained in Texas Border Operation are Fighting Back’and It{s Not going well for Gov. Greg Abbott 
Ryan Devereaux, Ryan Devereaux, January 26, 2022
“A Texas judge ruled that the state’s arrests of migrants caught crossing the border is an unconstitutional encroachment on federal authority.” 

Advocates say Biden has let Haitian migrants down
Nuria Marquez Martinez and Niala Boodhoo, Axios, January 26, 2022
“Continued turmoil in Haiti is causing a growing number of Haitians to try to make it to American shores — and some advocates say the Biden administration isn’t supporting this community in its time of crisis.” 

Biden is defending key Trump immigration policies in court
Nicole Narea, Vox, January 25, 2022
“President Joe Biden’s administration is defending two of his predecessor’s more inhumane immigration policies in court: pandemic-related border restrictions and family separations.”

Families separated at border now fear extortion attempts
Elliot Spagat, Ben Fox and Claudia Torrens, AP News, January 11, 2022
“While specific reports are isolated, widespread extortion in Central America explains why many seek asylum in the United States in the first place. Some advocates fear prospects of large payments will fuel many more threats. An attorney for the woman and other families has asked U.S. officials to consider admitting more relatives because of the threats.”

Opinion: Testing the limits of morality with Haitian deportees
Editorial Board, The Washington Post, December 30, 2021
“There is a broad consensus among Americans that deportation is right in some cases — certainly when the deportees are dangerous criminals or represent a security threat. There are also circumstances in which mass deportation is deeply troubling. The ongoing case of U.S. deportations to Haiti is such an issue.”

The Trials of a Whistle-Blower
David Remnick, The New Yorker, January 21, 2022
“While working as a nurse in an immigration-detention center, Dawn Wooten became aware of abuses taking place, including hysterectomies performed without consent. She went public with this information, which helped lead to the facility’s closure.” 

Biden Keeps Trump Immigration Policies—and Stephen Miller Is Loving It
Scott Bixby and Asawin Suebsang, The Daily Beast, January 21, 2022
“It seems that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans,” says Fernando Garcia, director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas.”

Scoop: White House eyes vaccine mandate for migrants
Stef W. Kight, Axios, January 20, 2022
“The Biden administration has been offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people in immigration detention centers or shelters but hasn’t yet offered it to other migrants who’ve crossed the border — much less required it.”

Biden’s immigration polices have left Haitians stranded in Mexico
Nicole Narea, Vox, January 20, 2022
“Thousands of Haitians are indefinitely trapped in Mexico. They face pervasive racism, and many are unable to work, have no access to medical care, and are targets for criminals. Most have arrived in the last year, hoping that the Biden presidency would open up an opportunity for them to finally seek protection in the US.”

With US Policy, Mexico Crime Groups See Double the Opportunity in Northbound Migrants
Parker Asmann, InSight Crimes, January 17, 2022
“Reported kidnappings have decreased significantly in Mexico, but in recent years, at least one out of every 10 kidnapping victims has been a migrant trying to reach the United States, a situation that could deteriorate further to the benefit of organized crime groups with the relaunch of a controversial US immigration policy.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico’s remittances pass $50 billion, surge during pandemic
Mark Stevenson, AP News, January 26, 2022
“The money migrants send home to their relatives — have soared in the past two years, and are now expected to top $50 billion for the first time once 2021′s figures are added up. That would surpass almost all other sources of Mexico’s foreign income.”

INM y Guardia Nacional disolvieron a la primera caravana migrante de 2022
Infobae, January 22, 2022
“De acuerdo con el Instituto Nacional de Migración, las más de 300 personas de origen extranjero fueron trasladadas a distintas sedes en el estado de Chiapas.”

México intercepta a migrantes cubanos en autobuses turísticos
Ciber Cuba, January 27, 2022
“El Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) de México y la Guardia Nacional interceptaron este miércoles cerca de las 7:00pm dos autobuses de turismo con 198 migrantes que viajaban de forma ilegal por el sur del país, entre ellos varios hombres cubanos.”

Root Causes 

Hondurans concerned legislative crisis threatens new government
Al Jazeera, January 26, 2022
“On the eve of Xiomara Castro’s inauguration as Honduras’ new president, concern was on the rise among her supporters that a worsening legislative crisis could derail her campaign promises and their hope for a better future.”

Harris bets on new Honduran president to revive Central America policy
Rafael Bernal, The Hill, January 28, 2022
“Vice President Harris is betting big on incoming Honduran President Xiomara Castro, attending the Central American leader’s inauguration despite continued political instability and years of cool diplomatic relations between Honduras and the United States.”

Harris Seeks Ally in Honduras as She Revisits Central America
Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times, January 28, 2022 
“Vice President Kamala Harris visited Honduras on Thursday to attend the presidential inauguration of Xiomara Castro, the country’s first female head of state, who the White House hopes will become a crucial ally in addressing the corruption and emigration that have challenged Central America.”

Honduran president’s fall from grace poised to end in US indictment
Jeff Ernst, The Guardian, January 26, 2022
“In 2016, Hernández announced that he would seek re-election despite a constitutional prohibition against it. That decision would ultimately turn many Hondurans against him, and the subsequent 2017 election was marred by allegations of fraud and violent repression of protesters by state security forces.”

Sin haber tomado posesión, la nueva presidenta de Honduras enfrenta bloqueo en el Congreso
El Tiempo Latino, January 26, 2022
“La incertidumbre cubre la víspera de la asunción de Xiomara Castro como presidenta en Honduras. Una crisis legislativa amenaza con hacerla gobernar sin la mayoría con la que ella se proponía hacer reformas.”

World’s poorest bear brunt of climate crisis: 10 underreported emergencies
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian, January 14, 2022
“ [In Guatemala] poverty, violence and the climate crisis are leading problems in Guatemala, which is on the migratory route to Mexico and the US. Two-thirds of the population live on less than $2 a day and 38% of the population face food insecurity.”

Day Thirteen: Armed Men Intimidate Defense Inside Courthouse
Honduras Now, January 24, 2022
“The trial started with a serious concern raised by the defense. The attorneys representing the water defenders asked the prosecution to clarify why armed men in civilian clothes were standing outside the court room.”

Anti-Corruption Judge Becomes Next Target of Guatemala Prosecutor
Alex Papadovassilakis, In Sight Crime, January 19, 2022
“A Guatemalan judge recently heralded by the US State Department as a “woman of courage” says she is being attacked by her country’s Attorney General’s Office over her work on high-profile corruption cases.”

Los blindajes de las élites políticas implicadas en corrupción ¿Es posible el desmontaje del muro de la impunidad en Honduras?
Xiomara Orellana, CESPED, January 19, 2022
“Desde que se integró el binomio de la Unidad Fiscal Especial Contra la Impunidad y Corrupción (UFECIC), y la Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción e Impunidad en Honduras (MACCIH), en el 2016, la élite política utilizó diversos artilugios para debilitarlo.”

Schoolteachers in Honduras face threats inside the classroom and out
María Rubi, The UN refugee Agency, January 24, 2022
“At the start of each new school year, principal Horacio Montes* braces not only for the arrival of his returning students but for much less welcome visitors — members of the gang that controls much of the Laureles* neighbourhood of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, where Horacio’s school is located, demanding he hand over the keys.”

El Salvador Attorney General Raids Offices of Anti-Corruption Prosecutors
Gabriela Cácares, El Faro, January 19, 2022
“El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office has opened an internal investigation into seven current and former prosecutors who oversaw Operation Cathedral, a sweeping probe into acts of corruption committed by administration officials between March 2020 and April 2021.”

Al Menos El 75% De Infraestructura Escolar Se Encuentra En Mal Estado En Honduras
Confedencial HN, January 17, 2022
“Octavio Pineda, miembro de la Comisión de Transición del nuevo gobierno, que presidirá Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, reveló este lunes que cerca del 75% de la infraestructura escolar se encuentra en mal estado en Honduras.”

Guatemala: Indigenous women celebrate ruling on sexual violence
Jeff Abbott, Al Jazeera, January 25, 2022
“Survivors of Guatemala’s decades-long armed conflict have welcomed a Guatemalan court ruling that found five former paramilitary patrolmen guilty of raping and sexually abusing Indigenous women during the war.”

“Es inaceptable que en Honduras mueran más mujeres que en los países en guerra”: Margarita Bueso
Especiales Proceso Digital, Proceso Digital, January 16, 2022
“La violencia contra las mujeres no es normal y el combate a la violencia no solo es un tema de mujeres, es un tema de la sociedad en su conjunto, de los hombres, de la institucionalidad pública y la privada”, reflexionó Bueso.”

El Salvador: se cumplen 30 años de los Acuerdos de Paz sin celebraciones y con marchas anti Gobierno
Ramiro Cué Barberena, France 24, January 16, 2022
“Un nuevo aniversario del hito fundamental de la democracia en el país centroamericano llega en un momento de disconformidad social y con críticas a la Administración de Nayib Bukele, un detractor de este acontecimiento, al cual calificó como una “farsa”. Las reformas institucionales, legales y la sumisión del Ejército la elevan como un patrimonio invaluable para la política salvadoreña, históricamente marcada por sus enfrentamientos armados.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

Honduras (Events of 2021)
Human Rights Watch, January 
“Impunity remains the norm. Efforts to reform public security institutions have stalled. Marred by corruption and abuse, the judiciary and police remain largely ineffective. Support and resources from a four-year Organization of American States (OAS) mission to strengthen the fight against corruption and impunity, concluded in January 2020, have not produced lasting reforms. Anti-corruption prosecutors have been left defenseless.”

Witness Radio: A Podcast About Immigration
Witness Radio, January 24, 2022
“Witness Radio’s Sarah Towle and Camilo Perez-Bustillo kick off a second season with reflection on the Biden administration’s one-year record on border and immigration, framed through the civil rights legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Rhetoric vs Reality: Biden’s First Year Scorecard 
Detention Watch Network, January
“One year into the Biden administration, Detention Watch Network (DWN) is deeply disappointed by President Biden’s betrayal of his campaign promises to reduce reliance on immigration detention and bring fairness to the immigration system. Instead, he has continued to expand the deadly and inhumane Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention system.” 

Biden’s First Year Policies toward Latin America
WOLA Staff, Washington Office on Latin America, January 18, 2022
“At the end of Biden’s first year in office, he continues to face multiple challenges both domestically and internationally, but with a year under his belt, his administration has many of the building blocks in place to move his foreign policies forward in the coming year.”

Hope amidst the darkness: Victims continue to press for justice for wartime atrocities in Guatemala
Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada, Washington Office on Latin America, December 2, 2021
“Over the past year, powerful elites have sought to reassert their control over Guatemala’s justice system, removing and intimidating independent prosecutors and judges from their posts, while others face intimidation and unfounded efforts to criminalize them.”

The First Year of the Biden Administration’s Policies on Unaccompanied Children
Kids in Need of Defense, January 11, 2022
“The Biden Administration inherited a system in which the safeguards afforded unaccompanied children were weakened or dismantled entirely and the painful legacy of family separation remained unaddressed”.

Biden at the One-Year Mark: A Greater Change in Direction on Immigration Than Is Recognized
Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter, Migration Policy Institute, January 19, 2022
“While Donald Trump’s presidency is perceived as being the most active on immigration, touching nearly every aspect of the U.S. immigration system, President Joe Biden’s administration has far outpaced his predecessor in the number of executive actions taken during his first year in office.”

Still Striving – The First Year of the Biden Administration
American Immigration Lawyers Association, January 19, 2022
“AILA publishes a comprehensive assessment of President Biden’s accomplishments one year after entering office based on A Vision for America as a Welcoming Nation, the recommendations AILA presented to the president upon his election in November 2020. Each of the 12 charts encompassed in AILA’s report on Biden’s first year covers a major area of reform.” 

* 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