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Migration News Brief for July 24 – 31, 2020

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Serve Your People
Latin America Working Group Education Fund, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Oxfam America, Climate Refugees, Church World Service (CWS), and Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), July 2020
“Serve Your People provides a roadmap for transforming relations between the United States and the northern countries of Central America. The report highlights ways the United States can restore and advance protections for migrants and refugees and use principled diplomacy to stand with civil society forces for change. It provides U.S. policy recommendations for protecting human rights, providing opportunities for youth at risk, addressing gender-based violence, tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting equitable development strategies, and helping countries address the impact of climate change.”

Press Release: Organizations release a roadmap for transforming relations between the U.S. & NCA
Latin America Working Group, July 29, 2020
“‘A new vision starts with rolling back the immense damage to international protections for refugees and migrants that we have seen in recent years,’ said Lisa Haugaard, co-director of the Latin America Working Group Education Fund.  ‘But it must not stop there. The United States should adopt immigration policies that are humane and inclusive. In Central America, the U.S. government must demonstrate through its words and actions that it stands not with corrupt officials but with the citizens seeking to build more just societies. The message to Central American leaders should not be: Stop your people from fleeing. It must be: Serve your people well so they can choose to stay.’”



Latin America will be poorer after the pandemic, IADB president says
Reuters, July 27, 2020
“Latin America, where economic growth has already been slowing in recent years, is expected to see an economic contraction of 8% to 10% in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus and associated quarantine measures, Moreno said.”

Latin America leads world in coronavirus cases, Reuters count shows
Daniela Desantis, Javier Leira, Reuters, July 26, 2020
“Latin America now has 4,327,160 total cases of the novel coronavirus compared to 4,308,495 infections in United States and Canada, according to the count based on data provided by the governments of each country. The United States continues to be the individual country with the highest number of infections and deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, with more than 4.2 million cases and roughly 146,000 deaths, followed by Brazil, with 2.4 million cases and nearly 87,000 dead.”

United States

Letters From ICE Detainees Expose Conditions Amid Pandemic
Cora Currier, The Intercept, July 27, 2020
“The mostly handwritten notes represent an archive of an ongoing crisis in immigration detention facilities in Arizona, where hundreds of immigrants and correctional staff have been infected with Covid-19. According to CoreCivic, 159 employees, or 50 percent of the total workforce at Eloy, have tested positive  to date. One correctional officer has died of the disease.”

El Salvador

Crisis Group Dissects El Salvador’s Historic Dip in Homicides
El Faro, Roman Gressier, July 24, 2020
“A report from the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based think tank, attributed the downward trend to quiet, informal understandings between the state and the gangs, rather than the president’s security plan. Crisis Group’s analysis comes within a year of the 2021 legislative and municipal elections in which Bukele hopes to consolidate a political coalition and at a moment when Bukele has employed deeply popular, hardline anti-gang rhetoric in public while endorsing a more measured, and at times conciliatory, approach in private.”


Guatemala begins economic reopening, though coronavirus still on rise
Reuters, July 27, 2020
“Although the country’s borders remain closed, various industries can resume operations, public transportation will gradually begin running and shopping centers and restaurants can reopen starting on Monday. The curfew will remain in place at night. Despite the relaxation of health measures, nearly half of Guatemalan municipalities remain on ‘red alert,’ meaning cases have yet to level off.”


Efectos de la pandemia en Honduras dejará 1.5 millones de nuevos pobres
El Pulso, 27 de julio de 2020
“Este año se esperaba que el Producto Interno Bruto del país llegara a los 680 mil millones de lempiras, sin embargo, el Banco Central de Honduras (BCH) indica que la economía caerá en un seis a siete por ciento, el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) vaticina un 5.8 a 7 por ciento, mientras que el Banco Mundial y la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) augura una pérdida de más del nuevo por ciento.”

Libertad de exprimera dama consolida un pacto de impunidad, señala Coalición Anticorrupción
Proceso Digital, 27 de julio de 2020
“La decisión tomada por el Tribunal de Sentencia para dejar en libertad a la exprimera dama, muestra cómo el sistema de justicia opera selectivamente, dando respuesta expedita a quienes ostentan relación con los círculos de poder y asegurando sus beneficios, señala escrito.”

Carta de Solidaridad: Repudiamos las Amenazas y Hostigamiento Contra el Copinh y Su Dirigencia
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos, 25 de julio de 2020
“De esta manera, las organizaciones abajo firmantes, queremos manifestar nuestro absoluto respaldo y solidaridad a COPINH y su dirigencia, ante las agresiones racistas y misóginas que personas externas a la organización y con fines claramente políticos, difunden a través de las redes sociales, haciéndose parte de una campaña de terror y persecución que solo busca destruir la organización.”


Mexico reports 5,480 new coronavirus cases, 306 deaths: health ministry
Reuters, July 26, 2020
“Mexico’s Health Ministry on Sunday reported 5,480 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 306 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 390,516 cases and 43,680 deaths.”

El factor López-Gatell
Diego Fonseca, The New York Times, 23 de julio de 2020
“La fractura del aura alrededor del subsecretario de Prevención y Promoción de la Salud de México no es solo producto de sus errores como zar del coronavirus. En el fondo, sus fallos son producto del modelo de gestión de un gobierno más proclive a la improvisación que a la planeación y liderado por un presidente con una concepción reduccionista de la gestión pública, el poder y la democracia.”

U.S. Enforcement

With election looming, Trump hardens stance against ‘Dreamer’ immigrant program
Steve Holland, Ted Hesson, Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, July 28, 2020
“The administration said it would still consider ending the program, which shields from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in the United States illegally after entering as children – a group often called ‘Dreamers.’”

Acciones por los migrantes solicitantes de asilo en EE.UU
Celia Medrano, El Salvador, July 30, 2020
“Coaliciones pro derechos de las personas migrantes como Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) y Asylum Working Group, redoblan esfuerzos para la aprobación de la iniciativa H.R. 2662 (Asylum Seeker Protection), que prohibiría el uso de fondos para aplicar o hacer cumplir los MPP, anularia la política ‘Remain in Mexico’ (permanecer en México) y daría a los aplicantes de asilo la oportunidad de esperar en suelo estadounidense, con garantías del debido proceso, seguridad y libertad con sus familias, la resolución, de sus solicitudes”.

Trump administration will not accept new DACA applications
PBS, July 28, 2020
“The move, detailed in a memo from Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, ended a month of uncertainty about how the administration would respond to its Supreme Court defeat in an election year that has President Donald Trump looking for ways to energize his base. Wolf said the administration may try to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program again, casting it as a law enforcement issue that could contribute to illegal immigration.”

US government sued after report of detained migrant children at Hampton Inn hotels
Mary Jo Pitzl, USA Today, July 27, 2020
“The report described children as young as 1 being held for days at a time in hotels before being deported, a service provided by federal transportation contractor MVM Inc. Records showed hotels had been used nearly 200 times in Phoenix, El Paso and McAllen, Texas.”

Are We Looking at Family Separation 2.0?
WNYC, July 27, 2020
“Over the weekend, U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee denied a request by the Trump administration to further extend the deadline. But whether the children will be released with their parents is still a question. This is unfolding as immigration detention centers have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, there have been about 90 confirmed coronavirus infections in family detention centers across the country and advocates are concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 cases.”

How to Deport a Virus
Caroline Tracey, N Plus One, July 27, 2020
“While everyone in the United States and Mexico has been rendered vulnerable by the ways that Covid-19 has been handled and not-handled by the two countries, those who are forcibly denied the right to stay home by the processes of detention and deportation have been rendered particularly so. At all levels of the detention and deportation process, the threat of Covid-19 infection has been magnified in a way that officials seem to have condoned, at the same time that they have used the virus to undermine processes of immigration and asylum.”

Before Portland, Trump’s Shock Troops Went After Border Activists
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, July 25, 2020
“Long before DHS deployed masked paramilitary agents to the Pacific Northwest, the agency was directing its intelligence efforts against opponents of the president’s policies on the southern border, citing the coordinated circulation of public information, tweets, and potential vandalism as a precursor to extremist violence and domestic terrorism.”

“I Felt Alone”: The Story Of How An Immigrant Teenager Fought To Stay In The US
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, July 24, 2020
“In a Washington, DC, federal court, where he was known by his initials “J.B.B.C,” he became the first to successfully challenge the Trump administration’s unprecedented policy to practically close off the southern border to asylum-seekers, including unaccompanied children like him, during the coronavirus pandemic. His plight offers a window into the collision between kids in desperate circumstances and a historic political fight over the very nature of how the US sees immigration. Each child with a pseudonym has a story.”

Canadian Court Rules US Is No Longer a ‘Safe Third Country’ for Asylum Applicants
Royce Murray, Immigration Impact, July 23, 2020
“In 2017, organizations and affected individuals filed a lawsuit arguing that changes to U.S. immigration policies invalidated the Safe Third Country Agreement. The lawsuit said the United States was no longer a country to which Canada could confidently send asylum seekers and know they would be protected from being returned to persecution in their home country. The suit argued the United States had ceased to provide meaningful protections. It pointed to the practice of turning back and criminally prosecuting asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, the one-year filing deadline for applicants, and the detention of asylum seekers.”

Remain in Mexico, or MPP, hearings will continue during coronavirus
Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune, July 17, 2020
“Even before the pandemic struck, the MPP program was widely criticized by immigration attorneys and advocates who said it placed thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers at risk of violence in Mexican border cities that have seen sustained or increased bloodshed in border states. Attorneys have also argued that the program makes proper representation nearly impossible because they can’t communicate with clients in migrant shelters or, in more dire cases, asylum seekers who have no place to stay. They argue that instead of returning the migrants to Mexico, they should instead be paroled into the United States and places with family members already living in the country.”

Mexican Enforcement

UN refugee agency to install housing units in Mexico
Associated Press, July 27, 2020
“The U.N. agency known as UNHCR says it is also donating some of the steel-frame structures with plastic roofs and walls to be used near clinics or hospitals to house patients or medical services in southern Mexico. Such units have long been used in Africa and other places in the world. The U.N. said the mostly one-room Refugee Housing Units, or RHUs as they are known, are needed because some traditional migrants shelters in Mexico have closed the doors to new entries due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.”

Root Causes

Guatemala Imposes Martial Law Under Pretext of Combating Organized Crime
Alex Papadovassilakis, Insight Crime, July 27, 2020
“The measures, which temporarily restricted freedom of movement and the right to gather and protest in the affected municipalities while allowing the government to detain and interrogate residents, were adopted as a means of reestablishing order amid the presence of armed criminal groups that have attacked state security forces and engaged in illicit activities, such as drug trafficking, according to a presidential decree and other statements made by Giammattei, published on the state-operated news portal Diario de Centroamérica.”

Diez días del secuestro de garífunas y autoridades estatales no dan respuestas
Criterio.hn, 28 de julio de 2020
“Una de las acciones que llama la atención de la coordinadora es la circulación de noticias sobre los documentos encontrados de los jóvenes secuestrados, debido a la manera como fueron sacados de su hogar era imposible que llevaran su documentación. ‘Los sacaron en calzoncillos, cómo es posible que aparezcan sus documentos. La gente se pregunta cómo fue que llegaron esos documentos,’ enfatiza. Miriam considera que la persecución constante contra el pueblo garífuna, el secuestro, la criminalización, tienen como fin el generar terror en las comunidades.”

Honduras: Cinco “desaparecidos” en Triunfo y la expulsión del pueblo Garífuna
Ofraneh, 27 de julio de 2020
“Hasta el día de hoy se desconoce el paradero de Alberth Sneider Centeno, Presidente del Patronato de Triunfo de la Cruz y miembro de la OFRANEH, Milton Joel Martínez Álvarez; Suami Aparicio Mejía García, Gerardo Misael Trochez Calix, los que fueron sustraídos de sus domicilios, situación que ha creado una enorme alarma dentro de las comunidades Garífunas, ya que a pesar de las restricciones de movilización existentes, ante la pandemia imperante, y con un toque de queda imperante, ingresaron vehículos con personas fuertemente armadas a la comunidad.”

Compromisos incumplidos: El 06 de noviembre el Estado de Honduras será examinado en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos
Heidy Davila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 27 de julio de 2020
“La CCI entregó el informe en el Consejo de los Derechos Humanos con las peticiones de diversos temas como Libertad de Expresión, derechos de las mujeres, comunidad LGTBI, bienes comunes y territorio, tortura y desplazamiento forzado, derechos humanos, niñez y juventud.”

Continúa la criminalización a defensores por influencias de empresa minera
Conexihon, 25 de julio de 2020
“Según el comunicado emitido por la Plataforma Agraria detalló que el MP tiene previsto interponer un nuevo requerimiento fiscal contra defensores y defensoras del medio ambiente y la tierra sobre el caso Guapinol del municipio de Tocoa departamento de Colón, algunos de ellos y ellas son beneficiarios de medidas cautelares.”

Ombudsman pide justicia para mujer trans agredida por policías en El Salvador
La Vanguardia, 24 de julio de 2020
“Desde octubre del año pasado, en este país centroamericano se ha registrado un aumento de crímenes de odio contra mujeres trans, lo que preocupa a diferentes organizaciones que velan por los derechos comunidad de Lesbianas, Gais, Transgénero, Bisexuales e Intersexuales (LGTBI).”

El Salvador arrests ex-defense minister for gang pact
Marcos Aleman, Associated Press, July 24, 2020
“Attorney General Raúl Melara said late Thursday that Munguía was arrested for his actions in relation to the gang pact under the administration of then-President Mauricio Funes. The government made a pact with the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs to dramatically lower the country’s murder rate. In exchange, the gangs’ imprisoned leaders were moved from maximum security to medium security prisons where they were able to continue managing the gangs’ operations.”

125+ Organizaciones nacionales e internacionales rechazan y condenan el estado de sitio en los territorios Maya Q’eqchi’ y Garífunas en Guatemala
Prensa Comunitaria, 21 de julio de 2020
“Condenamos el uso de los militares y otros operativos de seguridad del Estado para aterrorizar a las comunidades indígenas Maya Q’eqchi’  y Garífunas que viven en sus territorios ancestrales. Denunciamos que estos municipios han estado bajo vigilancia militar. El estado de sitio de dos meses implementado en septiembre y octubre de 2019 provocó una mayor disposición de los territorios indígenas a través de la violencia e intimidaciones, así como otras agresiones contra las personas defensoras de los derechos humanos y los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas. Estamos en alerta de que el nuevo estado de sitio continuará la misma tendencia.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources

A Primer On The Trump Administration’s Most Ambitious Effort To End Asylum
Yael Schacher, Refugees International, July 29, 2020
“The proposed rule would dramatically curtail eligibility for asylum in the United States by barring or discrediting broad categories of claims and making it extremely difficult for asylum seekers to get a fair or full hearing. The rule would violate both the spirit and the letter of U.S. and international refugee law. It represents an abandonment and abnegation of the responsibility to protect those seeking refuge from persecution, reflected in both international and U.S. domestic law.”

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The New York Times Magazine, July 23, 2020
“Today, 1% of the world is a barely livable hot zone. By 2070, that portion could go up to 19%. Billions of people call this land home. Where will they go?”