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Migration News Brief for June 18, 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.

Source: Kristin Klein


Press Release: LAWG Welcomes Central American Minors Program Expansion, Urges Swift Implementation with Civil Society Organizations
Latin America Working Group, June 16, 2021
“‘Children in the northern countries of Central America face situations of danger and are in urgent need of protection. We applaud the Biden Administration’s announcement to reinstate a program that can provide them with an alternative from making the dangerous trek to the border and to expand the eligibility criteria, which will mean more children will have access to this life-saving measure. We urge the administration to move ahead and process cases quickly together with civil society organizations in the United States and Central America, while also ensuring access to asylum for people at the U.S.-Mexico border.’”

U.S Enforcement

Justice Dept. ends a Trump policy that limited asylum for survivors of gang violence and domestic abuse.
Katie Benner, New York Times, June 17, 2021
“The decisions — applicable to all cases in the system, including appeals — will affect tens of thousands of migrants. Hundreds of thousands of Central Americans fleeing gang extortion and recruitment and women fleeing domestic abuse have arrived in the United States since 2013, and many cases are still being adjudicated, given an enormous backlog in immigration courts.”

US And Mexico Seek Ways To Do More On Irregular Immigration – Houston Public Media
Christopher Sherman, House Public Media, June 16, 2021
“Mayorkas said Tuesday at the conclusion of two days of high-level meetings: ‘We have challenged one another with respect to what more can each of us do to address the level of irregular migration that has persisted for several months.’…The Biden administration is taking what Mayorkas called a “multipronged approach” and he rejected any suggestion that the White House had sent mixed messages that could have encouraged more migration to the border.”

Texas governor puts $250 million down payment on a border wall
Arelis R. Hernández, Washington Post, June 16, 2021
“‘Remember that the border was far more under control under the Trump administration until President Biden came,’ Abbott said, drawing a dubious comparison between the 2020 migrant apprehension numbers, which were lower during the coronavirus pandemic, to 2021 figures. ‘But the biggest difference between the two administrations is a difference in commitment.’”

“People Don’t Realize How Being Undocumented Runs Deep”: These Six New Dreamers Share Their Stories – Mother Jones
Isabela Dias, Mother Jones, June 15, 2021
“‘These are young people who were in high school or about to graduate and coming of age right around the time the Trump administration callously decided to try to end the program,’ says José Muñoz of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led community in the United States. He applied for DACA in 2012 at the age of 21. ‘They’re the same age I was when I applied almost 10 years ago and yet we still don’t have the certainty that DACA will not be taken away.’”

Biden plan could reunite more Central American families
Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2021 
“‘We are firmly committed to welcoming people to the United States with humanity and respect, as well as providing a legal alternative to irregular migration,’ Secretaries of State Antony J. Blinken and Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a joint statement. They reiterated that the expansion of this program was part of a broader effort to provide additional legal access to safer immigration.”

Panic attacks highlight stress at shelters for migrant kids
Julie Watson, Amy Taxin and Adriana Gomez Licon, The Washington Post, June 14, 2021
“Several had panic attacks after seeing friends leave to join their families. ‘One day, ambulances were called four times,’ the volunteer said. ‘Paramedics would come into the tent and take them away on a stretcher because their hands would constrict up, their heads would sometimes go to one side, and their limbs would shake and it was obvious that it was very uncontrolled.’” 

U.S. to expand work permits for immigrants who are crime victims
Ted Hesson, Reuters, June 14, 2021
“The United States offers 10,000 U visas annually to immigrants who are victims of certain crimes and who aid law enforcement investigations or prosecutions…To qualify for a visa, applicants must be victims of domestic violence, trafficking or other serious crimes. Certain family members of approved applicants also can request visas.

VP Kamala Harris to meet DACA recipients amid immigration uncertainty
Courtney Subramanian, USA Today, June 13, 2021
“Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of United We Dream, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, said the measure of success will be whether President Joe Biden delivers citizenship for young immigrants, farmworkers and temporary protected status recipients at the end of his first year as he promised. ‘Or did he yet again continue the legacy of this country of promising something to people, whose labor is essential, and not delivering?” she said. “It can either be one of the biggest failures or one of the biggest victories that Biden would be able to break a 35-year logjam in Congress and right now we can’t wait any longer.’”

Fewer migrant families expelled at border
Arelis Hernández, The Washington Post, June 13, 2021 
“Despite the Biden administration’s messaging telling migrants not to come to the United States and its refusal to set a termination date for Title 42, the order is being applied to fewer families with children. Of the 44,639 families apprehended in May, nearly 9,000 were expelled into Mexico while the majority were allowed to enter the country to pursue their immigration cases such as asylum.”

Rep. Norma Torres tells her migrant story of survival
Em Nguyen, Spectrum News, June 11, 2021
“‘I mean, we can never fully understand what it is [like] to be a child living in that region and surviving day-to-day attacks now, not just from a civil war but attacks from local narco-traffickers,’ Torres said.” 

Lawsuit: ICE detained US citizen for a week in Tacoma
Gene Johnson, Associated Press, June 11, 2021
“‘I cannot understand why I was detained and why no one listened to me,” Rios said in a news release issued by the immigrant rights group. “I had my U.S. passport with me when I was detained, and I told this to the immigration officers many times. I hope that this lawsuit can make a difference to ensure that others are not subjected to such terrible, unlawful treatment by U.S. immigration officials.’”

VP Harris promises US to be “safe haven” for asylum-seekers
Online News Editor, La Prensa Latina, June 10, 2021
“‘We are also rebuilding our immigration system, to the extent that it deteriorated under the (Republican Donald Trump) administration, but also we must address the root causes of migration, and that is why I traveled to Guatemala and then after that to Mexico,’ Harris said.”

Number of migrants at US border hits new record high
BBC News, June 10, 2021
“The number of undocumented migrants reaching the US-Mexico border has hit the highest level in more than 20 years in the latest sign of the humanitarian crisis facing the Biden administration.

Mexican Enforcement

Many Central American migrants are staying in Mexico
The Economist, June 17, 2021 
“For years Juan and Marta ran a successful transport company in El Salvador that attracted the attention of gangs. Thugs held them at gunpoint and extorted money from them. In 2019 Juan left to claim asylum in Mexico. He was given permission to stay and found work. In April Marta and their three children were allowed to join him. They are thrilled by the prospect of a quieter life in the northern Mexican city of Saltillo. Nothing is as good as at last feeling secure, says Marta. ‘It gives you back life.’”

Con programa de Acnur reubican en el norte de México a miles de refugiados
Emir Olivares Alfonzo, La Jornada, 14 de junio de 2021 
“Las peticiones de asilo en México se han elevado en más de 5 mil por ciento en los últimos años al igual que el número de personas a las que se otorga esa condición. Cifras oficiales muestran que de 2013 a la fecha un total de 53 mil 938 migrantes fueron reconocidos como refugiados o recibieron algún otro tipo de protección”.

Root Causes 

Months after hurricanes, Guatemalans face a choice: Stay or migrate?
Teresa Welsh, Devex, June 16, 2021
“‘Many people lost everything — their livelihoods, homes, work, health, education — and many of them decided that they had to look for other options,’ Iquique said. ‘The reality in Central America is that people who don’t have work, or don’t have any way to make a living, or have lost everything — they’re left with no other option than to migrate.’”

Leaders Tout Safer Country as More Go Missing in El Salvador
Anna-Catherine Brigida, The Intercept, June 13, 2021
“‘The official discourse of the government has been to minimize and say that they aren’t people who have disappeared,’ said Silvia Aquino, another member of Proyecto Raquel. ‘They talk about displacement or migration. They say they’ve left and they haven’t told anyone.’”

Obstacles mount in Central America as Biden seeks cooperation over corruption
Jeff Ernst, The Guardian, June 13, 2021
“The decision by the US to make Guatemala its principal partner in the troubled Northern Triangle region – the largest source of irregular migration to the US – is a recognition of the country’s strategic geographic location as well as its president’s status as arguably the lesser of evils. ‘It’s been called a choice by default,’ said Tiziano Breda, a Central America analyst for the International Crisis Group.”

Según mujeres comunicadoras: Hay serios obstáculos para hablar de los derechos de las mujeres en los medios
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 16 de junio de 2021 
“El trabajo que ella hace es de grabar videos y notas de voz para los medios que lo solicitan,  con el objetivo de difundir una perspectiva de derechos de las mujeres, pues considera que es una oportunidad para incidir en la promoción de los mismo, sin embargo persiste esa brecha en la política y temas de interés social de la población”.

La política de seguridad de los Estados Unidos y la militarización en América Latina en el contexto de la democracia
CESPAD, 16 de junio de 2021
“Este estudio está orientado por el objetivo general de: analizar los factores geopolíticos de la militarización de la seguridad pública, aportando nuevos conocimientos y evidencias para el debate y la incidencia ciudadana por la recuperación y transformación de la democracia. Mientras que los objetivos específicos han girado en torno a: 1. Identificar y analizar los factores geopolíticos claves del proceso de militarización de la seguridad pública en la región latinoamericana y sus implicaciones en la democracia. 2. Describir y analizar el actual proceso de militarización de la seguridad pública y sus consecuencias en el ejercicio de los derechos humanos y las libertades democráticas”.

Hay 38 procesos judiciales activos en 2021 contra defensores ambientales y territoriales en Honduras
Heidy Dávila, Pasos de Animal Grande, 16 de junio de 2021 
“Dos defensores indígenas lencas de Santa María de La Paz, en el Departamento de La Paz, están privados de libertad, acusados de robo agravado  con fuerza, daños y desplazamiento forzado, por ejercer el derecho a la reivindicación del territorio ancestral. La acusación fue interpuesta por Elsa Marina Cruz y Melvin Patricio, trabajadores de la supuesta dueña del predio denominado ‘El Cacho’”.

¿Qué tienen en común los casos de corrupción que vincula a altos funcionarios en Honduras?
Xiomara Orellana, CESPAD, 15 de junio de 2021
“Esos casos desnudaron todo un sistema de corrupción, pero no solo con énfasis exclusivo sobre el Gobierno y los funcionarios públicos. Ese entramado mostró el rol que también jugaron las empresas nacionales e internacionales y actores privados que han sido parte del modus operandi para robar recursos estatales”.

USAID to Grant $115 Million in Aid to El Salvador to Stem Migration | World News | US News
Reuters, U.S. News, June 14, 2021
“‘We can work with local partners in Central America to expand opportunities for youth and help them get away from violence,’ Power said at a conference on migration at the Central American University, where she announced the aid initiative. The money will include $50 million for security, $35 million for programs to counter violence against women and $30 million in job training, Power said.”

Las remesas enviadas a Honduras crecen 45 % en primeros cinco meses de 2021
EFE, Proceso Digital, 14 de junio de 2021
“Honduras recibió en marzo 637.4 millones de dólares en remesas, un 34.3 % más que los 474.7 millones de dólares de febrero y 35.4 % más que los 470.7 millones de enero…Representan alrededor del 20 % del producto interno bruto (PIB) y se han constituido en uno de los principales sustentos de muchas familias del país centroamericano”.

Honduras: 147 femicidios en lo que va del 2021, según Observatorio de la UNAH » Criterio.hn
Criterio hn., 14 de junio de 2021
“Tegucigalpa.- Al menos 147 mujeres han muerto de forma violenta en lo que va del 2021, informó este lunes la directora del Observatorio de la Violencia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH), Migdonia Ayestas. Solo en lo que va de junio, se registran 17 femicidios, dijo Ayestas en declaraciones a un canal de televisión”

Más de 153 migrantes hondureños son deportados a diario, mientras EEUU dice “no vengan”
Proceso Digital, 13 de junio de 2021
“El Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) de México informó que desde el 1 de enero hasta el 6 de junio ha identificado a 90 mil 850 migrantes, de estos un 20 % eran menores de edad, principalmente de naciones de Centroamérica”.

‘Huge step’: Relatives of Guatemala disappeared hope for justice | Courts News.
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, June 13, 2021
“The Diario Militar, or Death Squad Diary, documented the abductions, torture, disappearances and executions of 183 people, including Mendez Calderon, between 1983 and 1985. The military intelligence dossier includes a section with a numbered list of the 183, with their names, affiliations, photograph, date and location of abduction, and other basic details. On June 9, a Guatemalan judge ordered six ex-military officers to face trial for their roles in the allegations contained in the Death Squad Diary – a move that was celebrated by relatives of the victims, who also reiterated calls for their loved ones’ remains to be located and returned.”

Jefa de USAID llegará a Honduras para abordar causas de migración
Jonathan Jared, Tiempo Digital, 12 de junio de 2021
“Según una nota de prensa que compartió la institución, Power busca contribuir a enfrentar las problemáticas que influyen para que se produzcan las movilizaciones masivas al norte. Entre ellos, identifican retos de gobernabilidad, seguridad y materia económica.” 

Bordos sin reparar, el preámbulo de severas inundaciones en Honduras
Allan Bu y Leonardo Aguilar, Contra Corriente, 12 de junio de 2020
“‘Debido a la ausencia de bordos, si hoy viniera un huracán, todo el Valle de Sula y la zona noroccidental, se verían afectados, porque quizá solo en un 20 % o 30 % están atendidas las obras que fueron destruidas’”.

Kamala Harris’ Guatemala trip displayed our refusal to accept any guilt for the region’s woes
Susanne Ramírez de Arellano, NBC Think, June 10, 2021
“‘I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back,’ she said…Her bad-cop warning to potential migrants went down like a lead balloon in the region and fueled criticism from within her own party back home.’”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

Las raíces del problema: nuestras recomendaciones a la Administración Biden para enfrentar la corrupción en el Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica
Ursula Indacochea y Katharine Valencia, Justicia en las Américas, 16 de junio de 2021 
“El fortalecimiento del estado de derecho, la defensa de los derechos humanos y el combate a la corrupción, son componentes de una buena estrategia, que la Administración Biden debe convertir en acciones concretas. Escuchar a la sociedad civil local, e internacional y aprovechar sus conocimientos sobre la región, ayudara a afinarla y fortalecerla, a recuperar lecciones aprendidas, y a evitar errores cometidos en el pasado.”

Pathways to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants
FWD, June 14th, 2021
“FWD.us estimates that nearly all undocumented immigrants belong to groups that most Americans say should be provided a pathway to citizenship. These groups include essential workers, Dreamers who came to the U.S. as children, undocumented individuals living in the U.S. for many years, those with U.S. citizen family members, or those who currently have temporary protection from deportation….Undocumented immigrants are a vital part of America’s workforce, particularly as the U.S. continues to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic…With the economy projected to be near full employment by the end of 2022, the U.S. will need every person available to continue fighting the pandemic and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.”

Research: Strengthening Services for Unaccompanied..
Mark Greenberg, Kylie Grow, Stephanie Heredia, Kira Monin and Essey Workie, Migration Policy Institute, June 2021
“This report examines the process by which unaccompanied minors are released to sponsors, federal post-release services, and service needs. It then discusses insights and perspectives shared by service providers during interviews and roundtable meetings on common challenges these children and their sponsors face and approaches to addressing them. The report concludes with recommendations for federal, state, and local actors and philanthropic organizations to improve post-release services.”

A Progress Report on the Biden Administration’s Record on Making the United States a Safe Refuge
Amnesty International, June 2021
“President Biden has a clear choice: retain inhumane policies and own the stain they leave on his administration’s human rights record, or turn rhetoric into concrete action and firmly put human rights and racial justice at the center of his immigration plans. There is still hope for change, but words alone will not achieve it.”

* 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.