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MIGRATION NEWS BRIEF FOR MARCH 25, 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.

U.S. ENFORCEMENT

Biden administration prepares sweeping change to asylum process
Elleen Sullivan, The New York Times, March 24, 2022
“The Biden administration has finalized a plan to overhaul the system for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States, aiming to take a burden off the backlogged immigration courts in what some experts see as the most sweeping change to the process in a quarter-century. Under the new policy, which the administration released on Thursday as an interim final rule, some migrants seeking asylum will have their claims heard and evaluated by asylum officers instead of immigration judges.” 

U.S. launches deportation operations to Colombia using Title 42 border rule 
Camilo Montoya Gálvez, CBS News, March 24, 2022
“Using pandemic-related border restrictions, the Biden administration this month launched a deportation operation to Colombia amid a sharp increase in arrivals of migrants from that country to the U.S.-Mexico border, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials told CBS News on Thursday.” 

Biden faces influx of migrants at southern border amid calls to lift pandemic restrictions that aided expulsions
Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, March 24, 2022
“The number of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border illegally has jumped again in recent weeks, stretching U.S. capacity and stirring fears that the Biden administration will face an even larger influx if it lifts pandemic-era restrictions next week. According to preliminary U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data obtained by The Washington Post, authorities are on pace to make more than 200,000 detentions along the Mexico border in March, the highest monthly total since August.” 

Otra nicaragüense muere ahogada intentando cruzar el Río Bravo
Despacho 505, 24 de marzo de 2022
“En menos de 24 horas dos nicaragüenses murieron ahogados al intentar cruzar el Río Bravo. Gabriela Tatiana Espinoza Pérez, de 32 años, es la segunda nicaragüense que perdió la vida este lunes en la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos. Sofía Espinoza, hermana de la víctima, entrevistada por 100% Noticias, confirmó que Gabriela Tatiana había emprendido el viaje hacia los Estados Unidos donde la esperaba su exsuegra y amistades”. 

Human rights group decries deportation to chaos in Haiti
Dánica Coto and Evens Sanon, WSAV, March 24, 2022
“Human Rights Watch released a report Thursday demanding the U.S. and other countries stop deporting Haitians to their homeland, calling it ‘unconscionable’ and warning that they are putting people’s lives in danger. More than 25,700 people have been deported to Haiti from January 2021 to February 2022, with 79% of them alone expelled by the U.S., according to the International Organization for Migration.” 

U.S. lawyers line up to aid Ukrainians with immigration relief
David Thomas, Reuters, March 23, 2022
Nearly 2,000 lawyers at more than 100 law firms and companies are preparing to help Ukrainians living in the United States obtain temporary deportation relief and work permits as part of a volunteer effort organized by law firm Kirkland & Ellis and the non-profit Lawyers for Good Government.”

USCIS Agrees to Restore Path to Permanent Residency for TPS Beneficiaries
Carecen, March 22, 2022
“Late yesterday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agreed to restore a path to permanent residency for many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries blocked by then-acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli—an illegally appointed Trump official. Because of today’s agreement, TPS beneficiaries impacted by this policy will be able to reopen and dismiss their removal orders and apply to adjust their status to become permanent residents—eliminating the threat of deportation if their TPS protections are revoked in the future.” 

Sube 268% la detención de inmigrantes mexicanos en la frontera con Estados Unidos
Dallas News, March 22, 2022
“El número de mexicanos detenidos por las autoridades migratorias de Estados Unidos se ha incrementado 268 por ciento en el actual año fiscal respecto al de 2019. La Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (CBP, por sus siglas en inglés) reportó que entre octubre de 2021 y febrero pasado un total de 312,831 mexicanos, un promedio de 2,071 al día, fueron detenidos al intentar cruzar la frontera sur de Estados Unidos”. 

Internal CBP documents detail transnational effort to shut down asylum
John Washington and José Olivares, The Intercept, March 22, 2022
“In early 2019, nearly 2,000 migrants traveling through Mexico found themselves crammed into a former body bag factory in the town of Piedras Negras, just south across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. The local authorities had converted the factory into a migrant shelter as then-U.S. President Donald Trump stoked fears over asylum-seekers making their way toward the U.S.”

Asylum seekers in Tijuana protest disparities in treatment at U.S. border
Katie Morrissey, March 21, 2022
“Asylum seekers and their supporters marched toward the San Diego-Tijuana border on Monday in demonstration against a border policy that has kept thousands from being able to request protection in the United States. They also criticized the disparities that the policy, known as Title 42 has caused, as Ukrainians are now being allowed to cross and request protection while asylum seekers from elsewhere in the world are turned away.” 

Vulnerable people, unmet protection needs, and a wasteful security buildup at the busiest section of the U.S.-Mexico border
Adam Isacson and Joy Olson, Washington Office on Latin America, March 21, 2022
“WOLA visited a large segment of the Texas-Mexico border, from Del Rio to Brownsville, during the week of March 7. Joy Olson, WOLA’s former executive director, and Adam Isacson, WOLA’s director for defense oversight, covered three of the nine sectors into which Border Patrol divides the U.S.-Mexico border, crossing into four Mexican border cities along the way.” 

Informe revela “condiciones atroces” en una cárcel de ICE en Nuevo México 
Jorge Cancino, Univision, 20 de marzo de 2022
“Un crítico y preocupante informe publicado la semana pasada por las Oficina del Inspector General del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (OIG-DHS), reveló las deplorables condiciones en las que se encuentran más de 170 inmigrantes indocumentados una cárcel de la Oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) en Nuevo México.” 

Title 42 anniversary marks headaches for Biden, stalemate with lawmakers 
Rafael Bernal and Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, March 20, 2022
“As the Biden administration oversees the two-year anniversary of Title 42, it has given little sign it intends to lift the Trump-era policy that cites the pandemic as a reason to summarily expel asylum-seekers, even amid increasing pressure from members of its own party. The expulsion policy — issued just days after COVID-19 began taking its grip on the U.S. — has driven a wedge between the Biden administration and immigrant communities, many of whom see its continued implementation as a broken campaign promise.” 

Stuck at Mexico border, anti-war Russians sweat their futures as Ukrainians enter U.S
WTVB, March 19, 2022
“Russians trying to enter the United States at the Mexican border are frustrated they are not getting in like Ukrainians are, despite leaving their homeland over the invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials have let dozens of Ukrainians through this week but Russians remain in limbo, prompting some to camp on the pavement alongside a barbed wire border fence, defying warnings from Mexican authorities to leave.” 

“Travesty”: Immigration advocates accuse Biden administration of TPS double standard on immigrants of color
Rebecca Morin, USA Today, March 18, 2022
“The Biden administration granted temporary protected status for Ukrainian refugees in a week. It took months to grant Afghanistan refugees TPS status. That’s prompted accusations of a double standard. Nearly seven months after the United States evacuated Afghanistan, the Biden administration Wednesday granted protection from deportation for Afghan refugees living in the United States.”

What is Title 42, the COVID-19 border policy Democrats want Biden to end?
Camilo Montoya Galvez, CBS News, March 18, 2022
“Despite making some changes to U.S. border policy, the Biden administration has maintained the most sweeping border restriction enacted by former President Donald Trump: a pandemic-era order known as Title 42 that has led to the quick deportation of hundreds of thousands of migrants in two years.” 

Over 170,000 migrants amass at US-Mexico border anticipating Biden’s easing of border restrictions: report 
Nick Monroe, The Post Millennial, March 18, 2022
“A significant change to US – Mexico border policy is slated to come next week as the Biden administration is making moves to end Title 42, a policy mechanism that allowed for the swift removal of migrants from the USA. Biden’s Department of Homeland Security is expected to discontinue the usage of Title 42, making it official as of Monday. In part the statement given by the agency said that they conducted a ‘thorough review’ and concluded that they need to get rid of it because of “the Department’s need to prioritize its limited enforcement resources … by utilizing expedited removal as a border enforcement tool for certain recent entrants.” 

Más de 7 mil hondureños han salido del país rumbo a EEUU desde enero a la fecha según informe de las autoridades de México 
Confidencial HN, 18 de marzo de 2022
“A dos meses del nuevo gobierno, más de 7 mil hondureños han salido del país rumbo a Estados Unidos (EE.UU.) de acuerdo a un informe de las autoridades de México. Como Honduras no tiene un instrumento que indique cuánta es la cantidad de migrantes que tienen que pasar por el territorio nacional, Tapachula sí lo tiene, y ellos han hecho el informe de que al menos unas 73 mil personas de 17 nacionalidades han salido de sus países”. 

Scoop: Biden officials fear “mass migration event” if COVID policies end
Jonathan Swan and Stef W. Kight, Axios, March 17, 2022
“U.S. intelligence officials are privately bracing for a massive influx of more than 170,000 migrants at the Mexico border if COVID – era policies that allow instant expulsions during the public health emergency are ended, sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios. The response under way includes a newly created — and previously unreported — Southwest Border Coordination Center (SBCC), essentially a war room to coordinate an interagency response.” 

Violencia, chaos in Haiti spur migrant exodus to US
La Prensa Latina, March 17, 2022
“Nearly 500 Haitians fleeing intolerable conditions in their homeland have been intercepted upon arrival on or near the southern coast of the US state of Florida in just over seven days, most of whom will likely be expelled. That response to the migrant surge has prompted criticism from Miami-based Haitian community organizations, who say United States authorities are taking a deportation-only approach to the problem.” 

Resentment grows as Ukrainians getting preferential treatment at the border
Salvador Rivera, Border Report, March 15, 2022
“According to Tijuana officials, the migration of Ukrainian and Russian nationals into this border city has intensified since last week. Officials said many are going to shelters, but only to seek information about crossing into the U.S. to ask for asylum. There’s a lot of confusion since President Biden declared all Ukrainians are welcome in the U.S. but there’s no system in place to receive them,’ said Patrick Murphy, director of the migrant house in Tijuana. ‘But it’s going to be easier for them, and I’m sorry to say this, but since they are fair-skinned, they are going to get preferential treatment.” 

‘We had no choice’: over 8,000 Russians seek US refuge in six-month period
The Guardian, March 14, 2022
“Maksim Derzhko calls it one of the most terrifying experiences of his life. A longtime opponent of Vladimir Putin, he flew from Vladivostok to the Mexican border city of Tijuana with his 14-year-old daughter and was in a car with seven other Russians. All that separated them from claiming asylum in the United States was a US officer standing in traffic as vehicles inched toward inspection booths.” 

Texas v. Biden and the state led campaigns against immigrant children and their families 
Refugee Rights
“Earlier this year, the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, alongside seven other state attorneys generals, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration seeking to shut down the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program. Last week, eight additional states joined the suit. Today, IRAP filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of four families seeking to reunite with their children through the program.”

MEXICAN ENFORCEMENT

Mexico’s migration institute suspends operations in Tapachula after violent incident
Reuters, March 19, 2022
“Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) said on Friday it has temporarily suspended operations in the city of Tapachula, in Chiapas, after some staff were injured in what it called a ‘violent’ incident involving migrants. Tapachula, a city on the border with Guatemala, has been the site of previous clashes between authorities and migrants who are waiting for papers to be able to freely travel through the country.” 

Crackdown stopped Venezuelans from flying into Mexico and walking into US
Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, March 18, 2022
“Mexico has successfully put a stop to the trend of Venezuelans flying into its airports and then walking into the United States after more than 100,000 were stopped at the border since last summer. Critics of the Biden administration’s border policies say the successful crackdown on Venezuelan crossings, the result of private talks between the Biden administration and Mexico, shows the kind of action President Joe Biden could take to address the broader surge of illegal immigration.” 

ROOT CAUSES

La migración centroamericana se feminiza
La República, 24 de marzo de 2022
“Cada vez son más mujeres las que se desplazan y los factores que originan ese movimiento afectan de manera más grave a ese género (violencia en el origen, destino de la migración, expectativas de remesas, entre otros), por ello se considera una ‘migración feminizada’, de acuerdo con Noortje Denkers, especialista en Migración Laboral y Movilidad, de la Oficina de OIT para América Central, Haití, Panamá y República Dominicana.” 

Pobreza, desigualdad, discriminación, violencia e impunidad caracterizaron la situación de DDHH durante el 2021 en Honduras: OACNUDH 
Confidencial HN, 22 de marzo de 2022
“La pobreza, la desigualdad, la discriminación, la violencia, la impunidad caracterizaron la situación de los derechos humanos en Honduras en 2021, de acuerdo al informe de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos (OACNUDH). De igual manera, el informe señala las consecuencias que dejó la pandemia del Covid-19 y las devastaciones por el paso de los huracanes Eta y Iota en 2020”. 

USAID lanza proyecto “Creando mi Futuro Aquí” para prevenir la migración irregular
Proceso Digital, 22 de marzo de 2022
“La Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID, por sus siglas en inglés), lanzó este martes el proyecto ‘Creando mi Futuro Aquí’ orientado para el desarrollo de empleabilidad y emprendimiento juvenil en la búsqueda de la prevención de la migración irregular. La iniciativa de USAID pretende aumentar las oportunidades de empleo de los jóvenes que corren el riesgo de emigrar o viven en zonas afectadas por la violencia”. 

USAID y la OIM presentan informe sobre migración en el Triángulo Norte de C.A. 
Confidencial HN, 22 de marzo de 2022
“La Agencia de Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID) y la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) presentó los hallazgos de 26 grupos focales realizados en nueve ciudades de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras, sobre las dinámicas migratorias y de reintegración de la población migrante retornada. Esta investigación abonará a la base científica en la región, mejorará el acceso a datos confiables, fortalecerá la toma de decisiones y ayudará en la comprensión de la movilidad humana”. 

Las remesas en Honduras suben el 25.8% entre enero y febrero
Proceso Digital, 22 de marzo de 2022
“Honduras recibió 1,192.1 millones de dólares entre enero y febrero pasado por concepto de remesas familiares, un 25.8 % más que en el mismo período de 2021, informó este martes el Banco Central del país (BCH). El monto de remesas en los primeros dos meses de 2022 fue superior a los 947,9 millones de dólares del mismo lapso de un año atrás, según un informe del BCH”. 

“Two murders in a week”: Honduran activist risk death to defend rights 
Sarah Johnson, The Guardian, March 22, 2022
“One Sunday morning in January, Pablo Isabel Hernández set off to walk to church in San Marcos de Caiquín, a remote part of Honduras, but never arrived. One of Hernández’s brothers, who followed later, found Pablo, 33, dead on the road. He had been shot in the back. The next day, as Thalía Rodríguez, 46, lay in bed with her partner 500 miles (800km) away in the capital, Tegucigalpa, masked armed men stormed into her flat and shot her in the head.” 

El Salvador postpones bitcoin bond: Report
Nelson Wang, CoinDesk, March 22, 2022
“El Salvador has postponed its planned $1 billion bitcoin bond offering because of unfavorable market conditions, Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya said on Tuesday on Salvadoran TV show Frente a Frente.The offering was initially scheduled to take place between March 15-20, but the Russia-Ukraine war and the war’s impact on the price of bitcoin caused the government to change the date, according to Reuters.” 

A top Guatemalan judge resigns in blow to anti-corruption movement
Thomson Reuters, KFGO, March 21, 2022
“One of Guatemala’s top judges, a key figure in the fight against corruption, said on Monday that she had resigned amid threats and pressure related to her work, in a blow to the stuttering fight against impunity in the Central American country. Judge Erika Aifan played a vital role in the anti-graft push led by a U.N.-backed anti-corruption body that had been kicked out of the country in 2019. Human Rights Watch said Aifan’s departure would hurt Guatemala’s judicial system.” 

Anti-corruption judge flees Guatemala despite U.S. efforts to protect her
Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, March 21, 2022
“One of Guatemala’s most important judges and a key U.S. ally in the fight against corruption has resigned and fled the country in what might be the most worrying sign yet of the deterioration of its judicial system. Judge Erika Aifán, who presided over cases implicating high-level Guatemalan officials including the country’s president, submitted her resignation on Monday morning.” 

Comunidad garífuna de Tornabé amenazada por siembra descontrolada de palma africana
Radio Progreso HN, 21 de marzo de 2022
“La comunidad garífuna de Tornabé está ubicada en Tela, Atlántida, forma parte del Parque Nacional Blanca Jeannette Kawas, y sus pobladores están preocupados por el rápido avance de los cultivos de palma africana. El Presidente del patronato, Osman López, denunció en Radio Progreso que, a pesar que las autoridades tienen pleno conocimiento desde hace años, nunca han realizado acciones concretas para detener la siembra, debido a que estas tierras pertenecen a personas poderosas en la zona”. 

Fosdeh anuncia que llegará a Honduras una misión del Fondo Monetario Internacional
Confidencial HN, 21 de marzo de 2022
“Una misión del Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI), llegará a Honduras para revisar las finanzas del país, anunció este lunes el coordinador del Foro Social de la Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras (Fosdeh), Mauricio Díaz Burdett. Reveló que las conversaciones que el Fosdeh ha tenido con el organismo y con la administración del gobierno les han permitido identificar los temas primordiales a tratar”. 

Migrantes varados en Danlí piden ayuda a Xiomara
El Libertador, 21 de marzo de 2022
“Ante el abuso de las autoridades policiales, migratorias, población y la indiferencia de Secretaría de Derechos Humanos, los migrantes extranjeros que han quedado varados en Danlí, han hablado a través de El Libertador para solicitar la intervención de la presidenta Xiomara Castro para recibir salvoconducto y seguir el viaje a Estados Unidos”. 

La juez Erika Aifán deja Guatemala debido a las amenazas de redes políticas y criminales
Carlos Salinas Maldonado, El País, 21 de marzo de 2022
“La jueza Erika Aifán ha renunciado a su cargo como titular del Juzgado D de Mayor Riesgo de Guatemala debido a las amenazas que ha sufrido de parte de ‘redes políticas y criminales’, ha denunciado este lunes la magistrada en un video publicado en Twitter. Aifán se ha exiliado en Washington tras afirmar que no cuenta con garantías suficientes de protección a su vida e integridad física. La jueza ha estado en el ojo del huracán porque ha llevado algunos de los casos más sonados de corrupción, que la convirtieron en el último objetivo de quienes no quieren ver una justicia independiente en el país centroamericano. Con Aifán, son ya 14 jueces y fiscales los que han tenido que huir de su país hacia Estados Unidos debido a la persecución que enfrentan”. 

Honduras libre de minería a cielo abierto. ¿Y ahora qué?
Cespad, 20 de marzo de 2022
“La llegada al poder del Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), ha reabierto el debate sobre el extractivismo minero en Honduras. La presidenta Xiomara Castro, en la toma de posesión, lanzó un contundente mensaje a los representantes, promotores y defensores del extractivismo minero, afirmando que su Gobierno cancelará las concesiones mineras a cielo abierto, por su alto costo ambiental”. 

ONU enviará comitiva exploratoria para definir instauración de la CICIH 
Criterio HN, 18 de marzo de 2022
“El canciller de la República de Honduras, Eduardo Enrique Reina, confirmó que la Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU) respaldará la instalación de la Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Honduras (CICIH) nombrando una comisión exploratoria para definir los mecanismos y su posterior instauración”. 

Human rights officials call for Pegasus spyware ban at El Salvador hearing 
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, March 17, 2022
“Senior human rights officials have repeated calls for a ban on the powerful Isreali spyware Pegasus until safeguards are in place to protect civilians from illegal hacking by governments. Calls for a moratorium on the sale and use of the military-grade spyware were made on Wednesday at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) into widespread unlawful surveillance using Pegasus spyware against journalists and activists in El Salvador.” 

Why we still don’t yet know how bad climate migrations will get 
Umair Irfan, Vox, March 16, 2022
“As sea levels rise, temperatures become unbearable, and disasters grow more severe, tens of millions of people may not be able to stay where they are. Beyond the human toll it will exact, this climate-driven migration is poised to disrupt economic and political stability, which could fuel conflict.” 

Justice for Miskito divers: a turning point for business and human rights standards from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Maysa Zorob and Hector Candray, Open Global Rights
“In August 2021, in a landmark ruling in Miskito Divers v. Honduras, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of 42 members of the Miskito community who sued the State of Honduras over human rights violations resulting from the State’s failure to regulate, supervise, and oversee the practice of dangerous activities by private companies in the deep diving lobster fishing industry.”

ACTIONS, ALERTS, AND RESOURCES

Haitians Being Returned to a Country in Chaos
Human Rights Watch, March 24, 2022
“The United States and all other countries should stop expelling or deporting people to Haiti, where they face a high risk of violence and have no effective access to protection or justice, Human Rights Watch said today. Haiti is suffering alarming levels of killings and kidnappings by gangs that control strategic areas of the country, in a situation compounded by long standing impunity for human rights abuses and crime amid a humanitarian crisis.” 

“Marking two years of illegal, inhumane Title 42 expulsions: Nearly 10,000 violent attacks on asylum seekers and migrants”
Human Rights First, March 17, 2022
“Human Rights First today released new findings on the grave and rising human rights abuses inflicted by the Title 42 policy under the Biden administration. As the Trump-era Title 42 policy approaches its second anniversary on March 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must review by the end of this month its Title 42 order that has been used to evade refugee law.” 

Title 42 ReCast: It’s Biden’s legacy now 
Acast, March 17, 2022
“How hard is it to welcome immigrants with dignity in the US? To bring order, fairness, and humanity to an immigration system built on foundations of white supremacy and racial exclusion? Very hard. Especially when immigration is a voting issue for only one party. The use of Title 42 is the perfect example.” 

Five things to know about the Title 42 immigrant expulsion policy
Leonardo Castañeda, Katie Hoeppner, American Civil Liberties Union, March 2022
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, senior officials under former President Donald Trump seized upon an obscure public health rule as their latest tool for achieving an objective they had been trying for years to accomplish: shutting down the asylum system. On March 20, 2020, under pressure from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mass migrant expulsion order under a legal provision that came to be known as ‘Title 42.’ The order told border officials that they could expel people seeking safety in the United States without giving them any opportunity to explain their fears, even though U.S. law guarantees the right to seek asylum, and prohibits sending people to places they will be persecuted or tortured.”

Network of care for displaced LGBTQ+ people: how the United States can support LGBTQ+ led organizations in Central America and Mexico 
Refugees International, January 27, 2022
“LGBTQ+ people in Central America are often at heightened risk of violence and discrimination, and thousands have fled their home countries in search of international protection. While the United States remains a major destination for displaced LGBTQ+ people, increasingly, more and more LGBTQ+ people on the move are heading to countries within the region to seek protection. Protection systems in the region are improving but need strengthening. LGBTQ+-led organizations in Central America are often leaders in these systems, providing protection, support, and advocacy for and on behalf of LGBTQ+ people in their countries of origin, while on the move, and in their destination countries.”

* 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!