Migration News Brief for March 31, 2023

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Lost Rights: One Year Under Bukele’s State of Emergency
Yadira Sánchez-Esparza, Latin America Working Group, March 27, 2023
“It isn’t safe to go outside—a thought crossing the minds of Salvadorans across the country as news broke on March 27, 2022 that gang violence had killed over 60 people, including innocent vendors, bus passengers, and shoppers. Later it would be revealed that this horrific event was a result of a breakdown of covert negotiations between the Bukele Administration and gangs. That same day, a state of emergency was imposed by the Bukele Administration to curb outbursts of violence.”

Los derechos perdidos: Un año bajo el estado de excepción de Bukele
Yadira Sánchez-Esparza, Latin America Working Group, 27 de marzo de 2023
“No es seguro salir—un pensamiento que cruzó la mente de los salvadoreños en todo el país cuando enterraron el 27 de marzo de 2022 que la violencia de pandillas había matado a más de 60 personas, incluyendo los  vendedores inocentes, los pasajeros de autobuses y compradores. Más tarde se revelaría que este horrible evento fue el resultado del colapso de las negociaciones secretas entre la administración Bukele y las pandillas. Ese mismo día, la administración de Bukele estableció el estado de excepción para limitar la violencia.”

Action Alert: State of Exception in El Salvador
Yadira Sánchez-Esparza, Latin America Working Group, 31 de marzo de 2023
“Dear LAWGista, This week marks one year of El Salvador’s state of emergency. It has been extended in El Salvador 11 times. In only 12 months we have seen countless human rights violations, increased militarization and the construction of one of the largest prisons in the world. All under the guise of protecting the people. Over 65,000 people have been arrested on gang-related charges, including children as young as 12. Thousands have been arbitrarily detained, some just on the basis of having tattoos, wearing the wrong cap, or just living in a poor neighborhood. Over 120 people have died in custody.”

U.S. Enforcement

Proposed Asylum “Transit Ban” Rule Violates Law, Endangers the Vulnerable, and Undermines U.S. Interests – WOLA
Sergio Ortiz Borbolla, WOLA, March 22, 2023
“On February 21, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice introduced a draft rule (“Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”) that would deny the legal right to seek asylum to many migrants who passed through other countries on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border and did not first seek asylum in those countries.The rule would partially shut down, to a historic and legally questionable extent, the right to seek asylum upon reaching U.S. soil, a legal right that was laid out in Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and in the 1951 Refugee Convention.”

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: Reduced February migration, 2024 budget, Ciudad Juárez incident
Adam Isacson, WOLA, March 17, 2023
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published data on March 15 showing that, after declining 40 percent from December to January, the number of migrants whom U.S. authorities encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border remained similar in February. (See WOLA’s February 17 Border Update for a discussion of the January decline.)”

Stricter U.S. migration controls keep illegal border crossings at 2-year low — for now – CBS News
Camilo Montoya-Glavez, CBS News, March 14, 2023
“Unlawful crossings along the U.S. southern border in February remained at a two-year low for the second consecutive month, illustrating the dent that stricter policies enacted by President Biden this year have made on the unprecedented migration flows recorded since he took office.”

El caso de Gabriel Cuen, el migrante mexicano que murió por un disparo en el rancho fronterizo de un granjero en Arizona – BBC News Mundo
Atahualpa Amerise, BBC News, 14 de marzo 2023
“Buaysiacobe es un pueblo de campesinos de poco más de 4.000 habitantes en el sur del estado mexicano de Sonora, a unas 8 horas por carretera de la frontera con Estados Unidos. Allí nació hace 48 años Gabriel Cuen Buitimea, en una vivienda hecha de adobe donde aún viven su madre, su viuda, y algunos de sus seis hermanos”.

Mexico Enforcement 

A deadly Mexico immigration center fire shows just a sliver of the abuse migrants
Vanessa Romo, National Public Radio, March 30, 2023
“A surveillance video of the fire that killed at least 40 people at an immigration processing center in Ciudad Juárez on Monday night appears to show detainees trapped in a locked cell as uniformed immigration agents are seen walking away. Over the 32-second clip, officials appear to ignore the men behind bars, as well as the flames that are quickly engulfing them. No agents attempts to free the men, some of whom can be seen kicking and yanking on a cell door before the screen is completely obscured by dense smoke.”

AMLO accuses media of ‘sensationalism’ after deadly Mexico migrant fire
Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, March 29, 2023
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lashed out at reporters who asked questions about a fire that killed 38 immigrants inside a government-run immigration facility in Ciudad Juarez this week. During a press conference Wednesday, Lopez Obrador accused journalists of “sensationalizing” the incident for personal gain and operating by a different standard than they did under previous presidents.”

Factbox: Deadly tragedies involving migrants crossing Mexico | Reuters
Reuters, March 29, 2023
“At least 38 migrants died in the Mexican northern border city of Ciudad Juarez after a fire broke at a migrant detention centeron Monday. The blaze was one of the deadliest in the country in years, and is the latest in a string of fatal accidents for migrants as the U.S. and Mexico grapple with record levels of border crossings. What follows are other cases, beginning with the most recent, in which groups of migrants have died trying to reach the United States.”

Mexico: Migrants lit mattresses in protest; fire killed 39 | AP News
María Verza, AP News, March 28, 2023
“Migrants fearing deportation set mattresses ablaze at an immigration detention center in northern Mexico, starting a fire that killed at least 40 people, the president said Tuesday, in one of the deadliest events ever at a Mexican immigration lockup. Hours after the fire broke out late Monday, rows of bodies were laid out under shimmery silver sheets outside the facility in Ciudad Juarez, which is across from El Paso, Texas, and a major crossing point for migrants. Ambulances, firefighters and vans from the morgue swarmed the scene.”

Root Causes


Mexico Has a Path to Meet Its Climate Pledges
Luisa Palacios and Diego Rivera Rivota, Americas Quarterly, March 20, 2023
“Whether Mexico, the world’s 14th largest economy, achieves its climate commitments is of relevance not only for the next president’s international and domestic credibility and the country’s future competitiveness. It is also of global relevance. Mexico is the 12th largest crude oil exporter (the second largest crude exporter to the U.S.), and among greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters it sits at number 14. And in terms of methane, believed to be significantly more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is among the 10 largest emitters in the world. Despite Mexico’s global relevance, it is the only G-20 country that has yet to pledge a net-zero emissions goal, something that more than 130 countries have already committed to.”

Exclusive: Amid U.S. pressure on fentanyl, Mexico raises drug lab raids data | Reuters
Drazen Jorgic, Jackie Botts and Stephen Eisenhammer, Reuters, March 17, 2023
“Mexico’s army has dramatically revised upward the number of drug lab raids it says it conducted under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, according to government data and leaked military documents reviewed by Reuters.”


Las impactantes imágenes de la contaminación de un río en Guatemala – BBC News Mundo
Marita Moloney, BBC News, 24 de marzo de 2023
“La Conferencia de la ONU sobre el Agua 2023 se lleva a cabo en Nueva York esta semana, la primera cumbre sobre el tema en casi 50 años, donde miles de delegados se congregan para discutir la crisis global de agua que se cierne sobre el mundo debido al exceso del consumo y desarrollo”.

Indigenous Leaders Are Being Forced Into Exile | The Nation
María Inés Taracena, The Nation, March 23, 2023
“This violence is happening across Indigenous territories in Guatemala. In El Estor, Izabal, Q’eqchi’ communities continue to resist a destructive nickel mine despite growing state militarization, killings, and arrests. And in the region of Quiché, Ixil Indigenous leaders are fighting against hydroelectric dams, illegal logging, and deforestation under the same threats.”

El Salvador

El Salvador state of emergency
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, March 28, 2023
“The state of emergency has now been in force in El Salvador for a year – a year during which the authorities have taken several measures that raise serious human rights concerns. An initial month-long state of emergency was introduced on 27 March 2022 and has since been regularly renewed. We understand the serious challenges posed by gang violence, and the State’s duty to ensure security. However, it is the State’s duty to do so in compliance with international human rights law.”

Salvadorans demand release of innocents jailed in anti-gang sweep
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, March 28, 2023
“Several hundred people in El Salvador took to the streets on Tuesday to protest the year-long anti-gang policies of President Nayib Bukele, many demanding the release of relatives they say have been unjustly caught up in the sweeping dragnet. In the capital San Salvador, many chanted ‘freedom for the innocent,’ in a march on Congress that attracted an estimated 500 protesters, according to organizer Samuel Ramirez.”

El Salvador’s State of Exception Turns One
Katherine Funes, NACLA, March 27, 2023
“Today marks one year since the start of a state of exception in El Salvador. President Nayib Bukele introduced the state of exception as a means to combat gang violence following 62 gang-perpetrated homicideson March 26, 2022, the sharpest spike in the country’s recent history. Following the adoption of the state of emergency, it was revealed that the killings were authorized by gang leaders as a result of their dissatisfaction with long-standing secret negotiations with the Bukele administration.”

“Antes estábamos sitiados”: los barrios que se reencuentran en El Salvador tras la “desaparición” de las pandillas por la guerra de Bukele – BBC News Mundo
Marcos González Díaz, BBC News, 27 de marzo de 2023
“Es jueves en la tarde y dos equipos de adolescentes del municipio de Soyapango, en El Salvador, juegan a fútbol. Podría parecer una escena de lo más común ya que ambos grupos viven en dos barrios de la misma ciudad. Sin embargo, es la primera vez que ocurre en décadas. El motivo de su alejamiento eran las fronteras invisibles que las pandillas de El Salvador impusieron históricamente en sus territorios y cuyos límites, sabían los vecinos de cada lugar, no podían cruzar para no entrar en zona contraria”.

Más de 23 mil salvadoreños podrán ser beneficiados con programa de Movilidad Laboral
Redacción Diario La Página, 22 de marzo de 2023
“Por medio del programa de Movilidad Laboral impulsado por el Gobierno de Nayib Bukele, más de 23 mil salvadoreños podrán ser colocados en empresas en el exterior, donde desempeñarán diferentes trabajos según las competencias de cada perfil. La nueva jornada de entrevistas se está desarrollando este miércoles con el objetivo de determinar a los candidatos para trabajar de manera temporal y dar una oportunidad de migración legal y segura a los salvadoreños y que puedan tener experiencia laboral fuera de las fronteras”.

“If the FMLN runs for the presidency, it is doing Bukele’s bidding”
Julia Gavarrete, El Faro, March 22, 2023
“The Frente will not die, but it is and will be irrelevant for the foreseeable future. It has an internal fissure that has profoundly weakened it. Those who think that it will begin a process of recovery are lost. The Frente’s main role right now is not in the elections.”


Honduras must transform political will into concrete action to tackle enforced disappearances: UN experts
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, March 30, 2023
The government’s political will to tackle the issue of enforced disappearances in Honduras must be transformed into concrete action, UN experts said today. ‘Honduras must step up efforts to ensure the rights of victims of enforced disappearances in the areas of truth, justice, reparation and memory,’ a delegation of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said in a statement  at the end of an official visit to the country.”

Presidenta Castro llama a combatir la piratería moderna plasmada en las ZEDE durante Cumbre Iberoamericana » Criterio.hn
Marcia Perdomo, Criterio.hn, 27 de marzo de 2023
“La presidenta Xiomara Castro hizo alusión al combate de la piratería moderna, plasmada en la figura de las ciudades privadas, conocidas en Honduras como Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico (ZEDE). La mención fue realizada durante su discurso en la XXVIII Cumbre Iberoamericana de Jefas y Jefes de Estado de Gobierno, que se desarrolló el viernes 24 y sábado 25 de marzo en República Dominicana”.

Presentan propuesta de Ley para prevenir e investigar la tortura » Criterio.hn
Breidy Hernández, Criterio.hn, 22 de marzo de 2023
“La tortura y tratos inhumanos se han convertido en una constante de los entes armados del Estado al momento de las detenciones, cometiendo violaciones a los derechos humanos. El Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento Y Rehabilitación de las Víctimas de Tortura y sus Familiares (CPTRT), socializó la propuesta de Ley para Prevenir, Investigar y Sancionar la Tortura y otros tratos o penas crueles o inhumanos o degradantes con el objetivo que se respete la integridad personal del detenido o privado de libertad”.

Policía criminaliza y acusa a campesina de ser parte de una organización terrorista » Criterio.hn
Marcia Perdomo, Criterio.hn, 17 de marzo de 2023
“La intimidación, persecución, criminalización contra la Red de Mujeres Campesinas Las Galileas, escaló un peldaño más y se les calificó de terroristas. Esta vez, en un claro discurso que recuerda el utilizado por las fuerzas de seguridad durante el régimen de Juan Orlando Hernández, se expuso con bombos y platillos ante los medios de comunicación a una lideresa campesina como la cabecilla de ‘una banda criminal’”.

El “efecto Bukele”: el controvertido estado de excepción vigente en Honduras para luchar contra la delincuencia (y cómo influye la situación en El Salvador) – BBC News Mundo
José Carlos Cueto, BBC News, 13 de marzo de 2023
“En la noche del 6 de marzo, nueve cuerpos baleados aparecieron tirados en la comunidad hondureña de El Portillo de la Mora. Solo una persona sobrevivió. La policía dijo que las víctimas fueron emboscadas y ejecutadas por delincuentes. Esa fue la novena masacre del año en Honduras y el detonante para que la presidenta Xiomara Castro explotara contra la Secretaría de Seguridad”.


Migrantes en Los Ángeles, entre la apatía y desinformación – Prensa Comunitaria
Regina Peréz, Prensa Comunitaria, febrero 24 de 2023
“La contienda electoral de 2023 será la segunda ocasión en que las personas guatemaltecas en el extranjero podrán emitir su voto, eligiendo a presidente y vicepresidente. La conquista del voto migrante no fue fácil y las elecciones de 2019 fueron apenas el primer intento para que los connacionales en Estados Unidos pudieran ejercer este derecho. Prensa Comunitaria contactó a migrantes de Guatemala que residen en Los Ángeles, California, para conocer su opinión sobre el proceso electoral que se desarrolla en Guatemala”.

Gender and LGBTQ+

El emblemático caso de Beatriz, la mujer a la que El Salvador le prohibió el aborto hace 10 años pese a que el embarazo era inviable – BBC News Mundo
Valentina Oropeza Colmenares, BBC News, 22 de marzo 2023
“Se le negó finalmente la interrupción del embarazo y su caso se volvió un emblema de la lucha por los derechos reproductivos en uno de los países más duros contra el aborto, donde se castiga con penas de cárcel a la mujer y al personal médico que participe en un procedimiento de ese tipo”.

Human rights court begins review of high-stakes El Salvador abortion case 
Reuters, March 22, 2023
“The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Wednesday began hearing the historic case of a Salvadoran woman who was denied an abortion in 2013 despite doctors’ calls to terminate her high-risk pregnancy. The case of the woman, a domestic worker known only as Beatriz, became a symbol of El Salvador’s blanket ban on abortion, which punishes with prison time those who undergo the procedure and those who perform or assist in it.”

Organizaciones de mujeres piden a nueva CSJ despenalizar el aborto
Breidy Hernández, Criterio.hn, 21 de marzo de 2023
“Las organizaciones de mujeres y feministas mantienen lucha para revertir la decisión de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ), que declaró sin lugar el recurso de inconstitucionalidad en contra del artículo 67 de la Constitución de la República de Honduras y el 194 del Código Penal presentado al Poder Judicial el 13 de abril de 2021”.

Mecanismo de la OEA celebra aprobación de la PAE en Honduras
Jorge Brugos, Criterio.hn, 21 de marzo de 2023
“El Comité de Expertas del Mecanismo de Seguimiento de la Convención Interamericana para Prevenir, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia contra la Mujer “Convención de Belém do Pará” (MESECVI) saluda la decisión del gobierno de Honduras de permitir el libre uso y comercialización de la pastilla anticonceptiva de emergencia (PAE)”.

Cada 20 horas matan a una mujer en Honduras
Yony Bustillo, El Heraldo, 8 de marzo de 2023
“En el marco del Día Internacional de la Mujer, que se conmemora este 8 de marzo, el Observatorio Nacional de la Violencia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (ONV-UNAH) presentó su boletín infográfico número 14. En análisis denominado “Muerte Violenta de Mujeres y Femicidios en Honduras” evidencia que del 1 de enero al 19 de febrero de 2023, un total de 58 mujeres fueron ejecutadas en 16 de los 18 departamentos de Honduras”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

Messaging Guidance: Fire in Juarez
Haitian Bridge Alliance, March 29, 2023
“Below please find suggested messaging and digital guidance from first response partners in El Paso and beyond who are working directly with burn victims, their families, and authorities on the ground. All organizations have their own messaging approach; these are simply suggestions to guide your respective teams as we push back on the harmful narrative.”