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Migration News Brief for March 4, 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

Covid Live Updates: Appeals Panel Ruling Limits Public-Health Expulsions of Migrant Families at U.S. Border
Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times, March 4, 2022
“New York became the latest city to drop major pandemic restrictions amid the waning of the U.S. Omicron surge. The variant remains a global problem, devastating Hong Kong among other places.”

U.S. Grants Temporary Protected Status to Some Ukrainians
Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times, March 3, 2022
“The Biden administration announced on Thursday it would offer humanitarian relief to Ukrainians who have been living in the country without legal documentation since March 1 or earlier, signaling additional support for citizens of Ukraine as Russia advanced in the south of the country.”

Catastrophic Asylum Program “Remain in Mexico” could get even worse, depending on the Supreme Court
John Washington, The Intercept, March 2, 2022
“Migrants are being detained in squalid conditions in Juárez, Mexico, amid the Biden administration’s court-ordered reboot of the program.”

The U.S. Border Patrol is Broken 
Ari Sawyer, News Week, March 2, 2022
“Those applying to work for Border Patrol are told they will ‘protect our country against illegal activity, narcotics, human trafficking and terrorism.’ Yet there is no credible evidence of terrorists entering through the southern border, according to the U.S. State Department, and about 70 percent of firearms used in crimes in Mexico over the last several years originated in the United States, the world’s leading exporter of conventional weapons. The page doesn’t mention migrants or asylum.”

Bipartisan group of senators ask Biden to shield Ukrainians from deportation
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, February 28, 2022
“A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers asked President Biden on Monday to temporarily shield Ukrainians living in the U.S. from deportation, citing the dangerous conditions in Ukraine, which is under a large-scale Russian military attack. Forty-two senators — 40 Democrats and two Republicans — said the Biden administration should offer Ukrainians in the U.S. access to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian deportation relief program for immigrants whose native countries have been beset by war, natural disasters or other crises.”

Systemic racism is rooted in immigration laws — it can no longer be ignored
Kevin R. Johnson and Karla McKanders, The Hill, February 25, 2022
“The American Bar Association (ABA), the largest national organization of lawyers, has called for an investigation by the U.S. government into the influence of racism and xenophobia on the enforcement of immigration laws. This is a stunning development by a mainstream group of lawyers; the ABA’s actions warrant our full attention.”    

To restore public trust, the CDC must stop legitimizing the expulsion of asylum seekers
Juliana Morris, Stephanie Sun and Rashmi Jasrasaria, STAT, February 24, 2022
“In March 2020, the CDC issued an order invoking two rarely used sections — 265 and 268 — of Title 42 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, which was established in 1944 by the Public Health Service Act. Title 42 grants the government powers to take emergency action to halt the introduction of communicable disease. It’s meant to be used for localized outbreaks, not global pandemics.”

Vast immigration surveillance program in dire need of reform, Biden administration warned
Johana Bhuiyan, The Guardian, February 23, 2022
“US lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to reduce the number of immigrants enrolled in a controversial surveillance program and rethink the US government’s exclusive contract with the private company managing the program.”

Mounting Backlogs Undermine U.S. Immigration System and Impede Biden Policy Changes
Muzaffar Chishti and Julia Gelatt, Migration Policy Institute, February 23, 2022
“The Biden administration is seeking to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, expanding protections to hundreds of thousands of immigrants and embarking on a plan to restructure the asylum process at the U.S.-Mexico border. But ever-swelling backlogs in immigration applications and court hearings have slowed legal immigration, threatened to undermine the integrity of the system as a whole, and could jeopardize the success of the Biden immigration agenda.”

More Russians, Ukrainians seek asylum at U.S.-Mexico border
Dasha Afanasieva, Ted Hesson and Kristina Cooke, Reuters, March 4, 2022
“A growing number of Russians and Ukrainians are traveling to Mexico, buying throwaway cars and driving across the border into the United States to seek asylum, a trend that could accelerate as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced more than a million people to flee their homes.”

MEXICAN ENFORCEMENT

Tapachula, migrants open prison city reaches boiling point in Mexico
John Manuel White, La Prensa Latina, March 2, 2022
“Lawyer Jose Luis Perez Jimenez explains to Efe that Tapachula city has become a ‘mega-prison’ for thousands of stranded migrants amid the slow actions to finish the migratory paperwork by the National Institute of Migration (INM) and the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR). Meanwhile, the Mexican government has deployed thousands of troops on its borders in a bid to contain the migration waves that have overwhelmed the region for years. Activists and international organizations such as the United Nations have criticized the use of force to stop a number of migrant caravans that attempted to leave Tapachula during the last three months of 2021.”

Rodeados por Migración y la Guardia Nacional mexicana, más de 150 cubanos piden no ser deportados
Cibercuba, 3 de marzo de 2022
“Elementos policiales y del Instituto Nacional de Migración de México rodearon a un grupo de al menos 150 cubanos que se encuentran encerrados en una bodega en Tapachula, estado de Chiapas, y ruegan a las autoridades que no los regresen a la isla”.

México: Enviarán 2,000 soldados más a la capital de Tamaulipas
Al Día Dallas, 3 de marzo de 2022
“El alcalde de Ciudad Victoria, Eduardo Gattás Báez, anunció hoy que se reforzará la seguridad de la capital del estado de Tamaulipas con la llegada de más de 2,000 militares y la construcción de dos cuarteles en el municipio, uno del Ejército y otro de la Guardia Nacional”.

Consulado mexicano pide justicia tras el descubrimiento de tres migrantes muertos en Arizona
Al Día Dallas, 28 de febrero de 2022
“A través de un comunicado, el consulado mexicano en esa ciudad dijo que la policía local encontró los cadáveres en un terreno baldío y con signos de trauma el pasado 20 de febrero. ‘Las tres personas son de nacionalidad mexicana, nacidas en Oaxaca’, según el comunicado. Asimismo, el consulado agregó que mantiene comunicación con los familiares de las víctimas, con el objeto de brindar asistencia, como las gestiones necesarias para la eventual repatriación de los restos’”.

ROOT CAUSES 

Guatemala’s youth pay the high cost of mass emigration
Ignacio Marín, Equal Times, March 4, 2022
“Migration doesn’t just affect those who leave but also those who stay behind. Like José and his wife, half of all Central American migrants leave behind a son or daughter (according to a recent report by the Inter-American Development Bank). When parents leave, children are often left in the care of relatives, usually grandmothers or older sisters, who often don’t have the time, energy or ability needed to raise them. Many children are left to fend for themselves alone in the streets.”

‘Abandons its people’: Guatemala’s malnutrition crisis deepens
Jeff Abbott, Al Jazeera, March 3, 2022
“Overall, Guatemala has one of the world’s highest rates of child malnutrition, with nearly half of children under five suffering from chronic malnutrition, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In some rural communities, that number is reportedly as high as 80 percent.”

Guatemala, S.O.S.
Carlos Castresana Fernández, Infolibre, 2 de marzo de 2022 
“Centroamérica fue uno de los teatros de operaciones más violentos de la Guerra Fría. Durante décadas, los conflictos armados de la región se cobraron centenares de miles de vidas de civiles indefensos sacrificados por la sinrazón de Estado, principalmente en El Salvador y Guatemala, con el propósito de impedir a cualquier precio el triunfo de las guerrillas que replicaban el modelo sandinista de Nicaragua”.

More rights defenders murdered in 2021, with 138 activists killed just in Colombia
Karen McVeigh, The Guardian, March 2, 2022
“The majority of those killed, 59%, worked on land, environmental and indigenous rights, where their activities disrupted the economic interests of corporations and individuals in mining, logging and other extractive industries.”

Cancillería informa que otros cuatro hondureños fueron pedidos en extradición por EEUU
El Herald, 2 de marzo de 2022
“La Cancillería hondureña informó este miércoles que ha remitido a la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ) la solicitud de capturar a cuatro personas que estarían siendo pedidas en extradición por las autoridades de Estados Unidos”.

OIM Apoyará A Honduras Para Impulsar Una Política Migratoria 
Vanessa, Confidencial HN, 1 de marzo de 2022
“La Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM) apoyará al Gobierno de Honduras a impulsar una política migratoria que contribuya a coordinar esfuerzos de las instituciones estatales que velan por este fenómeno, informó este martes una fuente oficial. Una delegación de la OIM, encabezada por el jefe de misión para Guatemala y Honduras de esa organización, Jorge Peraza, se reunió en las últimas horas con Héctor Manuel Zelaya, secretario privado de la presidenta hondureña, Xiomara Castro, indicó la Secretaría de Prensa del país centroamericano en un comunicado”.

Congreso Nacional deroga por unanimidad la “Ley de Secretos Oficiales” 
La Prensa, 1 de marzo de 2022 
“El Congreso Nacional derogó este martes por unanimidad de votos la Ley para la Clasificación de Documentos Públicos relacionados con la Seguridad y la Defensa Nacional después de convertirse en una herramienta para ocultar la información. Se espera que con esta derogación se desmonte el blindaje que impedía la lucha contra corrupción y la impunidad de Honduras”. 

‘A door of hope has opened.’ A fresh start for justice in Honduras?
Anna-Catherine Brigida and Whitney Eulich, The Christian Monitor, March 1, 2022 
“Despite the celebrations, this moment is bittersweet. Extradition is a tool that’s been used in the region by the U.S. since the 1970s to take often ‘untouchable’ politicians and drug traffickers and try them in a system that’s less susceptible to the local threats, bribes, and political maneuvering back home. But with Mr. Hernández’s extradition on the table, many in Honduras are imagining a different possibility: justice for high-profile criminals within Honduran borders.”

In Guatemala, A Fresh Crackdown on Prosecutors
Tyler Mattiace and Juan Pappier, Americas Quarterly, February 28, 2022
“Following the most recent corruption allegations against Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, Attorney General Consuelo Porras issued a new round of arrest warrants for anti-corruption prosecutors from her own office, which had been investigating the president and other high-level officials. Some are now behind bars. Many others have resigned or fled the country.”

Honduras se declara territorio libre de minería a cielo abierto
Criterio.HN, 28 de febrero de 2022
“En un breve y algo sorpresivo comunicado de prensa emitido por la Secretaría de Energía, Recursos Naturales, Ambiente y Minas (Mi Ambiente), se declaró ‘todo el territorio hondureño libre de minería a cielo abierto’. Fue una promesa de la presidenta Xiomara Castro, quien durante su discurso inaugural prometió: ‘No más permisos de minas abiertas o explotación de nuestros minerales, no más concesiones en la explotación de nuestros ríos, cuencas hidrográficas, nuestros parques nacionales y bosques nublados’”.

Remesas Enviadas A Honduras Crecieron En Un 23,5% Interanual En Enero
Vanessa, Confidencial HN, 28 de febrero de 2022
“’Las remesas son la principal fuente de divisas del país, por encima de las exportaciones como el café, los productos de la maquila, el camarón y otros’, detalla el documento. La recepción de remesas en Honduras se remonta a la emigración masiva de nacionales de ese país tras el devastador paso del huracán Mitch por Centroamérica a finales de 1998”.

Honduras – Castro requests UN-backed anti-corruption commission
Boz and Lucy Hale, Latin American Risk Report, February 28, 2022
“A new anti-corruption commission is needed to counter the state capture by criminal organizations including those managed by the former president. But real anti-corruption work will look at everyone.”

Sivargirls: la red de 16,000 hombres que compartía contenido íntimo de mujeres salvadoreñas 
Melissa Soriano, Revista Factum, 27 de febrero de 2022
“El grupo “Sivargirls” en Reddit, un foro de noticias sociales para difundir contenido, superaba los 16,000 miembros para enero de 2022. Su funcionamiento se basaba en intercambios de fotografías y videos de sus ex parejas o de cuentas de OnlyFans de mujeres salvadoreñas. Esta última plataforma fue creada para compartir contenido y obtener suscriptores con una mensualidad pagada”.

El Salvador’s former president charged over 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests
The Guardian, February 26, 2022
“Prosecutors in El Salvador have charged the former president Alfredo Cristiani over the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests that sparked international outrage. Prosecutors also announced charges against a dozen other people, including former military officers, over the massacre. The list of charges will apparently include murder, terrorism and conspiracy.”

China Expands Influence in Central America
Jie Xi, Voice of America, February 23, 2022 
“China’s interest is driven in part by its rivalry for diplomatic recognition with Taiwan, a self-governing island which has claimed to be the legitimate government of China since the communist victory on the mainland in 1949. But Beijing is also open about its ambition to supplant the United States as the world’s dominant power.”

Local head of Guatemala’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office arrested
Sofia Menchú, Reuters, February 23, 2022
“The head of a local branch of Guatemala’s Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) was arrested on Wednesday over allegations of abuse of authority and other charges, authorities said.The arrest comes days after a string of resignations and arrests of other anti-corruption officials amid a brewing political crisis.”

La COVID-19 Fue la Principal Causa de muertes maternas en 2021
José David López Vicente, Agencia Ocote, 23 de febrero de 2022 
“Desde 1989, cuando empezaron a realizarse los análisis sobre la mortalidad materna en Guatemala, la hemorragia había sido siempre la principal causa de muerte. Eso cambió el año pasado. En 2021, la COVID-19 fue el motivo por el que más mujeres fallecieron durante el embarazo, el parto o el puerperio (el periodo que empieza luego del nacimiento hasta el regreso de la menstruación)”.

Bukele’s Plan — Launching National Cryptocurrency by Year’s End
Sergio Arauz, Nelson Rauda and Roman Gressier, El Faro, July 16, 2021
“​​The Bukele administration has been planning to launch a national stablecoin cryptocurrency, which it preliminarily called ‘Colón-Dollar,’ by the end of this year. The move would restore a key element of monetary policy which the country lost when it adopted the U.S. Dollar in 2001: the ability to issue national currency. The government’s plan also includes the use of blockchain technology to digitize a wide array of public and private documents, including personal ID cards and property deeds.”

ACTIONS, ALERTS, AND RESOURCES

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: “Remain in Mexico” hearing, Tamaulipas violence, State of the Union
Adam Isacson, Washington Office on Latin America, March 4, 2022
“With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Panama’s Role in Regional Migration Management
Center for Democracy in the Americas, March 2022
“In December 2021, the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) undertook a 10-day mission to the Republic of Panama, the geographical bottleneck and harbinger of migratory movements heading north to the United States and, to a lesser degree, to Canada. CDA sought to understand how Panama is contending with the challenges arising from the increasing number of people arriving in and through Panama. CDA also sought to explore the impact of U.S. policy on them at every stage of their journey, with a view to promoting a more compassionate, informed, and effective set of U.S. policies in the Americas.”

Witness Radio: A Radio About Immigration
Witness Radio, February 28, 2022
“The past two years have brought the world changes never imagined: a global pandemic; the lockdowns and the losses; the border closures and the politics of avoiding illness, even death. But throughout it all, there is one thing that hasn’t skipped a bear: the US Deportation Machine.” 

The Latest: Changes to the Asylum System Under the Biden Administration
Women’s Refugee Commission, February 28, 2022
“The Biden administration has committed to not only undoing the harms of the previous administration but also improving the US immigration system, which has long endured systemic issues that prevent immigrants from exercising their rights and being treated with dignity. This document summarizes the Biden administration’s efforts thus far to dismantle—or maintain—immigration policies and standards amid a changing US-Mexico border situation.”

South American Immigrants in the United States
Jane Lorenzi and Jeanne Batalova, Migration Policy Institute, February 16, 2022
“More recently, the United States has become an emerging destination for Venezuelans. Most of the nearly 6 million Venezuelans who make up Latin America’s largest exodus in recent years remain in other countries in South America, particularly Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. However, economic devastation amid the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with changing political winds in some of these host countries has prompted a small but growing number of Venezuelans to move onward again, often towards the United States.”

Mexico Migration Situation Report, January-February 2022
UNICEF
“Situation reports are the main reporting tool to monitor UNICEF’s humanitarian response.  They provide an update on the situation and needs of children in a country or region, as well as information on UNICEF’s response and funding requirements


* 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!