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Migration News Brief 5.29.20

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Migration News Brief for May 29, 2020 

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: Xavier Donat/Flickr



Spread of coronavirus fuels corruption in Latin America
Joshua Goodman, Associated Press, May 27, 2020
“From Argentina to Panama, a number of officials have been forced to resign as reports of fraudulent purchases of ventilators, masks and other medical supplies pile up. The thefts are driven by price-gouging from manufacturers and profiteering by politically connected middlemen who see the crisis as an opportunity for graft.”

Coronavirus: What are the numbers out of Latin America?
Jake Horton, BBC, May 27, 2020
“The first confirmed case in Latin America was identified in Brazil on 26 February, although researchers have said there are indications that there were cases there as early as January. Coronavirus has since spread to every country in the region. More than 750,000 cases have been recorded, and more than 40,000 people have died, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Global report: WHO says the Americas are centre of pandemic as cases surge
The Guardian, May 27, 2020
“The Americas have registered more than 2.4 million cases of the new coronavirus and more than 143,000 deaths from the resulting Covid-19 respiratory disease. Within this area, Latin America has passed Europe and the United States in daily infections”

Coronavirus ravages indigenous communities in Latin America
La Prensa Latina, May 22, 2020
“The Covid-19 pandemic is cutting a swath through indigenous communities in Latin America left vulnerable by poverty and long-standing official neglect. The novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 335,000 people worldwide, represents a particular threat to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, as the health-care systems of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru buckle under the weight of caring for so many desperately ill people.”

In the developing world, the coronavirus is killing far more young people
Terrence McCoy, Heloísa Traiano, The Washington Post, May 22, 2020
“As the coronavirus escalates its assault on the developing world, the victim profile is beginning to change. The young are dying of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at rates unseen in wealthier countries — a development that further illustrates the unpredictable nature of the disease as it pushes into new cultural and geographic landscapes.”

Violence against women has not slowed during the pandemic
María Luz Nóchez, Valeria Guzmán, El Faro, May 22, 2020
“For some women, obeying the stay-at-home order has proved lethal, yet addressing this problem has not been a priority in El Salvador—the country which, in 2018, registered the highest levels of violence against women in the world. In the time of Covid-19, the institutions created to address violence against women have failed to take swift and effective action on behalf of victims.”

United States

Coronavirus on the border
Kevin Seiff, The Washington Post, May 27, 2020
“As Mexico’s health-care system has strained under the coronavirus, small community hospitals in Southern California, some of the poorest in the state, have been flooded with Americans who have fallen ill and crossed the border. They are retirees and dual citizens, Americans working in Mexico or visiting family there.”

Family separation returns under cover of coronavirus
Molly O’ Toole, Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2020
“U.S. officials are fighting in court to take the three children and deport them to El Salvador — to no one. The only way to avoid being separated from their parents, officials say, would be for their mother in Mexico to give up, too. Government lawyers said they’d put her on a plane with the kids if she agreed to return to El Salvador and never again try to join her husband in the U.S.”

Federal immigration agency to furlough employees unless Congress provides funding
Geneva Sands, Phil Mattingly, CNN, May 26, 2020
“US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency responsible for visa and asylum processing, is expected to furlough part of its workforce this summer if Congress doesn’t provide emergency funding to sustain operations during the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Unfortunately, as of now, without congressional intervention, the agency will need to administratively furlough a portion of our employees on approximately July 20,” USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow wrote in a letter sent to the workforce on Tuesday.’”

U.S. meatpacking industry relies on immigrant workers. But a labor shortage looms
Stephen Groves and Sophia Tareen, Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2020
“The brothers, who declined to be identified for fear of workplace retaliation, are among roughly 175,000 immigrants in U.S. meatpacking jobs. The industry has historically relied on foreign-born workers — from refugees to people who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas — for some of America’s most dangerous jobs.”

An Immigrant Man In ICE Custody Died After Contracting The Coronavirus
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, May 25, 2020
“A 34-year-old Guatemalan man who tested positive for COVID-19 died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at a Georgia hospital on Sunday, according to an internal government report obtained by BuzzFeed News. Santiago Baten-Oxlaj, 34, had been in ICE custody at Stewart Detention Center, in Lumpkin, since early March and had been granted a voluntary departure to Guatemala, ICE later confirmed in a press release.”

How ICE Is Spreading Coronavirus Across the US
David Noriega, Jika Gonzalez, Vice News, May 25, 2020
“Immigrant advocates have long complained of excessive transfers between ICE facilities, which they say makes it difficult for detainees to reach their families and attorneys. Now they’re decrying the practice for the additional danger it presents during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Fallece migrante guatemalteco contagiado de coronavirus en Centro de Detención de Georgia
Jorge Ovalle, Prensa Libre, 24 de Mayo, 2020
“Se trata del primer caso identificado de un guatemalteco que muere después de ser contagiado de coronavirus en dicho centro de detención. Baten ingresó al centro de detención el 20 de febrero de 2,020 y estaba a la espera de ser deportado”.

El Salvador

Human Rights Watch: Bukele ha privilegiado el aspecto punitivo para enfrentar la pandemia
Eugenia Velázques, elsalvador.com, 25 de mayo de 2020
“La forma en cómo el gobierno de El Salvador ha manejado la pandemia es un “caso atípico”, señaló esta mañana el director de la División de las Américas de Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, en una entrevista vía Skype en Frente a Frente. En América Latina es el único país que ha “privilegiado el aspecto punitivo sobre todo”, mencionó Vivanco. “Las medidas del gobierno de El Salvador por la pandemia han sido normas punitivas más que preventivas”, apuntó”.

As hunger spreads under lockdown, Guatemalans and Salvadorans raise white flag
Sofia Menchu, Nelson Renteria, Reuters, May 21, 2020
“Food protests have broken out in countries including Venezuela and Chile. El Salvador and neighboring Guatemala, two of the poorest countries in the Americas, have borne some of the strictest quarantine measures. In towns and villages across the two countries, hundreds of signs have gone up asking for food, and people have taken to the streets to wave white flags in distress.”

ONU pide a Gobierno salvadoreño respeto a la ley y proporción contra pandemia
Proceso Digital, 19 de Mayo, 2020
“La ONU reclamó este martes al Gobierno de El Salvador que las medidas para combatir el coronavirus sean siempre legales, proporcionadas y que busquen el menor impacto posible para la población, y expresó su preocupación por algunos mensajes lanzados por autoridades del país. ‘El secretario general urge a todos los actores políticos a actuar de forma responsable, con pleno respeto por los derechos humanos, las instituciones democráticas y el Estado de derecho’, señaló el portavoz de António Guterres, Stéphane Dujarric, durante su conferencia de prensa diaria”.


OPS advierte que hay una aceleración de contagios de covid-19 en Guatemala
Alex Fernando Rojas, Prensa Libre, 27 de Mayo, 2020
“En Guatemala se espera que esta semana haya una “aceleración” de contagios de covid-19, según los modelos de proyección de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS). Ayer en conferencia de prensa la directora de la OPS, Carissa F. Ettiene, explicó que aunque los modelos tienen sus limitaciones, sí son herramientas que pronostican escenarios en situaciones complejas, en esa línea, Guatemala, México y El Salvador la pandemia sigue en una fase creciente de contagios”.

More than 200 COVID-19 infections at Guatemala textile plant
Sonia Pérez, The Washington Post, May 25, 2020
“More than 200 workers at an export-focused textile plant in Guatemala have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and more results are pending in what could be one of the country’s largest outbreaks, officials said Monday. Zulma Calderon, the health prosecutor for Guatemala’s Human Rights prosecutor’s office, said they began receiving reports in early May that infected workers were continuing to work at the K.P. Textile plant in San Miguel Petapa and the company wasn’t taking protective measures.”

Guatemalan president criticizes US over lack of COVID-19 assistance
Larry Luxner, Atlantic Council, May 21, 2020
“Giammattei said his government continues to have “serious issues” with the Trump administration’s deportation of migrants to Guatemala—many of them sick with COVID-19. ‘Our hospitals have limited capacity, but now we have to treat these patients infected with a disease that didn’t originate here,’ he said. ‘This creates such a burden for us.’”


Alarmante número de menores deportados en medio de cuarentena
Radio Progreso, 25 de Mayo, 2020
“De acuerdo al Programa Binacional de Niñez Migrante, que coordina la Coordinadora de Instituciones Privadas Pro las Niñas, Niños, Adolescentes, Jóvenes y sus Derechos, Red Coiproden, de enero hasta el 22 de mayo 2020, un total de 2,408 niños y niñas hondureños han sido deportados de México y la Frontera Sur de Estados Unidos”.

Sobrevivir al agresor y a la pandemia en Honduras
Vienna Herrera, Contra Corriente, 22 de Mayo, 2020
“La pandemia por COVID-19 que confinó al país desde el 17 de marzo, encerró también a muchas mujeres con sus agresores. Analistas señalan que las conductas violentas de muchos hombres incrementaron por el aislamiento y aunque aumentaron las denuncias por violencia doméstica en el Sistema Nacional de Emergencia 911, solo el 13 % llegó a tribunales y fue declarado con lugar durante la cuarentena”.

Coronavirus en Honduras: Catracho, el método con el que el país asegura que logró reducir los muertos por covid-19 pese a su débil sistema de salud
Marcos González Díaz, BBC Mundo, 22 de Mayo, 2020
“Y aunque los contagios en el país siguen al alza (3.100 casos y 151 muertes hasta este miércoles), el gobierno cree que el aumento en la tasa de recuperados (más del 11%) está ligado a la implementación de una estrategia made in Honduras que combina medicamentos y técnicas para hacer frente al virus en una etapa más temprana”.


Briefs: Dozens of migrants sent to Mexico through Nogales under new rule
Nogales International, May 26, 2020
“Nearly 40 migrants have been sent back to Mexico through Nogales ports under a rule that officials say allows for rapid “expulsions” during a public health crisis. The Department of Homeland Security says that the removals – which allow officers to send apprehended migrants back across the border in a matter of hours – are allowed under the emergency health law Title 42.”

The Story of Two Brothers From Mexico
Michael Barbaro, The New York Times, May 26, 2020
“Two brothers, Javier Morales, 48, and Martin Morales, 39, died of coronavirus within hours of each other in their adopted home of New Jersey. Their last wish was to be buried at home in Mexico, but, to make that happen, their family must navigate the vast bureaucracies of two countries, international airfare and the complications of a pandemic.”

Matamoros: un botadero de migrantes en plena pandemia
Sergio Arauz, El Faro, 24 de mayo de 2020
“En Matamoros, ciudad controlada por La Maña, la crisis humanitaria se resume en un campamento a la orilla del río Bravo: 2,000 personas de Centroamérica, Venezuela, Cuba y otros países, sobreviven hacinados a la espera de una cita con un juez estadounidense o una posibilidad para volver a casa. Están botados, languidecen a unos metros del destino que buscaban”.

Mexico Health Officials Say New Coronavirus Cases Coming From People Crossing U.S. Border
Benjamin Fearnow, Newsweek, May 23, 2020
“Mexican health officials, doctors and residents along the border with the United States say new outbreaks of COVID-19 are tied to people crossing south over the border. Residents in Nogales, Sonora erected temporary blockades along roadways leading to Arizona during the initial U.S. coronavirus outbreak in March, telling The Associated Press the Mexican government was doing nothing to medically screen people crossing the border from the United States.”

U.S Enforcement

What Isolation Does to Undocumented Immigrants
Emily Kaplan, The Atlantic, May 27, 2020
“‘If you pay attention,’ he said, ‘you will see that almost every immigrant feels alone and isolated from everything. You leave everything behind. In extreme cases, you lose contact with your family because there aren’t ways to keep in touch. You lose your children and your spouse because you can’t communicate. And when the family disintegrates, depression arrives.’”

“Horrifying Neglect”: COVID-19 Deaths in ICE Custody Spark New Calls for Mass Release of Prisoners
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, 27 de Mayo, 2020
“‘What they’re describing is a system of detention and deportation that’s been built up over the last several decades to the point that it is now, you know, holding tens of thousands of people and refusing to release them, even as experts say that — the Department of Homeland Security’s own medical experts have said that these detention centers are a tinderbox — those are their words — for the spread of the coronavirus.’”

Mexican workers in US are sending record money home despite coronavirus-related economic shutdowns
The Conversation, May 27, 2020
“In March, analysts at BBVA bank predicted that migrant remittances to Mexico could fall as much as 21% because of stay-at-home orders and record unemployment in the U.S. Instead, remittances reached a record high in early 2020, the Bank of Mexico recently reported. Mexico received $4.02 billion in March 2020, a 35.8% increase over March 2019.”

Abogados dicen que la Corte de Inmigración no estaba preparada para hacer justicia en tiempos de pandemia
Jorge Cancino, Univisión, 27 de Mayo, 2020
“‘Las últimas nueve semanas han sido difíciles para los tribunales de inmigración y el público al que servimos’, dice la presidenta honoraria de la Asociación de Jueces de Inmigración. ‘Hemos tratado de navegar por el delicado equilibrio de asegurarnos de continuar celebrando las audiencias que podamos mientras protegemos la seguridad del público, los inmigrantes y nuestro personal’”.

Second man with COVID-19 dies in US immigration custody
Al Jazeera, May 25, 2020
“A Guatemalan man held in United States immigration detention has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed. He is the second known migrant to die of COVID-19 in immigration custody.”

The US coronavirus response: A failure of foreign policy
Kathleen Bergin, The Hill, May 25, 2020
“Absent wide-spread testing, the Trump administration must ground deportations in favor of rational measures to control COVID-19 inside immigration detention centers, and outside. Short of that, it must respect the sovereignty of nations that refuse to allow deportation flights to land, without threatening visa sanctions against them. Congress should act on legislation that’s been introduced in the House to temporarily suspend deportations to Haiti, and should expand that measure to other countries.’”

Mexican Enforcement

IMN: 5,583 hondureños han retornado en vuelos humanitarios
La Tribuna, 27 de Mayo, 2020
“Luego de permanecer varados en diferentes países del mundo, tras el cierre de las principales terminales aéreas del mundo por causa de la pandemia del COVID-19, unos 5.583 hondureños han retornado a su patria. Las autoridades del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), también han informado que durante la cuarentena 940 extranjeros residentes arribado al país”.

Desde el inicio de la pandemia el INM detiene diez veces menos migrantes que hace un año
Alberto Pradilla, Animal Politico, 23 de Mayo, 2020
“La emergencia sanitaria por COVID-19 frenó la migración hacia Estados Unidos. Según datos del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) a los que tuvo acceso Animal Político, el número de extranjeros detenidos por estar en situación irregular en México se desplomó desde el inicio de la crisis. En abril y lo que llevamos de mayo, la cifra de arrestados es hasta diez veces menor”.

Mexico’s refugee agency turns to U.N. amid asylum surge, funding cuts
Lizbeth Diaz, Delphine Schrank, Reuters, May 21, 2019
“Buckling under surging asylum applications and the lowest budget in years, Mexico’s tiny refugee agency has turned to the United Nations for help opening three new offices across the country starting next month, its director said on Tuesday. Mexico is on track for 60,000 asylum applications this year, double the 2018 number, said Andres Ramirez, the head of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR).”

Root Causes 

Más de 5,500 personas han retornado al país en vuelos humanitarios
La Prensa, 27 de Mayo, 2020
“Los compatriotas han llegado al suelo catracho de vuelos humanitarios por medio de las gestiones de las autoridades de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores y la Cooperación Internacional. Los connacionales permanecían varios y deseaban regresar a su país desde Estados Unidos (3,893), Alemania (304), Colombia (244), Italia (218), Islas Caimán (189), Brasil Panamá y Cuba”.

America’s Guns Fuel Mexico’s Domestic Violence Epidemic
Meaghan Beatley, Foreign Policy, May 27, 2020
“What remains an open question is what role the United States played in the murder itself. As coronavirus-related lockdowns worsen the threat of domestic violence for women around the world, women in Mexico face an additional danger: the flood of American guns into the country. ‘The U.S. talks about how drugs and migrants cross the border from Mexico,’ said Maura Roldán, a researcher on gun violence from Mexico City. ‘But it hasn’t recognized its role in the rise in violence in Mexico. It doesn’t mention the fact that it’s providing the guns.’”

Estados Unidos certifica a El Salvador para seguir recibiendo ayuda extranjera
Margarita Funes, La Prensa Grafica, May 27, 2020
“El Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos publicó este miércoles un documento en el que certifica a El Salvador como un país apto para continuar recibiendo ayuda estadounidense y por lo tanto recomienda al Congreso que  siga recibiendo cooperación.”

Estados Unidos certifica a El Salvador para seguir recibiendo ayuda extranjera
Margarita Funes, La Prensa Grafica, May 27, 2020
“El Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos publicó este miércoles un documento en el que certifica a El Salvador como un país apto para continuar recibiendo ayuda estadounidense y por lo tanto recomienda al Congreso que  siga recibiendo cooperación.”

Honduras Politician’s Murder Linked to Underworld Violence in Copán
Héctor Silva Ávalos, Victor Dittmar, InSight Crime, May 25, 2020
“The former deputy was at home with another person, identified as Melvin Solís, when a group of armed men entered the place and shot both men dead, according to reports in the Honduran press. Pinto was part of the so-called Los Pinto clan, a drug trafficking organization that emerged in Copán in the shadow of the powerful Valles clan, which controlled the movement of cocaine into neighboring Guatemala starting in the early 2000s, El Heraldo reported, quoting government documents.”

Mujeres periodistas no escapan de los ataques: Periodistas han enfrentado más de dos docenas de agresiones en lo que va del 2020    
Bersely García, Pasos de Animal Grande, 25 de Mayo, 2020
“En el marco del Día del Periodista en Honduras, este 25 de mayo de 2020, las agresiones, amenazas y exilio no se visibilizan en el gremio, y frente a este contexto de la pandemia del COVID-19, los ataques no han parado contabilizándose 29 casos de violencia, cinco de éstos en contra de mujeres que se desempeñan en el periodismo. Unos 18 ataques se produjeron solo en el periodo de confinamiento, lo que representa un 62.07 por ciento”.

The Deadly Effects of Trivializing Violence Against Women in Central America
María Luz Nóchez, El Faro, May 21, 2020
“In 2019 alone, 215 women were murdered. That number can be tricky, and sound like an exaggeration when compared to the 2009 men who were murdered in the same year. But the reasons behind the violence and the type of violence matter, and we should remember that when it comes to violence against women, feminicide is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands shouldn’t have to die for it to shock us.”

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Non-citizens and Across the U.S. Immigration System
Jorge Loweree, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick and Walter Ewing, American Immigration Council, May 27, 2020 “This report seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of COVID-19 related disruptions throughout the immigratoin system and identifies recommendations for adjustments and improvements to the federal response.”

COVID-19: Governments must protect the rights of migrants during the pandemic and beyond, UN experts urge        
UN OHCHR, May 26, 2020
“Governments must guarantee access to social services for migrants and their families, who in some countries show the highest levels of contagions and deaths from COVID-19,” they said. “Migrants who are in an irregular situation or undocumented face even greater vulnerability.”

Migrantes de otro mundo
Animal Politico
“Cada año miles de personas hacen una gran travesía desde Asia y África hasta América Latina, buscando a llegar a NorteAmérica… estas son sus rutas más frecuentes”.

Migrant Deaths in South Texas
The Strauss Center at University of Texas at Austin, May, 2020
“For more than a century, migrants have died in South Texas while attempting to enter the United States. The death rate has ebbed and flowed along with shifts in U.S. immigration and labor policies, as labor programs create legal pathways and more restrictive border enforcement policies push transiting migrants into increasingly remote areas. Yet through all the changes, migrant deaths have never ceased. Over the last 22 years, more than 3,253 people have lost their lives attempting to enter the United States in South Texas.”

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