Migration News Brief, March 3, 2023

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Grave Human and Civil Rights Abuses under El Salvador’s State of Emergency: Is This the New Normal
Latin America Working Group, February 27, 2023
“Salvadorans are headed into a full year of living under a state of emergency. The state of emergency was approved initially in March 2022 after a killing spree by gang members killed at least 90 people over three days. According to a May 17, 2022 article in El Faro, the violence followed the collapse of secret negotiations between the government and the gangs. To date, over 62,000 people have been imprisoned for alleged ties to gangs, 1,979 of them minors (21 between 12 and 13 years of age), and at least 90 have died in detention.”

U.S. Enforcement

Human Rights First condemns administration plan to fast-track asylum screenings
Human Rights First, January 27, 2023
“Human Rights First calls on the administration to abandon a plan once used by the Trump administration and focus instead on upholding due process, human rights, and refugee law. Reports state that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin to conduct fast-track asylum screenings through expedited removal in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody within days of asylum seekers’ arrival to the United States, an approach used by the Trump administration that led to mass due process violations and deportation of refugees.”

Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S. – The New York Times
Hannah Dreier, The New York Times, February 25, 2023
“Largely from Central America, the children are driven by economic desperation that was worsened by the pandemic. This labor force has been slowly growing for almost a decade, but it has exploded since 2021, while the systems meant to protect children have broken down.”

How To Seek Asylum (Under Biden’s Proposed Asylum Transit Ban), In 12 Not-At-All-Easy Steps
Dara Lind, Immigration Impact, February 22, 2023 
“The Biden administration recently announced a proposed regulation that would all but eliminate access to asylum for the overwhelming number of asylum seekers who come to the United States via the southwest border. But the regulation doesn’t put it that way.”

Biden administration unveils broad asylum restrictions at U.S.-Mexico border | Reuters
Ted Hesson, Reuters, February 22, 2023
“The United States could bar tens of thousands of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border from claiming asylum under a proposal unveiled on Tuesday that would be the most wide-ranging attempt yet by U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to deter unauthorized crossings.”

Asylum Processing at the U.S.-Mexico Border: February 2023
Stephanie Leutert and Caitlyn Yates, Strauss Center, February 2023
“Since November 2018, the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin—at times in collaboration with the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies at the University of California San Diego and the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute—has documented asylum processing at U.S. border ports of entry through quarterly reports.”

Unblocking the U.S. Immigration System: Executive Actions to Facilitate the Migration of Needed Workers
Julia Gelatt, Migration Policy Institute, February 2023
“This policy brief outlines a range of actions the executive branch could take under current law to facilitate the migration of needed workers, retain immigrants already in the U.S. workforce, and ease challenges experienced by U.S. employers and their foreign-born workers. Many are proposals for small-bore changes to improve the efficiency of caseload processing at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department.”

Mexican Enforcement 

Mexico rethinks asylum initiative after controversial US announcement
Rosa Flores, CNN, February 24, 2023
“Mexico is rethinking its approach toward asylum seekers after the Biden administration unveiled a controversial new proposal to limit asylum eligibility in the United States. Mexico’s refugee assistance agency, known as COMAR, launched a pilot program in southern Mexico on Monday to explore expediting asylum denials to those it deems likely to travel onward to the US.”

Entrevista: Justicia para Keren
Sistema integral de informacion en derechos humanos, 23 de febrero de 2023
“Esta semana, el equipo de Milenio Televisión visitó a Keren Selsy Ordoñez,  joven sobreviviente de tortura, quien lleva injustamente 7 años en prisión en Apizaco, Tlaxcala. Compartimos el video sobre este trabajo periodístico que contribuye a visibilizar este caso, así como el uso discriminatorio del sistema de justicia penal y la persistencia de la práctica de tortura en el país. Gracias al equipo de Elisa Alanís y a la reportera Paola Olivares por apoyar a difundir su voz y su lucha por justicia. #JusticiaParaKeren”

International Ruling Finds Mexico’s Legal Framework on Detentions Violates Human Rights
Stephanie Brewer, WOLA, February 23, 2023
“On January 27, 2023, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) notified the Mexican government of its judgment in the case of Tzompaxtle Tecpile et al. v. Mexico, in which it found Mexico responsible for subjecting three people—Jorge Marcial Tzompaxtle Tecpile, Gerardo Tzompaxtle Tecpile, and Gustavo Robles López—to forms of detention that intrinsically violate human rights. Among other reparations measures, the IACtHR ordered Mexico to reform its legal framework to eliminate and modify, respectively, two forms of detention: arraigo and pretrial detention.”

Refugee petitions soaring in Mexico
Julian Resendiz, Border Report, February 22, 2023
“The number of refugee petitions more than doubled in the past two years in Mexico compared to the combined totals from 2019 and 2020, Mexican officials say. And the numbers continue to rise, with 12,863 applications received by the Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission (COMAR) this past January compared with the 6,497 filed in January 2022.”

Mexico sets up express lane for Cuban migrants’ relatives | AP News
AP News, February 16, 2023
“Cubans with relatives already in Mexico will be eligible for new expedited applications for Mexican visas, the country’s Foreign Relations Department announced Wednesday.”

Root Causes


At least 60,000 minors set to cross Darien gap in 2023, U.N. says
Elida Moreno, Reuters, February 17, 2023
“A substantial hike in children crossing the Darien jungle – linking Panama with Colombia – is expected this year, the United Nations said on Friday, amid a surge in migrants making the dangerous journey to reach the United States. By the end of 2023, more than 300,000 migrants are set to have crossed the jungle, over 60,000 of which could be minors, said Diana Romero, an emergency protection specialist at the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF).”


The Other Americans: Migration Crackdowns Are Targeting Migrant Shelters in Guatemala
Jeff Abbott, Progressive, February 24, 2023
“Members of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala are raising concerns about the implementation of reforms and regulations by the Guatemalan government that they say will put their networks of migrant shelters at risk of closure. The concerns stem from the implementation of requirements that are codified in the country’s new immigration law.”

Guatemala: Review Decision to Bar Presidential Candidates
Human Rights Watch, February 27, 2023
Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal decision to bar candidates from running in the 2023 presidential elections on dubious grounds threatens political rights and damages the credibility of the electoral process, Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) said today.”

El Salvador

Bukele’s Pact with the Gangs Lasted Three Massacres
El Faro, March 1, 2023
“The video of thousands of nearly naked gang members subdued and transferred to the new mega-prison was finished by the government’s propaganda team just in time to make the rounds in the media across the continent, selling the idea that Bukele is El Salvador’s strongman. He is doing away with criminals, the narrative goes, and that he will stop at no laws, constitutions, or human rights along the way. The images’ controversy achieved the main objective: smoke and mirrors — and it’s not the first time that we see them.”

El Salvador moves 2,000 alleged gang members to new ‘mega prison’
Al Jazeera, February 25, 2023
“The Central American nation of El Salvador has transferred 2,000 people accused of gang membership to a recently opened “mega-prison”. The transfer comes after a wave of anti-gang operations in which police swept up more than 64,000 people and key civil liberties were suspended.”

El Salvador Government Protection of MS-13 from Extradition Emerges in DOJ Indictment
José Luis Sanz and Carlos Martínez, El Faro, February 28, 2023
“In a newly unsealed indictment, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asserted that, as part of the accords with the Mara Salvatrucha, the current government of El Salvador protected gang members wanted for crimes in the United States by skirting their extradition or even releasing one of them from prison before he had finished his sentence.”


Defensores de Guapinol entregan a Serna 2do tomo de ilegalidades y daños ambientales a Parque Nacional Carlos Escaleras » Criterio.hn
Marcia Perdomo, Criterio.hn, 24 de febrero de 2023
“Las personas defensoras del Parque Nacional Carlos Escaleras y los ríos Guapinol y sector San Pedro presentaron el segundo tomo de pruebas sobre ilegalidades y daños ambientales causados por el megaproyecto minero instalado en la reserva natural”.

Ante violencia asesina en el Aguán llaman a avanzar en cumplimiento de convenio agrario » Criterio.hn
Marcia Perdomo, Criterio.hn, 23 de febrero de 2023
“A un año de la firma del convenio agrario que suscribió la administración de la presidenta Xiomara Castro con las bases campesinas del Valle del Aguán, organizaciones impulsan el avance en el cumplimiento del mismo para abordar el conflicto por la recuperación de tierras de la reforma agraria y poner un alto a la violencia.”

2022 año violento para la defensa de los derechos humanos en las Américas: CIDH
Criterio Hn, 22 de febrero de 2023
“La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) condenó, mediante un comunicado, el asesinato de 126 personas defensoras en el 2022, resultado de la violencia contra ellas; y reitera su llamado a los Estados a adoptar medidas urgentes para garantizar la protección de quienes defienden derechos humanos”.

Actions, Alerts, and Resources 

TPS Holders Make Tremendous Contributions to the U.S.
FWD.us, March 2, 2023
#TPS allows individuals like Eveyln, a @Carecen_LA organizer, to contribute to the economy, stay together with their loved ones, and more fully participate in their local communities. “I have family, I want to stay here.” http://fwd.us/tps

Add Your Comment: Tell the Biden Administration Not to Bring Back Trump’s Asylum Ban
Immigration Justice, February 2023
“The Biden administration is taking comments from the public about its plan to bring back an asylum ban – a new version of one of the most anti-asylum seeker policies of the Trump era. Please use our form to submit a comment telling them how this policy will hurt asylum seekers. To make sure your comment is counted and considered, please edit our pre-drafted suggestion to make it unique. Anyone regardless of immigration status may submit a comment, but comments must be submitted in English.”

* 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.

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