Biden further restricts asylum
Jan. 6, 2023
U.S. President Joe Biden announced a dramatic expansion of restrictions on asylum, a far-reaching crackdown on people who seek refuge at the border, yesterday. Biden said the U.S. would immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who cross the border from Mexico illegally.
Biden also announced a new policy expansion that will admit up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The four nationalities now make up the majority of those crossing the border illegally.
It is “his boldest move yet to confront the arrivals of migrants that have spiraled since he took office two years ago,” according to the Associated Press. The announcement drew immediate condemnation from human rights organizations, reports the New York Times.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also said it will publish a new rule that will require migrants who are on their way to the U.S. to first apply for asylum in a third country before reaching the U.S. border. Anyone who fails to do so would be barred from seeking asylum in the U.S., reports the Miami Herald.
The new parole program, which requires migrants to meet certain sponsorship criteria and pass background checks and additional vetting, mimics one created for Venezuelans last October. (ABC)
While the Biden administration says the policy aims to permit asylum seekers to enter safely, critics like the New York Immigration Coalition said the new plan “cruelly favor asylum seekers with family connections and financial privilege,” reports the Miami Herald.
Rights advocates say the Biden administration’s criticisms of Title 42, a health policy used to prevent people from claiming asylum, are hypocritical, given the government’s expansion of the controversial policy. (CNN)
North America is one of the deadliest regions in the world for migrants: “Last year set a record number of deaths at the Mexico-U.S. border—a number that is severely underreported due to the sheer size and remoteness of the roughly 2,000-mile border territory,” writes Global Exchange’s Marco Castillo in Newsweek.
Nearly 300 Haitian migrants were intercepted in overloaded boats off the Turks and Caicos Islands, putting strain on the country’s law enforcement and immigration resources, reports the Guardian.
“Latin America in 2022 saw the dramatic ouster of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo and Nicaragua's ongoing descent into autocracy — and 2023 is expected to have no shortage of stories about political instability, major elections, and the first year in office for new leaders.” — What Axios is watching for this year in the region.
This year “could (and should) be the year in which the governments of the United States and the countries of Latin America manage to agree on a more horizontal and coordinated agenda with civil society, which makes it possible to comprehensively address the structural causes of the deterioration of democracy, corruption, forced migration, racism, gender inequality, the climate crisis and the current paradigm of the failed war on drugs, the main risk factors for human rights and the rule of law on the continent,” argues Carolina Sandoval in Divergentes.
Mexican police detained the son of drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Ovidio Guzmán is allegedly one of the country’s top fentanyl traffickers, and the arrest is a victory for the López Obrador administration, which has been criticized for failure to stem rampant cartel violence. (New York Times)
But the arrest sparked a wave of retaliatory violence in western Sinaloa state, reports the Washington Post, with gunmen throwing up roadblocks, seizing cars from terrified residents and firing at planes at the airport in Culiacán. (See also the Guardian.)
An operation to capture Ovidio Guzmán three years ago also set off a wave of violence in Culiacán that pushed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to release him. (Associated Press)
The upheaval in Mexico comes just days before Biden is scheduled to visit, on Monday, for bilateral talks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the North American Leaders' Summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (USA Today)
The Venezuelan opposition’s decision to disband the parallel presidency of Juan Guaidó “exposed the spectacular failure of the U.S. policy. But it also may prove useful to U.S. interests by lifting a burden from the pro-democracy campaign,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro may have weakened his own efforts to reach “Total Peace” with armed groups by announcing a "bilateral" ceasefire with the ELN guerrilla before it existed, reports AFP. (See Wednesday’s post and Tuesday’s.)
Former Bolivian Interior Minister Arthur Murillo was sentenced to nearly six years in U.S. prison for taking at least $532,000 in bribes to help a Florida company win a contract to sell tear gas to his country’s government, reports the Associated Press.
Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva announced the creation of an extraordinary secretary to end deforestation and plans to set up a climate authority within the country’s government. The new Lula administration plans to play a leading role in addressing climate change, she said. (Reuters)
Chilean President Gabriel Boric announced a new package of social spending worth $2 billion, including doubling an annual cash transfer made to the poor and middle class. (Bloomberg)
A Chilean congressional committee approved a controversial mining royalty bill, that would increase royalties on copper sales in the country, as part of the government's sweeping tax reform, reports Reuters.
Paraguayans will go to the polls on April 30 to elect a president and vice president, all 80 members of the Chamber of Deputies, all 45 members of the Senate and all department governors and assembly members. — Americas Quarterly has profiles of the main candidates.
Ecuadorean authorities are stirring seized cocaine into concrete in order to destroy illicit drugs — a process called “encapsulation,” reports InSight Crime.