Biden to order review immigration policies (Feb. 2, 2021)
U.S. President Joe Biden will sign three executive orders today aimed at unravelling his predecessors immigration policy legacy. But the new administration is advancing cautiously, and officials are wary of a new migration wave building up from Central America, reports the Washington Post. It’s the second batch of executive actions on immigration that the president will have issued since taking office, notes Vox.
The administration will announce plans to identify and reunite hundreds of families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border by the previous Trump administration and remain apart years later. Biden will create a new homeland security task force to reunite families through an executive order, reports the Washington Post. Officials said Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Mr. Biden’s nominee to be the homeland security secretary, would lead the task force.
Between July 2017 and June 2018, the Trump administration separated at least 5,500 children from their parents along the border in an attempt to deter migration. Biden officials said they could not name how many children had to be reunified because the policy was implemented without a method for tracking the separated families. The American Civil Liberties Union says that at least 1,000 of those families are likely to remain separated — parents scattered mostly across Central America and children living with relatives in the United States.
However, the other orders mandate the review, rather than outright reversal of the Trump administration’s tangle of deterrent policies along the Mexico border and the barriers it created in the legal immigration system. (Guardian, Los Angeles Times)
Officials seek to introduce more human policies, and are trying to figure out how to dismantle the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, that sent more than 60,000 asylum seekers to wait outside U.S. territory while their claims are processed in immigration courts. But today's orders will not immediately change circumstances for asylum seekers currently waiting in Mexico, many in squalid camps -- a fact that is likely to disappoint migrant advocates who hoped for quick action, notes the New York Times. Human Rights First has recorded at least 1,134 public reports of murder, torture, rape and kidnapping against asylum seekers returned to Mexico under MPP. Thousands have given up.
Advocates are still waiting for policies which address immigration detention, reports the Guardian.
Last week, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked Biden’s announced 100-day moratorium on most deportations, another sign that the new president’s immigration policies will face conservative challenges in court as well as in Congress, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Biden administration has deported hundreds of immigrants in its early days despite his campaign pledge to stop removing most people in the U.S. illegally at the beginning of his term, reports the Associated Press. In recent days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported immigrants to at least three countries: 15 people to Jamaica on Thursday and 269 people to Guatemala and Honduras on Friday. More deportation flights were scheduled for yesterday.
A group of young Cuban artists who gathered to protest outside of the Ministry of Culture last week said they were pushed away violently by a crowd led by the minister himself. The artists are members of the 27N Movement, a loose network stemming from a protest last November demanding freedom of expression and the release of artists and activists of the San Isidro Movement who had been detained, reports the Miami Herald. Last Wednesday members of the group gathered to request the release of artist Tania Burguera, poet Katherine Bisquet and independent journalist Camila Acosta, who had been detained.
Environmentalist Yaku Pérez has become the dark horse candidate in Ecuador's presidential race. If elected in Ecuador’s presidential election on February 7, the leftist lawyer would be the country’s first indigenous president. Pérez, who has made ancestral themes and language central to his campaign, is polling among the top three contenders in a crowded field of candidates. Pérez told Americas Quarterly that he represents a leftist alternative to former president Rafael Correa, who is running for vice president.
The Organization of American States has called for urgent action, after two people were killed at a campaign rally in San Salvador just weeks ahead of elections in El Salvador. Salvadoran attorney general, Raul Melara, held an emergency meeting with political party representatives yesterday. "This is serious, the electoral campaign must not turn into a bloodbath," he tweeted ahead of the session. (Deutsche Welle, see yesterday's post)
It’s not clear yet why the violence occurred this weekend at the FMLN rally. But there is potential for further electoral violence in the weeks ahead if reported negotiations between the Bukele administration and El Salvador's powerful street gangs are true, according to James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report. (See yesterday's post.)
InSight Crime published the 2020 Homicide Roundup, with country-by-country murder rates and the factors influencing them. "It’s too early to tell with any degree of certainty how exactly the pandemic may have impacted levels of violence, but there were notable developments, including significant reductions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela, historically some of the most homicidal nations in Latin America and the Caribbean."
WOLA examines the former U.S. Trump administration's use of individual sanctions on Venezuelan elites. In 2017 and 2018, as Venezuela’s political crisis reached a turning point, marked by a rise in protests and opposition mobilization, sanctions against individuals were often closely coordinated with European and Latin American countries. In the latter years of the Trump administration, however, the U.S. notably shifted away from such coordination. (Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights)
Brazil’s Congress chose lawmakers endorsed by President Jair Bolsonaro as speakers of its two chambers, yesterday. Bolsonaro's support for the winning lawmakers underscores his embrace of a fragmented bloc of lawmakers known more for their horse-trading prowess than ideological commitments, called the "Centrão," or "Big Center," reports Reuters.
Brazil risks becoming a breeding ground for more potentially dangerous coronavirus mutations, say infectious disease specialists. (Wall Street Journal)
Argentina hopes to reach a deal with the IMF by May to repay $44 billion in debt. Economy Minister Martín Guzmán said he will reduce spending, but that the plan falls short of the draconian austerity measures the IMF imposed with other governments. (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. Biden administration approved releasing $1.3 billion in funding for Puerto Rico as part of a Hurricane Maria disaster relief package, reports the Miami Herald.
The blue whale is under threat from boat collisions as one of its main feeding grounds in Chilean Patagonia is overrun with boats, reports the Guardian.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has joined the space race, at least verbally, with the creation of the "National Secretariat for Outer Space, the Moon and other Celestial Bodies" -- El País.
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