Remain in Mexico before U.S. Supreme Court (Feb. 21, 2022)
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the Biden administration can whether the Biden administration can end the controversial "Migrant Protection Protocols," a program that forces asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico. Known as "Remain in Mexico," the Trump era policy has forced tens of thousands of people to wait in dangerous and unsanitary conditions for their asylum hearings. There have been widespread reports of sexual assault, kidnapping and torture, reports the New York Times.
Amid ongoing ambiguity over the U.S.'s immigration policies, an encampment of migrants near a crossing between Reynosa in Mexico and Texas in the U.S. has swelled to about 2,200 over the past year, according to estimates from nonprofits working in the area. (ABC)
A group of migrants at Mexico’s southern border sewed their mouths shut last week to demand that immigration authorities grant them passage toward the U.S. border., reports the Washington Post. The number of people applying for refugee or asylum status in Mexico has nearly doubled since 2019, reaching an all-time high of 131,448 claims in 2021.
The number of encounters between U.S. border officials and migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border fell last month to the lowest levels since last February when a surge in flows began, reports Axios. Nonetheless, the 154,000 migrant encounters last month was still abnormally high for the time of year.
The U.S. obsession with migrants is distorting the country's policy towards Mexico, particularly with regards to the country's "democratic decay", argues Arturo Sarukhan in Foreign Affairs.
The Trump administration's construction of the border wall has left dangerous environmental impact in many areas that the current U.S. government says it aims to remediate. (Washington Post)
The Dominican Republic's government began building a wall that will cover more than half of the 392-kilometer border with Haiti, its only land neighbor. The DR government's goal is to stop irregular migration and smuggling, reports Reuters.
The United Nations Security Council made it clear Friday that it wants elections in Haiti before the end of the year and called on the country’s political and civic leaders to collaborate on resolving political gridlock, reports the Miami Herald. The government and its main opposition, known as the Montana group, have different visions for the country: Prime Minister Ariel Henry is angling for a new constitution and elections by the end of the year, while the Montana group is seeking a two-year transition process to guarantee free and fair elections.
Guatemalan Judge Erika Aifán is among the ever-shrinking group of Guatemalan judges and prosecutors handling high-profile corruption cases who have not been fired, arrested or forced to flee the country, reports the Washington Post. (See last Thursday's post.)
The U.S. is considering trying to expel Nicaragua from the Central America Free Trade Agreement — or allocate its valuable sugar quota to another country in Central America — to retaliate against President Daniel Ortega’s political crackdown against opponents, reports the Associated Press. The move would be a major economic blow for Nicaragua, depriving Ortega’s government of important export earnings and foreign investment.
The Centro Nicaragüense de Derechos Humanos (Cenidh) warned of the grave deterioration in political prisoners' health. Seven who were on trial in El Chipote jail last week evince an abrupt weight loss, weakness to walk, insecurity and fear when they speak, reports Confidencial. (See Friday's briefs.)
The discovery this week of two bodies hanging from a bridge in Ecuador marks an escalation in the country's increasing cartel violence, and mimics tactics employed by Mexican crime organizations, reports Vice News.
El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele said he will propose a law that would grant Salvadoran citizenship to foreigners who invest in the country as well as other initiatives to reduce government hurdles in order to attract investment projects, reports Reuters.
Wildfires that have been ravaging northern Argentina for several weeks advanced relentlessly this weekend. They have particularly affected the Corrientes province and important wetlands areas, including Iberá National Park. Dryness from drought has contributed to the flames that are consuming about 30,000 hectares a day in Corrientes, destroying almost 800,000 hectares so far, reports the Associated Press.
The January oil spill off of Peru's shore has spread to more than 20 beaches, washing over 41 kilometres of coastline -- the unprecedented spill has caught officials and researchers off-guard, reports Nature.
The death toll from last week's mudslides and floods in the Brazilian city of Petropolis reached 176 as of today, and more than 110 people are still missing. (Reuters)
The landslides were "largely predictable -- and to some degree, preventable," reports the Associated Press, which links the tragedy to government neglect and climate change.
Artificial Intelligence is increasingly contributing to conservation efforts around the world. Brazil's water crisis -- the country lost more than 15% of its surface water in the past 30 years -- has only come to light with the help of AI, reports the Guardian.
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