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Rights groups challenge Biden asylum restrictions
May 15, 2023
The U.S. Biden administration implemented new border regulations last week, dubbed “Circumvention of Legal Pathways,” the rules mean people fleeing violence and instability in home countries are rendered ineligible for asylum unless they can meet one of a handful of exceptions, reports the Guardian.
International organizations and some Democratic lawmakers, the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy organizations sued the U.S. Biden administration over new restrictions on political asylum. The federal lawsuit claims that the new asylum rule mirrors two other Trump-era policies that courts have already struck down, reports the Miami Herald. (See Friday’s post.)
In the wake of the new rules, the U.S.-Mexico border has been relatively quiet, and Biden administration officials say its an indication that the new restrictions, combined with the incentive of new legal pathways for asylum applicants, are working, reports the New York Times.
While dire predictions of border chaos last week did not materialize “a lot of uncertainty remains about what will transpire in the months to come — both procedurally and politically” regarding migration into the U.S., reports NPR.
And the instability, economic duress, and violence pushing people to try to reach the U.S., have not waned, notes the New York Times. According to the Washington Post, the situation is “combustible,” and questions remain over whether the new limits on asylum will “discourage migrants from making a trek that was already dangerous, expensive, and even painful,” and whether “people seeking to escape severe poverty and violence have the patience to wait abroad for asylum appointments.”
Beyond the new regulation's reality, migrants en route to the U.S. must navigate a sea of confusing rumors and misinformation on social media about changing asylum policies, reports the Washington Post.
Migrants traversing the treacherous Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama have found an increasingly organized route across what was once impenetrable jungle. (Associated Press)
Migrant policy must take into account Venezuela’s crisis, argues James Bosworth in World Politics Review: “Deterrence should be replaced by a greater push for an integrated regional response to Venezuelan refugees.”
Mexicans “would be eating cat food out of a can and living in a tent behind an Outback” Steakhouse restaurant if it were not for their nation’s proximity to the U.S., according to U.S. Senator John Neely Kennedy, who pushed last week for U.S. military intervention against Mexican drug cartels. The racist remarks drew a strong condemnation from Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, who called Kennedy “a profoundly ignorant man,” reports the Guardian.
Petro denounces coup threat
Colombian President Gustavo Petro said there would not be a coup d’etat against him, comparing Colombian democracy favorably to that of Peru, on Twitter this weekend. (EFE)
The comments follow protests from retired military officers last week, and comments from the former director of the Association of Retired Officers of the Colombian Military Forces praising the ouster of Peru’s president last year and that “here, we are going to try our best to defenestrate a guy who was a guerrilla fighter,” in reference to Petro. (La Silla Vacía, W Radio)
Underlying the scandal are previous concerns about Petro’s relationship with Colombia’s military. Though Petro’s relationship with the armed forces has been “cordial” during his first ten months of government — even after he appointed renowned anti-corruption investigator Iván Velásquez as Defense Minister of Defense — “his relationship has been much less fluid with retired members of the military,” reports El País.
Colombia’s prosecutor general’s office said it will investigate the comments by retired officer John Marulanda. (La Silla Vacía)
Illegal gold mining is devastating Colombia’s Cerro Yapacana, near the country’s border with Venezuela, under the strict watch of armed groups — ELN and dissident FARC fighters, reports Mongabay and Vorágine.
Brazil's Supreme Court ordered an investigation into executives at social messaging service Telegram and Google who led a campaign criticizing a government-backed internet regulation bill. Justice Alexandre de Moraes decided to open an investigation based on a request by Lower House Speaker Arthur Lira on Friday, reports Reuters.
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest fell 68% in April from the previous year, according to preliminary government data released Friday. That interrupted two consecutive months of higher deforestation, with land clearing so far this year now down 40.4% to 1,173 square km, reports Reuters.
Brazil’s central bank chief said high levels of public debt are to blame for interest rates steady at a six-year high, reports Bloomberg.
Paraguay’s presidential election last month was marred by the well-established practise of vote-buying. New York Times reporters witnessed how political operatives rounded up Indigenous people in Paraguay’s remote north and tried to control or purchase their votes.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness will meet with United Nations-Secretary General António Guterres in Kingston today. The topics on the agenda include the impact of the climate crisis in the Caribbean region, the global framework for disaster risk reduction and development financing. They will also discuss the situation in Haiti and how to involve the international community more strongly, reports the Miami Herald.
Disappearances across Mexico surged by almost 30% in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year, government data shows, a trend that “is yet another testament to the failure of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s security strategy,” reports the Guardian.
InSight Crime breaks down the different stages of the supply chain for synthetic drugs, fentanyl and methamphetamine, and the transnational network of buyers sourcing the precursors, and the chemists and cooks synthesizing the drugs in Mexico.
Caribbean countries have seized record amounts of cocaine in recent months, but the roots of the region's persistence as a key corridor for the drug stretch back. InSight Crime examines the legacies of some of the most influential Caribbean kingpins.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago’s economy depends on oil and natural gas and — despite declining production and the growing impact of climate change, the government remains committed to fossil fuels, reports the New York Times.
“Trinidad and Tobago is facing a familiar challenge. Its leaders believe that oil and gas production are vital to the economy, but exploitation of those resources is causing climate change, which is taking an especially hard toll on the people and environment,” reports the New York Times.
One Hand Don’t Clap, a documentary about the finals of the 1986 Trinidad Calypso Monarch contest, features legendary calypso giants Lord Kitchener and his protege Calypso Rose — Guardian
A herd of goats are helping save the native forest of the Bosques de Chacay, in southern Chile, from fire, reports Reuters.