Title 42 ends Thursday
May 8, 2023
The U.S. will end use of Title 42, a health provision used during the coronavirus pandemic to summarily expel migrants. U.S. officials are bracing for a surge in migrants at the country’s southern border. “Across the political spectrum, the relatively small policy change is being treated as a harbinger of doom and chaos at the border,” reports the Hill.
The U.S. has increased expulsions of migrants and created new legal pathways for asylum seekers — but both have been strongly criticized by rights groups. Last week the U.S. Biden administration said it would send 1,500 additional troops to augment security at the southern border.
About 35,000 migrants are amassed in Ciudad Juárez, another 15,000 in Tijuana and thousands more elsewhere on the Mexican side of the 2,000-mile-long border. Already crossings along the U.S. southern border have surged, and three cities in Texas — Brownsville, Laredo and El Paso — have declared a state of emergency, reports the New York Times.
The U.S. has sought to deflect migrants from making the journey to the southern border, by announcing new centers that would permit migrants to apply for entry to to the U.S. from foreign countries, and through a bug-riddled application that offers 1,000 appointments a day for asylum seekers. Officials seek to increase penalties for asylum seekers who travel through third countries, and a five year ban on reentry for people who are deported — measures advocates compare to the previous Trump administration’s harsh policies on asylum. (Associated Press)
Last week Mexico and the U.S. announced an agreement under which Mexico will continue accepting migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua who are turned away from the U.S. It is the continuation of a policy started in January, but marks a shift on migration between the two countries, and threatens to further overwhelm Mexican border cities who are struggling to cope with growing numbers of migrants stymied from entering the U.S., reports the Guardian.
The end of Title 42 on Thursday is the culmination of a prolonged legal battle between rights groups and the U.S. Biden administration, which has also faced court challenges from several Republican-led states seeking to keep the restriction in place — Al Jazeera has a timeline on the controversial use of the health policy.
Colombia’s migration agency temporarily suspended deportation flights from the U.S., Thursday, saying migrants’ were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, , including use of cuffs for hands and feet. The flights will resume this week. (Reuters, Al Jazeera)
Colombia is supposed to receive an increased number of expulsion flights from the U.S. under a pilot plan called “mom returns,” intended to send mostly women, children and adolescents. The plan is part of a U.S. push to increase expulsions in response to the end of Title 42. (Reuters)
While measures enacted this year have indeed sharply reduced the number of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela at the US-Mexico border, the aggressive Title 42 expulsions “have absolutely not deterred these nations’ citizens from migrating. They’re still fleeing—but they’re stranded,” noted Adam Isacson on his website last week.
“Mexico’s national immigration agency said authorities had freed 2,115 migrants of all nationalities kidnapped by gangs in 2022,” reports AP, noting that 10 Colombians were successfully freed from an abduction in northern Mexico last week; “Gangs and cartels appear to be increasingly charging migrants fees to cross Mexico, and then kidnapping them for ransom. There have been a string of such mass migrant abductions in Mexico in recent months.” (Vía Americas Migration Brief)
“Migration boosts productivity, stimulates innovation and generates more diverse societies, among other benefits. For people who make the difficult decision to migrate, it opens up new opportunities. However, at the same time, it entails new risks, difficulties and enormous challenges for people who face discrimination, uncertainty and the challenge of integration,” according to UNDP. (Vía Americas Migration Brief)
Chilean right-wing parties won a majority on the new Constitutional Council. The far-right Partido Republicano won the most seats, 22, in yesterday’s election, and will have veto power in the council tasked with drafting a new constitutional proposal in Chile. (Guardian, El País)
The Partido Republicano, led by former conservative presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, secured nearly 35% of the vote. A separate coalition of traditional right-wing parties gained just over 20% of the vote, while President Gabriel Boric's left-wing coalition garnered about 29%. (Reuters)
In the midst of Haiti’s deteriorating security situation, a wave of vigilantism — "Bwa Kale" — has brought optimism and more fear to communities tormented by violent gangs. “Bwa Kale messages and memes are everywhere on Haitian social media, and recording artists like Tony Mix have put out tracks promoting the trend. There is even a Bwa Kale dance,” reports CBC.
U.S. diplomats are hoping for Brazilian support on Haiti, months after a call for an international security force has failed to materialize. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited Brasília last week and said the Lula administration “committed to working with us in the Security Council to find a path forward.” Diplomats say a conventional peacekeeping force with troops from several countries is one of the options on the table. (AFP)
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva slammed Brazil’s central bank’s interest rates, saying the 13.75% Selic rate is hampering economic growth — Bloomberg.
Brazilian lawmakers will vote on the government’s fiscal plan — that would modify a 2017 spending ceiling to allocate extra funds for social spending — in coming weeks. Government officials say the administration will commit to a balanced budget in 2024, but markets are concerned, reports the Financial Times.
In London for King Charles’ coronation on Saturday, Lula denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent four years in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison. (Associated Press)
The coronation of British King Charles on Saturday was met with indifference in many Caribbean countries, a stark difference to the jubilation that marked his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. Across the commonwealth, but particularly in the Caribbean where countries are grappling with the British legacy of slavery, and calling for meaningful reparations, “the first coronation in seven decades is being mostly met with indifference,” reports the Washington Post.
“The greater awareness of our colonial past and the harsh brutality inflicted on our forefathers makes a coronation of a king from our former royal family less than appealing. We’re far more interested in what this new king may say and do to correct the injustices of that past,” writes Suleiman Bulbulia, a commissioner on Barbados’s constitutional reform commission, in the Guardian.
Belize, one of eight remaining English-speaking Caribbean countries in the British Commonwealth, could be the first country to remove the newly crowned King Charles as head of state, reports the Guardian.
Jamaica, another Caribbean Commonwealth country, is advancing with plans to become a republic, and will hold referendum on whether to cut ties with the British monarchy in 2024, reports the New York Times.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis will hold a public consultation on whether the country should become a republic, said Prime Minister Terrance Drew, who also said he would welcome an apology from the monarchy for its historic links to the slave trade. (BBC)
Paraguay’s national police arrested a far-right politician Paraguayo Cubas Colomés — who placed third in last Sunday’s presidential elections, and is accused of breaching the peace, after calling for protests challenging the results. Authorities said he was being held in “preventative detention” in compliance with an order from the attorney general’s office. (Al Jazeera)
Colombia's Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces (AGC), better known as the Clan del Golfo, wants to hold peace talks with the government but rejects a proposed surrender to end its role in the country's conflict, a lawyer for the group told Reuters on Friday.
The oversight committee of Ecuador's National Assembly did not approve a report recommending against a vote to impeach President Guillermo Lasso over embezzlement accusations, on Saturday. The report will now pass to the plenary of the 137-member assembly, which will decide whether to possibly remove Lasso. (Reuters)
Chile and Argentina have flipped their usual narratives when it comes to lithium mining, writes James Bosworth at World Politics Review. Argentina looks more market friendly than Chile and that will likely continue for a few years, but Chile's long-term stability remains a strength.
Venezuelan opposition party Voluntad Popular named a new candidate, Freddy Superlano, for October’s presidential primary election, replacing Juan Guaidó who unexpectedly fled Venezuela last month, reports Reuters.
At a news conference, Voluntad Popular named political coordinator Freddy Superlano, a 46-year-old engineer and critic of President Nicolas Maduro, as its nominee, explaining Guaido could not represent the party from "exile."
Venezuela has signed an agreement with European energy giants Eni and Repsol that allows for the export of natural gas liquids -or condensates- to other markets, reports Bloomberg.
Venezuela says it can’t pay for equipment needed to dredge a coastal lake that’s key to oil exports, hampering Chevron’s plan to increase shipments from the country, reports Bloomberg.
A fire broke out deep in a gold mine in southern Peru and killed at least 27 workers during an overnight shift, reports the Associated Press.
A melting glacier in Peru has been turned into a “climate change” tourism attraction, warning of the perils of a warming world, reports the Washington Post.