Title 42 expired
May 12, 2023
Title 42 expired last night — illegal border crossings have topped 10,000 per day this week, the highest levels ever as migrants seek to enter the U.S., which phased out a pandemic era policy allowing officials to summarily deport would-be asylum seekers. (Washington Post)
All along the border, officials were overwhelmed by people who “waded across the Rio Grande, lined up at international bridges, filled federal immigration processing centers and huddled on the sidewalks of U.S. border towns,” reports the New York Times.
But the U.S. has warned migrants that the border is not open, and that new regulations will deny entry to people who cross illegally. (Washington Post, )
The new regulations aim to deter illegal crossings — with consequences like prohibition from entry to the U.S. for five years — and encourage migrants to use new legal pathways — though these have proved to be nearly impossible for thousands of people stuck in border limbo.
Rights advocates say the new policies limit the right to asylum. The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted that it was suing to stop the restrictions, saying they close off “access to safety for the majority of people seeking asylum in the United States.”
The new U.S. asylum ban, which requires asylum seekers to first apply for protection in countries they transit en route to the U.S., is hugely problematic, argue rights groups, and will force migrants “to choose between deportation and banishment or remaining in places plagued by the kind of violence and poverty they are fleeing, and without robust immigration protections,” reports the Miami Herald.
The new regulations will mean swift deportation of most migrants to Mexico, where they will be vulnerable to criminal groups and corrupt officials, warn rights organizations. (New York Times)
Concerns over a migrant surge at the U.S.-Mexico border are misplaced, argues WOLA’s Adam Isacson. Increases in migration documented this week are unlikely to last: “After all, Title 42 hardly deterred migration in the first place: it’s at or near record levels already, right now. And the Biden administration is working, with the Mexican government’s collaboration, to keep asylum out of reach to an extent that may resemble what we’ve already seen over the past 38 months.”
The end of Title 42 in pictures — Washington Post
The U.S. supreme court ruled in favor of a transgender Guatemalan woman fighting deportation on the grounds that she would face persecution if returned to her native country, reports the Associated Press.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have sought refuge in Aruba and Curaçao, where “a lack of legal pathways to residence and resources is compounded by the presence of criminal networks, putting a strain on human rights and further endangering an already vulnerable population,” reports the Center for Strategic International Studies.
Venezuela’s opposition Unitary Platform seeks to present a united front against Chavismo in next year’s presidential elections. But longstanding disagreements among opposition parties and leaders has complicated finding a consensus figure, and could lead to defections, reports El País.
No matter how the negotiations between the Maduro government and the opposition advance, the vote will “involve a stacked deck,” warns Ryan Berg in Americas Quarterly. But even though elections don’t equal democracy, the upcoming vote is an important opportunity for the opposition to engage with the electorate, he argues.
A new asset forfeiture law passed by Venezuelan lawmakers is aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption — but it is unlikely to be effective in the hands of a corrupt state with politicized institutions, according to InSight Crime.
The case of schoolteacher Alexander Eduvay Guzmán Molina, one of the first people detained under the state of exception declared a year ago in El Salvador, illustrates some of the abuses — arbitrary detention and systematic torture — that have been denounced by rights groups, reports El Faro.
Internal police documents obtained by El Faro suggest Guzmán was arbitrarily detained without evidence. At one point, detainees were forced to run in a squat position between the rows of uniformed agents wearing ski-masks.
“We started to go through the middle of those two lines, running with our heads down, and the beatings by the guards and police began: kicking us, clubbing us, punching us, everywhere on our bodies. The batons thrashing at us from every direction, fush, fush, fush, fush, the blows, pum, pum, pum!... I had to pass through the middle of all that, all of us did, all of us who were in line, running. Some got hit more than others. One agent kicked me in my right leg, my thigh, and I fell over. And then they just started wailing on me.” The beatings only ended when the police and guards got tired of kicking, punching, and swinging their batons, he says.
A key factor behind Chile’s constitutional whiplash — electing a far right Constitutional Council last weekend just two years after voters created one that skewed far to the left — is that the 2021 elections were optional, meaning more politicized voters participated, while last year’s referendum and last weekend’s elections were mandatory, meaning it included voters who were “previously silenced, conservative,” and “much less prone to radicalism,” according to Ascanio Cavallo in El País. (Vía Latin America Brief.)
“It’s unclear whether the right-wing majority will try to create a moderate charter in the hope of winning broad approval among voters or swing so far right that voters prefer to keep the current, Pinochet-era constitution,” writes Catherine Osborn in the Latin America Brief. (See Tuesday’s post.)
Political scientist Patricio Navia explains why the Chilean electorate’s mood seems to have shifted and what these developments mean for the political and economic future of the country in the AQ Podcast.
The recent kerfuffle over Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s statements regarding Russian aggression against Ukraine, particularly in the media, “lacks the necessary historical perspective,” argues Rafael R. Ioris in Global Americans. “For over a century, Brazilian diplomatic efforts have defended multilateralism, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and self-determination. Moreover, its foreign policy has been largely defined by the need to serve as an instrument of the country’s development.” (Via Latin America Risk Report)
Former Brazilian first lady Michelle Bolsonaro has embraced a more active role in conservative politics — Americas Quarterly
An Exxon Mobil subsidiary is in breach of insurance obligations for its first offshore oil project in Guyana, in part due to errors by the environmental regulator, according to a landmark ruling by Guyana’s High Court. The court’s ruling, which was appealed by the government, gives Exxon a month to provide an unlimited guarantee to cover all the clean-up costs of a potential spill in the consortium’s offshore operations. (See yesterday’s Just Caribbean Updates.)
Experts worry that Guyana lacks the expertise and legal and regulatory framework to handle an influx of oil wealth. They say it could weaken democratic institutions, reports the Associated Press.
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons were once seen as entitled princelings, but “Los Chapitos” embraced fentanyl early, and ·resuscitated a drug empire teetering after their father was locked behind U.S. bars,” reports Reuters in a special report.
Anti-gang vigilantism is spreading and gaining public support, raising the possibility that such movements could coalesce into criminal organizations, warns InSight Crime.
Peruvian President Dina Boluarte’s cabinet shakeup last month wasn’t a major political pivot, but “rather damage control,” George Washington University professor Cynthia McClintock told the Latin America Advisor.
Pirate Wire Services describes some colorful allegations related to a scandal in which members of a volunteer organization that campaigned for Colombian President Gustavo Petro allege they were actually paid in cash under the table.
Argentina’s Supreme Court suspended two provincial elections that were scheduled for this weekend, in relation to challenges against incumbents running for reelection in what rivals say were violations of term limits. The decision provoked backlash from the Fernández administration who said it adds to evidence that the judiciary is acting politically. — Check out the Road to the Casa Rosada, Arianna Kohan’s new weekly update on Argentine politics in a chaotic electoral year.
Global tech companies are increasingly hiring engineers in Latin America to carry out technical work — attracted by lower wages and time-zone proximity, reports Bloomberg.
Mexican feminist groups are increasingly helping women in the U.S. — and further abroad — with at-home medical abortions. Getting them the pills is less of a concern than online safety protocols, reports Rest of World.
Amazon pink river dolphins are the canaries of the rainforest coal mine — and in Colombia’s Orinoco Basin they have alarming levels of mercury, related to gold mining and indicating potential problems for others (like humans) who consume fish in the region. — Washington Post