Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

Archives

March 2021

At wola.org: Putting the U.S.-Mexico ‘Border Crisis’ Narrative into Context

What’s happening at the border right now is concerning: there are bottlenecks in caring for unaccompanied minors. But it’s not a crisis. If anything, the crisis is in the large number of people who continue to be expelled, within hours, without a hearing.

Four of us at WOLA just published an explainer that I think is pretty good. Here’s an excerpt, but you should really read the whole thing, it’s got a lot of good graphics in it.

It may seem ironic, but even as it carried out the cruelest anti-migration policies in decades, the Trump administration presided over the largest flows of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border since the mid-2000s. 

This continued through Donald Trump’s last months in office, which saw migration rise sharply even as stringent pandemic measures made the pursuit of asylum impossible. This shows the futility of declaring war on asylum, and the inevitability of large migration flows at a time of overlapping security, economic, political, public health, and climate crises.

The jump in migration of Trump’s final months continued accelerating during Joe Biden’s first two months in office. This is happening even as Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) keeps in place “Title 42,” a probably illegal Trump-era pandemic provision that expels most migrants within hours, regardless of their protection needs.

Is there a “crisis” of people attempting to cross the border? 

The increased numbers of people crossing the border right now is something that border experts have predicted for some time now. The roots of what is happening are in the Trump administration policies that caused massive numbers of people to be stuck on the Mexican side of the border—policies like “Remain in Mexico” (which forced over 70,000 asylum seekers to wait for their U.S. court dates in Mexico border cities) and “metering,” a practice under which U.S. border authorities place severe limits on who is allowed to approach ports of entry and ask for asylum, in violation of U.S. and international law. 

The increased border crossings was predictable, not because of Biden administration policies like winding down “Remain with Mexico,” but because of the dangers put in place by Trump’s cruel and illegal policies of deterrence.

Of the 114 months since October 2011 for which WOLA has detailed monthly data, February 2021 saw the third-most Border Patrol encounters with migrants. (The actual number of people was probably much lower since, as noted below, many migrants expelled under Title 42 attempt to re-enter shortly afterward.)

While third-most sounds like a lot, the impact on border authorities’ workload is minimal because Title 42 persists. Of the 96,974 migrants whom Border Patrol “encountered” in February, it quickly expelled 72 percent—down only slightly from the end of the Trump administration, which expelled 85 percent in December and 83 percent in January. The remainder whom Border Patrol actually had to process last month—26,791 migrants—was the 77th most out of the past 114 months. Being in 77th place hardly constitutes a crisis.

There is a serious capacity issue right now, though, for one especially vulnerable category of migrant: children who arrive unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. 

There’s more — read on at wola.org.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Photo from CNN.

(Even more here)

March 17, 2021

Brazil

Todo indica que la serie 1000 superará esa carga útil, y permitiría así, una pequeña carga de armas

MiliCarthyism produces a fog of uncertainty that makes you ponder several times before practicing the elementary commitments of your profession, if your profession is not meant to pay homage to the government of the day

Central America Regional

Years of neglect, corruption, and inaction on coastal development, deforestation, over grazing, unregulated hydro-electric dams, and reckless mining have collided with the global climate crisis to threaten the survival of poor and marginalized communities

Colombia

Los precarios avances en materia de investigación por parte de Fiscalía General de la Nación (FGN) no han logrado identificar las causas estructurales de esta violencia y su relación con los intereses que confluyen en el silenciamiento de las personas defensoras y de los excombatientes

Colombian representatives withdrew in protest yesterday from the first day of a virtual public hearing to determine the state’s responsibility in the 2000 abduction, rape, and torture of journalist Jineth Bedoya

Bedoya daba clase de contundencia, resiliencia y valentía

Solo entre el 1.º de enero y el 7 de marzo de 2021– al menos 11.150 colombianos, según datos de la Defensoría del Pueblo. De esta preocupante cifra, el 90 por ciento pertenece a población afrodescendiente, negra o indígena

Honduras

“No podía creer lo que estaba viendo en ese momento”, dijo el testigo, un contador hondureño

Mexico

Hoy celebramos la conclusión definitiva del proceso penal contra Mónica, quien después de 8 años de haber sobrevivido a tortura sexual, detención arbitraria y la ejecución arbitraria de su pareja, hoy puede tener certeza de que las acusaciones en su contra han cesado

U.S.-Mexico Border

“Homeland Security, CBP, would like to continue DoD support,” Air Force Gen. Glenn VanHerck said, referring to a current request for assistance

All the hallmarks of a coordinated push by Border Patrol officers, including the leadership of the Border Patrol’s pro-Trump labor union, to undermine the current administration

Fenton’s comments come as Texas Governor Greg Abbott and GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that migrants are spreading the virus to the general public. However, the rate of infection among migrants tested at the border is lower than that of the state

In the short term — as warmer weather invites even more people to migrate north — Mr. Biden’s administration must find a way to temporarily care for the thousands of migrant children who are arriving at the United States border without a legal guardian

What’s missing is a serious comparison with the pre-Biden status quo. It’s as if the current situation exists in a vacuum: Before there was no crisis, and now there’s a crisis

The optics of what is being dubbed a “border crisis” could curtail his aspirations to pass some sort of comprehensive immigration reform this year that would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship

More than 4,000 migrant children were being held by the Border Patrol as of Sunday, including at least 3,000 in custody longer than the 72-hour limit set by a court order, according to a U.S. official. The agency took in an additional 561 on Monday, twice the recent average

Venezuela

Un nuevo perfil de movilidad durante la pandemia: la salida de familias completas o extendidas que incorporan a sobrinos, suegros e incluso vecinos

The day ahead: March 17, 2021

I should be reachable much of the day. (How to contact me)

I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. No ill effects, other than a very sore shoulder and the need to take a very long nap yesterday afternoon. Today, for me, will be a day of writing and catching up. I’ve got an internal meeting mid-day. Otherwise I’ll be finishing my parts of a WOLA commentary on the border, preparing my talk for a WOLA Colombia event tomorrow, and answering messages that accumulated yesterday. I also hope to carve out a few hours for research and website updates, depending on how long it takes to do everything else.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Juan José Serafín Estrada photo at SinEmbargo (Mexico). Caption: “Militares previo a labores de seguridad en Michoacán.”

(Even more here)

March 16, 2021

Western Hemisphere Regional

In order to gain more access, presence, and influence in the region, the PRC and Russia are taking advantage of the pandemic

Bolivia

A series of actions, most recently the arrest of former interim President Jeanine Áñez and two of her former ministers, have cooled hopes that Arce might be a moderating force in Bolivian politics

Brazil

Some analysts have expressed fear that the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January may inspire an armed uprising of Bolsonaro supporters should he fail to win a second term in next year’s election

Colombia

La idea era mejorar su relación y la de sus equipos. Pasó lo contrarioDuque y Londoño tuvieron que enfrentar críticas de los sectores más radicales de su partido

Sostenemos que los comentarios de los magistrados fueron dignificantes y oportunos en la medida que acababan de escuchar el valiente testimonio de una sobreviviente de graves violaciones a derechos humanos, pero de ninguna manera prejuzgaron sobre la responsabilidad del Estado

Con cada hecho de sangre el país ha recordado la existencia de Tumaco, y vienen el llanto, los rezos, los velorios y los entierros, pero nada cambia

Cuba

Sixty six percent of 400 Cuban Americans, all of whom voted in the 2020 election, said they oppose normalizing relations

Haiti

It has become a vehicle for those in and outside the country to show their support for the Haitian people amid the country’s deepening political turmoil and mounting violence

Mexico

Such attempts by the CJNG to force smaller groups to join forces with them or be eliminated have caused their rivals like the Nueva Plaza and the Sinaloa Cartel to adopt a similar modus operandi

So what is the Mérida Initiative, and why is it a potential target for reform?

U.S.-Mexico Border

Republicans are positioning themselves around the gaps in the border wall, sometimes literally, in an effort to portray Mr. Biden as soft on immigration

We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years. We are expelling most single adults and families

“We would love to see the processing of minor children happen a lot quicker,” Ms. Rivas said. But, she added, “Right now we don’t have an operational asylum system because there’s still a lot of rebuilding to do”

Warring Twitter factions quickly emerged, landing neatly into two camps: those who viewed Biden’s action as open hypocrisy and believe the government should never have custody of these children, and those defending the move as a necessary temporary measure to safely deal with a “surge”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and HHS will “be responsible for providing shelter management and contracts” for food, security, cleaning, and medical care at the convention center

Centrist Democrats are nervous about attacks casting them as soft on border security. Liberals and immigration activists are sounding alarms about how migrants are treated. And Republicans are increasingly laying the groundwork for immigration-centric attacks

Community leaders and Democrats here argue that Republicans are trying to manufacture a crisis that’s not there for political gain, as most migrants are still being kicked out and those being allowed to stay are being processed in El Paso in an orderly fashion

Leaders in Texas border towns say their economies are suffering because of pandemic restrictions on cross-border travel

Venezuela

La siembra de la próxima temporada también está en peligro en un país en el que, según el Programa Mundial de Alimentos de Naciones Unidas, dos tercios de la población no cuenta con un suministro estable y suficiente de alimentos

The day ahead: March 16, 2021

I’m off today. (How to contact me)

I’m getting my first COVID vaccine today, and decided to take the whole day off. Been working a lot the last few weekends, and I could use some rest. Still, I’ll probably spend some of the day trying to reduce my inboxes, so may be reachable—but I can’t say when.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

AFP photo at El Espectador (Colombia). Caption: “Los dos casos más avanzados en la JEP son el 01 (secuestro por parte de las Farc) y el 03 (‘falsos positivos’ cometidos por la Fuerza Pública”

(Even more here)

March 15, 2021

Bolivia

Por primera vez en la historia de Bolivia, un mandatario es enviado a la cárcel

La medida marcó una escalada de hostilidades entre el actual ejecutivo de izquierda y la oposición, más conservadora, y provocó una gran polémica en el país

Brazil

Brazilian Army Major General Alcides Valeriano de Faria Junior served as the deputy commanding General for Interoperability at U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH). This is the second time that a general officer from a partner nation holds this position

To this day, we are still waiting for those who ordered Marielle’s killing to be brought to justice

Chile

“Las FF.AA. tienen un rol definido durante el Estado de Excepción, al cual se han apegado estrictamente, y que se aboca a labores de logística, planificación, equipamiento y de apoyo a las policías”

“Siempre son reticentes. Me toca reunirme con ellos como jefes de la defensa en las distintas regiones y particularmente encuentro insólito que lleguen a las reuniones con abogados, para poder decir por qué no pueden hacer las cosas que uno quisiera”, dijo

Colombia

Al tildar a alguien de “máquina de guerra”, Molano está cometiendo un acto de violencia simbólica a través del lenguaje

Medicina Legal confirmó la muerte de otra menor. Se trata de Yeimi Sofía Vega, de 15 años

Sabemos poco sobre el “federalismo” del ELN: una suma de guerrillas regionales con un ambiguo proyecto nacional. La estrategia que funcionó ante las FARC no serviría frente a esta guerrilla

Los adolescentes guerrilleros son víctimas y población civil a ser protegida, salvo cuando participen directamente en las hostilidades

“Son máquinas de guerra”, dijo Molano sobre los menores de edad reclutados por grupos ilegales. ¿Se arrepiente el ministro de lo dicho? Así respondió

El Estado colombiano responderá ante la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (Corte IDH) por el secuestro, tortura y violencia sexual de los que fue víctima la periodista Jineth Bedoya el 25 de mayo del 2000

Jineth Bedoya, who’s been seeking justice since she was kidnapped, tortured and raped in 2000, to testify before international court

Nuestra idea es que la transformación territorial que llegaría de la plena implementación de los acuerdos es la mejor estrategia de seguridad a largo plazo y la salida más prometedora y sostenible al problema de los cultivos ilícitos

Guatemala, Mexico

As Mr. López’s relatives grieved, some blamed U.S. authorities for deporting him. “If they hadn’t grabbed him, Edgar would still be alive”

Honduras

La confesión del cartel de Los Cachiros en una corte de Nueva York pone contra las cuerdas al presidente de Honduras tras señalar que pagaron por protección al mandatario, a su familia, al vicepresidente y a los dos anteriores dirigentes

Mexico

Los bloqueos se registraron el mismo día en que el general Pablo Alberto Lechuga Horta tomó protesta como comandante de la 8va Zona Militar

Our experience with the P.R.I. taught us that a one-party system does not especially value democracy, freedom and the rule of law. If the congressional elections confirm Mr. López Obrador’s total control of Congress, he would value them even less

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Mexico is struggling to deal with a new wave of migrants expelled from the U.S. while even more come north hoping to cross. Shelters that were empty four months ago are now having to turn many away

The children, many attempting to join parents in the U.S., never got a chance to make their case to Border Patrol agents

U.S.-Mexico Border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said he will lead a 13-member delegation “to see first-hand and come back with solutions” to a new surge in illegal immigration

The goal of the new intake center is to put children in a safer environment while officials work to get them to a family member or other sponsor, or a long-term shelter

Attorneys who visited a Border Patrol tent facility in Texas for unaccompanied immigrant minors who recently crossed the border said some of the children were held for as many as eight days in crowded areas without showers

FEMA, which normally provides financial assistance during natural disasters, will help find shelter space and provide “food, water and basic medical care” to thousands of young migrants

Nearly 30,000 children were under federal custody so far this fiscal year, a rate greater than any seen in over a decade

Some children get to shower about once a week and sometimes soap runs out, with only shampoo available, she said. One child told Welch she hadn’t showered in six days

The trio of companies — Caliburn International, the British security company Serco Group, and Pacific Architects and Engineers — have already posted job listings

El Paso County officials and migrant advocates said Saturday they had been told they would receive as many as 270 migrants per day in two separate flights from the Rio Grande Valley. But instead, many migrants are being sent back across the border to Ciudad Juárez under Title 42

Venezuela

en medio de una operación fronteriza, desmantelaron en el sur del Lago de Maracaibo, en el estado Zulia, dos campamentos destinados al procesamiento de drogas donde se incautaron 5.100 kilos de cocaína procedente de Colombia

Juan González, asesor de Biden para América Latina recalcó que EEUU por los momentos no tiene previsto levantar las sanciones que han sido impuestas contra el régimen de Nicolás Maduro y sus funcionarios

The day ahead: March 15, 2021

I’m in meetings all day, maybe reachable near the end. (How to contact me)

I have a couple of internal meetings, a meeting with a civil-military expert in South America, and a meeting with litigators in a border-related case. That will take up virtually all my day, so I will once again be slow to respond to contacts.

Tomorrow I’ve got a vaccination appointment and plan to take a rare day off—so for anything non-urgent I recommend contacting me Wednesday please.

Weekly e-mail update is out

I just sent off another e-mail update to those who’ve subscribed. It’s got some musings on the fact that this week makes one year since pandemic social distancing began. Then, the items posted to this site since Friday, but in the form of a big giant email:

  • English of the column I published in Colombia’s El Espectador;
  • Full text of this week’s U.S.-Mexico border update;
  • Full text of this week’s Colombia peace update;
  • 5 “longread” links from the past week;
  • Latin America-related online events for this week;
  • And, finally, several funny tweets.

Here’s the page with past editions and a blank to add your e-mail address if you want these more-or-less weekly missives in your inbox.

Latin America-related online events this week

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

  • 9:00-10:30 at wola.org: Breaking the Stalemate: How Venezuelan Civil Society is Pushing for Free and Fair Elections (RSVP required).
  • 9:00-12:10 at thedialogue.org: Media and Democracy in the Americas IV – Overcoming Distrust in Media (RSVP required).
  • 9:30 at armed-services.senate.gov: Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on United States Southern Command and United States Northern Command.
  • 10:30-11:30 at CLIP: Corriendo la cortina de las relaciones China – Venezuela (RSVP required).
  • 1:00 at Noria Research Zoom: Opium & the War on Drugs: Mexico into International Perspective (RSVP required).
  • 5:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: COVID-19 recovery: A partnership strategy for the Biden administration in Latin America and the Caribbean (RSVP required).
  • 7:00 at centroprodh.org.mx: Militarización y derechos de las mujeres (RSVP required).

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Friday, March 19, 2021

  • 11:00-12:00 at wilsoncenter.org: Fortifying the Future: Assessing the Homeland Security Mission in the Decade Ahead (RSVP required).

5 links from the past week

  • The situation at the border right now—a jump in arrivals of unaccompanied children, the slow end of Remain in Mexico, the persistence of the Trump pandemic “expulsions” policy—is really confusing. At the New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer unpacks this moment and the difficult choices with which it presents the new Biden administration.
  • The ACLU sent a letter with a big appendix to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas detailing 13 administrative complaints about “abuse, neglect, and trauma inflicted by CBP on people simply seeking protection in the United States.” The organization had filed these complaints with the DHS Inspector General between 2019 and 2020, but none of the cases has moved.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last week made public a December 17 letter from seven of its rapporteurs, urging the Colombian government not to restart an aerial herbicide fumigation program in the country’s coca-growing areas.
  • I haven’t finished reading this yet—it’s long but impressive. Noria Research published a series about Mexico’s opium poppy economy, based on fieldwork in cultivation zones. It questions dominant narratives and policies: “In Mexico, opium functions as a ‘political opiate’: one that allows marginalized regions to economically survive, while the State limits its social, educational, and development functions to a minimum.”
  • A drug trafficker’s trial in New York is causing problems for Honduras’s corrupt president, Juan Orlando Hernández. At Contra Corriente, Leonardo Aguilar details some of the revelations implicating top politicians like Hernández and his rival Manuel Zelaya, as well as leadership of the security forces.

Colombia Peace Update: March 13, 2021

Cross-posted from WOLA’s colombiapeace.org site. During at least the first half of 2021, we’re producing weekly updates in English about peace accord implementation and related topics. Get these in your e-mail by signing up to this Google group.

At least one child killed in March 2 bombing raid on FARC dissidents

An entry in the “Links” section of last week’s update noted that Colombia’s armed forces had reported “neutralizing” 13 members of the FARC dissident group headed by alias “Gentil Duarte,” bombing a site in Calamar, Guaviare, on March 2. (Guaviare, in south-central Colombia, is an agricultural frontier department with a history of armed group presence.) “Duarte,” once a mid-level FARC leader, had exited the peace process before the peace accord’s 2016 signing, and now leads the largest network of armed “dissidents.” Since at least January 2019, Colombia’s human rights ombudsman’s office (Defensoría) has warned that Duarte’s group recruits many underage combatants.

On March 9 some left-leaning media, citing families and local human rights associations, began alleging that as many as 12 of those killed in the March 2 attack could have been children. As of March 12, one child was confirmed to have been killed at the dissidents’ site. A trusted source tells WOLA that two other children arrived wounded at the hospital in nearby San José del Guaviare municipality.

Danna Lizeth Montilla was 16 years old. Her father told El Tiempo that he had not seen his daughter since December 2020, when she left home in Puerto Cachicamo, a village in San José del Guaviare, to live with relatives at a site where a better internet signal might allow her to attend school during the pandemic. They lost contact with Danna in January. Her father feared that she had been recruited by an armed group. “It’s something that has become common,” he told El Tiempo. “But I never thought it would happen to my daughter.”

This is not the first time that child combatants have died in a bombing raid on dissidents. An August 2019 operation in the nearby municipality of San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá, killed eight minors at an encampment—but the Defense Ministry failed to report that detail. When opposition senators revealed the deaths in November 2019, accusing a cover-up, the defense minister at the time, Guillermo Botero, was forced to resign.

The current defense minister is not covering up the March 2 bombing outcome. Diego Molano acknowledged that children may have died, including Danna Lizeth Montilla, though the actual number is unknown since forensic investigations continue. He placed blame for what happened on the dissident groups recruiting children, and insisted that the armed forces, lacking intelligence indicating that children were present, carried out the March 2 operation in accordance with international humanitarian law.

While further investigation is needed to confirm that, legal experts interviewed in Colombian media agree that it’s possible the armed forces’ March 2 operation did not violate international humanitarian law. While IHL prohibits recruitment of children under 18, armed child recruits 15 or over may be considered combatants, or legitimate military targets, under some circumstances.

Minister Molano didn’t stop there, though. In interviews on March 9 and 10 he caused an uproar in Colombia, using language attacking the children themselves. Some examples:

  • “Even though they’re youths, they are a threat to society.”
  • “We’re not talking about young people who didn’t know what they were doing.”
  • “It’s not like they were studying for their college entrance exams.”
  • “This operation targeted a narco-terrorist structure that uses young people to turn them into war machines.”

Criticisms of Molano’s statements poured out. “There’s no such thing as minors acting out of free will in an armed conflict,” said Javeriana University law professor Yadira Alarcón. “The war machine is the one that kills kids, minister,” opposition Senator Iván Cepeda wrote on Twitter. “This is a message of war against children, a message of war against the vulnerable populations that today are being victimized,” said prominent human rights defender Francia Márquez, one of 23 signers of a letter condemning Molano’s statements. “For the Minister of Defense, children aged 13, 14, and 16 have been turned into ‘war machines.’ It is very sad that kids are called that,” said Danna Lizeth Montilla’s father.

Indigenous community retains soldiers in Chocó

The commander of the Colombian Army’s 7th Division denounced on March 8 that members of an indigenous community disarmed, bound the hands of, and retained nine soldiers in Carmen de Atrato municipality, in Chocó department. (In Colombia’s northwest corner, Chocó is the country’s poorest department, and one of its most violent.) Government officials are vowing to pursue kidnapping charges against members of the local Indigenous Guard, a disciplined public order force—armed only with ceremonial staffs—that is common in many indigenous territories.

Details about the incident are confusing. Soldiers claim they were investigating shots fired near a main road. Indigenous Guard members in the El Consuelo Parte Baja community claim that the soldiers lacked recognizable insignia. Neither side alleges that force was used. On the next day (March 9), the community turned the nine soldiers over to a committee from the Defensoría.

The Army vowed to file criminal kidnapping charges against the Chocó indigenous leaders. President Iván Duque’s national security advisor, Rafael Guarín, voiced rage, telling El Tiempo: “Things must be called by their names. They were not detained, they were kidnapped! And those who did it should be condemned for that crime. They should be sentenced for that crime to prison terms between 40 and 45 years, the maximum that the penal code establishes for that case.”

Guarín, a longtime conservative security intellectual and columnist, sees a larger nationwide plot. “It is an unarmed violent mobilization—at least not with firearms, in most cases—that seeks to prevent the capture of criminals, the eradication of illicit crops, the destruction of drug processing laboratories, operations against the illicit extraction of minerals, and even the fight against organized armed groups’ structures.”

Colombia’s National Indigenous Organization (ONIC) rejected Guarín’s words, including allegations that the Chocó community engaged in kidnapping. ONIC’s peace and human rights counselor, Gustavo Vélez, told El Tiempo, “These people [soldiers] were not assaulted, they were not outraged, they were only held… They were taken to a place where they did not even go without water, and they were handed over to… the Defensoría.”

“As a national organization we categorically reject this type of assessment by Dr. Guarín,” Vélez continued, “because this type of assessment stigmatizes the Indigenous Guard, stigmatizes men and women who today are displaced and confined. At no time has the Indigenous Guard been used by armed actors for illegal purposes.”

Letter from UN rapporteurs on fumigation

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights made public a December 17 letter from seven of its rapporteurs, urging the Colombian government not to restart a program that would eradicate coca by spraying herbicides from aircraft.

Between 1994 and 2015, with heavy U.S. support, contract pilots and Colombian police sprayed glyphosate over 1.8 million hectares of the country’s territory, achieving modest and quickly reversible reductions in coca cultivation. The program was suspended in 2015 after a World Health Organization study found glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.” While the Duque government is vowing to re-start fumigation, Colombia’s Constitutional Court has set several health, safety, consultation, and other requirements that the government must meet before doing so.

The December letter is signed by the UN rapporteurs for Toxic Substances, Afro-Descendant Communities, Environment, Food, Physical and Mental Health, Human Rights Defenders, and Indigenous Communities. It contends that resuming glyphosate fumigation would “carry enormous risks for human rights and the environment, while it will not comply with the conditions established by the Constitutional Court or international obligations.” It warns that renewed fumigation might violate the terms of the 2016 peace accord. It advises renouncing fumigation, and asks the government for information about compliance with the Constitutional Court’s requirements and other risk mitigation measures.

“The letter was sent after we in civil society requested that the rapporteurs activate this mechanism, and thus help restrain the Government’s insistent announcements about the possible resumption of the PECIG [glyphosate spray program],” notes a statement from the Colombian legal NGO DeJusticia and several other groups, including WOLA.

The Colombian government’s February 17 response to the UN rapporteurs also became public last week—and it was a flat refusal. Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations Adriana Mejía told the rapporteurs that their “urgent call…does not comply with the requirements set forth in the code of conduct governing the performance of your mandate.” In other words, that the rapporteurs were outside their proper lane, and thus would not get a response to their letter’s claims.

The UN letter was not the only public declaration last week in opposition to renewing fumigation. More than 150 academics from Colombia, the United States, and elsewhere signed a letter urging President Joe Biden “to reconsider your support for aerial spraying.” WOLA’s Adam Isacson published a column in El Espectador voicing hope that, once it becomes more consolidated with the addition of key officials, the Biden administration may be convinced to abandon the spray program.

For now, the fumigation program remains suspended. Defense Minister Molano, though, reiterated on March 2 that, with the Court’s conditions met, the program would restart in April. A judge in Nariño department, in southwest Colombia, continues to hold up a component of the restart with a finding that Afro-Descendant and indigenous communities must be consulted first. A government filing alleges that the judge’s “omissive” action runs counter to “maintaining national security.”

Links

  • President Duque held a rare meeting on March 10 with Comunes (ex-FARC) party leader Rodrigo Londoño to discuss protection of demobilized ex-combatants. On March 18, Londoño is to appear before the Truth Commission jointly with former top paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso, who is currently in an ICE facility in Georgia contesting his deportation, after serving a U.S. prison sentence for drug trafficking. Meanwhile, in an eight-page document Londoño frankly discussed the Comunes party’s difficulty joining coalitions for the 2022 presidential and legislative elections, as well as divisions within the party.
  • U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had a March 10 phone conversation with Defense Minister Molano and Presidential Chief of Staff Maria Paula Correa. According to the White House readout, topics covered included climate change, “a peaceful and negotiated outcome to” Venezuela’s crisis, peace accord implementation, and “the importance of upholding human rights.”
  • Bogotá’s mayor, Claudia López, sparked controversy with another in a series of public comments blaming Venezuelan migrants for some crime in the city. As the first woman and first LGBTI mayor of Bogotá, her words drew expressions of consternation from several of her center-left political allies.
  • A regular Universidad de los Andes poll of Colombian public opinion found that support for the FARC peace accord surpassed 50 percent for the first time—51 percent, up from 41 percent during a 2016 version of the poll.
  • The investigative website La Liga del Silencio reported that the Truth Commission had sent the Defense Ministry a letter last October noting that the armed forces had not responded satisfactorily to 38 different information requests submitted over the previous year. The Liga report reveals that a 2015 fire at a military facility destroyed 17 years of Army records in a major conflict region, the Magdalena Medio.
  • The Colombian government’s Center for Historical Memory (CNMH), which since 2019 has been directed by a conservative disliked by much of the country’s human rights community, is again embroiled in controversy. It faces allegations that its leadership “drastically” censored the content of a museum exhibit that Center staff had developed with several indigenous groups’ participation and consent. The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), citing indications of prior censorship from fifty witnesses, asked the CNMH to turn over e-mail communications between Director Darío Acevedo and the leadership of the historical memory museum effort.
  • Writing for Mongabay, Juanita Vélez of Conflict Responses finds that Colombia’s military-led environmental protection campaign has done little to confront those most responsible for profiting from and financing Amazon basin deforestation, nor does it resolve land tenure issues that underlie the problem.

Weekly Border Update: March 12, 2021

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. You can get these in your e-mail each week by joining WOLA’s “Beyond the Wall” mailing list. Since what’s happening at the border is one of the principal events in this week’s U.S. news, this update is a “double issue,” longer than normal.

Border Patrol facilities filling with unaccompanied children

Numbers of unaccompanied migrant children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border rose in February to their highest level since May of 2019. Border Patrol apprehended 9,297 kids without adult accompaniment, up from 5,694 in January, while another 160 presented themselves at border ports of entry.

Media outlets with which CBP has shared preliminary March data, like CBS News, report that 3,500 more children were taken into U.S. custody during the first nine days of this month. Over the previous 21 days, CNN reported on March 10, U.S. border authorities had encountered an average of 435 unaccompanied kids per day, up from a 21-day average of 340 per day a week earlier.

Of the 9,297 unaccompanied kids apprehended in February, 42 percent were from Guatemala, 28 percent from Honduras, 19 percent from Mexico, 8 percent from El Salvador, and 3 percent from all other countries.

Download a packet of infographics at bit.ly/wola_border.

The rate of increase of unaccompanied child arrivals is “unprecedented,” according to “veteran” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials cited in the Washington Post, who add that the influx has “the potential to be the largest in decades,” surpassing prior “waves” of unaccompanied children in 2014, 2016, and 2019. Indeed, of the 114 months for which WOLA has official data going back to October 2011, February 2021 was the fourth-heaviest month for apprehensions of unaccompanied children—and numbers tend to increase during the spring.

The increase isn’t made up entirely of children who fled Central America recently. The Trump administration’s crackdown on asylum, which included rapidly expelling unaccompanied children under a pandemic border-closure policy between March and November 2020, bottled up many who otherwise would have migrated last year. “These are kids who’ve been waiting at the border, in some cases for more than a year,” Jennifer Podkul of Kids in Need of Defense told the New Yorker. The Biden administration is still expelling most migrants—including asylum seekers—under the pandemic order, but it has refused to expel unaccompanied children.

A 2008 law requires that CBP and its Border Patrol agency must turn all unaccompanied minor migrants from non-contiguous countries (that means, other than Mexico) over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS), which maintains a network of shelters around the country. ORR then endeavors to get the kids out of the shelters as quickly as possible, turning them over to relatives living in the United States (in 90 percent of cases) or other sponsors. Most non-Mexican children who arrive unaccompanied, then, seek to be apprehended after crossing the border.

Eventually, in a process slowed by backlogs, the children go to immigration court to seek asylum or other protection. Citing DHS statistics, the Washington Post reports that 52 percent of the 290,000 unaccompanied minors who crossed the border since 2014 still have cases pending. 28 percent have been granted humanitarian protection, 16 percent have been ordered to leave but it’s unclear whether they did, and 4.3 percent have been deported.

The ORR shelter system is near capacity right now, which means that Border Patrol—which must release the children to ORR within 72 hours—often has nowhere to put them. By March 8, the number of children in Border Patrol stations and detention facilities had risen to 3,250. Nearly 1,400 had been waiting in these facilities—austere holding cells designed for adult males—for more than the legal guideline of 72 hours. Of the 3,250, 169 were under the age of 13. Children are now spending an average of 107 hours in the grim Border Patrol holding cells, with 24-hour always-on lighting, that Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center wrote in the Washington Post are “essentially police precincts with cement floors.”

Each day, according to the Post, an additional 500 or more children are arriving in CBP and Border Patrol custody, with nearly 700 on March 10. As of March 9, the refugee agency had just over 500 shelter beds available to accommodate them. ORR’s shelters usually hold about 13,200 children, but that number was reduced to about 8,000 due to COVID-19 social distancing measures. This week, the shelter population grew to about 8,500 as ORR relaxed some of these measures.

ORR statistics cited in the Post show that 70 percent of the unaccompanied child population is male, and 75 percent are 15 to 17 years old. “HHS officials have told the White House that they need about 20,000 shelter beds to keep pace with the influx,” the same article reveals.

As it begins its eighth week, the Biden administration has been scrambling to keep up with accommodations for the children. This is complicated by the pandemic, but also by its inability to prepare before January 20. “Trump’s political appointees at HHS and DHS refused to meet with” Biden transition officials, the New Yorker reported, “deliberately sabotaging their ability to plan ahead, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.” Agencies are taking the following measures to speed up the throughput in ORR’s system, reducing the amount of time a child spends in its shelters from the current average of 30 to 40 days.

  • Working “aggressively” to release children to the custody of sponsors, including proposals to help pay some of the children’s travel costs.
  • Loosening or lifting COVID-19 precautions that had reduced shelters’ capacity.
  • Asking DHS personnel to volunteer to travel to the border and help with processing.
  • Looking for additional ORR “influx facilities” to hold children ages 13-17, where conditions are more austere than in the agency’s normal shelters but superior to CBP custody. One has opened in Carrizo Springs, Texas, and may hold up to 952 children. Other candidates include Moffett Federal Airfield, a NASA site in Google’s headquarters town of Mountain View, California; a facility in Homestead, Florida that drew controversy during the Trump administration due to poor conditions; and Fort Lee, a U.S. Army facility south of Richmond, Virginia.

On March 6, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas led a 13-person delegation of top officials from several agencies to the border. They visited the Carrizo Springs facility and a temporary CBP processing center in Donna, Texas, and presented recommendations to President Joe Biden after their return to Washington.

February migration numbers rise overall, even as pandemic “expulsions“ policy remains in place

Unaccompanied children are one of a small number of categories of migrants who stand any chance right now of being released into the United States to seek asylum or protection. Most migrants apprehended at the border get expelled, often within an hour or two, under a pandemic measure referred to as “Title 42” that the Trump administration instituted in March 2020 and the Biden administration has maintained.

In addition to unaccompanied children, the other exceptions to rapid expulsion appear to be:

  • A growing proportion of family unit members (parents with children) apprehended at the border: CBS News reports that nearly 60 percent of family members apprehended in February “were processed under U.S. immigration law, with many allowed to seek asylum or other forms of protection while in American communities.” The rest were expelled.
  • A tightly controlled stream of migrants who had been subject to the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, or “Remain in Mexico”) policy. As of March 10, the White House reported that 1,400 MPP enrollees had been admitted into the United States to await their immigration court hearings. About 15,000 of a qualified population of over 25,000 had signed up for admission into the United States. The winding down of “Remain in Mexico” brought a happy bit of news: the closure of a squalid encampment of MPP enrollees in Matamoros, Mexico near the Brownsville, Texas border crossing. Though not all of the camp’s residents have been admitted yet, the number of those still waiting is small enough for shelters to accommodate them in Matamoros.

Migrants not in these categories, including many Haitian and Central American families, are still being expelled under Title 42. Still, U.S. authorities saw an increase in their encounters with all categories of migrants in February. Border Patrol encountered 96,974 migrants last month, up from 75,312 in January. CBP took another 3,467 into custody at ports of entry.

Download a packet of infographics at bit.ly/wola_border.

The 96,974 encounters were the most since May 2019, and the third-most in the 114 months since October 2011. 43 percent were from Mexico, 20 percent from Honduras, 19 percent from Guatemala, 6 percent from El Salvador, and 12 percent from other countries.

  • 68,732 of those encountered were single adults. This was the most single adults for any month since October 2011 (we don’t have data breaking out adults before then). 57 percent were from Mexico, 17 percent from Guatemala, 12 percent from Honduras, 4 percent from El Salvador, and 10 percent from other countries.
    Nearly all single adults were expelled, and many reflected in this number are double- or triple-counted. CBP told CBS News that about 25,000 of migrants encountered in February had been caught before. The “recidivism rate”—the percentage of apprehended migrants who had been apprehended before, expelled, and tried to cross again—was 38 percent in January, up from 7 percent in 2019.
  • 18,945 were members of family units. This was the most family unit members since August 2019 and the 12th largest monthly total since October 2011. As noted above, over 40 percent of these people were probably expelled. 47 percent were from Honduras, 19 percent from Guatemala, 9 percent from El Salvador, 4 percent from Mexico, and 21 percent from other countries.
  • As also noted above, 9,297 were unaccompanied children, the most since May 2019 and the 4th-most since October 2011. 42 percent were from Guatemala, 28 percent from Honduras, 19 percent from Mexico, 8 percent from El Salvador, and 3 percent from other countries.

The rate of increase alarmed unnamed officials, cited in the Washington Post, who “described the surge as ‘overwhelming,’ ‘on fire’ and potentially larger than the 2019 crisis, when CBP took nearly 1 million migrants into custody.” So far in March, U.S. agents are detaining more than 4,200 people per day, which if sustained would rival the 132,856 apprehensions recorded in May 2019, which was the most in 13 years.

Mexico, too, is seeing an increase in migration: the “La 72” migrant shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco, has served 6,000 migrants so far this year, more than in all of 2020. The refugee agency COMAR received 13,513 requests to enter Mexico’s asylum system in January and February; if that rate is sustained, it will break COMAR’s request record set in 2019.

Overall, U.S. authorities expelled 72 percent of the migrants they encountered in February, under the Title 42 pandemic measure. That was down from 83 percent in January and 85 percent in December.

Download a packet of infographics at bit.ly/wola_border.

55 percent of family unit members are being apprehended in south Texas’s Rio Grande Valley sector. In order to balance out the caseload, CBP has begun flying some of those families elsewhere for processing. The Dallas Morning News and El Paso Matters reported that two planes per day, each carrying up to 135 migrants, have begun arriving in El Paso from the Rio Grande Valley. There, families would be processed, begin their asylum paperwork, and be turned over to Annunciation House, a respite center that gives them a place to stay for a few days while they make travel arrangements to the communities where they will live and go to immigration court.

At a March 10 White House briefing, Roberta Jacobson—a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico who is now the National Security Council’s southern border coordinator—repeatedly urged migrants not to come to the border right now, noting that Title 42 remains in force. She also acknowledged that migrant smugglers are likely capitalizing on the perception that the Biden administration will be more welcoming than its predecessor. While they say they intend to lift the pandemic measures and other Trump-era obstacles to asylum, Jacobson and other officials are asking for time to set up infrastructure for processing, alternatives to detention, and other needs. “We are… almost 50 days in,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “We are digging ourselves out of a broken and dismantled system.”

Republican leaders have ramped up their messaging about the increased migration numbers as evidence of a “Biden border crisis.” House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-California) plans to lead a delegation of Republicans to the border soon. “The border is breaking down as I speak,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Fox News. “Immigration in 2022 [midterm legislative elections] will be a bigger issue than it was in 2016.” Trump’s former acting DHS secretary, Chad Wolf, co-authored a Fox News column alleging that the Democratic Party’s plan is to allow larger numbers of undocumented aliens to enter, give them citizenship and turn them into loyal voters.

Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, has probably received the most attention by alleging that admissions of asylum seekers are spreading COVID-19. In fact, as the Associated Press reported, there is no evidence to back up that claim. As he sends up to 1,000 state police and Texas military forces to the border, Gov. Abbott is refusing the Biden administration’s offer of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) money for Texas communities to provide COVID-19 testing for asylum-seeking migrants and to cover other costs associated with their arrival.

Links

  • As foreseen in an early February White House executive order, the Departments of State and Homeland Security reinstated the Central American Minors program. This Obama-era effort allowed nearly 5,000 children to apply within their own countries to migrate to join parents with legal status in the United States. The Trump administration abruptly canceled the program in 2017, stranding about 3,000 kids who had been approved for travel.
  • The Biden administration announced on March 8 that it will offer Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months to an estimated 320,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the United States.
  • At her March 10 White House briefing, Amb. Roberta Jacobson addressed plans for a four-year, $4 billion aid package to Central America to address the “root causes” of migration. She noted that unlike prior aid packages, there would be an effort to steer aid away from corrupt government leaders and toward civil society, the private sector, and other reformers. That dovetails with the recommendation of former Obama White House official Dan Restrepo, who wrote in Foreign Affairs that “where corrupt governing elites are resistant to change, Washington should partner with civil society.”
  • The ACLU sent a letter to DHS Secretary Mayorkas detailing 13 administrative complaints about abuse committed by border agents, which the organization had filed with the DHS Inspector General between 2019 and 2020. None of the cases have moved.
  • Reuters reports on smugglers’ increasing use of color-coded wristbands to indicate that migrants traveling through Mexico and crossing the border have “paid for the right to transit through cartel territory.”
  • The Cato Institute obtained official data pointing to a 41 percent or greater increase in successful “illegal entries” of migrants—what Border Patrol calls “got-aways”—during the Trump administration. Border agents meanwhile told the Washington Post that they counted 1,000 got-aways in a single day in February.
  • DHS Secretary Mayorkas is testifying in the House Committee on Homeland Security on March 17.
  • In its four years, the Trump administration “filled two-thirds of the immigration courts’ 520 lifetime positions with judges who, as a whole, have disproportionately ordered deportation,” Reuters reveals.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

Martín Cálix photo at Contracorriente (Honduras). Caption: “Un pelotón de las Fuerzas Armadas de Honduras durante los actos de celebración del día del soldado. Tegucigalpa, 19 de octubre de 2019.”

(Even more here)

March 12, 2021

Bolivia

Bolivia’s former interim president, Jeanine Añez, said Friday that she and several allies face arrest following the issuance of a warrant accusing her of terrorism and sedition

Las órdenes alcanzan también a miembros de su Gabinete de Ministros y a la cúpula de las Fuerzas Armadas de entonces

Colombia

El presidente Iván Duque anunció este viernes que hace dos días tuvo una importante reunión con los dirigentes del partido Comunes, entre ellos Rodrigo Londoño, conocido como Timochenko

Most activists who have been killed had not requested government protection, Duque told Reuters

El gobierno de Colombia, a través de la Cancillería, omitió pronunciarse sobre el contenido de las preocupaciones y la evidencia presentada, y se negó a presentar la información adicional que los Relatores le solicitan

Dijo que lo que está ocurriendo es que hay colectivos organizados, preparados y entrenados para impedir las tareas de la Fuerza Pública y de la Fiscalía en lo que tiene que ver con la captura de criminales, la erradicación de cultivos ilícitos y las operaciones contra la extracción ilícita de minerales

Se tratarán de condenas de 5 a 8 años de trabajos restaurativos, no carcelarios, para quienes digan la verdad y acepten su responsabilidad en los crímenes más graves del conflicto

“Al apoyar las fumigaciones, respalda implícitamente el legado dañino de Trump en Colombia”, dicen 150 expertos en drogas, a través de una carta enviada al presidente

Colombia, Venezuela

Según sus críticos, incluyendo a la mayoría de sus aliados, López promueve la xenofobia en el país

Guatemala, Mexico

The bodies, along with three others, were found piled in a charred pickup truck in Camargo, across the Rio Grande from Texas

Haiti

Regrettably, as Haiti’s constitutional crisis unfolds, the United States has thrown its weight behind Moïse, saying he has one more year in office and should use it to organize elections

Honduras

Devis Leonel Rivera, líder del cartel Los Cachiros, testificó que además de sobornar al presidente también lo hizo con el expresidente José Manuel Zelaya (2006-2009) y el exdesignado presidencial Ricardo Álvarez

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Nearly all of those unaccompanied children were detained by Mexican soldiers or police before they could present themselves to U.S. immigration agents

U.S.-Mexico Border

The lack of bed space and upward trend of unaccompanied minors entering U.S. custody has led to a logjam of migrant minors in Border Patrol facilities

The administration is looking at Fort Lee, a military base in central Virginia, and Moffett Field, a NASA site in California, but HHS must provide Congress with 15 days notification before opening a new temporary facility, officials said Friday. That has not yet occurred

Some of those migrants not in the program have been waiting along the U.S.-Mexico border longer than those who were enrolled in MPP after they were caught crossing the border illegally

Annunciation House is ramping up its shelter capacity to more than 500 beds and testing migrants for COVID-19 before they leave for their destinations

Venezuela

La exigencias del organismo surgen luego de que la alcaldesa de Bogotá, Claudia López, vinculara a la comunidad venezolana con el aumento de la delincuencia en la la capital colombiana

The day ahead: March 12, 2021

I should be most reachable mid-day and end of day. (How to contact me)

I’m finishing up a weekly border update—there’s seriously a lot happening—then I’ll jump into another writing deadline about the border, then I have a border groups’ coalition meeting and a State Department conversation about Colombia. I’m behind on my correspondence already, and unless it’s most urgent, I may not respond until the weekend.

Some articles I found interesting this morning

(Even more here)

March 11, 2021

Bolivia

La aprehensión del exalto mando militar se dio después de que prestara su declaración informativa en calidad de sindicado por el caso golpe de Estado, determinación que fue tomada por la Fiscalía

Central America Regional

Biden plans to ensure that as little aid as possible goes to the notoriously corrupt central governments of the three countries until he is satisfied criteria are met, Jacobson said

The Biden administration is restarting the Central American Minors program, which enabled nearly 5,000 vulnerable youths in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to apply from the region and join parents who were in the United States with legal status

Without good governance, no amount of foreign aid will fundamentally change this dynamic. The Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress should reassess our relations with these governments that are the antithesis of credible partners

Chile

Además de quorums inalcanzables dispuestos como amarres para frenar reformas estructurales, algunos expertos consideran que la Constitución cedió al Estado un rol eminentemente subsidiario y favoreció la prevalencia de iniciativas privadas

Colombia

De acuerdo con la institución, la desescolarización de niños, niñas y adolescentes está directamente relacionada con el reclutamiento forzado de grupos armados ilegales

En una carta, la lideresa y otros 22 defensores de Derechos Humanos lamentaron los señalamientos de “máquinas de guerra” a menores víctimas de reclutamiento forzoso

“It’s not like they were studying for their school exams,” said Molano, who once headed Colombia’s child welfare agency

Es una discusión sensible porque —de nuevo a la luz del Derecho Internacional Humanitario— un civil armado, incluso si no ha cumplido los 18 años, es un blanco legítimo

Danna Lizeth, de 16 años de edad, era una de las víctimas fatales del bombardeo militar, en el sitio conocido como Buenos Aires, en Calamar, Guaviare

Vélez advierte que los pronunciamientos de mandatarios “estigmatizan a la Guardia Indígena” y que el Ejército no cumplió con el DIH

Durante el conversatorio “Putumayo defiende la vida y construye rutas de paz”, líderes regionales y expertos en Derechos Humanos hablaron sobre la persistencia de la violencia en este departamento y las salidas que proponen

They also discussed the implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla group, as well as the importance of upholding human rights

Colombia, Venezuela

Algunos sectores rechazaron sus pronunciamientos sobre delincuencia y su vínculo con una minoría de migrantes

Guatemala

“What they’re looking for are political operators and impunity, and not magistrates”

Honduras

The money, which was paid in 2012 when Hernandez was head of Honduras’ Congress, was delivered in cash to the president’s now-deceased sister, Hilda, a leader of the Los Cachiros drug clan testified

Mexico

The 316-to-129 vote in Mexico’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, came more than two years after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that the country’s ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional and more than three years after the country legalized medicinal cannabis

In Mexico, opium functions as a “political opiate”: one that allows marginalized regions to economically survive, while the State limits its social, educational, and development functions to a minimum

Son 160 mil los policías que según la ley no podrían seguir en activo. Este martes concluyó la prórroga de 18 meses aprobada para que los estados terminaran de evaluarlos y solo Querétaro concluyó al 100%

Cartels in Mexico can bypass the country’s legal systems and get all the firearms they want from the vast U.S. gun market, smuggled by thousands of gun runners

VICE World News obtained footage of the kidnapping of two Cuban migrants. “I thought I was going to die,” one man told us

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

The “information on the bracelets represents a multitude of data that is used by smuggling organizations, such as payment status or affiliation with smuggling groups”

Paraguay

Opposition leaders have encouraged the demonstrations against Mr. Abdo, a conservative leader who has two years left in his term

U.S.-Mexico Border

Within the Congressional monies, there are two pots: 2018 and 2019 funding for “pedestrian fencing” in the Rio Grande Valley, and 2020 and 2021 funding for “barrier system,” much of which is headed for the Laredo area

I want to emphasize that the funds we’re asking for from Congress don’t go to government leaders; they go to communities, to training, to climate mitigation, to violence prevention, to anti-gang programs

Border Patrol recorded 41 percent more successful illegal entries in fiscal year 2019 than in 2016 and was on pace for 47 percent more through four months of 2020

Teenage boys make up the largest group. HHS statistics show that 70 percent of unaccompanied minors are male, and that about 75 percent are ages 15 to 17

The Biden administration has broken from the Trump administration in letting children into the United States to make good on the president’s promise to be more humane at the border

More than 8,500 migrant teens and children who crossed the border without their parents are being housed in Department of Health and Human Services shelters as they wait to be placed with relatives or vetted sponsors. Nearly 3,500 more are stuck at Border Patrol stations

We should also be thinking about surge capacity to address future changes in migration, a sort of Federal Emergency Management Agency for immigration, providing humanitarian needs and operational integration before it becomes a crisis

Nearly 60% of the more than 19,000 migrant parents and children apprehended in February were processed under U.S. immigration law, with many allowed to seek asylum or other forms of protection while in American communities

On average, over the last 21 days, Customs and Border Protection encountered 435 unaccompanied children daily, up from a previous average of around 340 children

The focus by Abbott and other Republicans on migrant families has drawn criticism about invoking a long history in the U.S. of wrongly suggesting migrants spread diseases

Venezuela

Intervención oral presentada durante el diálogo interactivo sobre el informe oral actualizado de la Alta Comisionada sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela

More than 11,000 aircraft are owned by trusts in the US, and from our research it appears only a very small number of these are alleged to have been used to facilitate the drug trade

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