Adam Isacson

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

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June 2024

Undoing a Human Right, Without Even Acknowledging that Alternatives Existed

When coming out in support of rolling back a decades-old human right, it’s best to at least make it look like you considered the alternatives.

Some prominent centrist and center-left commentators have published pieces supporting last week’s Biden administration imposition of severe restrictions on the legal right to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Some viewed it as an unfortunate but necessary step; some were downright celebratory.

  • “I’m conflicted, finding myself caught between pro-refugee instincts and a practical recognition that the system wasn’t working,” wrote New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Couching it as an “open borders” question, not a “right to seek protection” issue, he concluded, “we can’t absorb everyone who wants in, and it’s better that the ladder be raised in an orderly way by reasonable people.”
  • Also at the New York Times, columnist David Leonhardt called the right to enter the U.S. asylum system, which was created after the United States’ 1968 accession to the Refugee Convention and 1980 passage of the Refugee Act, a “loophole.” It may be true that some people are applying for asylum because they know the backlogged U.S. system will let their cases drag on for years, but Leonhardt does not discuss options for fixing that.
  • At his Liberal Patriot Substack, Democratic Party-adjacent demographer Ruy Teixeira excoriated the “progressive left” for holding Joe Biden “prisoner” on migration policy, and celebrated the new asylum curbs as a “jailbreak” for the President.

These columnists are entitled to their views. They may be right that inaction on the border could cost Joe Biden with some swing voters. And as noted, they may be right that the asylum system’s slowness and inefficiency could be a “pull factor” for some migrants.

These opinion pieces fail, though, by refusing to recognize that another option exists: an option that isn’t “swinging the doors open” (Kristof’s phrase). If the asylum system is broken (of course it is), then the Biden administration could fix it. This would be an administrative challenge—a fair amount of hiring and training—but hardly a moon shot for the U.S. federal government.

None of these columns talks about making the U.S. asylum system viable, and faster, adjusting it to a new era of historic worldwide migration. They don’t even mention it as an option to be discarded. Their analyses treat the asylum system as a fixed and immutable variable that we can’t do anything about. (So, incidentally, does the text of the administration’s interim final rule laying out the new asylum restriction: it laments the system’s backlog but scarcely mentions ways to address it.)

The new rule focuses only on the asylum system’s initial entry point: the U.S.-Mexico border. That makes it yet another in a ten-year-long series of efforts to deter asylum seekers at the borderline itself, or just before it. Like the others, from family separation to Remain in Mexico to Title 42 to Mexican government crackdowns, it will hurt people in the short term but will fail to move the numbers in the long term.

Where change is most urgently needed is further along in the asylum process. The backlog isn’t at the border: it lies in what happens afterward.

Imagine if it took less than a year to hand down most people’s asylum decisions, with full due process and without locking them up in detention. Imagine it being rare and unusual for cases to take longer than a year, because the system had enough judges, asylum officers, processors, case managers, and access to legal representation.

Right now—a full ten years after the first wave of Central American child and family asylum seekers surprised the Obama administration—the U.S. government is very far from that. With 725 immigration judges—9 fewer than in October!—and much fewer than 1,000 asylum officers available to attend to 1.3 million asylum cases and about 2 million other immigration cases, asylum decisions commonly take many years. In 2022, TRAC Immigration estimated an average of 4.3 years.

People who may not have understood the intricacies of U.S. asylum requirements when they came here—they just learned about the backlog’s effects via social media—end up in the United States, living their lives and awaiting a decision, for a very long time.

In many cases, such a long stay could be a good outcome because of the contributions people make while here. But it is insanity to require them to hire smugglers to get through the Darien Gap then run Mexico’s predatory organized-crime gauntlet just to touch U.S. soil, suffering abuse along the way.

Along with opening up other legal pathways, then, the goal should be to slash asylum backlog wait times while respecting and expanding rights. Fewer people who are unlikely to qualify would opt for the asylum system if the normal wait was shorter.

All that stands in the way of that is the hiring and training of a few thousand judges and asylum officers. A hiring expansion along these lines ($110m for new immigration judges, 4,338 new asylum officers) was part of the “border deal” legislation that failed in the Senate earlier this year.

Organizations and experts have recommended variations of this solution a ridiculous number of times. They include WOLA, Human Rights First, the Migration Policy Institute, the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Forum, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, among many others.

What the Biden administration did last week is not that solution. Far from it. They decided to shut things down on the front end, rather than move to reduce the backlog.

Instead of shoring up and rebuilding the system to match an era of historic protection-seeking migration, they have made the system itself harder to access, in a way that is likely to endanger people and is almost certainly illegal.

We need an explanation for why the administration chose not to pursue the “reduce the backlog” option (and why that hasn’t been an important part of DHS budget requests since 2021). Defenders of last week’s “asylum shutdown” should at least add a sentence somewhere saying, ”We considered this but decided against it because X.”

The opinion columnists defending the “shutdown” fail even to mention action to reduce the asylum backlog. None even glance at building up asylum processing and adjudication capacity to get those ridiculous wait times down.

They don’t even raise it in order to shoot it down. They don’t say “this is impractical,” “this costs too much,” or “this might be a good way forward, but it’s gradual and can’t move the needle between now and November.” Instead of engaging this viable alternative, they blame “the left” for constraining the President from cracking down on asylum seekers.

Others have pointed out factual inaccuracies in these widely read pieces. But the most unsatisfying part of what they wrote is the failure even to acknowledge the “reduce the backlog” option, even just to dismiss it.

The United States is watering down a human right granted in past generations. This shouldn’t be done lightly, by blithely ignoring widely proposed, doable alternatives.

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Monday, June 10, 2024

  • 11:00-12:15 at the Inter-American Dialogue: Addressing the Root Causes of Migration: Insights from the US Strategy for Central America (RSVP required).
  • 2:00 at the Atlantic Council: From competition to competitiveness: Unlocking growth and productivity in LAC (RSVP required).

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Weekly U.S.-Mexico Border Update: June 7, 2024

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

Due to an extended period of staff travel and commitments, this will be the last Weekly Border Update until July 26; we look forward to resuming a regular publication schedule on that date.

Support ad-free, paywall-free Weekly Border Updates. Your donation to WOLA is crucial to sustain this effort. Please contribute now and support our work.

THIS WEEK IN BRIEF:

As of 12:01 AM on June 5, migrants who enter U.S. custody between U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry, with few exceptions, may no longer apply for asylum. The Biden administration made this long-signaled change with a proclamation and an “interim final rule” on June 4. Asylum access is “shut down” until daily migrant encounters at the border drop to a very low average of less than 1,500 per day. The ACLU, which challenged a similar asylum ban during the Trump era, plans to sue. It is not clear whether, with its current resources, the administration will be able to deport or detain a significantly larger number of  asylum seekers than it already is.

Mexico’s refugee agency, COMAR, reported receiving 36,860 requests for asylum during the first five months of 2024. That is 42 percent fewer than during the same period in 2023. As in recent years, Honduras, Cuba, and Haiti are the top three nationalities of asylum seekers in Mexico’s system, and most applications are filed in Tapachula and Mexico City. This year’s drop in applications is unexpected, as Mexico’s government reports stopping or encountering over 480,000 migrants between January and April alone.

THE FULL UPDATE:

Read More

Daily Border Links: June 6, 2024

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Daily Border Links are following a sporadic publication schedule between May 3 and July 19. Due to staff travel, this is the last daily update for a while. Regular daily updates will return on July 22.

Developments

The Biden administration’s new proclamation and rule curtailing asylum access at the U.S.-Mexico border, which it calls “Securing the Border,” went into effect at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, June 5. A leaked ICE implementation guidance is also available.

For explanations of the new rule’s provisions, implementation, and likely outcomes, see analyses from WOLA, the American Immigration Council, Human Rights Watch, the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, the Cato Institute, and a coalition of legal and human rights groups. The American Immigration Council also published an in-depth explainer.

For migrants who cross the border between ports of entry, fail to specifically ask for protection (known as the “shout test”), or cannot prove a very high standard of fear of return, the legal right to asylum is now suspended until the daily border-wide average of Border Patrol migrant apprehensions drops below 1,500.

The last month with an average that low was July 2020, in the early moments of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporters from the New York Times and CBS News tweeted that Border Patrol apprehended about 4,300 people on Tuesday June 4 and about 4,000 on Wednesday June 5. The daily average in May, one of the Biden administration’s lightest months, was about 3,800. The Washington Post cited internal DHS projections expecting an average of 3,900 to 6,700 apprehensions per day between July and September.

Should the daily average ever drop below 1,500, the rule would suspend the asylum restriction until the average once again climbs above 2,500.

The new measures add to the Biden administration’s May 2023 “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” asylum ban, which already denied asylum to non-Mexican citizens who crossed between ports of entry, cannot prove a higher standard of fear, and did not have an asylum application turned down in another country along the way.

It is unclear whether the new rule resulted in increased returns or deportations of migrants yesterday—a briefing from DHS officials offered no numbers—and if so, how they were carried out.

“We intend to challenge this order in court,” the ACLU announced. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council noted that the ACLU “successfully blocked” a similar “2018 Trump asylum ban within days.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), the principal Democratic negotiator on an unsuccessful “border deal” that sought to legislate a similar asylum limit, said “I am sympathetic to the position the administration is in, but I am skeptical the executive branch has the legal authority to shut down asylum processing between ports of entry on its own.”

A UNHCR statement voiced “profound concern” about the Biden administration’s new rule.

The administration’s announcements did not refer to increased capacity to implement its new barriers to asylum seekers. That would involve costly measures like more asylum officers for expedited removal proceedings, more detention space, or more capacity to deport migrants (more flights, or permission from Mexico to deport more non-Mexican citizens by land). Three DHS officials told the Washington Post that “the administration has not scheduled a short-term increase in deportation flights to ramp up the number of migrants returned to their home countries under the new measures.”

The New York Times’s Hamed Aleaziz reported that when asylum seekers in custody try to prove that they meet higher standards of fear of return (called “reasonable probability” of harm), they will have just four hours to find legal representation. “Migrants previously had at least 24 hours or more to find a lawyer.”

Reports from the border documented worry and perplexity among migrants. Migrants passing through the northern state of Durango told Milenio that the U.S. policy change did not alter their plans. “We do not have a plan, and we cannot return. This is a low blow,” a 64-year-old man from Colombia told the Guardian in Ciudad Juárez. Some told the Guardian that they are now considering crossing through the dangerous nearby desert. Shelter operators in northern Mexican border cities braced for new strains on their capacity.

Coverage of the new rule’s political and electoral implications found progressive Democrats outraged by the rollback of asylum rights; most Republicans claiming it is “too little, too late” and doesn’t do enough to stop migrants from arriving; and centrist Democrats—especially those from tightly contested states or districts—supporting it.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters that, in a June 4 conversation with President Biden, he encouraged Biden to deport non-Mexican migrants directly, not into Mexico: “Why do they come to Mexico? We have no problem, we treat migrants very well, all of them, but why triangulate?” (Mexico accepts up to a combined 30,000 U.S. deportations per month of citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.)

Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens tweeted that the agency has documented more than 300 deaths of migrants on U.S. soil since the fiscal year began in October, with the hot summer months just beginning.

Mexican migration agents and National Guard personnel carried out a June 5 operation to evict migrants from a plaza near the Mexico City headquarters of the country’s refugee agency, COMAR.

The Panamanian government’s human rights ombudsman filed a criminal complaint about more than 400 alleged cases of sexual violence perpetrated against migrants in the Darién Gap region. Before Panama’s Health Ministry suspended its permission to operate in March, Doctors Without Borders had been documenting these cases.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The Washington Post reported on the Texas state government’s intense campaign to shut down El Paso’s Annunciation House migrant shelter.

“Though there’s little to be done now about this recycled immigration policy” at the border, President Biden “could use his executive power to shield immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally,” argued Andrea Flores of Fwd.us in a New York Times column.

A feature at the Guardian told the stories of five asylum seekers’ difficult and even traumatic passage through the U.S. asylum system.

The New York Times reported on how the San Diego region has been impacted by a notable increase in migration over the past several months.

An Inter-American Dialogue slide presentation cited “1145 charter flights of at least 150 passengers en route to the Mexico-US border” landing in Managua, Nicaragua between July 2023 and January 2024.

The Catholic Charities humanitarian migrant respite center in McAllen, which receives people released from CBP custody, commemorated ten years of operations. Headed by Sister Norma Pimentel, the well-known shelter was a response to the first major arrival of child and family asylum seekers, which at the time was mostly Central American citizens arriving largely in south Texas.

From WOLA: “The Futility of ‘Shutting Down Asylum’ by Executive Action at the U.S.-Mexico Border”

Past generations granted new rights. We’re living in an era when government is taking those rights away. Roe v. Wade (1973) got perforated two years ago by Republican judicial nominees. Now the right to asylum, enshrined in the Refugee Act of 1980, no longer applies to threatened people who came to the border to ask for protection “the wrong way” and at a time judged “too busy.”

Here’s a Q&A I wrote for WOLA explaining the basics of what just happened:

  • What does the executive action do?
  • Doesn’t this violate U.S. law?
  • Is this a new “Title 42?”
  • The Senate failed twice to pass a law trying to do this. How is this executive action legal?
  • Doesn’t this rely heavily on Mexico’s cooperation?
  • Will this, in fact, deter migrants?
  • Instead of “shutting down” asylum, is there a better way to manage large numbers of arriving asylum seekers?

Read the whole thing here.

Daily Border Links: June 4, 2024

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Daily Border Links are following a sporadic publication schedule between May 3 and July 19. Regular daily updates will return on July 22.

Developments

Later today, President Biden will sign a sweeping proclamation shutting down the right to seek asylum for migrants apprehended on U.S. soil between the U.S.-Mexico border’s ports of entry. Several border-region mayors, mainly from Texas, will be on hand, along with some centrist Democratic legislators. The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice will issue an interim final rule laying out how they will implement the “asylum shutdown.”

According to several media reports, the “asylum shutdown” would be triggered when Border Patrol’s daily migrant encounters exceed 2,500 per day, as they have in every month since February 2021. The right to asylum between ports of entry would not be restored until migrant apprehensions drop below a daily average of 1,500 per day, which has not happened since July 2020.

Of the 296 months since fiscal 2020, the daily average has exceeded 2,500 in 110 of them: 37 percent of the time. During those 110 months, had the executive order been in place, it would have triggered an asylum shutdown. The daily average has dropped below 1,500 just 42 percent of the time (124 months), which would have made restoring asylum difficult had the executive order been in place.

Unless there is a radical change in migration patterns at the border, then, this is an effective ban on asylum between ports of entry. The Trump administration sought to implement a similar “asylum ban” 2019—making it absolute, without the numerical thresholds—but courts threw it out because it violated Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which guarantees due process for people asking for asylum on U.S. soil.

Other likely elements of the executive order, according to secondary reports:

  • Its legal justification will be Section 212(f) of the INA, which allows the President to prohibit the entry of entire classes of non-citizens considered “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” It is doubtful, however, that 212(f) applies to people who have already arrived on U.S. soil and are requesting protection. “ A reliance on 212(f) that prevents access to asylum arguably directly conflicts with the INA,” reads a new policy brief from the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.
  • It will not apply to unaccompanied minors or victims of “severe” trafficking.
  • It will not apply to people who have made appointments at border ports of entry using the CBP One app. We have heard nothing about any possible changes to the number of appointments that this app will make available; the current cap is 1,450 per day.
  • People will be screened for fear of return only if they specifically manifest such fear to U.S. authorities.
  • Unlike Title 42 expulsions, those who are removed under this new arrangement will be penalized, probably by being barred for several years from reentering the United States.

Elements that are not clear include:

  • What would happen if the number of apprehended migrants exceeds border authorities’ ability to deport them, detain them, or screen them for the executive order’s likely elevated criteria for fear of harm. All of these require resources. During the “Title 42” era, thousands per day were released into the U.S. interior because authorities could not detain or remove them.
  • What the Mexican government’s cooperation with deportations of rejected asylum seekers might look like.

Democratic legislators who defend migrants’ rights are upset, the Washington Post reported. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients that the measure is “very, very disappointing.”

The Republican-majority House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee met this morning to “mark up” (amend and approve) its draft of the chamber’s 2025 budget bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The draft bill, which reflects Republican priorities, has virtually zero chance of passage before the November election.

It includes mandatory spending on border wall construction. It provides funding for a total of 22,000 Border Patrol agents, nearly 3,000 more than the present workforce. It would eliminate funding for the Case Management alternatives-to-detention pilot program, the Office of Immigration Detention Ombudsman, and the Family Reunification Task Force, and the Shelter Services Program. It would prohibit use of the CBP One app “to facilitate the entry of aliens into the country.” It would increase ICE’s detention bed capacity to 50,000, up from the currently funded level of 41,500.

Amid increasing pre-summer heat, CBP reported four deaths of migrants in its El Paso Sector (Texas-New Mexico) over the weekend.

Arizona’s Republican-majority legislature is close to approving a law similar to Texas’s controversial S.B. 4, which makes it a state crime to cross the border improperly. Rather than go to Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who would veto it, the law would become a ballot measure when Arizonans vote in November. S.B. 4, which would let Texas enforce its own immigration policy and incentivizes racial profiling, remains suspended as litigation continues.

The police chief of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico—a border city just south of Yuma, Arizona—was assassinated in a broad-daylight ambush in the middle of the city yesterday.

A Border Patrol agent in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley was arrested on charges of helping migrants cross into the United States in exchange for bribes.

Analyses and Feature Stories

Following a U.S. Government Accountability Office report about Border Patrol agents’ confiscation of migrants’ belongings and documents while in custody, Cronkite News talked to advocates and service providers in Arizona who are documenting the problem and filing complaints.

The New York Times looked at recent poll data showing reduced support for immigration within U.S. public opinion.

On the Right

Latin America-Related Events in Washington and Online This Week

(Events that I know of, anyway. All times are U.S. Eastern.)

Monday, June 3, 2024

  • 9:00 at atlanticcouncil.org: Post-election rundown: From Mexico’s markets to broader transition priorities (RSVP required).

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

  • 11:00-12:30 at thedialogue.org: Mercados eléctricos y la transición verde en Centroamérica (RSVP required).
  • 12:00 at GCIR Zoom: Beyond Borders: Reflections from the U.S.-Mexico Border for Funders and Allies (RSVP required).
  • 1:00 at Crisis Group Zoom: Militares y crimen: los retos para la nueva presidenta de México (RSVP required).
  • 3:45-4:30 at the Atlantic Council and online: The new Mexican administration: A conversation with Ambassador Ken Salazar (RSVP required).

Thursday, June 6, 2024

  • 10:30-12:15 at wilsoncenter.org: The High Seas Treaty: Latin American Leadership on Ocean Conservation (RSVP required).
  • 11:00-12:30 at wilsoncenter.org: Mexico’s Elections: Outcomes and Implications (RSVP required).
  • 3:30 on Zoom: La importancia y monitoreo a la Declaración Americana sobre los derechos de las personas afrodescendientes (RSVP required).

Daily Border Links: June 3, 2024

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Daily Border Links are following a sporadic publication schedule between May 3 and July 19. Regular daily updates will return on July 22.

Developments

President Biden is expected to issue an executive order tomorrow (Tuesday June 4) at least partially “shutting down” the right to ask for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is likely to enable U.S. border authorities to channel asylum seekers into rapid removal from the United States, at times when daily migrant arrivals exceed a certain threshold, probably 4,000 or 5,000 people per day. At busy moments along the border, the executive order could institute a policy similar to the pandemic-era Title 42 expulsions regime.

The administration is expected to claim that the new “shutdown” authority’s legal underpinning is Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which allows the President to bar the entry of entire classes of non-citizens considered “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” However, courts have cast doubt on whether 212(f) can in fact be used to remove an asylum seeker already on U.S. soil and asking for protection, who are protected by Section 208 of the INA.

It appears that the “shutdown” would only apply to asylum seekers apprehended between the land border ports of entry. Those with appointments made using the CBP One smartphone app would still be processed.

The move comes just after Sunday’s presidential election in Mexico, whose government will be expected to cooperate in receiving at least some of the migrants refused asylum access and sent back across the land border. Claudia Sheinbaum, the mayor of Mexico City and the candidate of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s MORENA party, won in a landslide.

At least two Texas border-city mayors are expected to be on hand in Washington for tomorrow’s executive order announcement.

CBS News and Fox News reported that Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border apprehended about 118,000 migrants during May 2024, which would make May the third-lightest month for border migrant arrivals of the Biden administration’s 40 full months in office. This continues a trend of reduced migration, dating from January, that appears to owe a lot to the Mexican government’s migrant interdiction operations.

ICE removed migrants to their countries of origin on 151 flights in May, the most in a month since August 2023 (153), according to the latest “ICE Air Flights” report by Thomas Cartwright of Witness at the Border. This added up to 6.6 deportation flights per weekday, “just over the prior 6-month average of 6.4.” 90 percent of those flights went to Guatemala (47), Honduras (29), Mexico (18), Ecuador (17), El Salvador (13), or Colombia (12). For its part, Mexico carried out nine deportation flights: five to Honduras, three to Guatemala, and one to Colombia.

“The United States is in talks with Venezuelan authorities to resume direct repatriation flights” to Caracas, noted the Venezuelan opposition-aligned daily Tal Cual.

For the second straight week, the chief of Border Patrol’s Tucson, Arizona sector reported more migrant apprehensions than did the chief of Border Patrol’s San Diego, California sector. Tucson had been the border’s number-one migration destination, measured by apprehensions, between July and March, but was outpaced by San Diego in April. A Fox News correspondent cited preliminary Border Patrol data indicating that Tucson apprehensions exceeded those of San Diego in May by a margin of 33,000 to 32,000.

Corrupt Mexican migration (INM) agents operating a checkpoint at the Tijuana airport have been using it to extort money from migrants passing through, and this has happened “for years,” municipal migration official Enrique Lucero told Border Report.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced the completion of construction at a state government military base near Eagle Pass. 300 Texas National Guard soldiers are now quartered there, a number that will rise to 1,800.

Abbott also reported that since April 2022, Texas has bused over 117,900 released migrants to the Democratic Party-governed cities of Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, and Los Angeles, without first coordinating with or informing those cities’ municipal officials.

Analyses and Feature Stories

The New York Times detailed an election-year spike in threats and infiltration attempts suffered by humanitarian organizations, like shelters, assisting migrants on the U.S. side of the border. It identifies James O’Keefe of the provocateur organization Judicial Watch as a ringleader of the campaign against border charities.

In 2023, only 56 percent of unaccompanied migrant children defending their cases in U.S immigration court had attorneys representing them, ABC News noted. The immigration court system does not guarantee a right to counsel, even for parentless children, so “minors are left to navigate the different avenues of relief alone, fill out documents in a foreign language, and argue their case before a judge.”

At the New Yorker, Stephania Taladrid profiled Mexico’s foreign minister, Alicia Bárcena, who has sought to defend Mexico’s interests and to push for more action on migration’s “root causes” amid U.S. pressure to crack down on migration transiting Mexico. That pressure has intensified this year, the article notes, as perceptions of border security and migration could determine some voters’ decisions in a tight U.S. election. An unnamed Mexican official described the Biden administration’s approach to migration policy as “schizophrenic.”

At the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wilson Center analysts Alan Bersin and Diego Marroquin Bitar predicted that Mexico’s approach to the border and migration will change little with the June 2 electoral victory of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s chosen candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum.

The Nicaraguan opposition-aligned investigative media outlet Onda Local identified some of the officials directing a thriving human smuggling route through Nicaragua, which does not require visas for most visiting nationalities. It alleges that the director of Air Transportation of Nicaragua’s Civil Aeronautics Institute, Róger Martínez Canales, “has the task of collecting the ‘fee’…from the money generated by human trafficking, which amounts to several million dollars, since for each migrant a sum of between $5,000 and $10,000 is charged then distributed among those involved, the airlines and international companies indirectly involved in the business.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.