Great to see New Zealand’s The Beths, an indie-pop group at the height of their powers, at a sold-out 9:30 Club in Washington.
A much larger space than where I last saw them, in October 2018 at the Songbyrd Music Hall basement in Adams Morgan, which has since moved to a bigger and far better space. Here, my view of lead singer / guitarist Elizabeth Stokes was obscured by a post.
From a Stephania Taladrid account of a Venezuelan family’s journey posted to the New Yorker on Thursday. This obviously happened before October, when Title 42 was expanded to allow Venezuelans to be expelled into Mexico, also.
While Yenis readied herself to cross, Alexis learned that the woman in the other group was Salvadoran; she was in the company of her four children. Each of them got in line to form a human chain across the Rio Grande.
Once in the water, Yenis turned her back on the current to minimize its impact on her belly. There was an islet mid-river, where she paused to regain her breath, and everyone else huddled around her. It was there that the Salvadoran woman confided that she needed a favor. She had heard that Salvadoran adults, unlike Venezuelans, were not being let into the U.S. Like Alexis and Yenis, she and her children had been through too much to risk deportation, so she needed her son and daughters to make the final leg of the trip on their own. The couple exchanged glances, unable to utter a single word—they felt enough responsibility already with Diana and their unborn child. But, before they could say no, the woman began to wade in the opposite direction. “Me los cuidan, por favor,” she said—“Please, take care of them.”
From a very good piece at VICE by Keegan Hamilton, who closely followed the New York trial of former Mexico public security chief Genaro García Luna:
For watchdogs like Adam Isaacson [sic.], director of defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, it’s no surprise that the U.S. government turned a blind eye toward García Luna while he was in power.
“It seems pretty clear that the DEA and other parts of the United States government knew that Garcia Luna was not somebody that they could fully trust, and that, in fact, he may have been colluding with armed groups or with organized crime,” Isaacson told VICE News. “But they still found him useful because he was going after other organized crime groups at the same time.”
Isaacson pointed to examples beyond Mexico, such as Honduras and Brazil, where the U.S. has provided funding and training to state security forces linked to corruption and human rights abuses, and said it’s no longer shocking—it’s simply business as usual in the war on drugs.
“Their mission is not to make corruption go away,” Isaacson said. “Their mission is to break a drug organization and get as many tons of drugs seized as possible so it doesn’t make it to the United States. And if that means making common cause with bad guys to go after other bad guys, they’re going to do it without regard to the institutional or accountability damage that that might do in the countries that they’re working.”
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.
The Biden administration’s proposed new asylum transit ban rule has divided opinions among Democratic lawmakers and could be related to two senior White House officials’ exit.
The rule is leading Mexico’s refugee agency, which received 13,000 asylum requests in January, to rethink a plan for express asylum denials.
The “CBP One” smartphone app’s rollout for asylum seekers remains troubled, amid glitches and a scarcity of appointments so acute that it is causing families to separate.
A consequence of the Biden administration’s haste to place unaccompanied migrant children with U.S.-based sponsors is a “new economy of exploitation,” a New York Times investigation revealed.
Onerous new rules that could force migrant shelters to close are among factors making Guatemala a difficult transit country for migrants, especially those from Venezuela who report widespread extortion by corrupt police.
Migration is increasing again in Panama’s Darién Gap. The country temporarily suspended a troubled bus service that whisks migrants from the jungle region to the Costa Rica border.
Political fallout over the Biden administration’s new asylum transit ban rule
Analyses at CNN and the Washington Post highlighted divisions within the Democratic Party over the Biden administration’s proposed ban on asylum for migrants who passed through another country en route to the U.S.-Mexico border. (The administration calls the ban, discussed in WOLA’s February 23 update, a “rebuttable presumption of ineligibility” for asylum.)
“This is a racist policy,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) told the Post. On the other side, “If a person thinks that the immigration activists are the only part of the Democratic base, then they’re wrong,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) toldNational Public Radio.
Two White House immigration policy advisors, Lise Clavel and Leidy Perez-Davis, are resigning, Politicoreported. The article noted, “news of the impending exits comes days after the Biden administration announced its most restrictive border control measure to date.”
CNN and CBS News reported that administration officials considered an asylum transit ban in 2021, after migration levels at the border began a rapid increase. At the time, they ended up rejecting the idea because, the White House counsel argued, courts would be likely to block it.
The asylum ban rule is still officially a draft. People and organizations with views about it cansubmit comments—a key part of the federal government rulemaking process—until March 27. A coalition of migrants’ rights groups has published a guide and template for comments.
Transit ban’s impact on asylum in Mexico
In Mexico, the transit ban is causing the government’s refugee agency (Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid, COMAR) to rethink a pilot project that had sought to speed up asylum denials for applicants who appeared likely to use their status in Mexico to travel to the U.S. border and seek asylum there.
The Biden administration’s proposed rule would not disqualify those who had their asylum applications rejected by other countries en route. COMAR director Andrés Ramírez told CNN that he “now worries that accelerating asylum denials could actually increase Mexico’s attractiveness as a pit stop for those ultimately aiming to request asylum in the US,” using their Mexican denials.
According to the agency’s February 16 release of statistics, COMAR received nearly 13,000 requests for asylum in January, a pace that, if sustained for the entire year, would bring a record 154,000 asylum applications in Mexico’s system in 2023. The number-one nationality of asylum applicants in January was Haiti, the nation that was also number one in 2021. Honduras was COMAR’s number-one asylum-seeking nationality in 2022 and prior years.
Afghanistan, for the first time, made COMAR’s “top ten” in January with 430 asylum requests. Afghanistan was the number-nine nationality of migrants passing through Panama’s Darién Gap region in January (291 migrants reported by Panamanian authorities).
In my visit to the Ouanaminthe in the northeast of the country [Haiti], I heard terrible stories of the humiliating treatment to which many migrants are subjected to, including pregnant women and unaccompanied or separated children.
El Faro posted a longread by Roman Gressler on Venezuelan migrants stranded in Guatemala. “More than a dozen Venezuelans told me that Guatemalan police extorted them on their way from the Honduran border to the capital.”
Army personnel are police in everything but name in today’s Mexico. Policing is just not a mission that they’re properly trained to carry out. An episode on Sunday morning (February 26), in the organized crime-dominated border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, seems especially serious.
According to the Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee, in the early morning hours of Sunday, February 26, a military convoy shot at a white Chevrolet pickup truck on Huasteca Street between Jiménez and Méndez.
The people inside the vehicle tried to protect themselves, but only one survived. Upon hearing the gunshots, the neighbors went out between 4:30 and 5:00 AM to see the scene as the sun came up. At 10 AM, the Sedena [Defense Department, or Army] intervened at the scene of the killing, moving the truck.
…What really inflamed the residents was when the soldiers attempted to tow the white Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, at that point the main evidence in the case, to take it away.
There the confrontation escalated. Residents blocked the way by standing in front of the tow truck, threw stones, and released the truck. One soldier fell and was beaten by several civilians, another was run over by a military vehicle.
Dozens of residents and reporters recorded what was happening on Huasteca Street. The soldiers took cover in the chaos and snatched cell phones, which provoked the population even more. The president of the Committee, Raymundo Ramos, was pushed, his cell phone fell and a pickup truck rammed him.
Mexico’s refugee agency (COMAR) received nearly 13,000 requests for asylum in January, a pace that, if sustained for the entire year, would bring a record 154,000 asylum applications in Mexico’s system in 2023.
The number-one nationality of asylum applicants in January was Haiti, the nation that was also number one in 2021. Honduras was COMAR’s number-one asylum-seeking nationality in 2022 and prior years.
Here’s the table with this chart’s underlying data. Note that Afghanistan, for the first time, made the “top ten” in January with 430 asylum requests. Afghanistan was the number-nine nationality of migrants passing through Panama’s Darién Gap region in January (291 migrants reported by Panamanian authorities).
547,000 citizens of Colombia left their country last year, more than 1% of the population, and more than during the worst years of the armed conflict.
The economic impact of COVID appears to be the main reason, migration expert William Mejía Ochoa toldLa Silla Vacía.
More than the current inflation, I would attribute to the pandemic an important role in this phenomenon that we are seeing. During the pandemic, postponed migration plans accumulated because many people could not move during those years and now, finally, they are doing so.
Add to that the fact that the pandemic came with an economic crisis and the bankruptcy of many companies and jobs [outside Colombia], so that led to a consequent reduction in emigration. The fact that today more people are leaving the country is a sign that the economic situation has been improving.
Regarding the expectations of a change of government, what can be said is very speculative and certainly not everything can be explained by a panic of the new government [a leftist, Gustavo Petro, was elected last June]. Surely there are many cases that left for that reason, but that would correspond to an emigration from the middle class upwards, because a poor person does not emigrate because Petro came to power, because he cannot afford that luxury.