Thursday, September 22, 2016

U.S. resumes deportations of Haitians in midst of migration surge (Sept. 22, 2016)

The U.S. government announced that it will resume deportations of undocumented Haitian migrants, citing improved conditions in the country and a "significant increase" in Haitian arrivals at the southwest border with Mexico, reports the Miami Herald.

The U.S. had suspended deportations to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. But so far this fiscal year 5,000 Haitians have been apprehended at the San Diego, California, entry point -- up from 339 in the 2015 fiscal year.

Many of these have come from Brazil, where they moved in search of work, and are now victims of that country's economic downturn. They have been granted temporary permission to stay in the U.S. -- for up to three years -- under a humanitarian parole provision, reports the New York Times.

The new policy means Haitians arriving as of this morning at the border without visas will be put into expedited removal proceedings.

The policy change will affect thousands of Haitians stranded en route to the U.S. from Brazil to Mexico and countries in between, notes the Miami Herald. An additional 4,000 to 6,000 Haitians were thought to be still making their way from Brazil, according to immigration advocates cited by the NYTimes.

Central American countries, including Panama and Costa Rica raised concerns about migrants stranded in their countries at this week's U.N. General Assembly meeting. Last month a group of nine Latin American countries urged the U.S. to change its favorable Cuba asylum policy, which they said was spurring increased migration using dangerous routes. (See Aug. 31's post.)

News Briefs
  • Yet another human rights case seems to implicate Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. This time the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is demanding an investigation into the brutal sexual assaults of 11 women, part of a 2006 crackdown on a demonstration ordered by Peña Nieto, who was then governor of Mexico state, reports the New York Times. The commission found that the women were raped, beaten, penetrated with metal objects, robbed, humiliated, and denied proper medical attention.
  • Violence and citizen insecurity in El Salvador between 2010 and 2015 increased significantly, expanded to virtually the entire country, as the armed confrontation between security forces and criminal bands escalated, according to a new report by the Instituto Centroamericano de Investigaciones para el Desarrollo y el Cambio Social (INCIDE). A marked increase in homicides was accompanied by two disturbing trends: multiple homicides and femicide. Killings of police and military troops increased, as did deaths among rural workers. While homicide used to be a markedly urban trend, it has spread to rural areas in recent years, notes the report. The new scenario has profound implications for public policy, and the report urges authorities to implement an integral violence prevention policy in addition to other security measures. InSight Crime reviews the report, noting that "The report links recent changes in patterns of violence in El Salvador to the government-brokered truce between the country's main street gangs, which took effect in April 2012 before unraveling in June 2013. According to the authors, while the truce did significantly reduce homicides during the time it was in effect, it also allowed the gangs to expand their social and territorial control, thereby setting the stage for the substantial increase in violence observed in subsequent years."
  • Venezuelan opposition parties must collect the signatures of 20 percent of the electorate in a three day period at the end of October in order to proceed with a recall referendum. The timetable set by the national electoral council means the eventual vote likely won't occur this year, which means that if President Nicolás Maduro is ousted he will be replaced by his vice president, rather than triggering a new election. The opposition called the conditions unconstitutional, reports the Wall Street Journal. There are not enough polling stations approved to collect the required signatures in the allotted time, say critics.
  • Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights has a helpful post by Timothy M. Gill reviewing Venezuela's ostracization from the Mercosur trade bloc over the past few months. Venezuela is increasingly isolated regionally, and seems likely to be eliminated from Mercosur by the end of the year.
  • President Nicolás Maduro dropped out of giving his U.N. speech at the last minute, reports the New York Times
  • A popular narrative in Venezuela (and the international media) is that police officers are increasingly victims of homicides by criminals seeking their weapons. Rebecca Hansen analyzes that narrative at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights -- noting that it belies the fact that most officers are killed off duty and out of uniform. "While the narrative of officers being “marked” reflects a major problem facing the country, it misidentifies the source. Though it directs attention to increasing violence, it suggests that the source of this problem lies in the weakening of police power, ultimately delegitimizing police reform and disarmament initiatives. It suggests that the world has become ordered and controlled by new actors – whether those are collectives, gangs, or paramilitaries – who the police must be able to react against with more force, more violence, and more weapons. In short, it demands an increase in state violence. In doing so, it obscures increasing rates of police violence in the country, and neglects the fact that militarized security plans like the Operación Liberación del Pueblo and the Plan Patria Segura have already greatly increased the lethality of the National Guard and certain branches of the police. Like officers in Brazil, the officers I knew discussed the need for harsher punishment for someone convicted of killing a police officer. However, the implementation of new laws and regulations within the context of a broken criminal justice system, where 98 percent of crimes committed are not prosecuted, might just exacerbate officer’s sense of vulnerability. Because if and when these laws are left unenforced they will provide officers and other observers even more “evidence” that extralegal state violence and mano dura policing are necessary."
  • The FARC guerrilla conference this week has been a mix of discussions about the peace accord and a music festival, reports the Guardian. Families of fighters have also trekked out, hoping to reunited with loved ones. One of the main topics of discussion is how the group will transition into a political force, a move the leadership is optimistic about. However, dissident fighters have already rejected the call to lay down arms within the next six months.
  • Nicaragua's congress decided to maintain a deceased legislator as it's official president for the next four months. Legislators say the move is intended to honor Rene Nuñez, who was the body’s president for nine years until his death earlier this month, reports the Guardian.

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