A proposal under consideration by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would separate women and children crossing together illegally into the country. The policy aims to deter families from migrating to the U.S. illicitly. Currently families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are released rapidly from detention and permitted to stay in the U.S. while their cases are resolved, reports the Guardian. U.S. courts have determined that immigrant children must be released from detention as rapidly as possible. (Though this New York Times Magazine piece from two years ago shows the grim incarceration situation of migrant families.)
About half of 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are originally from Mexico, and the community is terrorized by new policies that threaten to unpredictably separate them from the families and lives they have painstakingly carved out. The Guardian spoke with some of the 1 million undocumented Mexican citizens living in the Los Angeles area, "purportedly the second biggest Mexican city outside Mexico City," who are desperately trying to prepare for the unknown by scraping together emergency funds and preparing documents with the Mexican consulate. "Panic psychosis" has gripped members of the community, leading them to skip work and keep their children from going to school -- advocates are concerned this will drive them further into the shadows.
Earlier this year, Mexico's government announced extra funding for the 50 consulates in the U.S., and urged citizens to take precautions and get in touch with them. "The concern is humanitarian and economic – remittances from the US topped $27 billion last year, a lifeline that dwarfs oil revenues," according to the Guardian. (See last Tuesday's briefs on an Economist Intelligence Unit report analyzing the different impacts of U.S. policies for different Latin American countries.)
Another Guardian piece focuses on the specific case of a single-father from Mexico deported away from his three U.S. citizen children.
Deportees return to a country they left decades ago, where job opportunities are scarce and inflation high, reports the Washington Post.
Dozens of U.S. cities, and even more counties, have started to describe themselves as "sanctuaries" for migrants. A New York Times "Retro Report" looks at the history of the term in the U.S., and how in the 1980's 2,000 refuge seekers from Central America -- many fleeing military regimes and denied political asylum -- were assisted by churches, synagogues, college campuses, and cities in the U.S.
- The Mexican federal prosecutor's office recently absolved itself of grave violations in the investigation over the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. In a New York Times op-ed from last week Francisco Goldman analyzes the government's move within the context of Trump's belligerent stance towards Mexico, and whether the government anticipated that international criticism would be muted as a result. In reference to apparent Mexican government complicity with human rights violations, he asks whether "... the wall that has already been raised between both governments serve, at least in certain ways, the interests of both sides?"
- Ten years into Mexico's failed war on drugs, the national homicide rate this year is on track to be the deadliest since the military strategy against cartels was launched by then-President Felipe Calderón, reports the Los Angeles Times. Murders rose in 25 out Mexico’s 31 states in January compared to the same month last year, with the worst violence concentrated in Guerrero, Baja California Sur and Colima. And though the official statistics don't differentiate cartel related deaths from others, experts have estimated that narco-violence could account for up to half of the murders.
- Former Haitian President René Préval died last Friday. He twice served out his term and handed power over to an elected successor, a feat unmatched by anybody in Haiti's history of fragile democracy, reports the New York Times.
- Austerity in Brazil is far from equal: while lawmakers limit public spending and analyze how to cut pensions, Brazil's civil servants and lawmakers are enjoying broad benefits, reports the New York Times. The Temer administration's 20 year cap on government spending is contrasted with the country's generous tax system for its wealthiest residents and lavish perks for politicians and judiciary.
- A Brazilian federal judge is analyzing charges that the Rousseff-Temer 2014 campaign received illegal funding, and could recommend the ticket be annulled, reports Reuters. If such a decision were confirmed by the electoral court, President Michel Temer would be removed and Congress would select a replacement to finish out the term. But presidential aides hope to stall the decision until he leaves office next year, according to Reuters.
- Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said Odebrecht could exit the country -- and its ongoing public works projects -- within six months, reports Reuters.
- Last week Chilean prosecutors raided the Brazilian construction giant's offices in Santiago, reports Reuters.
- Odebrecht is negotiating a plea bargain with the Argentine government to exchange information regarding $35 million the Brazilian construction giant paid to officials in bribes, for reduced sanctions, reports La Nación.
- Ecuador's political opposition is rallying around right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso, ahead of an April 2 run-off vote he seems increasingly likely to win, reports the Miami Herald. (See Feb. 22's briefs.)
- Ecuador's "economic miracle" under the outgoing Correa administration was a sham, according to Andrés Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald. "Correa’s government should become a textbook case of economic mismanagement that should be taught in business schools across Latin America. Students should be asked to look at Ecuador’s economic performance and its success in reducing poverty under Correa’s populist “revolution,” and compare it with neighboring Peru’s."
- Colombia faces an unexpected peace dividend -- the return of migrants who left escaping the violence of five decades of conflict. But the country is ill prepared to receive them, argues Sinar Alvarado in a New York Times Español op-ed.
- Two years after the U.S.-Cuba détente, "the regime still dispatches adversaries with impunity. It also routinely blocks visitors to the island, even of the leftist stripe—more on this in a moment—in order to keep the population isolated. “Normalization” to the contrary, Cuba is the same totalitarian hellhole that it has been for the past 58 years," argues Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady, in reference to the death Afro-Cuban dissident Hamell Santiago Más Hernández in prison.
- Venezuela's epileptic patients have been struggling with medicine shortages for years -- anti-convulsants are among the toughest drugs to find in a country crippled by shortages of basic goods and medical supplies, reports Reuters.
- And Venezuela is down to its last $10.5 billion in foreign reserves according to the most recent central bank data, reports CNN.