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Latam Brief: Fewer migrants at U.S. southern border (January 26, 2023)

 Latin America Daily Briefing

The number of migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela taken into custody on the U.S. southern border has decreased significantly this month, following U.S. policy changes drastically limiting people from those countries’ ability to apply for asylum. Rights advocates say it unacceptably limits access to asylum. (New York TimesNew York Times)

The changes make “asylum all but impossible to obtain for migrants from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela,” wrote Adam Isacson last week, looking specifically at the decline of arrivals at El Paso, Texas. Nonetheless, “in cities on Mexico’s side of the border, there is scant evidence that the Biden administration’s Title 42 expansion is deterring migrants,” notes Isacson. (WOLA)

The U.S. Biden administration said the reduction was a victory for the expansion of special parole programs this month allowing migrants to apply to come to the United States legally. (Washington PostNew York Times)

U.S. authorities encountered a daily average of just 115 migrants from those countries over a week-long period ending on Jan. 24, down from an average 3,367 in the week to Dec. 11, a 97% drop, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Reuters)

Twenty states are suing the national government over the humanitarian parole program, which established a pathway for up to 30,000 migrants each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to petition for asylum in the U.S. The program is just one of several new border policies, including an agreement with the Mexican government to accept up to 30,000 migrants from those four countries if they don’t meet the requirements for asylum or parole, reports ABC.

(For more on Migration, check out Jordi Amaral’s new newsletter: Americas Migration Brief.)


  • Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes fined messaging app Telegram, yesterday, for failing to comply with a court order to suspend five accounts in relation to an inquiry investigating the Jan. 8 attacks in Brasília. One of the accounts in question belongs to deputy-elect Nikolas Ferreira, Brazil’s most voted member of congress in last year’s election. (Reuters)

  • De Moraes has been aggressively pursuing those suspected of undermining Brazil’s fragile democracy — but critics, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, say he’s inappropriately limiting freedom of expression in the process, reports the Associated Press. (See Monday’s briefs.)


  • Governance crises have become more frequent in Peru since the 2016 — since then no government has garnered sufficient congressional support to complete its mandate. “Persistent social gaps are a breeding ground for popular discontent,” writes former finance minister Luis Miguel Castilla in Americas Quarterly.


  • Inflation and crime have decimated Chilean President Gabriel Boric’s popularity, his approval rating has halved from around 50 percent when he came into office last March, to 25 percent, according to Cadem. The country, one of the region’s most stable historically, saw murders rise 43% in 2022 and kidnappings go up 77%, according to police data. (Reuters)

  • Boric’s proposal for pension reform passed in the Chamber of Deputies’ Labor Commission, the first step for an ambitious plan that would replace the current dictatorship-era private pension system with a private-public social security system that would see new contributions from employers and the state. (Bloomberg LíneaReuters)

  • Chile’s copper production will grow at a slower rate this decade than initially forecast, as delays hit mining projects, reports Reuters.

El Salvador

  • El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly increased penalties for electoral fraud, including 15 years of prison for people who “block candidate inscription,” a move experts say is aimed at obliging the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to permit President Nayib Bukele to run for reelection, reports El Diario de Hoy.

  • International pressure has pushed changes to El Salvador’s draconian abortion laws, but the release of 70 women who were charged with aggravated homicide in relation to obstetric emergencies “indicates palpable, technical advances for sexual and reproductive rights,” reports El Faro English.

  • El Salvador repaid an $800 million bond on Monday, the same day the bond was set to mature, reports Reuters. The Bukele administration is under pressure to meet debt obligations after carrying out controversial bitcoin purchases with the country’s reserves.


  • A series of accidents on Mexico City’s subway system — which have left more than two dozen people dead — could be a major obstacle for Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum’s presidential aspirations, reports the Guardian.


  • Bolivia’s aspirations to become a major lithium producer are bumping up against issues of viability and sustainability, reports the Guardian.


  • Panama’s Colón Free Trade Zone has become a global hub of counterfeiting, contraband and cocaine — Guardian.


  • Brazilian singer Seu Jorge was blocked from naming his newborn son “Samba,” a strangely conservative decision in a country where far more esoteric names have been accepted by the registry, reports the Guardian

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing

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