First month of the new year marked by setbacks on migration and environmental policies

February 6, 2020 – Containment, detention and deportation have become the defining featuers of immigration policy under the López Obrador administration in Mexico. The numbers speak for themselves: More than 2,000 people were deported in January and more than 60,000 are trapped along the border as a result of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP).

Civil society organizations are suffering the impact of “Erratic” migration policies in Mexico. The National Migration Institute announced that Mexico has temporarily suspended civil society organizations from accessing migrant detention centers, known as “migratory centers.” More than 200 national and international organizations have condemned the obstruction and criminalization of civil society efforts to defend the rights of migrants who have been deprived of their liberty. The NMI reauthorized the visits and initiated working groups and spaces for dialogue with civil society organizations to respond to some of their most pressing concerns regarding the rights of migrants and refugees.

Press conference on January 30, 2020 with organizations and networks of migrant rights advocates discussing access to migratory stations. Photo: Working Group on Migration Policy.

The economic slowdown in Mexico also raises concerns that economic contractions could impact migration from mexico. The government projected 2% growth for 2019, but at the end of the year it registered a contraction of 0.1%. This is a result of a lack of confidence in foreign investment, decreases in consumption and delays in public spending ­–––­ factors that could play out in increased unemployment and depressed consumption. 

Attacks on indigenous communities and xenophobia

The fight for environmental and territorial justice in Latin America has been under attack in recent days.  And a new wave of xenopobia is linked to the increasing number of coronavirus cases that has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global emergency, shining a light to the relationship between the environment, health, and forced displacement.

Media coverage of the coronavirus has triggered xenophobic campaigns against Chinese citizens and ignited racism against people of Asian descent. Meanwhile, other countries where cases have been identified, such as the United States, Guatemala and El Salvador, have implemented measures restricting the entry of travelers from China. Mexico is beginning to organize its emergency response. 

In Central America, violence against indigenous peoples continues. As January came to a close, there was a massacre of indigenous people in Nicaragua, in the Mayangna territory of Sauni As, a protection zone that has seen significant conflicts over forest use in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve. In Brazil, conflict over mining rights is taking place in Mura indigenous territory, which was also affected by the Amazon fires. 

Meanwhile, a new study linked the expansion of monoculture plantations, such as sugarcane in Central America,  to forced displacement in the southern coast of Guatemala and environmental and health complications in El Salvador and Nicaragua.Finally, Mexico once again mourned the loss of environmental defenders. Both Homero Gómez and Raúl Hernández went missing in late January and were found dead some days later.  These activists had achieved world recognition for their efforts to protect monarch butterflies in the state of Michoacán. As investigations move forward, serious questions remain.