Covid-19, Guatemalan immigration and deportations

Gio B’atz’ has written in Plaza Pública about the scale of deportations to Guatemala during the Covid-19 epidemic and the lies and deception being used to justified this profound abuse of human rights.

Over four parts, the articles cover the numbers being deported, the US use of health law instead of immigration law, and the inhumane practices of the detention centres, all within a framework of xenophobia, racism and white supremacy.

It was estimated that those deported from the US to Guatemala, made up to 20% of the 500 Covid-19 cases in the country – this by late April. The Guatemalan government asked the US to stop the deportations but the US authorities ignored the request.

Between February and October, there were an estimated 17,509 people deported from Guatemala to the US, and the deportation of unaccompanied minors has increased over this period.

The legislation being used to carry out these deportations is Title 42 of the US code, excluding “any person or thing that might introduce a disease”. This is being used instead of Title 8, which is based on immigration law. The fact that health is being used means that people have no means to ask for due legal process. Without due legal process, those people are at the mercy of for-profit companies without any way to have their voice heard.

The US is purposely using Title 42 to deport migrants without legal due process is knowingly and actively violating their human rights’.

While US immigration detention centers violate migrants’ human rights, they are not equipped to confront the pandemic. We remember those Guatemalan child migrants who died in detention well before the pandemic swept across the US. Their is little recognition of the health needs of migrants, or of their rights as human beings.

The human rights’ situation has deteriorated during the pandemic and the few protections they might have enjoyed have been further dismantled. The situation has also increased the pressure on the Guatemala health system which itself is the historic victim of gross under investment, massive corruption, and State indifference.

Gio ends these fine pieces by stating, in relation to the deaths of Guatemalans:

The Guatemalan government is also guilty of these deaths due to the conditions it has created, which force people to migrate, and because of its corruption and negligence, which have left the Guatemalan people without the necessary resources to defend themselves against the pandemic.”

The articles, with links, can be found on the Plaza Pública website, in both English and Spanish, and you can find them here, under Gio’s page on the website.

Bearing in mind the significant damage done by Hurricane Eta and the worrying Hurricane Iota on the horizon, on the overburdened health system, these are grim times for a majority of Guatemalans.

Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Poverty

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