United States authorities have recorded 96,193 Nicaraguans detained in the first seven months of the year.
By Cindy Regidor (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The migration flow of Nicaraguans to the United States remains strong and constant, with some 400 daily detentions on average, according to the July figure from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In July alone, 12,191 arrests of Nicaraguans were recorded by US authorities. In total, thus far in 2022, there have been 96,193 detentions of Nicaraguans. The flow of migrants to the United States from Nicaragua has increased dramatically over the last year.
The increase coincided with the repressive escalation by the Ortega Murillo regime that began in late May 2021 with the arrest of seven opposition presidential candidates who sought to participate in the November presidential elections as a way out of the sociopolitical crisis that has persisted in the country since 2018.
The government assault was also directed against businessmen, civic leaders, journalists, human rights activists, peasants, former diplomats and analysts. Most of those detained for political reasons remained imprisoned in the cells of the infamous “El Chipote” jail in Managua, where they endure isolation and are victims of cruel and degrading treatment. The regime, for its part, declared itself the winner of elections without competition, without minimum guarantees of transparency, with a massive abstention of citizens and without recognition of most nations in the hemisphere.
With the worsening repression and no short-term solutions to the crisis, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans began to leave the country northbound. July 2021 saw the first five-digit number of migrant detentions from Nicaragua, with 13,509 “encounters” or apprehensions, according to CBP records. Since then, the number of people seeking to reach the United States has not diminished.
With this dramatic increase, news of the vicissitudes and tragedies experienced by Nicaraguans on their journey to the US border also grew, ranging from extorsions, robberies, assaults, kidnappings, even the death of dozens of them by asphyxiation when travelling in overcrowded vans, without water or food; or death by drowning while trying to cross the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande) at the US-Mexico border.
May of this year was the month with the highest number of deaths of Nicaraguans attempting to reach the United States. According to a monitoring of Confidencial, in that month 19 Nicaraguan citizens died in traffic accidents and in the Rio Bravo.
MPP immigration policy ends, but Title 42 is still on
Nicaraguans, as well as other Central Americans, Venezuelans, Cubans and migrants of other nationalities continue to attempt to enter the United States, despite US policies that try to dissuade them.
The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as Stay in Mexico, has been one of those policies forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until US courts ruled for or against them. It was implemented in two moments: in 2019, when then President Donald Trump established it, leaving more than 70,000 migrants stranded in Mexico, which caused a humanitarian crisis. And at the end of 2021, when current President Joe Biden was forced to resume it by orders of the Judicial Branch. From December 2021 to June 2022, 5,765 migrants were returned to Mexico, most of those affected were Nicaraguans (58%).
On August 9, 2022, the US authorities announced that the MPP would come to an end, so there will be no more migrants under this program and those currently in Mexico under the MPP will be able to carry their processes within the United States.
However, the Title 42 health policy, established during the pandemic remains in effect, which allows immigration agents to “fast-track” the removal of migrants seeking asylum. Under that policy, more than 670,000 migrants have been turned back at US borders in 2022, of which 2,357 were Nicaraguans, according to Border Patrol data.