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Guatemala’s remittance boom threatens Biden-Harris plan to solve migration causes

Plus: Jamaican immigrant's death described as ‘modern-day lynching,' Lawsuit claims sheriff detained man for being born outside the U.S.

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Remittances from Guatemalans abroad to their families at home reached a record high in 2021, leading experts to question how the Guatemalan government will address the migration crisis when the U.S. economy contributes so much to the Central American country. Guatemalans at home received $15.2 billion in remittances last year, an increase of 35% from 2020. The payments had steadily rising for more than a decade, and especially helped the Guatemala’s economy during the pandemic. Critics say Guatemala is dependent on remittances, and that political leaders have little motivation to combat inequality, poverty, and other root causes of migration. Despite this, the Biden administration continues to pressure the Central American country, and says it plans to invest $4 billion in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador over the next four years. The Guardian

In other national immigration news…

Jamaican immigrant death in Pennsylvania described as ‘modern-day lynching’

The family of a Jamaican immigrant killed at a Pennsylvania cabin last month is now describing the incident as a “modern-day lynching.” The deceased, Peter Bernardo Spencer, 29, was invited by a former coworker to hang out at a cabin on Dec. 11, his family said. The former coworker, as well as two other men and a woman in the home, were white. Spencer didn’t know who the others were. He was shot nine times. Pennsylvania State Police found Spencer dead on the front lawn with multiple gunshot wounds. Four people at the home were detained and questioned, police said, but they have all been released. No one has been charged with a crime, and experts working with Spencer’s family are asking other law enforcement agencies to get involved. The Philadelphia Inquirer

Federal lawsuit claims sheriff’s office detained man for being born outside the U.S.

Neville Brooks, a 59-year-old man living in Florida, has filed a federal lawsuit against a sheriff’s department and its deputies, alleging they illegally detained him only because he was born in Jamaica. The lawsuit states that after Brooks was detained, a federal immigration officer told multiple county employees that he wasn’t subject to any immigration detention request. Yet Brooks was not released until the next day, and five days later he tested positive for Covid-19. The lawsuit accuses the sheriff’s office of violating Brooks’ constitutional right and a state law against false imprisonment. Brooks seeks financial damages and an order barring the sheriff’s office from detaining people on immigration enforcement grounds solely because they were born abroad. Associated Press

New TRAC report highlights concerns about a dedicated docket for asylum seekers

A new report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University highlights concerns advocates raised last year that a dedicated docket to speed the court cases of asylum-seeking families could result in unfair hearings. TRAC found that in the first seven months of the program, 92% of cases resulted in an order of removal. Almost all of those immigrants did not have a lawyer, likely because a lawyer can take months — something advocates feared would happen. Immigration Impact

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