Today in Latin America
Top Story — U.S. immigration officials are recommending that an estimated 14% of nearly 12,000 immigration cases be closed to focus on high-priority deportation cases. Under a new policy by the Obama administration, immigration officials will put an emphasis on deporting undocumented immigrants that have criminal backgrounds or have violated immigration law multiple times, and use prosecutorial discretion to allow immigrants meeting special criteria to stay. Two pilot programs in Denver and Baltimore released their preliminary results after a more than month-long review to determine which deportation cases could be administratively closed. Opponents of the new policy, which is expected to be extended to 300,000 pending immigration cases across the U.S., say that it will clear the way for amnesty, but the Obama administration called it “smart and effective immigration enforcement” that will clear a backlog in the immigration system. Immigrants whose cases are closed would not receive a new legal status under the policy.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Mexican government enacted new rules Thursday banning fraudulent “miracle cure” ads targeting the sick.
- U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has released a series of ads calling fellow candidate Mitt Romney “the most anti-immigrant candidate” and said he borrowed a slogan from Fidel Castro.
- A Haitian judge summoned former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to court Thursday for his failure to abide by the rules of his house arrest.
- Cuba will pursue offshore drilling after a rig arrived off the coast of Havana Thursday, where geologists believe there are large oil reserves.
- 500 Cuban medical workers will work in Jamaica for the next two years to help understaffed hospitals and clinics.
- Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was arrested in his native Dominican Republic after it was discovered that he lied about his real name and age.
- Ten people affiliated with three Puerto Rican health care companies will be investigated for $2 million in fraud after filing claims for unnecessary medical equipment.
- Honduran President Porfirio Lobo said in a radio announcement that the U.S. will send personnel to help his government combat the violent crime that prompted the Peace Corps to withdraw from the country.
- Salvadoran police seized $1.5 million in fake U.S. bills after a four month investigation, along with a pistol and and a trace amount of drugs.
- Guatemala’s popular “Bingoton Millionario” lottery launders drug money, according to U.S. officials.
- Nonprofit Venezuelan Prisons Observatory released a report Thursday saying that 560 inmates were killed in Venezuelan prisons last year, a 17.6 increase from 2010.
- Chevron lost another attempt to block Ecuador’s collection of an $18 billion judgment against the company for contaminating the rainforest.
- Bolivian Deputy Minister for Social Defense, Felipe Caceres, said that Bolivia would attempt a “net eradication” of illegal coca plants by 2012.
- Archeologists in Peru discovered evidence of corn consumption dating back 2,000 years earlier than thought.
- A former congressman in Brazil’s Alagoas state was sentenced to 103 years in prison for ordering the murder of a congresswoman and her family in 1998 so he could take her seat in the Chamber of Deputies.
- After widespread criticism, Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said he would withdraw a proposal to force media workers to surrender images to the state without a court order.
- Britain’s Prince Harry will visit Brazil in March after a tour of Jamaica, Belize and the Bahamas in an effort to strengthen Latin America relations.
- Uruguayan state communications company ANTEL said it would give users a day of free Internet access to support online freedom.
Image: one1world @ Flickr.