U.S. border arrests of Ecuadorians are down sharply; China trade talks underway; Gay Pride parade attracts hundreds; Court orders teacher wage hike
The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency reports that 10,527 Ecuadorians were arrested in first half of 2022 at the U.S.-Mexican border. The number represents a dramatic drop from the 67,000 arrested during the same period in 2021.
According to immigrant rights organizations, the drop to primarily due Mexico’s decision in September 2021 to require Ecuadorians entering Mexico to have visas. Prior to the rule change, most Ecuadorians who attempted to the enter the U.S. illegally flew to Mexican airports and traveled overland to the border. Those currently attempting to reach the U.S. must travel through several Central American countries and then enter Mexico illegally to continue their travels north.
According to the Organization of Immigrant Advocacy, only one of three foreigners attempting to cross the Mexican border is detained, the other two evading U.S. security.
Immigrant Advocacy says about 500 of the Ecuadorians arrested were unaccompanied minors. “This is especially worrying since many of the children were probably subjects of human trafficking. We are working with U.S. officials to repatriate these children back to Ecuador, if necessary.”
Quito immigration lawyer Marcelo Torres says Mexico’s decision to require visas for Ecuadorians has made the trip to the U.S. border much more expensive. “This time last year, those arranging passage to the border – the coyotes — charged about $12,000. Today, the cost is $18,000 to $20,000 and traveling is much difficult and much more dangerous.”
China trade and investment talks underway
Ecuador’s Ministry of Production reports that a new series of negotiations is underway with the Chinese government to promote increased economic activity between the two countries. Among the topics being discussed are access to markets, investments and customs procedures.
China is Ecuador’s second largest trading partner behind the United States. In 2021 Ecuador’s non-oil exports to China totaled $3.6 billion, a figure the Production Ministry expects to double in 2022.
Court orders teacher wage hike
The Constitutional Court denied the government’s appeal for a delay and ordered it to increase pay for public school teachers. According the court, salaries will increase for most teachers when the ruling is entered into the Official Registry, a process that will take 90 days.
The pay raises were included in the Organic Act of Intercultural Education Law passed by the National Assembly in January. The government argued that it need more time to arrange funding since the legislation did not address the issue.
The National Union of Educators celebrated the decision, claiming teachers’ pay and education in general had been neglected for years by the government. “This is a defeat for the government and a victory for teachers, students and the people of Ecuador,” the union said.
Gay Pride parade attracts hundreds
Several hundred supporters of LGBT rights marched through the historic district Saturday afternoon, many carrying banners demanding an end to discrimination and a larger role in local and national government affairs. Originally planned for June, the parade was postponed due to the indigenous strike.
“Our goal is simple,” said Juan Carlos Zalamea, coordinator of the Diverse Dialogue Foundation in Cuenca. “We ask that our constitutional rights be respected and that we be included in all discussions of public policy that affect those rights. We continue to be disrespected and marginalized in social and political life and insist that the disrespect end.”
He said discrimination in employment remains a major obstacles for those living “gay and alternative lifestyles.”