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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for July 17, 2017

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A compilation of recent top articles and reports related to issues of U.S. immigration and enforcement policy and migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs: lfolkerts@lawg.org.

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 4.51.27 PMPhoto taken by Emma Buckhout

U.S. Immigration Enforcement

Groups Sue U.S. Government for Turning Away Asylum Seekers
Karolina Walters, Immigration Impact, July 12, 2017
“CBP officers engage in a systematic and unlawful practice that denies asylum seekers access to the well-established asylum process… turn[ing] incredibly vulnerable individuals back to face threats, violence, and death. This practice relies on certain categories of tactics: misrepresentations, threats and intimidation, verbal and physical abuse, and coercion.”

Emboldened by Trump, U.S. Border Officials are Lying to Asylum Seekers and Turning them Away
Cora Currier, The Intercept, July 12, 2017
“Legal and immigration advocacy groups today filed a class action lawsuit against CPB and the Department of Homeland Security alleging a pattern of misinformation, verbal and physical abuse, intimidation, and outright illegal turn-backs of people requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Lawyers involved with the suit said they’ve seen ‘a drastic increase in illegal turn-backs since Trump was elected.’”

Jeff Sessions Used Our Research to Claim that Sanctuary Cities Have More Crime. He’s Wrong.
Loren Collingwood & Benjamin Gonzalez-O’Brien, Washington Post, July 14, 2017
“Municipalities that chose to designate themselves as sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants experience crime rates no higher than they otherwise would… we find no evidence that crime is higher in cities that become sanctuaries. We hope that the attorney general will accurately state that finding in the future.”
The Future of DACA Suddenly Looks Very Shaky
Dara Lind, Vox, July 14, 2017

“President Trump looks like he might be gearing up to touch the third rail of immigration policy in 2017: ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed young unauthorized immigrants to work legally and protected them from deportation… A letter signed last month by a group of Republican state attorneys general might have set off a chain of events that could force Trump’s hand — or at least persuade him to cut the cord on DACA.”

Kelly Won’t Commit to Defending DACA in Court
Ted Hesson, Politico, July 12, 2017

“Kelly told the lawmakers that although he personally supports DACA, he can’t guarantee that the administration would defend it in court. He also said that he’d consulted attorneys who told him the program wouldn’t survive a legal challenge.”

In Memo, Trump Administration Weighs Expanding the Expedited Deportation Powers of DHS
Abigail Hauslohner & David Nakamura, Washington Post, July 14, 2017

“The Trump administration is weighing a new policy to dramatically expand the Department of Homeland Security’s powers to expedite the deportations of some illegal immigrants… Under the proposal, the agency would be empowered to seek the expedited removal of illegal immigrants apprehended anywhere in the United States who cannot prove they have lived in the country continuously for more than 90 days.”

DHS to Examine Criminal Histories Before Extending Protected Status
Ben Remaly, NBC News, July 15, 2017

“The Trump administration will scrutinize the criminal histories and public benefit usage of hundreds of people living temporarily in the U.S. on protected immigration status before deciding whether to renew their ability to stay in America as conditions in their home countries improve… immigration experts say a federal review of this information is unusual because recipients of Temporary Protected Status are already screened for criminal history and are not eligible for nearly any public benefits.”

Immigrants are Dying in U.S. Detention Centers. And it Could Get Worse.
Brendan O’Boyle, America’s Quarterly, July 17, 2017

“González, Jiménez-Joseph and Meza are three of the seven people who have died in ICE detention this year… despite this troubling trend, a series of policy changes implemented or planned by the administration of President Donald Trump are likely to increase the number of people in detention and to hold them in poorer conditions, endangering more lives, immigrant activists said.”

Condenan a “coyote” por dejar morir a dos indocumentados encerrados en la cajuela del auto
La Opinión, 16 de julio de 2017

“Un hombre fue sentenciado a un año de prisión por su papel en la muerte de dos hombres mexicanos que fueron descubiertos en el maletero de un coche en el cruce fronterizo de San Ysidro… De acuerdo con su declaración, se les había cobrado $11,500 dólares a los dos indocumentados por cruzarlos a suelo estadounidense”.

Fewer Migrants are Crossing the Southwest Border, but More are Dying
Daniel González, The Republic, July 10, 2017

“The number of remains discovered so far this year is on pace to exceed the 154 that were found in 2016. It’s particularly alarming because the overall number of Border Patrol apprehensions is down this year, and remains at some of the lowest levels in decades.”

Immigration Judges Were Always Overworked. Now They’ll Be Untrained, Too.
Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Washington Post, July 11, 2017

“In an effort to expand and accelerate the deportation machine, the Trump administration has hit immigration judges with a one-two punch: dramatically increasing their caseloads and, at perhaps the worst time, canceling the annual week-long training conference for immigration judges. The impact on the entire removal system — and, more importantly, on the rights and lives of our most vulnerable noncitizen neighbors — will be devastating.”

Texas Border City Considers Helping U.S. Jail Immigrants
Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press, July 10, 2017

“The Trump administration’s immigration crackdown and a new Texas effort to aid federal agents have forced El Paso to grapple with whether its county jail is being used to facilitate policies its residents vigorously oppose… El Paso’s leaders say they have great sympathy for immigrants living in the U.S., legally or not, and yet the city plays an important role in the enforcement of immigration laws.”

Immigrant Sues Chicago, Police for Placing his Name in Gang Database
Nereida Moreno, Chicago Tribune, July 11, 2017

“A Gage Park man who is scheduled to be deported later this month was denied immigration relief after Chicago police erroneously placed his name in its gang database, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday. Luis Vicente Pedrote-Salinas, 25, who has lived in the country illegally since he was 5, says he was falsely identified as a gang member because of his race, ethnicity, age and neighborhood.”

Trump Administration Preparing Texas Wildlife Refuge for First Border Wall Segment
Melissa del Bosque, Texas Observer, July 14, 2017
For at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have been quietly preparing to build the first piece of President Trump’s border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. The federally owned 2,088-acre refuge…  could see construction begin as early as January 2018…”

Private Land Is Being Seized in Texas to Build the Border Wall
Joshua Breisblatt, Immigration Impact, July 14, 2017

“To achieve a complete and uninterrupted border wall, the federal government will need to seize land from hundreds of property owners who have called the border region home for generations… The Department of Justice (DOJ) began posting legal notices in the Brownsville Herald to over 200 property owners whose land is in the path of the border in an effort to begin negotiations to purchase the land or to begin litigation to seize it.”

Trump Crafting Plan to Slash Legal Immigration
Eliana Johnson & Josh Dawsey, Politico, July 12, 2017

“Trump plans to get behind a bill being introduced later this summer by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia that, if signed into law, would, by 2027, slash in half the number of legal immigrants entering the country each year… Currently, about 1 million legal immigrants enter the country annually; that number would fall to 500,000 over the next decade.”

Trump: U.S. Not Ready for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Latin American Herald Tribune, July 13, 2017
“President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that the conditions are not in place for a thorough overhaul of the US immigration system… Trump said he hadn’t yet decided what to do about DACA, while emphasizing that he – and not his subordinates – who would make the final determination.”

Mexican Migration Enforcement

Stranded Haitians Settling in Tijuana
Mexico News Daily, July 10, 2017

“Around 20,000 Haitians arrived in Baja California between June and December last year and although their original goal was to reach the United States, a change in U.S. government policy prevented many from gaining entry… at least while President Donald Trump remains in the White House, some of them plan to stay in Tijuana.”

Inmigrantes centroamericanos sufren la tragedia de la deportación en México
Univisión, 16 de julio de 2017

“El gobierno federal de ese país estaría implementando medidas cada vez más agresivas contra estos indocumentados que, en su mayoría, huyen de la violencia en sus países y tratan de llegar a los Estados Unidos”.

Más de 2.200 menores hondureños indocumentados han sido deportados este año
Contacto Hoy, 15 de julio de 2017

“Un total de 2.268 menores hondureños indocumentados han regresado a su país deportados por las autoridades de Estados Unidos, México y Centroamérica entre enero y el pasado 7 de julio… México ha deportado en el período de referencia, por vía aérea, a 237 menores hondureños indocumentados, añade la información oficial”.

Honduran Video Journalist Shot to Death in Mexico
Lev Garcia, Associated Press, July 10, 2017

“Authorities in the Mexican state of Veracruz said Monday that they were investigating the killing of a Honduran video journalist who had sought refugee status in Mexico… the state prosecutor’s office said Edwin Rivera Paz was shot to death Sunday in the town of Acayucan.”

Asesinan en Veracruz a periodista hondureño que solicitó asilo en México
Animal Político, July 10, 2017

El periodista hondureño, Edwin Rivera Paz, quien se refugiaba en México contra las amenazas de muerte que enfrentaba en su país, fue asesinado este 9 de julio en Acayucan, Veracruz, por hombres armados que huyeron en una motocicleta… Los últimos meses, Edwin vivió en Acayucan y había solicitado asilo político a la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (COMAR)”.

Root Causes

Life Where the Murder Rate is Sky-High
Alejandra Sánchez Inzunza & José Luis Pardo Veiras, New York Times, July 15, 2017

“It is impossible… to attempt to reduce crime without the rule of law firmly in place. When the justice system doesn’t work, when investigations are not pursued, when crimes go unpunished, more murders will be committed.”

Perciben inseguridad 74.9 por ciento de los mexicanos: Inegi
Aristegui Noticias, 17 de julio de 2017

“La mayoría de la población mexicana considera que vivir en su ciudad es inseguro, de acuerdo con los resultados del decimosexto levantamiento de la Encuesta Nacional de Seguridad Pública Urbana (ENSU), realizada por el Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática (Inegi), que reveló que durante junio de 2017, 74.9% de la población de 18 años y más tuvo esa percepción”.

Colombia ayudará a Honduras en lucha contra el narcotráfico
La Prensa, July 12, 2017

“El presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, propuso hoy un encuentro entre su país, EE.UU., México y las tres naciones centroamericanas que componen el Triángulo Norte, para fortalecer la lucha contra el narcotráfico y el crimen organizado”.

Salvadorans Fleeing Street Gangs Find Safety in Belize Village
James Fredrick, United Nations Refugee Agency, July 17, 2017

“In the northern part of Central America, murderous street gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 commit crimes ranging from murder and extortion to kidnapping and drug dealing… Each of the six Menendez sons faced harassment and threats from the gangsters. They all resisted, even when that meant they could barely leave home.”

With ‘El Chapo’ Gone, Violence Soars in Fight for Control of Cartel
José de Córdoba, Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2017

“The extradition of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, Mexico’s long-dominant drug lord, has led to an explosion of violence in his home state of Sinaloa, the birthplace of the country’s narcotics industry… Rival factions are fighting over Mr. Guzmán’s billion-dollar empire as he awaits trial in solitary confinement inside a high-security prison in New York.”

• Prominent Honduran Activist Brutally Attacked Inside His Home
Michael K. Lavers, Los Angeles Blade, July 16, 2017

“A prominent Honduran LGBTI rights advocate was brutally attacked inside his home on Monday… Valle, who ran for office in 2011, has participated in Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute-sponsored meetings and conferences in Honduras, the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.”

Trump Is Playing Dangerous Military Gambit in Central America
Dan Beeton, AlterNet, July 11, 2017

“In the Trump White House’s proposed 2018 budget, we can see a shift toward trying to spur private sector investment in Central America, while increasing ‘defense’ spending to more than half the overall budget. State Department and USAID programs for Central America are cut by over 30 percent, while additional security assistance is expected to come from the Pentagon budget.”

Mexico Ties for Most Deadly Country in the World for Journalists
Manuel Bojorquez, CBS News, July 13, 2017

“Mexico now ranks alongside Iraq as the deadliest country in the world for journalists in 2017. It has even surpassed war-torn Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least four journalists have been killed in Mexico this year. CPJ has directly linked all of those to murders to the reporters’ work…”

Spyware That Governments Can’t Resist
New York Times, July 11, 2017

“First came the revelation that prominent Mexican anti-corruption fighters, human rights activists and other government critics were targeted for surveillance with sophisticated spyware sold to the Mexican government for combating crime and terrorism. Now comes the shocking addendum that an international team charged with investigating the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico was also being watched with the spyware…”

In Mexico, Massacre of Family Underlines Surging Violence
Mark Stevenson, Associated Press, July 10, 2017

“The bullet-riddled bodies of the Martinez children were found on a bloody floor, huddled next to the corpses of their parents in a rented shack. The family of six was massacred, authorities believe, because the Zetas cartel suspected the father… had played some part in a rival gang’s attack that killed a Zeta gunman.”

ONU exige investigación por muerte de 28 reos en México
Telesur, 11 de julio de 2017

“Las oficinas de Naciones Unidas en México para los Derechos Humanos (ONU-DH) y contra la droga y el delito (UNODC) exigieron este lunes una “investigación exhaustiva” por la muerte de 28 reclusos en una riña ocurrida el pasado jueves en una cárcel de Acapulco”.

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Does My Story Matter? Seeking Asylum at Mexico’s Southern Border
Daniella Burgi-Palomino & Emma Buckhout, Latin America Working Group, July 2017

“In the United States, apprehensions of individuals and families at the U.S.-Mexico border have dropped in the first few months of 2017 compared to figures for the same period in 2016. However, the conditions in Central America driving this migration remain largely unchanged… Access to asylum in Mexico is still the exception rather than the rule.”

Intake Without Oversight: Firsthand Experiences with the Customs and Border Protection Complaints Process
Kino Border Initiative & Jesuit Conference, July 2017

“Fewer than one out of every 12 who suffered an abuse filed or attempted to file a complaint… From late October 2015 to early March 2017, KBI has filed complaints on behalf of 49 individuals in response to a variety of abuses, from excessive use of force to lack of medical attention and denial of the right to seek asylum.”

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security Bill
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, July 11, 2017

“The House Appropriations Committee today released its proposed fiscal year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill, which will be considered tomorrow by the subcommittee… In total, the legislation directs $44.3 billion in discretionary funding for DHS, an increase of $1.9 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.”

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Bill
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, July 12, 2017

“The bill will target funding to U.S. foreign policy priorities, including critical diplomatic and security missions to increase stability and security… In total, the bill provides $47.4 billion in both regular discretionary and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. This total is $10 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, when counting additional funds provided in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017.”

Concluyen reuniones del Canciller Videgaray con legisladores de ambas Cámaras y Partidos en Washington, D.C.
Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de México, 11 de julio de 2017

“Durante las reuniones se abordaron temas de importancia para la relación bilateral, incluyendo comercio, migración y seguridad. Respecto del proceso de renegociación del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, el Canciller reiteró que México está listo para iniciar una negociación constructiva, buscando modernizar el Tratado en beneficio de los tres países e incrementar el comercio en la región”.

Office of the Special Rapporteur Expresses Concern Over Alleged Spying Targeting Journalists and Human Rights Defenders in Mexico
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, July 12, 2017

“According to information disseminated by civil society organizations, between January 2015 and August 2016, 97 attempts of infection of the mobile phones of journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers and politicians with a malicious software (malware) for spying known as “Pegasus” had been documented… The Office of the Special Rapporteur recalls that the use of any surveillance program or system in private communications should be clearly and precisely established by law…”

The Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.
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