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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for July 31, 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.


Photo taken by Emma Buckhout, LAWG


U.S. Immigration Enforcement

Niegan en EE.UU. asilo a periodista mexicano después de nueve años
Read the story in English
EFE, 28 de julio de  2017
“Un juez migratorio de Texas (EE.UU.) negó el asilo político a Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, reportero mexicano que llevaba más de nueve años de trámite a la espera de una respuesta de las autoridades a su solicitud… El reportero había presentado en la documentación los casos de los periodistas asesinados en México y para argumentar que no puede ‘regresar a México bajo ninguna circunstancia’”.

Leaders in Congress React to ABC News Investigation of Border Agency
Brian Ross, Brian Epstein, and Cho Park, ABC News, July 28, 2017

“A government surveillance video… shows that in 2013 two U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers appeared to encourage, or at least permit, a 16-year-old Mexican high school student to drink from a bottle that tests would later reveal contained concentrated liquid methamphetamine.”

Border Wall is Trump’s Least Popular Policy Internationally
Janell Fetterolf, PEW Research Center, July 28, 2017

“In 18 of the countries surveyed, the border wall draws the most disapproval of the specific Trump policies tested.The wall generates the most disapproval in Latin America, where roughly three-quarters or more in each of the seven countries polled disagree with the proposal.”

House Approves Spending Package, Border Wall and All
Emmarie Huetteman, New York Times, July 27, 2017

“The House approved on Thursday a bundle of spending bills, including $1.57 billion that President Trump requested to build a wall along the Mexican border, which could serve as the opening salvo in a new congressional battle to keep the government funded… But the legislation is almost certain to fail in the Senate…”

IOM: US-Mexico Migrant Route Deadlier With Trump Immigration Policy
Lisa Schlein, VOA News, July 27, 2017

“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports the migrant route from Mexico to the United States has become deadlier since the Trump administration’s tougher immigration policy came into force… 231 migrants have died this year trying to cross from Mexico into the United States… an 18-percent increase over the same period last year.”

By the Numbers: Migrant Deaths and Human Trafficking in the US
Holly Yan and Aaron Kessler, CNN, July 28, 2017

“Every year, hundreds of undocumented immigrants perish trying to make the journey [to the US]. And virtually all of those deaths occur while being smuggled, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mike Friel said… virtually all those crossing the border illegally are led by smugglers… because cartels have a stranglehold on the Mexican side of the border and control much of the land.”

Why John Kelly is the Perfect Pick for Trump’s New Chief of Staff
Dara Lind, Vox, July 28, 2017

“After six months of an administration marked by intra-White House intrigue and infighting, Trump announced late Friday in a tweet that Kelly would replace Reince Priebus to lead Trump’s White House staff. Kelly’s elevation is a reminder that the core of Trump’s political identity remains his tough stance on immigration: As secretary of DHS, Kelly became a reliably blunt spokesperson for the Trump administration’s expansion of immigration enforcement.”

It’s Official: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Takes on Sanctuary Cities
Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, July 25, 2017

“Cities that don’t let Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents into their prisons and jails will lose significant federal funding, according to an announcement Attorney General Jeff Sessions made on Tuesday afternoon. This is the first time the Justice Department has officially put immigration-related limits on which cities can get lucrative federal funds that many cities rely on for law enforcement.”

Trump Administration Toughens Policy Against Sanctuary Cities
Joseph Tanfani, Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2017

“Under the policy, cities will have to meet three conditions if they want the grants: honoring requests to give 48-hour notice when detainees are about to be released; allowing agents access to local and state jails, in order to pick up undocumented people who are being released; and compliance with a law that prohibits any jurisdictions from stopping the exchange of information about an individual’s immigration status.”

A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out
Jonathan Blitzer, New Yorker, July 24, 2017

“During the campaign, many rank-and-file [ICE] agents publicly cheered Trump’s pledge to deport more immigrants, and, since Inauguration Day, the Administration has explicitly encouraged them to pursue the undocumented as aggressively as possible.”

He Was Brought to Virginia as a Toddler, Deported at 19. He Died in an Overheated Tractor-Trailer Trying to Return
Maria Sacchetti, Moriah Balingit, and Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post, July 25, 2017

“One of the undocumented immigrants who died in a stifling tractor-trailer here Saturday was a 19-year-old who grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from a Fairfax County high school before getting in trouble with the law and being deported to his native Guatemala… Frank G. Fuentes was one of at least six Guatemalans packed into a poorly ventilated truck with scores of other migrants who had crossed the border illegally.”

As Migrant Smuggling Tragedy Shocks US, Border Militarization Moves Forward
Telesur, July 24, 2017

“The truck driver accused of transporting 39 migrants through Texas in a locked, unventilated trailer may face the death penalty or life in prison after 10 people died from heat exposure and asphyxiation… The horrific incident is the most deadly to occur along the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years and comes amid plans this week to push through legislation that will dramatically boost border enforcement and militarization.”

Four Migrants Die Trying to Cross Rio Grande Into the U.S.
Matthew Haag, New York Times, July 25, 2017

“At least four people have died since Monday trying to cross the Rio Grande into Texas, the authorities said Tuesday, another deadly sign of the extremes to which migrants will go to reach the United States… In the past two weeks, during the monsoon season, the river has risen about three feet. Migrants, who may be dehydrated, hungry and tired by the time they reach the river, can easily be overwhelmed by the unexpected current.”

15 Protesters Arrested After Demonstration Defending DACA at Texas Capitol
Gus Bova, Texas Observer, July 26, 2017

“About 15 immigrants rights supporters were arrested Wednesday outside the Texas Capitol after they blocked traffic in an effort to defend existing immigrant protections and demand permanent legal status… The hourlong demonstration was led by so-called dreamers — recipients of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — and came on the heels of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s urging the Trump administration to end the program.”

How Many Dreamers May See a Promising New Reality?
Walter Ewing, Immigration Impact, July 25, 2017

“The Dream Act of 2017, introduced earlier this month in the Senate, is the most recent legislative proposal to focus on undocumented youth. In order to be covered by this bill, applicants must have arrived in the United States before the age of 18, lived here for four years or more, and not have a criminal record… of the 3.3 million people who meet the minimum criteria of the Dream Act of 2017, 1.8 million would be immediately eligible for eight years of conditional status.”

Data Shows Prosecutorial Discretion Grinds to a Halt in Immigration Courts
Joshua Breisblatt, Immigration Impact, July 24, 2017

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last month that it now has hired 326 immigration judges, 53 more judges than July 2016, yet during that time the immigration court backlog has grown. According to new data released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) the reason for this may be due to the fact that the Trump administration has nearly ended the use of prosecutorial discretion to close cases, forcing judges to place them all on their dockets.”

Judge: Nonprofit Legal Groups Can Keep Helping Immigrants
Associated Press, July 24, 2017

“A federal judge in Seattle said Monday that nonprofit legal groups around the country can keep assisting immigrants facing deportation, after a Justice Department decision threatened to curtail much of that work. In April, the Justice Department told the Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project that it cannot provide certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it undertakes full, formal representation of them in court.”

Open for Business: Trump’s Priorities in Central America
Lauren Carasik, Boston Review, July 24, 2017

“Trump has made clear that human rights considerations are inconsequential to his foreign policy. But the human cost in Central America and Mexico will be incalculable.”

Trump’s “Skinny” Central America Budget
Nancy Hiemstra, NACLA, July 25, 2017

“Trump’s proposed 2018 ‘skinny budget’ plans to cut humanitarian and development aid to Latin America and the Caribbean by 36%… reduce funding for refugee services by over 30%, and zero out all money to the Inter-American Development Bank. In effect, the budget nearly eliminates money to address causes of immigration in the region, while maintaining State Department programs that directly contribute to security and military activities, including policing immigration.”

Mexican Migration Enforcement

Fewer Rivers to Cross: Mexico Becomes a Destination for Migrants
The Economist, July 27, 2017

“Some people from Central America’s poor and violent ‘northern triangle’—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—dare not stay at home, regardless of the frosty reception that would await them in the United States. For some of those, Mexico is a destination rather than a corridor… In the first six months of this year 7,000 migrants, almost all Central Americans, requested asylum. That compares with 9,000 for all of 2016.”

Reprochan al gobierno mexicano desatención en desplazamiento forzado de comunidad guatemalteca
Proceso, 28 de julio de 2017

“Cuatro organizaciones sociales de la península de Yucatán acusaron al gobierno mexicano de incumplir sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de desplazamientos forzados y población refugiada, luego de documentar la negativa federal de brindar recursos a los habitantes de la comunidad Laguna Larga, Guatemala, víctimas desplazamiento forzado”.

Centroamericanos encuentran refugio en la CDMX
Neldy San Martín, El Financiero, 18 de julio de 2017

“Los reformas migratorias en Estados Unidos y la violencia en países centroamericanos han causado que la Ciudad de México se convierta en un destino frecuente para los refugiados de esa zona”.

178 Migrants Found Abandoned in Trailer in Mexico
Fidel Gutierrez and Nicole Chavez, CNN, July 30, 2017

“Mexican authorities rescued 178 Central American migrants found abandoned in a trailer in Veracruz state… In December, Mexican officials rescued 110 migrants from Central and South America who were trapped inside a trailer in Veracruz.”

Traficantes de indocumentados abandonan a 147 migrantes centroamericanos al norte de Veracruz
Revista Emeequis, 30 de julio de 2017

“Un grupo de 147 migrantes centroamericanos fueron rescatados después de haber sido abandonados por presuntos traficantes de personas en una zona agreste en el municipio mexicano de Ozuluama, en Veracruz, informaron hoy las autoridades… Según los testimonios de las víctimas, fueron obligados a descender del transporte donde viajaban en condiciones de hacinamiento, escasa ventilación y ningún tipo de descanso”.

Cinco guatemaltecos mueren ahogados en el río Bravo
AFP, 25 de julio de 2017

“Los cadáveres de cinco migrantes guatemaltecos fueron hallados este martes en el río Bravo, en la frontera norte de México, cuando intentaban cruzar a Estados Unidos… Las autoridades mexicanas en conjunto con Estados Unidos ‘mantendrán operativos a lo largo del Río para ubicar más cuerpos’, al asegurar que se trataba de un grupo de 11 indocumentados que intentó cruzar la frontera”.

Arrolla tren a migrante en Chiapas
Édgar Hernández, Reforma, 25 de julio de 2017

“Un migrante murió arrollado por el tren de carga conocido como “La Bestia” en el Municipio de Mapastepec, en la región de la Costa… Desde 2014, con la implementación del Plan Frontera Sur, las autoridades federales impiden que migrantes aborden el tren”.

Root Causes

Migrants Seeking Better Life Caught in Decades-Long Cycle
Jason Buch, San Antonio Express News, July 29, 2017

“Illegal immigration from Mexico has plummeted in recent years, driven by a variety of factors, but that didn’t stop Lara Vega and at least 13 other men from the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes from taking buses to the border and crossing the Rio Grande, where they boarded a tractor-trailer that would take them to San Antonio.”

“Quiero despedirme porque sé que me van a matar”
Ricardo Flores, La Prensa Gráfica, 31 de julio de 2017

“Desde hace dos semanas los pandilleros de la comunidad donde vivo me están molestando para que me meta a la clica de la Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). El cabecilla del grupo me ha dicho que tengo que matar si quiero seguir viviendo aquí. He tenido que hacerles favores a la pandilla para sobrevivir; pero ellos quieren que me brinque (matar a alguien) y si no lo hago me matan. Entonces he tomado la decisión de que no me voy a brincar y por eso quiero despedirme, porque sé que me van a matar”.

En 2016 se registraron 23 mil 953 homicidios, reporta el Inegi
Marcos Muedano, El Excelsior, 26 de julio de 2017

“El Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (Inegi) informó que en 2016 se cometieron 23 mil 953 homicidios, lo que presenta un incremento de 16.70 por ciento en comparación a 2015, cuando se registraron 20 mil 525 crímenes… Los datos, también indican que los asesinatos registrados el año pasado, equivalen a un promedio de 20 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes a nivel nacional, tasa superior a la registrada en 2015 que fue de 17 por cada 100 mil habitantes”.

Más del 30% de salvadoreños aprueba tortura y ejecuciones extrajudiciales
EFE, 24 de julio de 2017

“La tortura y las ejecuciones extrajudiciales de presuntos delincuentes o pandilleros tienen el visto bueno de más del 30 % de los salvadoreños, revela un informe dado a conocer hoy por la jesuita Universidad Centroamericana (UCA)”.

“Las pandillas que tenemos hoy son consecuencia directa del ‘manodurismo’”
Roberto Valencia, El Faro, 23 de julio de 2017

“El problema…es que los gobiernos y la sociedad en general siguen sintiéndose más cómodos con el manodurismo, cuya versión más reciente se llama Medidas Extraordinarias… hay un sector del gobierno, el más apegado a la actividad policial, al que la idea de que el pandillero nunca dejará de serlo le facilita su trabajo, porque así se centra en eliminarlos…”

187 Women Murdered in Honduras in 2017
Telesur, July 24, 2017

“Nearly 200 women have been murdered in the first six months of 2017 reported the Violence Observatory of the National Autonomous University of Honduras, as the country continues to struggle with an escalating femicide crisis… The majority of the victims are killed by their partners “with beatings, physiological and sexual violence, until they are left for dead.’”

Berta Caceres’ Family Denounces Hate Threats Against Them
Telesur, July 26, 2017

“Relatives of Berta Caceres, the iconic Indigenous environmentalist from Honduras who was killed in March last year, denounced a “hate campaign” against them Wednesday… Austra Berta Flores, Agustina Flores and Olivia Zuniga, mother, aunt, and daughter of the murdered environmentalist, respectively, said the “same pattern” that was used to kill the Indigenous leader last year was now being used to target them.”

La CDMX vive el primer semestre más violento en 20 años; asesinatos suben en 10 delegaciones
Arturo Angel, Animal Político, 27 de julio de 2017

“La Ciudad de México enfrenta el mayor nivel de violencia en los últimos 20 años. El primer semestre de 2017 dejó un saldo de 541 casos de homicidio doloso en la capital del país, lo que equivale a una tasa de 6.13 asesinatos por cada cien mil habitantes”.

Mexican Journalist Threatened in Michoacán State
Committee to Protect Journalists, July 26, 2017

“[José] Maldonado… told CPJ he received a threatening email on July 21 signed Raúl Solorio. The email warned Maldonado, the 49-year-old editorial director of Agencia Mexicana de Noticias Noventa Grados, to stop reporting on the activities of the state’s law enforcement agencies. The message… ends with a series of implicit death threats against Maldonado.”

Why Police Reforms Rarely Succeed: Lessons From Latin America
Yanilda González, The Conversation, July 25, 2017

“Lawmakers in the Colombian congress and the Buenos Aires provincial legislature enacted sweeping legislation to demilitarize, decentralize and professionalize Colombia’s National Police and the Police of Buenos Aires Province… . When politicians promoting “tougher” police strategies are elected, police killings and repression of citizens increase.”

Actions, Responses and Resources

A Statistical and Demographic Profile of the US Temporary Protected Status Populations from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti
Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, Center for Migration Studies, July 20, 2017
“TPS can be granted to non-citizens from designated nations who are unable to return to their countries because of armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. In January 2017, an estimated 325,000 migrants from 13 TPS-designated countries resided in the United States. This statistical portrait of TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti reveals hardworking populations with strong family and other ties to the United States.”

Legitimidad y con anza pública de la policía en El Salvador
José Miguel Cruz, Jeannette Aguilar y Yulia Vorobyeva, Florida International University y Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, Julio 2017

“[S]eis de cada diez salvadoreños consultados piensan que las autoridades deben respetar siempre las leyes en la lucha en contra de la delincuencia. Sin embargo, algunos sectores significativos de la población parecen favorecer el uso de medidas extralegales en la lucha en contra del crimen: el 40% aprobaría el uso de tortura para lidiar con miembros del crimen organizado, el 34.6% aprobaría ejecuciones extrajudiciales y el 17.2% consentiría la práctica de limpieza social”.

Strengthening Mexico’s Protection of Central American Unaccompanied Minors in Transit
Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Migration Policy Institute, July 2017

“To stem the flow of migrants through its territory, Mexico stepped up enforcement at its southern border and along popular routes through the country… The spike in the apprehension of unaccompanied children—a growing share of whom are girls and children under age 12—has raised questions about how well equipped Mexican immigration authorities are to uphold legal requirements for the protection of minors.”

IACHR Condemns Attack on Human Rights Defenders Berta Zúñiga Cáceres, Sotero Chavarría, and Asunción Martínez in Honduras
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, July 25, 2017

“According to publicly available information, on June 30 three members of a civil society organization—Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras, COPINH [Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras]—were reportedly targets of an attack. The three individuals were Berta Zúñiga Cáceres Flores, general coordinator of COPINH and daughter of Berta Cáceres Flores, a recognized human rights defender and indigenous leader who was killed in March 2016; Sotero Chavarría; and Asunción Martínez.”

Immigration Court Dispositions Drop 9.3 Percent Under Trump
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, July 17, 2017

“The latest available case-by-case data indicate that Immigration Court dispositions have dropped by 9.3 percent since President Trump assumed office… [Trump’s] new policies slowed the pace of court dispositions. These changes included shifting judge assignments, revised case processing priorities, and the termination of prosecutorial discretion (“PD”) closures. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had previously utilized PD closures to continually prune low priority cases from the court’s backlog.”

Buscando el Norte
Save the Children, July 2017

“Honduras no fue tan difícil, hasta les dieron ‘aventón’ a Guatemala. Allí empezó lo duro. Caminatas de horas y horas, días comían, días no. Esconderse de la policía, los malandros, supervisar zonas. En la frontera hay que hacer guardias porque hay personas que te siguen. Todo el tiempo están al acecho, como hienas vigilantes de sus presas, esperando a que te descuides”.

Access to Justice for Migrants in Mexico: A Right that Exists Only on the Books
Ximena Suarez-Enriquez and Maureen Meyer, Washington Office on Latin America, July 27, 2017

“According to official statistics from 2014 to 2016, out of the 5,824 investigations into crimes against migrants in Sonora, Coahuila, Chiapas, Tabasco and at a federal level, there is only evidence of 49 sentences, amounting to a 99 percent rate of impunity.”


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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