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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for February 06, 2019

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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.

Credit: USA Today


U.S. Enforcement

Migrant caravan arrives at town on Texas border
Morgan Gstalter, The Hill, February 5, 2019

“U.S. agents in riot gear stood on the bridge separating Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that no member of the “lawless caravan” would be allowed to enter the country.”

‘They’re playing with our lives’ say the first migrants returned under new Mexico policy
Sarah Kinosian, Public Radio International, February 5, 2019

“The rollout has appeared chaotic, ad hoc and confusing to those who have been processed so far. Meanwhile, legal service providers feel their efforts are being restricted as two US attorneys from Al Otro Lado, a cross-border legal organization, were denied entry to Mexico in recent days.”

Trump Announces Campaign Rally Next Week in El Paso, Texas
Associated Press, February 6, 2019

“Trump plans to rally supporters on Monday at the county coliseum in El Paso. The president often cites El Paso in arguing his case for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration and crime.”

Trump’s immigration policies are benefiting smugglers and violent crime groups in Mexico
Rick Jervis and Rafael Carranza, USA Today, February 4, 2019

“Under international law, migrants have for years flocked to the U.S.-Mexico border to legally seek asylum and be allowed entry. But in recent months, Trump administration policies have slowed the flow of asylum-seekers into the U.S., leaving many migrants stranded far from home, vulnerable to violence in dangerous border cities and unable to request asylum.”

Trump Admin Says It’s Too Hard to Reunite Thousand of Separated Families: Court Filing
Angelina Chapin, Huffington Post, February 2, 2019  

“The government also failed to properly rack the roughly 2,800 children that it separated from their parents under the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy between April and June. The administration was required to reunite families as part of an ACLU lawsuit, an ongoing process that has at times required immigration advocated to search for deported parents on foot in remote, crime ridden areas of Central America”

Congress, Don’t Give DHS Unrestricted Authority to Build a ‘Smart Wall’
Neema Singh Guliani and Michelle Fraling, American Civil Liberties Union, February 1, 2019

“With CBP already getting an all-time high of $196 million dollars for border security procurement and development alone, legislators should be looking for ways to cut funding and rein in ICE and CBP’s ability to carry out the Trump administration’s excessive and draconian enforcement efforts.”

As U.S. starts deportations, asylum-seekers face perils in Mexico
Delphine Schrank, Reuters, February 1, 2019

“The border zone has become a central theater of conflict since the Mexican government launched a militarized effort against the cartels in 2006 and they began fragmenting.”

Trump didn’t get his wall but immigrants and asylum-seekers are still in danger
Óscar Chacón, El Faro, January 31, 2019

“The tactical defeat suffered by President Trump at the hands of Nancy Pelosi could turn into a substantive victory for the racist and xenophobic agenda that has dominated the debate on foreigners and immigration policy over the past decades, and that has been driven so hard by Donald Trump.”

Asylum Seekers Are Being Set Up to Fail — And The Consequences Could Be Deadly
Andrea Guerrero, Alliance San Diego, January 31, 2019

“Even if asylum seekers express a fear of return to Mexico, that won’t be enough to save them. The protocol requires them to speak with an asylum officer about that specific fear and they must meet a high burden of demonstrating that it is more likely than not that they will face persecution if returned to Mexico.”

Whitaker Eyes Axing Asylum for Victims of Domestic Violence, Child Sex Abuse
Justin Glawe, Daily Beast, February 01, 2019

“Whitaker said in an order last month he would determine ‘whether and under what circumstances’ being a member of a family qualifies as membership in a PSG. Immigration attorneys fear Whitaker will drastically narrow the definition and remove protections for victims of domestic and other intra-familial violence, including child victims of sexual assault and abuse.”

Latest group of Central American migrants proceed with northern trek
Lizbeth Diaz, Reuters, January 31, 2019

“Around 2,400 migrants left a city shelter to begin the journey from the Mexican capital early Thursday morning, the latest caravan to embark upon the risky path to the U.S.-Mexican border despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s determination to prevent them from entering.”

Pentagon Deploying 3,750 Troops to Southern Border
Matthew S. Schwartz, NPR, February 4, 2019

“When Pentagon officials testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week, they didn’t mention the upcoming troop deployment. Congressman Adam Smith, who chairs the committee, released a statement criticizing what he called a lack of transparency.”

Laredo Field Office Ports of Entry to Begin Mobile Field Force Training in Preparation for Caravan
Press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, February 1, 2019

“As they train to respond to any incident that may occur at the ports of entry, our priority is still the safety and security of the American people, international travelers and our communities while facilitating legitimate trade and travel.”

Mexican Enforcement

La huida de la violencia es uno de los motivos principales de la llegada de centroamericanos a México
Comunicados de prensa de la Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados, 5 de febrero de 2019

“En el marco de la llegada masiva de centroamericanos a mediados de enero, el equipo realizó 409 entrevistas, que representan un total de 988 personas, implementando la herramienta regional de monitoreo de protección (PMT) de ACNUR, adaptado para el contexto de Norte de Centroamérica”.

Policía Federal rescata a 37 migrantes de Honduras y Guatemala en Reynosa
Proceso, 4 de febrero de 2019

“En un comunicado, la División de Gendarmería de la Policía Federal informó que fueron contactados por la Procuraduría General de Justicia de Tamaulipas, que les solicitó apoyo para revisar un domicilio donde se sospechaba retenían a varias personas”.

Will AMLO Respond to the Central American Exodus With Compassion—Or Militarization?
Heather Gies, In These Times, January 29, 2019

“While details remain unclear, the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras signed a joint declaration with Mexico last month to kick off talks to define the initiative, formally called the Comprehensive Development Plan. Mexico has asked the United States to pitch in, though so far the commitment has been paltry.”

Tensión en Piedras Negras; migrantes amenazan con cruzar legal o ilegalmente a EU
Alfredo Álvarez, 4 de febrero de 2019

“Dentro de las instalaciones se encuentra el gobernador Miguel Riquelme y el alcalde Claudio Bres que tratan de dialogar con los migrantes, pero éstos no quieren diálogo, quieren estar libre para dirigirse a los puentes internacionales y comenzar sus trámites de asilo y la situación es tensa”.

As new ‘caravan’ enters Mexico, a different welcome awaits
Louisa Reynolds, The Christian Science Monitor, January 25, 2019

“So far this year, 10,341 Central Americans have requested a one-year humanitarian visa that can be obtained in three to five days, according to the Mexican government. Humanitarian visas are renewable and allow immigrants free movement throughout the country and formal employment.”

Root Causes


Honduran prosecutors to charge another in activist’s murder
Freddy Cuevas, Associated Press, February 5, 2019

“Castillo was president of Empresa Desarollos Energeticos when Caceres was killed in 2016. Caceres led the fight against the company’s construction of a dam, and was honored with a Goldman Environmental Prize.”

International Prosecutors Fought Corruption in Guatemala. Now They’ve Been Ordered Out
Eric Witte, Open Society Foundations, January 10, 2019

“Instead, it’s a constitutional crisis in Guatemala, where the government’s decision to expel a successful anticorruption body could deepen the desperation driving many Guatemalans to seek refuge in the United States. And by all accounts, the Trump administration is just passively watching.”

What’s Driving People from El Salvador to the U.S.? Gang Violence (VIDEO)
Ben C. Solomon, Ben Laffin, Neil Brandvold and Patrick Tombola,
The New York Times
International video coverage from The New York Times detailing the causes of mass migration from El Salvador to the United States.

RSPO should suspend membership of groups undermining Guatemala’s anti-impunity commission (commentary)
Doug Hertzler and Jeff Conant, Mongabay, February 6, 2019

“Shortly after President Morales ordered the expulsion of the U.N. commission — an action widely viewed as an unconstitutional power grab by President Morales that was roundly condemned by the United Nations secretary-general — the Association of Oil Palm Growers publicly announced its support for the commission’s expulsion.”

Nayib Bukele, an Outsider Candidate, Claims Victory in El Salvador Election
Gene Palumbo and Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, February 3, 2019

“The dramatic win for Mr. Bukele, 37, who was running as an outsider, underscores the deep discredit into which the country’s traditional parties have fallen. Voters appeared to be willing to gamble on a relative newcomer to confront the country’s poverty and violence, shutting out the right- and left-wing parties that have dominated Salvadoran politics for three decades.”

Hondurans Protest US-Backed Government as Thousands Flee
Sandra Cuffe, Truthout, January 31, 2019

“While thousands of migrants and refugees flee violence, unemployment, poverty and political persecution in Honduras, political turmoil continues to engulf the country.”

Human Trafficking conviction rates on the rise in Latin America
Camilo Carranza, Insight Crime, January 28, 2019

“Despite considerable efforts, Latin America continues to register high levels of human trafficking. Certain worrying signs are also present. For example, in Central America and the Caribbean, the proportion of human trafficking victims linked to sexual exploitation rose from 55 percent to 75 percent in just two years from 2014 to 2016.”

Corrupt Guatemalans’ GOP Lifeline
Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy, February 5, 2019

“When Morales announced plans in early January to terminate the U.N. commission’s mandate, giving its investigators 24 hours to shut their office, the U.S. response was limited to a mild statement of concern about corruption in Guatemala from the U.S. Embassy. It didn’t even mention the U.N. commission.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources


Fact Sheet: Workers with Temporary Protected Status in Key Industries and States
American Immigration Council, January 9, 2019

“Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), this fact sheet estimates the likely numbers of workers with TPS from these three countries, broken down by the states in which they reside and the industries in which they are employed. To provide some measure of comparison for these figures, the estimated numbers of workers with TPS in particular states and industries are compared with the total numbers of workers of the same nationality who work in the same states and industries.”

Notifica Mobile App
“Use Notifica to plan, learn and act if you are at risk of being detained by deportation agents.”

Analysis: DHS Issues Remain in Mexico Policy and Guidance
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., January 31, 2019

“DHS has stated that it intends to expand Remain in Mexico to all categories of entrants and to all geographic regions along the southern border without regard to whether the individual presented at a port of entry or crossed the border without inspection.”


*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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