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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for January 23, 2019

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Author: Lily Folkerts

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.


Spotlight

English: Regional hearing: Human rights situation of the persons that make part of
the Caravan of Migrants

Español:
Audiencia Regional: Situación de derechos humanos de las personas que integran la Caravana de Migrantes 
Collective document of civil society organizations and networks from Central America, Mexico, and the United States discussing human rights violations committed against the members of the exodus in 2018. It was presented for the IACHR ex oficio regional hearing on December 6, 2018 and was last updated through December 21, 2018.

U.S. Enforcement

Unaccompanied Central American Minors Targeted in Trump’s Shutdown Offer
Maryam Saleh, The Intercept, January 22, 2019

“Trump’s offer to Democrats, revealed Monday night, actually gives him even more of what he has wanted in immigration policy, which is an end to the legal process that allows people to present themselves at a U.S. port of entry and apply for asylum. Trump’s new policy would ban such asylum-seeking for Central American minors and require those fleeing violence or persecution to apply in their own country instead.”

The Senate Republican Proposal to End the Shutdown Is Even More Extreme Than Trump’s
Noah Lanard, Mother Jones, January 22, 2019

“The final 75 pages of the 1,301-page bill are misleadingly labeled the “Vulnerable Immigrants Protection and Security Act.” This section of the bill would make it impossible for many Central American children to apply for asylum in the United States at a time when record numbers of Central American families are seeking protection.”

G.O.P. Bill to End Shutdown Draws Protests Over Asylum Restrictions
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times, January 22, 2019

“The new Senate measure also includes several provisions that are meant to make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the United States, a legal process that allows people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries to seek refuge. The changes have been top priorities of Stephen Miller, the conservative White House aide who crafted much of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.”

Trump Offers Temporary Protections for ‘Dreamers’ in Exchange for Wall Funding
Annie Karni and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times, January 19, 2019

“Over the course of his administration, Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to curb both legal and illegal immigration. He has revoked Temporary Protected Status, or T.P.S., which offers crucial protections for immigrants, for people from some Latin American and African countries. And he has moved to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program that shielded the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation.”

Former MS-13 Member Who Secretly Helped Police Is Deported
Hannah Dreier, ProPublica, January 22, 2019

“His deportation illustrates how hard it has become for immigrants fleeing MS-13 to find asylum in the U.S., even if they have shown a commitment to helping law enforcement. A new Trump administration directive that immigrants targeted by gangs should not be granted special status has increased the odds against them. Run by the U.S. Department of Justice, immigration courts are required to follow its guidance.”

Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
Azam Ahmed and Meridith Kohut, The New York Times, January 18, 2019

“As the president fights to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, the journalists Azam Ahmed and Meridith Kohut are driving along the approximately 1,900-mile border and sending dispatches.”

Thousands More Migrant Children Were Probably Taken From Families Than Reported
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, January 17, 2019

“Thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the court, the report said. Thus, the total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is “unknown,” because of the lack of a coordinated formal tracking system between the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the arm of Health and Human Services that takes in the children, and the Department of Homeland Security, which separated them from their parents.”

“We are Looking for Refuge”: a New Migrant Caravan Just Left Honduras and is Headed to the U.S. Border
Emily Green and Maya Averbuch, VICE News, Jan 16, 2019
“As with prior caravans, the latest group is a mix of mostly single men and families with no clear organizer telling them where to go. They are fleeing desperate circumstances: mass unemployment, powerful criminal gangs, and rampant violence coupled with impunity for the perpetrators.”

‘A death sentence’: migrant caravan member killed in Honduras after US sent him back
Jeff Ernst, The Guardian, January 13, 2019

“A ruling last June by the then US attorney general Jeff Sessions made it all but impossible for victims of gang violence like Espinal to obtain asylum. And as a new migrant caravan prepares to set off from Honduras on Tuesday, more will probably suffer the same fate.”

A New Migrant Caravan Forms, and Old Battle Lines Harden
Jeff Ernst, Elisabeth Malkin and Paulina Villegas; The New York Times, January 13, 2019

“A new caravan of migrants is forming in Honduras… Despite Mr. Trump’s assertions, nobody knows how many people will leave on Tuesday and how many more may join the walkers as they cross Guatemala, reach southern Mexico and make their way to the United States border.”

Why America’s Largest Migrant Youth Detention Center Closed
Tanvi Misra, CityLab, January 15, 2019

“The tent city in Tornillo told stories, both local and global: In a sense, it reflected the marginalization of the border town in which it was briefly located… this complex of incarcerated children became perhaps the clearest physical expression of the cruelty and chaos of the Trump-era response to southern migration.”

‘I have to try’: New migrant caravan leaves Honduras and heads for the United States
Sarah Kinosian, The Washington Post, January 15, 2019

“An announced U.S. policy change that would require asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are being processed has yet to be implemented, and word of the potential shift had not reached many in the group. While aware that thousands of Hondurans have been held up for months in Tijuana, many said their plan was to reach the United States, but that they were willing to wait, or stay and work in Mexico.”

Actually, the Numbers Show That We Need More Immigration, Not Less
Shikha Dalmia, The New York Times, January 15, 2019

“But by any reasonable metric, the idea that America is experiencing mass immigration is a myth. The reality is that we desperately need to pick up the pace of immigration to maintain our work force and economic health.”

Before the Law in Tijuana
Matt Cameron, The Baffler, January 15, 2019

“Customs and Border Patrol began the controversial practice of ‘metering’ asylum seekers in Tijuana when thousands of Haitian migrants arrived within the space of a few months in 2016, seeking entry into San Diego. As the lines grew longer, la lista became the inevitable solution.”

Trump’s move to send Haitians home goes on trial in New York
Adam Geller, Associated Press, January 9, 2019

“…Emails, filed with documents in the case, bolster the argument by migrant advocates that the Trump administration was so bent on ending TPS that it ignored the U.S. government’s own research showing that Haiti was in no shape to take people back.”

Judge Orders Trump Administration To Remove 2020 Census Citizenship Question
Hansi Lo Wang, NPR, January 15, 2019

“[U.S. District Judge] Furman found that the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census was “unlawful” because of “a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut” violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, including cherry-picking evidence to support his choice.”

Test of steel prototype for border wall showed it could be sawed through
Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, NBC News, January 10, 2019

“Testing by DHS in late 2017 showed all eight prototypes, including the steel slats, were vulnerable to breaching, according to an internal February 2018 U.S. Customs and Border Protection report… While it is true that previous administrations used this design, the prototype was built during his administration.”

Mexican Enforcement

México abre las puertas a caravana migrante
Ángeles Mariscal, En El Camino, 17 de enero de 2019

“Durante las horas siguientes luego del anuncio, cientos de migrantes hicieron filas en el puente fronterizo. El compromiso de las autoridades mexicanas es entregarles en un plazo de cinco días la tarjeta. Mientras tanto, les dieron un brazalete que contiene sus datos personales, y que les garantiza su entrada y salida de México y Guatemala”.

Exitoso, el registro en la frontera sur, asegura funcionario del INM
Fabiola Martinez, La Jornada, 23 de enero de 2019

“La iniciativa para atender y registrar en la frontera sur a todos los migrantes es exitosa y continuará, porque forma parte de la nueva política del gobierno mexicano, señaló el comisionado del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), Tonatiuh Guillén”.

Lopez Obrador: Mexico guarantees protection for new migrant caravans
Agencia EFE, January 16, 2019

“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday guaranteed that the country will protect and respect the human rights of members of new migrant caravans that are departing from Central America heading for the United States through Mexican territory.”

Dozens of bodies found near the Mexico-US border
Lizbeth Díaz and Michael O’Boyle, El Universal, January 10, 2019

“Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at his daily morning press conference that initial information pointed to a “battle between two groups,” and that security officials would later provide further information.”

Root Causes

Killings Of Guatemala’s Indigenous Activists Raise Specter Of Human Rights Crisis
Maria Martin, NPR, January 22, 2019

“Maya communities bore the brunt of almost four decades of a civil war that ended in 1996, leaving over 200,000 casualties, the majority indigenous Guatemalans, according to the United Nations. Now the mostly Maya organizations and many human rights groups worry that the violence is making a comeback: In just the last year, 26 members of mostly indigenous campesino organizations have been killed.”

U.S. Congress Should Stop Security Assistance to Guatemala Until Rule of Law is Restored
Claudia Escobar, Just Security, January 17, 2019

“…The president of Guatemala has repeatedly defied the orders of the Constitutional Court in an effort to block investigations into allegations of corruption during his election campaign. He is now seeking to remove several magistrates of the Constitutional Court… The United States needs to send a clear signal that it remains committed to combating the corruption in Guatemala and will not tolerate any effort to compromise the rule of law and the integrity of the court.”

Guatemala Crisis: Torres, McGovern Lead 46 Members of Congress in Urging President Trump to Impose Targeted Sanctions on Corrupt Officials, Suspend Assistance to Central Government
U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres’ Office, January 17, 2019

“U.S. Representatives Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) have led have a group of forty-five members of Congress in a letter urging President Trump to take strong actions in response to the Government of Guatemala’s violations of the rule of law in the country. Noting the strong U.S. action in response to democratic backsliding in Venezuela and Nicaragua, the lawmakers call for the application of Magnitsky Act sanctions and suspension of assistance to the central government of Guatemala.”

Guatemala Is on the Brink. Washington Should Take a Stand.
Norma J. Torres, Americas Quarterly, January 9, 2019

“President Morales moved unilaterally to expel a UN-sponsored anti-corruption entity… Active since 2007, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known as CICIG, was critical in holding Morales’ predecessor accountable. Its investigations have exposed networks of corruption and organized crime operating at the heart of Guatemala’s government. Morales himself is under investigation for two separate cases of corruption.”

Guatemala in political crisis as Trump administration looks the other way
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2019

“While Canada, Germany and the European Union have fiercely condemned the commission’s expulsion, an act that defied rulings from the country’s highest court, the U.S. offered a four-sentence statement from the State Department that expressed vague support for Guatemala’s anti-corruption efforts but didn’t mention the commission at all.”

Honduras: Will Political Reforms Go Anywhere?
Eugenio Sosa, AULA Blog, January 22, 2019

“Honduran civil society groups increasingly believe that only through political and electoral reforms will the country move toward democracy.  Holding elections is an important starting point, reform advocates say, but deepening democracy requires reducing the monopoly of the political parties.”

New Year’s Bloodshed Casts Doubt on Honduras Security Gains
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, January 15, 2019

“Local criminologists said rival gangs warring over territory and control of small-scale drug trafficking were responsible for the bloodshed, La Tribuna reported. A reduction in police operations after the Christmas season could also be contributing to the violence as gangs settle scores and seek extortion payments.”

Honduran crisis produces new caravan
Norwegian Refugee Council, January 15, 2019

“The long walk north will be extremely dangerous and exhausting for the thousands of families from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that will join the caravans planned in 2019. Obstacles on the way are likely to increase, as there is fatigue and frustration from communities who supported migrants during last year’s exodus. There is rising xenophobia in both the United States (US) and Mexico and increasingly tough border regulations in every country on the way.”

Van 87 homicidios en Tijuana durante los primeros 13 días del año
Ángela Torres Lozano, ZETA, 17 de enero de 2019

“En los primeros 13 días del 2019 se han registrado 87 homicidios, 44 de ellos en la semana del 7 al 11 de enero informó personal de la Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado”.

Las víctimas que huyen en silencio, dejando una huella de dolor
Criterio, 15 de enero de 2019

“No es una alarma, es la realidad a la que se enfrentan miles de mujeres en Honduras que se ven obligadas a desplazarse internamente o a migrar a otras naciones como una opción para salvar sus vidas”.

23,000 Nicaraguans Have Fled to Costa Rica. 50 Fugitives Are Hiding Here
Frances Robles, The New York Times, January 12, 2019

“Many Nicaraguans long viewed Mr. Ortega, in office since 2007, as increasingly dictatorial. But what finally drew masses of demonstrators to the streets were wildly unpopular social security cutbacks. The police and pro-government mobs responded with deadly force, even against unarmed protesters, according to human-rights observers, shooting and killing people across the nation.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Separated Children Placed in Office of Refugee Resettlement Care
Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, January 2019

“Pursuant to a June 2018 Federal District Court order, HHS has thus far identified 2,737 children in its care at that time who were separated from their parents. However, thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017”

US Undocumented Population Continued to Fall from 2016 to 2017, and Visa Overstays Significantly Exceeded Illegal Crossings for the Seventh Consecutive Year
Robert Warren, Center for Migration Studies, January 16, 2019

“For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry to the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. This report provides estimates of the number of noncitizens who overstayed temporary visas and those who entered without inspection (EWIs) in 2016 by the top five countries of origin.”

New Guidance Requires Fair Process for Domestic Violence, Gang Asylum Claims at the Border
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, UC Hastings, January 14, 2019

“The new guidance brings the government into compliance with the Court’s order and requires that asylum officers and immigration judges provide a fair process for asylum seekers in credible fear proceedings, including those presenting themselves at our southern border.”

Expert Panel on Border, Migration & Our US-Mexico future
Global Exchange, January 10, 2019

“A recap of an informative conversation about the Border, Migration, and Our US Mexico Future.”

Atlas of migration in Northern Central America
Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2018

“Today, migration is more complex than ever in Central America. There are larger numbers of migrants in transit, returnees, unaccompanied minors and asylum-seekers, as well as whole families and highly conspicuous caravans journeying through Mexico and the NCA countries. Migration has become a matter of the highest priority on development and political agendas.”

Sustainable Reintegration: Strategies to Support Migrants Returning to Mexico and Central America
Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, Luis Argueta, and Randy Capps, Migration Policy Institute, January 2019

“Mexico and the three Northern Triangle countries exhibit different levels of capacity and degrees of implementation in their reception and reintegration programs. While most deported migrants now receive basic reception services, their access to reintegration services is somewhat more mixed.”

Monitoring MACCIH & Anti-Impunity Efforts in Honduras
Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, American University, Washington, DC

“Halfway through its four-year mandate, MACCIH has scored some important successes but confronts growing sabotage from segments of Honduras’s political elite determined to undermine the Mission’s work.”

Asylum Processing and Waitlisting at the U.S.-Mexico Border
Stephanie Leutert et al., Robert Strauss Center, December 2018

“There are also a range of practices and dynamics in Mexican border cities that block asylum seekers from accessing U.S. ports of entry… This report provides a snapshot of  the asylum processing system at the U.S.-Mexico border, with particular attention to asylum seekers waiting in Mexico.”


*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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