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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for November 9, 2018

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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.


Migrant Caravan: Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions
Lily Folkerts and Andrea Fernández Aponte, Latin America Working Group, November 1, 2018

“There’s a lot of fake news circulating about the caravan that started in Honduras earlier this month. And as opinions and actions fed by misinformation mount, we’re answering your most pressing questions with facts and information from human rights advocates who accompanied the caravan in Central America and who are monitoring the events from Mexico.”

U.S. Enforcement

Trump administration tightens immigration asylum rules as caravans continue to push for U.S. border
Nick Miroff, Washington Post, November 8, 2018

“The measures are expected to face swift legal challenges. Immigrant advocacy groups insist that U.S. laws clearly extend asylum protections to anyone who reaches the United States and expresses a fear of persecution, no matter how they enter the country.”

Trump orders new curbs on asylum seekers but legal challenge likely

Tom McCarthy, The Guardian, November 9, 2018

“The government regards it as an emergency measure to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, but comes in the face of hostile rhetoric from the president where he has repeatedly described desperate Central Americans fleeing places blighted by poverty and violence to seek succor in the US as ‘an invasion.’”

Border Officials Preparing to Evict Immigrant Encampments Near Texas Ports of Entry
Robert Moore, Texas Monthly, November 8, 2018

“‘They’re breaking U.S. and international law by turning people away at the same time their bosses in the administration are telling people to go to the ports of entry to seek asylum.’”

Trump’s border deployments could cost $220 million as Pentagon sees no threat from migrant caravan
Amanda Macias, CNBC, November 5, 2018

“A Pentagon risk assessment found that the caravan did not pose a threat to the United States, according to a person with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence.”

Why the Refugee Caravan Is So Big—and What We Need to Do About It

Laura Carlsen, The Nation, November 2, 2018

“Some would tear down that architecture of decency by stoking irrational fears and the opportunistic use of misfortune. The idea that families forced to flee their homes by violence and crushing poverty constitute a threat would be ludicrous if it weren’t lethal.”

La desesperación, la enfermedad y la fatiga comienzan a hacer estragos en la caravana

El Faro, 5 de noviembre de 2018

“La marcha de los migrantes no hizo buenas cuentas con el timing político. Donald Trump, presidente de los Estados Unidos, anunció que movilizaría 15000 soldados a la frontera sur de su país, para evitar que la Caravana de centroamericanos pobres invada al país más poderoso del mundo”.

Trump says he will restrict asylum, claims troops will shoot at rock throwers
Sarah Westwood, Kevin Liptak, and Jeff Zeleny, CNN, November 2, 2018

“President Donald Trump … suggested that the US troops he dispatched to the US-Mexico border could fire on someone in the migrant caravan if the person threw rocks or stones at them.”

Migrant caravan families face illness, exhaustion and danger
David Agren, The Guardian, November 2, 2018

“The group – which at one point swelled to around 7,000 people – has now shrunk to about 4,000 as members chose to seek asylum in Mexico or succumbed to exhaustion and illness. Members of the group complain of coughs and colds, blisters and sunburns, insect bites and eye infections.”

Honduran mother holds husband’s death papers on way to US border
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, November 1, 2018

“Many Hondurans are fleeing violence, whether it is gang-related, political, or for other reasons. Many are also looking to leave a life of poverty and unemployment. And some migrants and refugees are fleeing because they or their children suffer from disabilities or health conditions that require attention they are unable to obtain in Honduras.”

‘Migrants are not a threat’: US aid groups brace for fight with Trump
Edwin Delgado, The Guardian, November 1, 2018

“Advocates fear the administration is trying to undercut the only legal avenue for migrants to make their asylum claims, as Trump has made it clear he doesn’t want to hear the migrants’ stories, instead threatening to cut aid to Central America, close the border and deploy as many as 15,000 soldiers, according to the latest report.”

Trump further stokes immigration fears by saying he’ll send 15,000 troops to border
David Smith, The Guardian, October 31, 2018

“But the American Civil Liberties Union Border Rights Center condemned the suggestion. Shaw Drake, its policy counsel, said: ‘Increasing troops for a nonexistent crisis is a racist ploy and an irresponsible waste of resources.’”

There Aren’t Enough People In Central America For A ‘National Emergency’ On The Border

Roque Planas, Huffington Post, October 31, 2018

“Mathematically speaking, that makes it all but impossible for the Northern Triangle to produce the high levels of sustained migration that the United States saw from Mexico for decades.”

Asylum seekers turned away from border bridges ahead of caravan
Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2018

“In El Paso, customs officers have told immigrants to return in a few hours, or simply ‘later.’ The San Ysidro crossing in San Diego has been using a process called ‘metering,’ in which asylum seekers have had to make appointments through Mexican immigration officials.”

How the Trump Administration is Manufacturing a New Border Crisis
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, October 29, 2018

“As Election Day approaches, all signs indicate that Trump is set on manufacturing a new border crisis, seizing on a caravan of migrants making their way through Mexico as the latest symbol of the imagined threat that he owes much of his political success to.”

The inconvenient truth about the US-bound migrant caravan
Belen Fernandez, Al Jazeera, October 27, 2018

“US foreign policy in Central America over the past several decades—comprising ‘massive aid’ to dictators, death squads, and other violent entities—is itself largely to thank for US-bound migration in the first place.”

From Migrant Caravan to Exodus: Myths, Origins, Implications
Camilo Perez-Bustillo, Hope Border Institute, October 26, 2018

“The images of unarmed migrants—most of them women, youth and children, elderly people and the disabled—primarily from the region’s poorest communities, being beaten and gassed by Mexican authorities at the Rodolfo Robles bridge, conjure deep resonances. For many of us this represents a kind of ‘Selma moment’ that evokes one of the key turning points in the African-American civil rights movement in March, 1965.”

How the Media Normalizes Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Masha Gessen, New Yorker, October 25, 2018

“It is less an organized trek than it is an ‘exodus,’ a spontaneous movement of thousands who are fleeing a place more than they are pursuing a destination.”

Is the US in an ‘illegal’ immigration crisis? Border patrol data suggests otherwise

Molly Molloy, The Guardian, October 25, 2018

“But illegal border crossings have declined significantly from record highs in the early years of the 21st century.”

Trump’s grotesque distortions of the migrant caravan and the reality at the border
Fernando Garcia, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2018

“Americans are left with a stark choice. We can act on an interpretation of the actual facts, which show that there is no crisis. Or we can act on the fantasy that Trump and his angry throngs of xenophobes are looking to create.”

Alert: Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the Migrant Caravan
Emily Dreyfuss, Wired, October 23, 2018

“Incendiary social issues are one of the key ways interested parties–from politicians to foreign nation states–attempt to sway turnout and opinion before important elections.”

Crackdown on Honduran migrant caravan ‘against international law’
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, October 23, 2018

“But there is no obligation to first apply for asylum in Mexico, legal experts and human rights organisations point out, and requiring Central Americans to do so would violate international law.”

How the migrant caravan became so big and why it’s continuing to grow
Kevin Sieff and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, October 23, 2018

“Although the caravan’s origin story remains somewhat opaque, the answer from many migrants here is that they had wanted to leave for months or years, and then — in a Facebook post, on a television program, in a WhatsApp group — they saw an image of the growing group and decided.”

Judge hears arguments for Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez-Soto’s asylum
Joey Carrera, KVIA, October 22, 2018

“During the hearing, recounts of Gutiérrez-Soto’s reporting on information about the Mexican military were brought up. According to arguments, it was these reports that led to the military threatening to kill Gutiérrez-Soto on three occasions, including one at his own home.”

Mexican Enforcement

Desaparecen dos camiones con al menos 80 centroamericanos
La Prensa Gráfica, 7 de noviembre de 2018

“La Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) de México informó el lunes que tiene un reporte de dos camiones desaparecidos, cerca de 80 personas, de la caravana migrante que entró a México el 19 de octubre con destino a Estados Unidos”.

Caravan forces Mexico to confront mixed feelings on migration
David Agren, The Guardian, November 9, 2018

“As caravans of Central American migrants wind their way through Mexico’s poorest regions, local people of modest means have headed to the highway with plates of food, plastic bags filled with water and donations of spare clothes. Meanwhile, more affluent Mexicans have complained on social media about the foreigners from poorer countries, often in terms similar to those used by US rightwingers.”

‘The last call’: Searching for missing relatives on migrant route
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, November 8, 2018

“‘Nothing can stop a mother who is searching for her son or daughter. Mothers will bring down all the barriers and cover all the kilometres they need to until they arrive at the truth,’ the mothers noted in the declaration.”

Aid arrives for migrants at Mexico City stadium as US votes
Maria Verza and Amy Guthrie, Washington Post, November 6, 2018

“Mexico City Mayor Jose Ramon Amieva said 4,500 migrants have arrived at the Jesus Martinez stadium since Sunday, and city officials are bracing to attend as many as 5,500 at the site by Wednesday. Hundreds of city employees and even more volunteers were on hand to sort donations and direct migrants toward food, water, diapers and other basics.”

Honduran survivor of migrant massacre joins caravan for safety

Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, November 5, 2018

“The perpetrators are allegedly part of Los Zetas, an organised crime and drug trafficking network initially formed by former members of Mexican military special forces. Los Zetas and other Mexican organised crime networks have a history of holding migrants for ransom and killing them if their relatives are unable to pay, and sometimes even if they are.”

Migrant caravan embarks on ‘route of death’ through Mexico
Associated Press, NBC News, November 4, 2018

“A trek via the sugar fields and fruit groves of Veracruz takes them through a state where hundreds of migrants have disappeared in recent years, falling prey to kidnappers looking for ransom payments.”

Migrant caravan continues north after Mexican governor abruptly pulls offer of buses
Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2018

“Both Veracruz and neighboring Tamaulipas state — which forms part of Mexico’s long border with Texas — have been notoriously hazardous terrain for Central American migrants, who have long proceeded overland in small groups through Mexico en route to the United States. Organized gangs regularly prey on the migrants, subjecting them to extortion, sexual violence and other abuse.”

Mexico Should Not Consent to Do Washington’s Dirty Work
Jorge G. Castaneda, New York Times, October 27, 2018

“Immigration and trade have become intimately linked, at least in Mr. Trump’s mind. Therein lies part of the origins of the current caravan crisis. It is not just Trumpian electioneering.”

Migrant caravan: Mexico offers temporary work permits
BBC, October 27, 2018

“Mexico has offered temporary work permits to migrants who register for asylum, as a big caravan of Central American migrants makes its way through the country toward the US. The plan also envisages temporary ID cards, medical care and schooling. But to qualify, migrants must remain in Mexico’s southern Chiapas and Oaxaca states.”

Mexican towns rally for migrants, who try to be good guests
Christopher Sherman, Associated Press, October 25, 2018

“Southern Mexico’s Chiapas state is home to some of the country’s most impoverished communities. Yet towns suddenly faced with an influx of thousands of people bedding down in overflowing plazas and parks have organized to offer them shelter, medical treatment and donations as best they can.”

UNHCR says stabilizing ‘caravan’ situation urgently important

Adrian Edwards, UNHCR, October 23, 2018

“Of concern to UNHCR at present is the developing humanitarian situation and the known kidnapping and security risks in areas the caravan may venture into. Stabilizing the situation has become urgent. It is essential that there are proper reception and other conditions for those seeking asylum as well as for others on the move.”

Root Causes

1,672 personas con necesidad de desplazarse por violencia
Francisco Hernández, La Prensa Gráfica, 6 de noviembre de 2018

“Las principales razones que provocan el desplazamiento forzado en el país son las amenazas personales o a un miembro de su grupo familiar, homicidios de familiares, intentos de homicidios y extorsiones, de acuerdo con los datos consignados en el informe”.

Honduras: US senators sound the alarm over threats to journalists and activists

Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian, October 26, 2018

“Led by Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, the lawmakers wrote to Trump expressing concern over death threats and intimidation campaigns targeting journalists and activists documenting human rights violations in Honduras.”

How climate change is affecting rural Honduras and pushing people north
Stephanie Leutert, Washington Post, November 6, 2018

“[Honduras] holds the distinction of being one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. Over the past four decades, the country’s average temperature has risen, and it has borne the brunt of ever more frequent severe weather events.”

Seguirán en prisión acusados de la muerte de Berta Cáceres
La Prensa, 5 de noviembre de 2018

“Cinco de los ocho acusados del asesinato hace más de dos años contra la ambientalista Berta Cáceres continuarán en prisión porque ‘aún no concluye el tiempo’ de esa medida, informó ayer el Ministerio Público”.

Life Laid Bare in Honduras: How the Migrant Caravan Makes Neoliberal Dictatorship Visible
Beth Geglia, Toward Freedom, October 25, 2018

“The lines between organized crime, state security forces, and the government have increasingly blurred in recent years, leaving Hondurans vulnerable to a myriad of violent actors with no possibility of protection from the state.”

Entre 20 y 30 mil millones de lempiras pierde Honduras por la corrupción, según CNA

Eduin Funez, Tiempo Digital, 6 de noviembre de 2018

“… si esos recursos no hubiesen sido despilfarrados toda la población sería

El Salvador issues arrest order for Archbishop Romero’s killer
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, October 23, 2018

“The order called for the arrest of Alvaro Rafael Saravia, a 78-year-old former soldier who has been a major suspect for years. His case was dismissed in 1993 after an amnesty law banned criminal trials connected to the Central American nation’s bloody civil war.”

Latin America’s Saint: How Oscar Romero Was a Martyr for Social Justice

Jeff Abbott, Toward Freedom, October 24, 2018

“‘All too often the death of saints remain without human justice and in impunity,’ said Domingo Solis, a Salvadoran Franciscan priest. ‘But justice is that the people know who killed Romero. That is a worse end than jail; The people will carry this knowledge and anger with them because they know who killed their saint.’”

The kids aren’t alright — when being young is a crime in El Salvador
Heather Gies, PRI, November 6, 2018

“Never involved in a gang, Alemán is one of the innocent youth swept up alongside gang members in the government’s ‘iron fist’ crackdown on violent crime. Though popular among voters, the mano dura policy has failed to curb gangs’ reining role in the soaring murder rate.”

Guatemala: la justicia en aprietos
Erika Guevara Rosas, El País, 6 de noviembre de 2018

“En vez de obstaculizar las labores de la CICIG y la lucha contra la impunidad, sin demora, las autoridades guatemaltecas deben dedicar sus esfuerzos para garantizar un ambiente seguro y propicio para quienes alzan la voz por la justicia y los derechos humanos en el país”.

IACHR Expresses Alarm over the Increase in Murders and Aggressions against Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, October 31, 2018

“The predicament of human rights defenders in Guatemala has been a source of ongoing concern for the IACHR due to the acts of violence, aggression, and criminalization that they are constantly exposed to.”

Rescatando la lucha de Guatemala contra el crimen y la impunidad

International Crisis Group, October 24, 2018

“…las actividades de reforma a la justicia de la CICIG contribuyeron a una reducción promedio anual del 5 por ciento en las tasas de homicidios en el país. Esto comparado con un aumento de un 1 por ciento anual entre los pares de la región”.

Esto está igual, no hay mejora: colectivos y víctimas reclaman en Suiza por crisis de derechos humanos en México
Arturo Daen, Animal Político, 7 de noviembre de 2018

“…integrantes de organizaciones ciudadanas acusaron frente a los funcionarios que las víctimas de la violencia siguen estando solas, y que no hay un mejor panorama respecto a la realidad de hace seis años”.

Indigenous rights leader reported slain in northern Mexico

Associated Press, October 25, 2018

“Julian Carrillo is a leader of the Tarahumara community of Coloradas de la Virgen in Chihuahua state. The Tarahumara have fought illegal logging and other enterprises.”

Mexican media worker killed in Acapulco
Associated Press, October 25, 2018

“Gabriel Soriano, 40, was killed upon leaving an event with local government officials late Wednesday near the Acapulco International Airport, in the violence-stricken state of Guerrero. The van that was shot up was clearly marked with the RTG logo, indicating it belongs to state broadcaster Radio Television de Guerrero.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources
Oxfam condemns human rights abuse and violations committed against Central American migrants
Oxfam, October 30, 2018

“Oxfam calls on the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to comply with their obligation to protect and guarantee the human rights of all migrants, to respect and guarantee the principles of family unity, to prohibit the denial of entry at borders, to uphold the right to non-refoulement, and to prohibit collective expulsions.”

Myth vs. Fact: Migrant Caravans
Human Rights First, October 2018

“Fact: United States law guarantees asylum seekers the right to request protection.”

The Struggle for Human Rights and Transformation in Honduras
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

“As citizens and residents of the United States, the delegation noted the need for the U.S. government to radically alter its foreign and immigration policies with Honduras to protect those fleeing violence and persecution and ensure their rights.”

Central American Migration: Current Changes and Development Implications

Manuel Orozco, Inter-American Dialogue, November 2018

“Slowing migration, increased deportations, and the likely return of some TPS holders may result in higher unemployment, lower remittances, and increases in the size of the informal economy in Central America.”

*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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