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Central America/Mexico Migrant News Brief for July 1, 2016

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A compilation of this week’s top articles and reports related to issues of migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish).

Root Causes

•   “Me quieren matar en Guatemala, por eso decidí escapar”
Araceli Martínez Ortega, La Opinión, 24 de junio de 2016
“Las familias de El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala que escapan de la violencia y la miseria se han sumado a los cientos que a diario buscan a través de Tijuana obtener asilo político en la Unión Americana… En Centroamérica la violencia de pandillas ha obligado a miles de personas a salir de sus países ante la inseguridad que viven en sus barrios”.


•   US Charges Honduras Police in Drug Scheme with Ex-President’s Son
Mike LaSusa, Insight Crime, June 30, 2016
“The United States has brought drug trafficking charges against six members of the Honduran National Police in connection with a case involving the son of an ex-president, a sign of deepening US involvement… The police reform commission in Honduras has made substantial progress in terms of removing officers accused of corruption from the force. But so far the Honduran Attorney General’s office has not moved to prosecute those accused of some of the most serious crimes…”

•   To Reduce Urban Violence in LatAm, Learn From Success Stories
Robert Muggah and Ilona Szabo de Carvalho, InSight Crime, June 20, 2016
“Eight out of the ten countries with the highest homicide rates are in Latin America, and the region is home to 47 out of the 50 most violent cities in the world… There are many factors that explain it, but one of the most important is inequality… There are promising examples of some governments, especially those at the municipal levels, that are striving to turn the situation around.”

•   Guatemala’s Attorney General is in ‘Real Danger’: CICIG Head
teleSUR, June 29, 2016
“…Attorney General Thelma Aldana was in a ‘real situation of danger’ a week after she received threats for her efforts to take down corruption by the country’s political and economic elites… Guatemala has been singled out recently for progress it has made with anti-corruption efforts, as well as advances it has made in efforts with post-conflict transitional justice. But with this progress, and the threats it poses to the parallel power structures which have ruled the country with impunity for decades, pushback can be expected.”

Office of the Special Rapporteur Expresses Concern over Murder of Journalists and Media Workers in Guatemala
IACHR, July 1, 2016
“On Sunday, June 26, journalist Aceituno López was shot in the head by unknown persons, and later died in a hospital in the town of Coatepeque. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State of Guatemala to continue working on the establishment of a special protection mechanism for journalists that will enable it to confront the country’s serious and structural situation of violence against journalists and media workers.”

•   How the U.S. is Helping Honduras Get Away with Murder
Silvio Carrillo, Fusion, June 24, 2016
“…the U.S. government has given the Honduran government millions of dollars for military and security programs as part of its continued supported for the conservative regimes that have allowed corruption and impunity to flourish since the U.S.-supported coup in 2009 that removed a democratically elected president.”

•   State Department Turns Blind Eye to Evidence of Honduran Military’s Activist Kill List
Alex Emmons, The Intercept, June 23, 2016
“Kirby [State Department Spokesperson] said he was aware of ‘media reports alleging the existence of a Honduran activist hit list,’ but noted that ‘at this time, there’s no specific, credible allegations of gross violations of human rights that exists in this or any other case involving the security forces that receive U.S. government assistance.’ Kirby’s comments were even at odds with the State Department’s own human rights reports on Honduras, which for the last two years have referred to ‘unlawful and arbitrary killings and other criminal activities by members of the security forces.’”

•   Honduran Democracy Still in Crisis 7 Years After Coup
Heather Gies, teleSUR, June 28, 2016
“Discontent with the Honduran government has boiled over in recent months in the wake of Caceres’ assassination. But thousands of Hondurans also flooded to the streets last year as widespread government corruption and embezzlement schemes came to light, leading ousted Zelaya to call in the heat of the mobilizations for permanent protests to force Hernandez out of office.”

•   Another Municipality Busted for Gang Ties in El Salvador
Sean Tjaden, InSight Crime, June 22, 2016
“El Salvador’s Attorney General’s office said on June 21 that it issued arrest warrants for 13 people suspected of terrorist organization in the Zacatecoluca municipality, located in La Paz department some 40 km southeast of San Salvador. Municipal police chief Vicente de los Ángeles Comayagua Barahona and four of his officers are among those charged.”

•   Murder and Malady: El Salvador’s Sugarcane Workers
Arwa Aburawa, Al Jazeera, June 29, 2016
“…there is a growing medical consensus that the harsh working conditions – the heavy labour and heat stress – are a major cause of this mysterious kidney disease… ‘A lot of doctors have told me that I shouldn’t work in the fields, but the problem is that if I stop working who’s going to feed our children?’ Hernandez asks… For El Salvador’s sugarcane workers, caught between the gang violence and chronic disease, life is hard and many see no way out.”

•   Mexican President Vetoes Package of Anti-Corruption Bills
Anna Yukhananov and Luis Rojas, Reuters, June 23, 2016
“…last week voted down a provision in the legislation that would have required elected politicians and other public officials to reveal their assets, taxes and potential conflicts of interest… It was Pena Nieto’s first presidential veto since he took office in 2012.”

•   Innocent Women Tortured in Mexico to Boost Arrest Figures, Report Says
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, June 27, 2016
“The officers continued to physically and sexually abuse her until she miscarried in the attorney general’s office in Mexico City. Instead of receiving medical attention, she was transferred, still bleeding, to a prison hundreds of miles away… Reports of torture have increased exponentially in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón first deployed tens of thousands of armed forces on the streets to combat warring drug cartels and organised crime.”

•   Three Amigos Summit: What Trudeau, Obama and Pena Nieto Agreed On
Janyce McGregor, CBC News, June 29, 2016
Security: “…general commitment to collaborate and share information on the illegal drug trade… The trio also finds common cause against poverty and corruption among their Central American neighbours. Specific funding is targeted at the root causes of irregular migration: limited economic opportunities, poor education and health services and gang violence.”

•   CentAm Authorities Break Up Massive Migrant Smuggling Ring
David Gagne, InSight Crime, June 30, 2016
“Authorities across Central America have dismantled a migrant smuggling network that spanned from Brazil to Mexico… Twenty-nine alleged members of the network were captured in El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama during coordinated raids on June 28 as part of ‘Operation Mesoamerica,’ reported Prensa Libre.”

Mexican Enforcement:

•   Aumentan los suicidios en cárceles de migrantes de México
Milli Legrain, Univision, 30 de junio de 2016
“Las cifras revelan que de julio de 2014 a junio de 2015, las detenciones de migrantes centroamericanos en México se incrementaron en un 71% respecto del año anterior, antes del lanzamiento del Plan… El suicidio de Manuel Antonio el 10 de mayo pasado es la tercera muerte en cinco meses en este centro de detención….En este caso, uno de los testigos denunció que los agentes migratorios dentro del centro de detención no dejaron que los detenidos ayudaran a su compañero Manuel Antonio, visiblemente traumado”.

•   Denuncian situación “insostenible” en centros de detención para migrantes en México
Centro Prodh, 29 de junio de 2016
“Las organizaciones firmantes señalaron que no existe otro camino para revertir esta situación que el cierre de los centros de detención para migrantes, en el marco de la reconducción de unas políticas migratorias basadas en un enfoque de derechos humanos. Mientras tanto, exigieron que el uso de la detención por razones migratorias sea una medida excepcional y de último recurso…”

•   Seeking New Routes, Central American Migrants at Risk of Trafficking
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, June 24, 2016
“It is common for Central American migrants to be approached by traffickers offering them false promises of work as they take a break in parks and squares during their journey across Mexico… Experts say women and girl migrants from Central America, particularly those from indigenous groups, are particularly at risk of being trafficked into sex work in brothels and bars… Mexico’s state of Chiapas, a poor region on the country’s southern border with Guatemala, is a trafficking hotspot.”

•   Migrante: tu casa en México paso a paso
Gardenia Mendoza, La Opinión, 28 de junio de 2016
“El gobierno mexicano avala dos programas para los migrantes que quieren tener una casa en su país: “Tu vivienda en México”, que opera desde 2004 y será relanzado con mejores tasas de interés en agosto próximo y “Construye en México” que originalmente funcionó como piloto entre Nueva York y Puebla con 500 viviendas y desde el pasado 24 de junio se extendió para todos los mexicanos en el exterior independientemente de dónde radiquen”.

U.S. Enforcement:

•   Low-Priority Immigrants Still Swept Up in Net of Deportation
Julia Preston, NY Times, June 24, 2016
“In November 2014 when Mr. Obama first announced the protection programs, he also set new priorities for enforcement. Since then, immigration authorities say, their focus is on removing convicted criminals and foreigners who pose national security threats. But the administration’s priorities also include deporting migrants from Central America, including children, who came in an influx since 2014. And immigrants who committed minor offenses — or none at all — are often swept up in the operations.”

•   La vida de los indocumentados en EEUU: escondites, miedo y viajes prohibidos
Beatriz Pascual Macías, EFE y El Nuevo Herald, 25 de junio de 2016
“El miedo y los escondites rodean la vida de los inmigrantes indocumentados de Estados Unidos, que temen moverse sin una identificación y carecen de libertad para viajar a la graduación de un hijo o despedirse del padre que muere en un país del que huyeron hace años”.

•   Speak Up or Stay Hidden? Undocumented Immigrants Cautious After Court Ruling
Fernanda Santos and Jennifer Medina, NY Times, June 26, 2016
“The court’s decision on Thursday is amplifying that angst as immigrants wonder how aggressively they can push for change, or just lead normal lives, when one wrong move could mean a one-way trip to the country they left… They say that stepping out of the shadows and speaking publicly is a way to humanize their plight and counter the arguments that they are dangerous or a drain on the United States.”

•   Cuando ser ciudadana estadounidense te hace sentir culpable porque tus padres son indocumentados
Tim Rogers, Fusion, 24 de junio de 2016
“Ellas son ciudadanas americanas por nacimiento, pero sus papás son vistos como criminales de segunda clase que pueden ser arrestados y deportados en cualquier momento… ‘Ese miedo nunca nos lo podemos quitar. Si mi papá va a comprar leche, no sabemos lo que le puede pasar. No sabemos si algo pequeño se va a convertir en algo grande’…”

•   United States v Texas: What Does the Supreme Court’s Tie Vote Mean for DAPA and Expanded DACA?
NILC, June 24, 2016
“… the issue of whether or not DAPA and DACA+ are legal has not been ultimately decided… because the Supreme Court could not arrive at a majority decision in the case, its ruling does not set a Supreme Court precedent (i.e., a rule for future cases). A result of the 4-4 tie is that the nation’s highest court did not provide its opinion on the legality of these initiatives. Rather, the tie leaves in place the rulings issued by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the federal district court.”

•   CBP’s Review of Use of Force Cases Still Lacks Transparency and Accountability
Chakiara Tucker, Southern Border, June 30, 2016
“Earlier this year, the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) issued 39 recommendations to streamline ‘CBP’s broken disciplinary process… HSAC and Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) concluded that CBP lacks accountability and oversight and have offered clear recommendations to address this culture of impunity… today’s findings are unacceptable and continue to demonstrate a lack of leadership and will to commit to accountability.”

•   ACLU: Border Patrol Wrongly Detained U.S. Citizens, Seized Vehicles & Property
Paul Ingram, Tucson Sentinel, June 28, 2016
“On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security, and the component agencies of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Personal Responsibility, demanding investigations into what the ACLU called ‘abuses arising from Border Patrol interior operations’… Fewer than two percent of complaints against Border Patrol agents in a three-year period were followed with action against an agent, said the AIC [American Immigration Council]. ”

•   Organizaciones revisan estrategia tras fallo sobre la Acción Ejecutiva migratoria de Obama
Jorge Cancino, Univision, 28 de junio de 2016
“Mientras resuelven la manera en cómo sortear las restricciones judiciales, las organizaciones mantienen el dedo en el renglón con la mirada puesta en el martes 8 de noviembre, cuando los estadounidenses acudan a las urnas para elegir al sucesor de Obama y un nuevo Congreso. ‘Esa elección es nuestra próxima parada’, apuntó Torres. ‘Seguimos registrando a miles de votantes latinos para que nuestro voto sea determinante. Eso también ayudará a parar las deportaciones. Y estamos explorando qué otras salidas legales tenemos’, dijo Torres”.

•   Senate Will Vote on Toomey’s ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Bill
Seung Min Kim, Politico, June 29, 2016
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) teed up a procedural vote on legislation that would withhold congressional funding from so-called sanctuary cities, which are cities and counties that bar their local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities… McConnell also set up a vote on legislation championed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that also stemmed from Steinle’s death. The measure, “Kate’s Law,” would boost mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain immigrants who repeatedly enter the country illegally.”

•   Supreme Court Will Review Unusual Citizenship Law
AP and NY Times, June 28, 2016
“The justices said they will hear a case about a law that applies only to children born outside the U.S. to one parent who is an American and one who is not. The law makes it easier for children whose mother is a citizen to become citizens themselves. Even after reform legislation in 1986, children of American fathers face higher hurdles claiming citizenship for themselves… The case, Lynch v. Morales-Santana, 15-1191, will be argued in the fall.”

•   Alone in a California Courtroom: A Call for Legal Representation in Immigration Court
Journalism for Social Change, June 24, 2016
“Undocumented immigrants face a deportation process in which the majority are not legally represented in court. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2012 found that out of the 1.2 million deportation cases in the United States only 14 percent secured legal representation.”

•   An Inside Look at What Happens to Children After Crossing the U.S. Border
Monique O. Madan, Miami Herald, June 26, 2016
“The federal agency is responsible for providing around-the-clock care and safety of the unaccompanied immigrant children while they are in the country. Children spend 32 days on average at the shelters while the government looks for a sponsor and the youths await immigration proceedings… Last year, about 55 percent of children who crossed the border had parents living in the U.S. and went to live with them; 35 percent went to live with close family members; and the remaining went to live with a distant relative or family friends, according to HSS.”

•   Top Appeals Court to Take Up Landmark Child Migrant Case
David Rogers, Politico, June 28, 2016
“A landmark child migrant case comes before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals next week in Seattle, where a three judge panel will hear oral arguments as to the right of juveniles to an attorney in deportation proceedings… The central question is what constitutes due process for such young defendants matched against government lawyers in a deportation hearing… Advocates for the children argue that without legal counsel, this standard can’t be met.”

•   Inmigrantes detenidos viven en medio de una guerra entre pandillas
Isaías Alvarado, La Opinión, 27 de junio de 2016
“Más allá de los colores de sus uniformes (azul, naranja y rojo) que les asignan en base a su historial criminal, la Oficina de Aduanas y Control Fronterizo (ICE) debe separar a los integrantes de dos bandas rivales…Es la estrategia que usan las penitenciarías de esta entidad para reducir enfrentamientos violentos que incluso han concluido con fatalidades. La batalla entre dichas bandas lleva casi medio siglo.Así, los indocumentados que no están afiliados a esos grupos terminan en medio de su guerra”.

•   These Unsealed Photos Offer Rare Peek Inside Border Patrol’s Notorious ‘Ice Box’ Detention Center
Jorge Rivas, Fusion, June 29, 2016
“A District Court in Tucson this week unsealed hundreds of documents and photos that reveal the government has long been aware of the inhumane conditions in the Border Patrol’s infamous “hieleras,” temporary holding cells that are known for their extremely cold temperatures. The photos show the filthy conditions and broken water fountains in facilities used to detain undocumented immigrants immediately after their arrest.”

•   Imperial County May Hold Answers for Relatives of Missing Mexicans
Jean Guerrero, KPBS, June 28, 2016
“More than 40,000 people have been reported missing in Mexico over the past decade… Only about 1 percent of people who go missing in Mexico are found, according to federal government statistics… NA samples of hundreds of unidentified bodies buried there [Imperial County cemeteries] would give closure to some Mexicans whose relatives disappeared trying to reach the U.S.”

•   Life Looking Across the US-Mexico Border in El Paso: ‘You Are Glad You Are Here’
Chris Arnade, The Guardian, June 28, 2016
“The proximity to Ciudad Juárez’s violence and poverty is a reminder to residents of El Paso of what they have, what they could lose, and what comes with being a US citizen: safety, family and freedom… Despite the fence dividing El Paso from Ciudad Juárez, the two cities are mutually dependent, thanks to a steady stream of legal border crossings over the three pedestrian bridges.”

•   Patrulla Fronteriza absuelve de culpa a agentes implicados en actos violentos
Maria Pena, La Opinión, 30 de junio de 2016
“La Oficina de Aduanas y Protección de Fronteras (CBP), absolvió de culpa a agentes implicados en cuatro incidentes por el uso de la fuerza entre 2012 y 2015,  los primeros de un total de 18 revisados por la agencia federal… En cada uno de los casos revisados, la NUFRB determinó que el uso de la fuerza por parte de los agentes implicados ‘cumplía con la política sobre el uso de la fuerza de la CBP’. Por lo tanto, ninguno de los agentes fue suspendido o sometido a alguna medida disciplinaria…”

New Report and Resources:

•   Migración en tránsito por México: rostro de una crisis humanitaria internacional
REDODEM, junio de 2016
Informe que explica migración internacional como una crisis humanitaria, la migración en tránsito por México, delitos y violaciones a derechos humanos y los impactos regionales en la dinámica de la migración en tránsito desde la implementación del Programa integral Frontera Sur.

•   Surviving Death: Police and Military Torture of Women in Mexico
Amnesty International, June 28, 2016
“This report draws together information suggesting that the Mexican police and armed forces often torture and otherwise ill-treat women… Amnesty International interviewed 100 women who had reported violence during arrest and found that all of them described some form of sexual harassment or psychological abuse, including misogynist and sexualized insults or threats. Some 72% reported sexual violence during arrest or in the hours that followed.”

•   Derribando Muros: Responsabilidades, corresponsabilidades y uso de la fuerza en detenciones del INM
Direccion de Migracion, junio de 2016
“…las agresiones por los agentes de migración durante la detención de personas migrantes son una constante…es un proceso en el que participan elementos policiales de los tres órdenes de gobierno (federal, estatal, municipal), que en colusión con los agentes migratorios transgreden los derechos de los migrantes”.

•   How Immigration and Concerns about Cultural Change are Shaping the 2016 Election
Betsy Cooper, Daniel Cox, E.J. Dionne Jr., Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, and William A. Galston, PPRI and Brookings, June 23, 2016
Compilation of statistics from a survey of Americans.

•   Yearbook of Migration and Remittances
Juan José Li Ng, Alfredo Salgado, and Carlos Serrano, BBVA Research, June 29, 2016
The publication covers topics such as Mexican migrants in the United States, migration and health, deportations, children, and Central American migrants.

•   2016 Trafficking in Persons Report
U.S. Department of State, June 30, 2016
According to the report, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico are ranked in Tier 2 which is a category for “countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to meet those standards. For detailed information, view each country’s profile on pages 160, 184, 192, and 267, respectively.


•   Ni una muerte más en los centros de detención para migrantes en México
Centro de Derecho Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova A.C., 24 de junio de 2016
Firma esta petición, firmado por trece organizaciones, que apoya las personas detenidas en los centros del INM que “no son tratados ni con un respeto… ni a los principio más elemental de la dignidad humana” y que exige nueve medidas urgentes.

•   Tell Your Member of Congress to Support Protection for Central American Refugees
Call or email your Representative before July 8th to urge him/her to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Representatives Torres, Gallego, O’Rourke, and Jeffries that requests Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This  measure would protect children and families fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle.

•   Tell Your U.S. Senator to Oppose Anti-Sanctuary City Bill that Forces Police to Target Immigrants
Interfaith Immigration Coalition
Call your U.S. Senator and voice your opposition to S.3100,a bill that “would place undue burden on local law enforcement and undermine the trust between immigrant communities and local police.”