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Central America/Mexico Migrant News Brief for May 6, 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

•   El Salvador Rules out Talks with Gangs as Crackdown Fuels Fears of More Bloodshed
Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation, May 4, 2016
“Tired of being victims of gang-related turf wars and extortion, many Salvadorans back a government crackdown on the gangs who have carved up city neighbourhoods in their fight for territorial control and extortion rackets. But finding a balance between society’s thirst for justice and the need to address the root causes of violence, such as a lack of jobs, a corrupt police force and easy access to guns, will be crucial if El Salvador is to have peace, experts say.”

•   El Salvador Arrests People who Pushed for Peace in Gang War
Joshua Partlow, The Washington Post, May 5, 2016
“Salvadoran authorities announced on Tuesday that they had arrested 18 people who helped broker the peace deal — and were investigating several more. The surprise development has moved the government’s conflict with the gangs to a new, more aggressive phase.”

•   CentAm Officials Raise Alert Over Cross-border Gang Movements
Michael Lohmuller, InSight Crime, May 5, 2016
“El Salvador officials have warned of gang members fleeing into neighboring countries to escape the pressure of security forces. But is this a serious threat or simply a convenient method for officials to tout the “successes” of hardline security measures?”

•   US Push to De-Militarize CentAm Policing Poses a Dilemma
Mimi Yagoub, InSight Crime, May 6, 2016
“The United States has reiterated its disapproval of militarizing citizen security in Central America’s Northern Triangle countries, a somewhat problematic stance given critical violence levels and weak police institutions in the region.”

•   “En Honduras la Mara Salvatrucha está pasando de ser pandilleros a ser empresarios”
Efren Lemus, El Faro, 1 de mayo de 2016
“La MS-13 de Honduras parece haber evolucionado desde 2010 para adaptar su estructura para el montaje de empresas para lavar dinero, que van desde pequeños comercios hasta hospitales.”

•   Berta Cáceres Murder: Four Men Arrested over Honduran Activist’s Death
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, May 2, 2016
“Four men have been arrested in connection with the murder of the Honduran indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, who was shot dead at her home two months ago.
Two of those arrested are linked to the company building a hydroelectric dam which Cáceres had campaigned against.”

•   Honduras: Twenty-Three Police Officers and Military Arrested
La Prensa, 26 de abril de 2016
“Honduras authorities reported on the arrest of at least 21 police officers and two soldiers, because of their role in a complex extorsion net affecting thousands of citizens.”

•   Guatemala Arrests Dozens of Gang Members in Raids
AFP, May 2, 2016
“Security forces on Monday launched raids on one of the biggest gangs in Guatemala, arresting 72 suspected members of a cell specializing in extortion, officials said.”

•   Marzo bate récord como el mes más violento con 55.7 muertes cada 24 horas
Manu Ureste, Animal Político, 22 de abril de 2016
“La violencia en México sigue batiendo récords: el pasado mes de marzo cerró con un total de mil 725 víctimas de homicidio doloso y un promedio de 55.7 víctimas por cada 24 horas. Esta es la cifra más alta de personas asesinadas desde que en enero de 2014 el Gobierno Federal comenzó a publicar un reporte específico sobre víctimas.”

•   Mexico’s Heroin Farmers: The Trail of Destruction Starts in the Poppy Fields
Laura Woldenberg, Vice News, May 2, 2016
“The trail of destruction left by the drug starts in the fields of the state of Guerrero where production was controlled by the Beltrán Leyva cartel, until almost all its leaders were arrested or killed beginning in 2009 and the group fell apart. Since then numerous spin off organizations — such as the Rojos, the Guerreros Unidos, and the Ardillos — have been fighting over the territory making life in some of the villages untenable.”

•   México: el país más letal de América para los periodistas
Luis Pablo Beauregard, El País, 3 de mayo de 2016
“Tres periodistas están desaparecidos y otros 19 han sido asesinados desde el inicio del Gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto, en diciembre de 2012. La cifra aumenta a 92 informadores muertos si se cuenta desde el año 2000. Esto hace a México el lugar más peligroso de América para ser periodista según la CIDH.”

Mexican Enforcement

•   In Photos: The Central American Migrant’s Journey to Asylum
Agatha Bacelar, Emerson Collective, May 2, 2016
“There is a humanitarian crisis in Central America that is forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and make the arduous journey north, to or through Mexico to seek asylum….For some migrants, Mexico is the end goal, where they plan to stay and seek asylum. For others, Mexico is just another dangerous stretch of land to traverse on the way to the United States. It’s here where we met families who were fleeing and saw firsthand what it really takes to seek safety.”

•   Mexico Already Has a Giant Wall, and a Mining Company Helped to Build It
Tamara Pearson, CounterPunch, May 6, 2016
“While Grupo Mexico has built a long wall to stop migrants from getting on or off its long distance train, “The Beast,” the Mexican government’s Southern Border Plan is also making it much harder for Central American migrants desperately fleeing violence and poverty to travel through the country.”

•   New Institutions in Mexico Could Expand Justice for Migrants
Maureen Meyer and Ximena Suárez, Washington Office on Latin America, May 3, 2016
“On December 18, 2015, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office…formally established two bodies to investigate crimes committed against or by migrants in Mexico, as well as cases of Mexicans who have disappeared in other countries. [They] are important achievements of families, groups of migrants, and civil society organizations from Mexico and Central America.”

U.S. Enforcement

•   Lawsuit Aims to Stop Licensing of Texas Immigration Detention Facilities
Tom Dart, The Guardian, May 4, 2016
“Immigration activists are fighting back against a Texas decision to license immigration detention centres that critics call “baby jails”. A judge in Austin granted a temporary restraining order on Wednesday evening to stop the licensing, five days after the Texas department of family and protective services (DFPS) awarded a childcare licence to one of two federal family holding facilities near San Antonio. The second was set to receive its permit imminently.”

•   Texas Grants Child Care License to Migrant Detention Center
Julia Preston, The New York Times, May 2, 2016
“The authorities in Texas have granted a child care license to a federal immigration detention center where thousands of mothers with their children have been confined, often for weeks and sometimes months. The decision to recognize the center, in Karnes City, as a care provider for children drew outrage from immigrant advocates, who said it was little more than a prison.”

•   CBP Must Value Life in Order to Improve Facilities
ChaKiara Tucker, Southern Border Communities Coalition, May 5, 2016
“Recently, I, along with various members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across the country and a handful of immigration attorneys were given tours of CBP’s Processing Center and Ursula, a short-term detention center where migrants are housed until they are sent to family members.”

•   New Data Sheds Light on Sprawling, Often For-Profit, Immigration Detention System
Walter Ewing, American Immigration Council, April 26, 2016
“Due to the sheer size and complexity of the detention system, detainees are easily “lost” to their family members and attorneys. At any time, with no advance notice, a detainee could be transferred to another detention facility hundreds of miles away, or even expelled from the country, leaving behind loved ones and legal advocates to piece together the detainee’s movements.”

•   Border Postmortem: What Dead Migrants Tell Us
Traci Watson, USA Today, May 6, 2016
“People are … desperate to escape poor living conditions. And we can see that in the remains.”

•   Illegal Immigrant Numbers Skyrocket at Mexican Border
Mike Lillis, The Hill, May 4, 2016
“‘The forces driving the migration are still strong,’ [Kevin Appleby] said. Appleby also suggested the human smugglers accompanying the migrants might have adapted to a crackdown by Mexican authorities in 2015, allowing the smugglers to elude capture and get more people to the U.S. border.”

•   This Is What It Looked Like When the U.S.-Mexico Border Opened for 3 Minutes
Rafa Fernandez De Castro, Fusion, May 3, 2016
“The emotional images are a painful reminder of what a broken immigration system looks like, and the human toll it takes on families divided.”

•   Central American Moms Appeal To First Lady To Halt Family Detentions
Armando Trull, WAMU, May 5, 2016
“Activists say the Obama Administration has been detaining undocumented women and children in prison-like facilities while immigration judges decide their fate. The detentions started in 2014, after almost 200,000 Central American children and mothers began crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.”

•   La espera por visa “U” pone en riesgo a cientos de indocumentados
Efe, La Opinion, 3 de mayo de 2016
“El retraso en el trámite y aprobación de la visa “U” pone en peligro a cientos de indocumentados que fueron víctimas de crímenes violentos, denunciaron hoy defensores de los inmigrantes.”

•   The Migration Project Helps Guatemalan Families Find Missing Loved Ones
Amy Bracken, PRI, May 5, 2016
“Every month, the United States deports thousands of men, women and children to Guatemala. But many continue to come, or at least try. Many are fleeing remote villages that were devastated by violence during the country’s armed conflict decades ago, and that now suffer economically.”

•   Democrats Introduce Resolution to Protect More Immigrants from Deportation
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress, April 29, 2016
“The “Fix96 Resolution” would repeal two immigration laws that dramatically expanded the type of offenses that could be considered “aggravated felonies” — a category of criminal convictions that carry harsh consequences like mandatory detention, potential deportation, and a permanent ban from re-entering the United States.”

•   The Girl Who Hugged the Pope is at the White House. Her Parents, Who Are Undocumented, Can’t Join Her.
Arelis R. Hernández, The Washington Post, May 5, 2016
“‘It breaks my heart,’ Zoyla Cruz said in Spanish, teary at missing her little girl’s latest moment in the spotlight. ‘I’m dying. Imagine all those families separated by deportation.’”

•   Meet Evelyn, An Immigrant Who’s Trapped Between Border Checkpoints In Texas
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress, May 5, 2016
“Undocumented immigrants stuck in this zone don’t go north because they’re afraid of being subjected to immigration proceedings. They also don’t go south past the U.S.-Mexico border because of what they left behind.”

•   This Restaurant Serves Up Oaxacan Food With A Side Of Dignity For Undocumented Immigrants
Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, ThinkProgress, April 28, 2016
“We are not just talking about Mexicans who have the problem of being undocumented. We are talking about all countries and as a human being, it hurts.”

•   El discurso de Trump y la inmigración impulsan las manifestaciones del 1ro de Mayo
Jorge Cancino, Univision, 1 de mayo de 2016
“En ciudades de al menos 12 estados los inmigrantes vuelven a las calles este domingo para reivindicar sus derechos e insistir en la reforma migratoria justa y comprensiva.”

•   Beyond the Wall: an In-Depth Look at U.S. Immigration Policy
Robert Gordon, CounterPunch, May 6, 2016
“Immigration is one of the most complex and controversial issues in the current election cycle. Ironically, decades of U.S. policy is responsible for driving the so-called immigration ‘problem.’”

•   AP Exclusive: Migrant Children Kept From Enrolling in School
AP, The New York Times, May 2, 2016
“Local school officials have kept Jimon out of the classroom since he tried to enroll in January. Attorneys say Jimon and at least a dozen other migrant youth fleeing violence in Central America have been blocked from going to Memphis high schools because officials contend the teens lacked transcripts or were too old to graduate on time.”

•   Hondureños y nicaragüenses indocumentados aguardan prórroga del TPS
Univision, 3 de mayo de 2016
“El beneficio frena temporalmente las deportaciones y concede un permiso de trabajo válido por el tiempo que dura el programa. La primera vez fue activado en 1999 tras el paso del huracán Mitch.”

New Reports and Resources

•   A Short-Term Plan to Address the Central American Refugee Situation
Philip Wolgin, Center for American Progress, May 5, 2016
“This report lays out short-term recommendations for ensuring that all asylum seekers who reach the United States receive a full and fair shot at protection. The recommendations are structured to follow the process that children and families go through when seeking protection: arrival in the United States, custody determinations and detention, and proceedings in the immigration courts.”

•   A Medium- and Long-Term Plan to Address the Central American Refugee Situation
Dan Restrepo and Silva Mathema, Center for American Progress, May 5, 2016
“The medium-term recommendations focus on refugee processing solutions both in the countries of origin and across the region, giving children and families a place to flee in the region without having to make the dangerous journey to the United States. The long-term recommendations, meanwhile, aim to tackle the root causes of violence, poverty, and insecurity facing the Northern Triangle.”

•   U.S. Border Apprehensions of Families and Unaccompanied Children Jump Dramatically
Jens Manuel Krogstad, Pew Research Center, May 4, 2016
“Apprehensions of children and their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since October 2015 have more than doubled from a year ago and now outnumber apprehensions of unaccompanied children, a figure that also increased this year, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.”

•   Border Security: Immigration Enforcement between Ports of Entry
Carla N. Argueta, Congressional Research Service, April 19, 2016
“But to the extent that migrants are not deterred, the concentration of enforcement resources on the border may increase border area violence and migrant deaths, encourage unauthorized migrants to find new ways to enter and to remain in the United States for longer periods of time, damage border ecosystems, harm border-area businesses and the quality of life in border communities, and strain U.S. relations with Mexico and Canada.”

•   ACNUR lanza campaña digital #NiñezRefugiada
Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados, 29 de abril de 2016
“La Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados (ACNUR) lanza hoy la campaña digital #NiñezRefugiada para explicar al público las razones por las que niñas, niños y adolescentes son forzados a huir de la violencia en El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras.”

•   U.S. v. Texas Immigration Case May Be Resolved on Narrow Procedural Grounds; Long-Term Future Shifts to Next Administration
Muzaffar Chishti, Faye Hipsman, and Isabel Ball, Migration Policy Institute, April 26, 2016
“The Supreme Court’s ruling in a pivotal immigration case that has exposed significant differences in views over the limits of presidential power will likely hinge on narrow technical grounds rather the merits of the Obama administration’s contested immigration policy.”

•   Groups Denounce US-Mexico Central American Refugee Deportations
American Friends Service Committee, April 27, 2016
“Over 35 faith-based groups and human rights organizations filed a petition on April 14 to the [IACHR] denouncing the joint campaign of the United States and Mexico–the infamous Plan Frontera Sur–to interdict and summarily deport persons–including thousands of children and families–fleeing rampant violence in Central America’s ‘northern triangle’: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.”

•   Honduras Elites and Organized Crime
InSight Crime, April 2016
“Honduras elites have worked with organized crime for decades. These case studies illustrate the deep connections they share in business, politics and even security matters.”

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*The Central America/Mexico Migrant News Brief is a selection of relevant news articles, all of which do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Latin America Working Group.