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Central America/Mexico Migrant News Brief for October 18, 2017

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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.

Source: LA Times

U.S. Enforcement

Sessions calls on Congress to tighten rules for asylum seekers
Sari Horwitz, The Washington Post, October 12, 2017
“Civil liberties advocates said Sessions’ comments were inaccurate and unfair to the thousands of people fleeing dangerous, life-threatening situations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela… Asylum is given to a person on specific grounds because the person fears or has experienced persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”

Top Trump Official John Kelly Ordered ICE to Portray Immigrants as Criminals to Justify Raids
Alice Speri, The Intercept, October 16, 2017
“The redacted emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by students at Vanderbilt University Law School, show that while hundreds of undocumented immigrants were rounded up across the country, DHS officials tried — and largely failed — to engineer a narrative that would substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by public safety concerns. In the emails, local ICE officials are ordered to come up with “three egregious cases” of apprehended criminals to highlight to the media.”

US-Canada Border Arrest Shows Varied Human Smuggling Routes
Parker Asmann, Insight Crime, October 16, 2017
“US authorities have arrested a Honduran national for allegedly smuggling several migrants from Central America and Mexico into the United States from Canada, highlighting a rarely seen variation in human smuggling routes amid increased enforcement along the US-Mexico border.”

Fearing deportation, many domestic violence victims are steering clear of police and courts
James Queally, LA Times, October 9, 2017
“Domestic violence is traditionally an under-reported crime. Some police officials and advocates now say immigrants without legal status also may become targets for other crimes because of their reluctance to contact law enforcement.”

What it looks like when the border wall with Mexico becomes an art installation
Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, October 11, 2017
“On Sunday, the same day the Trump administration announced a slew of hard-line immigration proposals, an unlikely scene took place: A colossal dining table straddled the border with Mexico, connecting people in two countries for one shared meal… In the center of them all, atop the long table, was a massive image of the eyes of a “dreamer,” one on each side of the border…”

Deciphering Donald Trump’s thinking on Latin America
The Economist, October 5, 2017
“Instead of a Latin American policy, the emerging picture is of an administration that, more than most, takes different approaches to different countries at the behest of different players in Washington. Under Mr Obama, especially in his second term, relations between the United States and Latin America were warmer than they had been since the mid-1990s. Now the outlook is more uncertain.”

Trump to nominate Kelly’s White House deputy as DHS secretary
Eliana Johnson, Andrew Restuccia, Daniel Lippman, Politico, October 11, 2017
“Nielsen’s no-nonsense style has rankled some in the White House, who had grown accustomed to a freewheeling West Wing under Kelly’s predecessor, Reince Priebus. But Nielsen has been instrumental in Kelly’s efforts to push Trump and his senior aides to use the disciplined policymaking processes of previous administrations, which has limited the flow of paper to the president as well as the stream of advisers who had breezed in and out of the Oval Office.”

IACHR Expresses Deep Concern for the Decision to End the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Other Legal Avenues for Migrants and Refugees in the United States
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, October 11, 2017
“In the framework of this executive action, and in light of this year’s new immigration enforcement priorities, the Commission also calls on the United States to ensure that the protection needs of every person—without exception—are analyzed in an individual manner by properly-trained authorities upon arrival or apprehension. The IACHR affirms its interest in working with the government of the United States in the quest for solutions that ensure full observance of the human rights of migrants and refugees.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico Approves Law Against Forced Disappearances
teleSUR English, October 13, 2017
“Lawmakers approved the law unanimously, with 361 votes in favor. The law includes the creation of a national search commission, a citizen’s council and a national registry of disappeared people…Penalties of 40 to 60 years in prison will be given for the crime of forced disappearance of persons by a public official as well as a private individual in complicity with an official who commits abduction and/or concealment of information.”

Las Familias Saludan La Aprobación De La Ley General En Materia De Desaparición De Personas, Una Herramienta Para Enfrentar La Grave Crisis De Desapariciones E Impunidad En México
Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México, 12 de octubre de 2017
“Las familias que conformamos el Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos en México (MovNDmx) saludamos la aprobación de dicha Ley, por ser el resultado de casi tres años de arduo trabajo por parte de más de 60 colectivos de familiares y organizaciones de la sociedad civil (OSC), que han propuesto contenidos fundamentales de ésta y porque de implementarse de manera efectiva, será una importante herramienta para enfrentar la grave crisis de desapariciones en México”.

México encara la crisis de los desaparecidos con una nueva ley
Zorayda Gallegos, El País, 13 de octubre de 2017
“A más de diez años de que iniciara la llamada guerra contra el narcotráfico encabezada por el expresidente Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), México por fin contará con una norma que prevenga esta violación a los derechos humanos, facilite la localización de personas desaparecidas y garantice la reparación integral a las víctimas. La norma prevé penas de hasta 60 años de cárcel para los servidores públicos que incurran en este delito y de 50 años para los particulares que priven de la libertad a alguien”.

Body of Abducted Mexican Journalist Is Found
Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, October 6, 2017
“The body of a photographer was found Friday in the northern state of San Luis Potosí, a day after he was abducted from his home by men dressed as police officers, Mexican officials said.
The photographer, Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro, is the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year in retaliation for their reporting, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.”

Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns murder of Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro in Mexico and urges to investigate the relation to his journalistic activity
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, October 11, 2017
“Due to the gravity of the state of violence against journalists in Mexico, this Office calls on the Mexican State to redouble its efforts to investigate in a complete, effective, and impartial manner this and the remaining crimes committed in recent years, to clarify its motives, and, in particular, judicially determine the relationship they could have with journalistic activity and freedom of expression. Authorities should not rule out the practice of journalism as a motive for murder and/or aggression before the investigation is completed, it should also provide appropriate resources and specialized personnel to the institutions responsible for investigating such cases.”

Grave preocupación por uso de la fuerza letal en el penal de Cadereyta
Sistema Integral de Información en Derechos Humanos, 12 de octubre de 2017
“Con los 17 de Cadereyta, son ya 73 muertos en riñas, motines o peleas en carceles del Estado de Nuevo León en menos de dos años. En mayo, la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) advirtió que en el penal había un autogobierno de los internos”.

Empresa colapsada en el sismo retenía el pasaporte a extranjeras para obligarlas a trabajar
Samuel Cortés Hamdan, Animal Político, 11 de octubre de 2017
“‘Nosotros no podemos regresar porque ellos tienen nuestros papeles, nuestro pasaporte, todo’, reveló una sobreviviente del terremoto, la joven de 23 años Jie Ting Huang, de nombre occidental Janet, a sus profesores de español en México: Paola Lazcano y otro docente, egresados de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la UNAM”.

Root Causes

La unión aduanera entre Honduras y Guatemala negocia con El Salvador
Victoria Aguilar, Tiempo Digital, 16 de octubre de 2017
“El Triángulo Norte representa el 57 % del territorio de Centroamérica. Por lo tanto, acoge al 73% de la población y podría representar un Producto Interno Bruto de casi 120.000 millones de dólares con su unión”.

Costa Rica, la ruta del sur
Maye Primera, El Faro & Univision Noticias
“Costa Rica está en mejores condiciones que otros países de la región para hacerse cargo de esta avalancha. Es el único país de América Latina que tiene un sistema cuasi judicial para otorgar el estatus de refugiado: quien lo pide presenta pruebas, una comisión las evalúa y decide en primera instancia, y si la decisión no es favorable, el solicitante puede apelar. Es un sistema similar al de Canadá”.

Belize is afraid
Leer en espanol: Belice tiene miedo
El Faro & Univision Noticias, October 8, 2017
“No one knows for sure how many Central Americans have sought refuge in Belize in recent years. This information is kept as a state secret and the government does not share it even with the United Nations and, of course, much less with a journalist. The issue of migrants is considered a toxic issue for Belize politicians. Ever since the scandal of a case centering on Kim Won Hong from South Korea, the less said, the better. It turns out that Kim Won Hong processed his Belize nationality successfully, after filing his papers in September 2013 and obtaining his Belize passport. All was well until it was discovered that the real Kim was imprisoned in Yilam prison in Taiwan, and had never set foot in Belize, sparking a national scandal that ended up uncovering a whole web of illegal document trafficking that cost several officials their jobs.”

Puebla: cada 19 horas desaparece una mujer; no hay elementos para alerta de género, autoridades
Ernesto Aroche Aguilar, Animal Político, 12 de octubre de 2017
“En algunos casos las autoridades dicen que se fueron con “la pareja sentimental” y omiten investigar los indicios de trata de personas señalados por familiares.
Estos no son casos aislados, en lo que va de 2017 cada 19 horas se denuncia la desaparición de una mujer en el estado. Durante 2016 fueron, en promedio, un caso cada 31 horas, de acuerdo con cifras del Registro Nacional de Datos de Personas Extraviadas o Desaparecidas (RNPED)”.

Un alcalde, una diputada y un gobernador, investigados por mal uso de víveres para damnificados
Redacción, Animal Político, 12 de octubre de 2017
“Condicionamiento de programas sociales, reetiquetamiento de víveres y retención de vehículos con ayuda humanitaria, son los delitos que la Fiscalía Especializada para la Atención de Delitos Electorales (FEPADE) investiga por el posible mal uso de los apoyos para los damnificados de los sismos del pasado 7 y 19 septiembre, ya que podrían tratarse de posibles casos de peculado electoral cometidos por funcionarios públicos”.

Nueve repunte de homicidios
Gabriel García & Jónathan Funes, La Prensa Gráfica, 16 de octubre de 2017
“El sábado ocurrieron 24 asesinatos y el domingo fueron asesinadas 29 personas. Ayer, al cierre de esta nota, fuentes policiales confirmaron 20 asesinatos… En los primeros 15 días de octubre han ocurrido 211 asesinatos; es decir, un promedio diario de 14”.

Amenazas a líder indígena: “Si no te desapareces en tres días, si te vamos a matar”
Redacción, El Pulso, 13 de octubre de 2017
“Aproximadamente a las 12:30 de la madrugada, un grupo de desconocidos, llegaron a la casa del líder del pueblo indígena Tolupán, Luis Mejía, hicieron cinco disparos, en la puerta principal de su casa de habitación. Posteriormente deslizaron una nota con un mensaje”.

After 78 Killings, a Honduran Drug Lord Partners With the U.S.
Joseph Goldstein and Benjamin Weiser, The New York Times, October 7, 2017
“In all, the drug lord, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, said that, working in concert with drug traffickers and others, he had “caused” the deaths of 78 people — a number that posed a dilemma for United States officials when Mr. Rivera came to them offering to expose high-level corruption in this Central American nation of some nine million people. Knowing that he was already in the sights of United States investigators, Mr. Rivera sought to help the Drug Enforcement Administration root out corrupt Honduran politicians and other elites who had made Honduras a gateway for massive amounts of cocaine headed for the United States through Mexico.”

6 de cada 10 hondureños no están dispuestos a denunciar la corrupción
Redacción, El Pulso, 11 de octubre de 2017
“La percepción en Centroamérica es que los empresarios, empleados públicos y los líderes religiosos, son los que tiene una imagen positiva o menos corrupta. El 65 por ciento de los costarricenses dice sentir un incremento en la corrupción, mientras los hondureños y los salvadoreños  aprecian que la corrupción aumentó en un 53 por ciento y los guatemaltecos presentan el porcentaje más bajo de la región”. 

A Young Woman Was Tortured and Raped After Being Turned Away From The US
John Stanton, Buzzfeed, October 10, 2017
“So she fled north, seeking asylum in the US. But once she arrived, instead of a safe haven she found a skeptical immigration system that rejected her request and deported her back to El Salvador, in part because she couldn’t prove she faced persecution back home — something that would only change after she’d been tortured and raped.”

El Salvador’s teenage girls trapped by turf wars
Jude Webber, Financial Times, October 11, 2017
“Sexual violence — whether it be as a punishment meted out by gang members, a forced service or simply a part of the ‘crime economy’ in a country where gangs live off extortion — is a constant threat and ‘adolescents are the most exposed’, Juárez says. ‘Girls are growing up with the idea that they can’t say no. A large part of this generation will grow up thinking this way.’”

450 guatemaltecos continúan en la frontera con México tras 4 meses
EFE, La Opinión, 14 de octubre de 2017
“Desde el pasado 2 de junio, poco más de un centenar de familias permanecen en casas de campaña a lo largo de la frontera con el suroriental estado de Campeche. Su caso ha llegado hasta la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), que a finales de septiembre les otorgó una medida cautelar para proteger la vida e integridad personal de estos pobladores del municipio de San Andrés, en el Petén Guatemalteco”.

Guatemala Supreme Court Will Not Probe President’s Salary Bonus
Reuters, October 11, 2017
“President Jimmy Morales received 50,000 quetzals ($6,808) each month as a ‘Bonus for Extraordinary Responsibility’ from the Defense Ministry that was not part of the official presidential salary, Guatemala’s federal auditor said last month. The court’s decision preserves Morales’ immunity against corruption investigations. In a separate case last month, Guatemala’s Congress voted to protect the president from a potential probe into alleged illegal campaign financing.”

Guatemala’s CICIG Takes on Third President with New Corruption Allegations
James Bargent, InSight Crime, October 6, 2017
On October 5, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG) presented testimonies, communications intercepts, surveillance images and a cache of documents revealing just how far that network reached. The allegation sent shockwaves through the Guatemalan establishment: Lima had corrupt dealings with a man he referred to as ‘Señor Oro,’ or ‘Mr. Gold’ — former president and current mayor of Guatemala City Álvaro Arzú.”

MS-13 ‘gang leader’ Blanco captured in Guatemala
BBC, October 14, 2017
“Police in Guatemala say they have captured a leader of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, street gang. They tweeted that Ángel Gabriel Reyes Marroquín, known as Blanco (White), was found in the town of Chimaltenango, 50km (31 miles) west of the capital. He was reportedly wanted in connection with a gun attack on a hospital two months ago.”

Crean un frente contra la corrupción e impunidad
AFP, El Periodico, 14 de octubre de 2017
“Activistas de derechos humanos, indígenas y universitarios guatemaltecos crearon este sábado un frente contra la corrupción e impunidad para impulsar reformas en medio de señalamientos contra el presidente Jimmy Morales por supuestas anomalías financieras en la campaña de 2015. La denominada Asamblea Ciudadana contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad fue instalada durante una manifestación de decenas de personas frente al Palacio Nacional, sede de múltiples protestas que exigen la renuncia de Morales y la depuración del Congreso”.

Leftist leader, relatives slain in southern Mexico
Associated Press, Seattle Press, October 15, 2017
“A regional leftist leader was killed and burned along with his wife, 94-year-old mother-in-law and driver, officials in southern Mexico said Sunday. Guerrero state security official Roberto Alvarez Heredia said Sunday the deaths of 50-year-old Ranferi Hernandez Acevedo and those with him have been ‘totally confirmed.’”

El Salvador urges global support in finding the disappeared in civil war
EFE, Alianza News, 12 de octubre de 2017
“Miranda said that ‘financial, technical and in-kind cooperation from national and international organizations’ is needed and that the commission’s goal is ‘to encourage the meeting with their families or the return of remains’ of the disappeared as a ‘respect for the dignity of the victim.’ On Sep. 27, the Salvadoran government presented an executive order which gives life to the National Commission for the Search of Adults Disappeared in the Context of the Armed Conflict (CONABUSQUEDA), expected to start operating in 2018.”

Actions, Resources, and Reports

Little by Little: Exploring the Impact of Social Acceptance on Refugee Integration into Host Communities
Catholic Relief Services, October 2017
“The process of settling in a new place and the role of social connections in informing and facilitating that process is universal. What amplifies the importance of those connections for refugees living outside of camps is that their ability to survive, and ideally thrive, depends on establishing new relationships with the host community. This study strongly suggests that social acceptance is an integral component of a refugee’s integration process and should be prioritized in programming and policy development.”

Temporary Protected Status: A Vital Piece of the Central American Protection and Prosperity Puzzle
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, October 2017
“It is crucial for the United States to extend TPS for El Salvador and Honduras. Terminating TPS for the two countries may negatively impact regional security, and have negative economic and humanitarian consequences in El Salvador, Honduras and the United States.”

*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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