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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for April 14, 2017

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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). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs: ebuckhout@lawg.org.

Sessions Border Visit

Jeff Sessions, Unleashed at the Border
The Editorial Board, The New York Times, April 13, 2017
“It was familiar Sessions-speak, about drug cartels and ‘transnational gangs’ poisoning and raping and chopping off heads, things he said for years on the Senate floor as the gentleman from Alabama. But with a big difference: Now he controls the machinery of federal law enforcement, and his gonzo-apocalypto vision of immigration suddenly has force and weight behind it, from the officers and prosecutors and judges who answer to him.”

Sessions Enhances Criminal Penalties for Immigration Violations: ‘This Is the Trump Era
Alan Neuhauser, US News, April 11, 2017
“Federal attorneys must now ‘consider’ bringing felony charges – which carry stiffer penalties than misdemeanor violations – against people caught re-crossing the border, and must more vigorously pursue felony prosecutions against people who help migrants illegally enter the U.S. and those who harbor them once they arrive, according to a two-page memo distributed to Justice Department attorneys.”

Sessions Visits U.S.-Mexico Border to Push Migrant Crackdown
Reuters, The New York Times, April 11, 2017
“It is normally the role of the Secretary of Homeland Security to meet border agents. But Sessions made the visit to highlight his focus on enforcing federal laws as dozens of U.S. cities try to shield illegal immigrants from stepped-up prosecution and deportation efforts.”

The Latest: Sessions Outlines Border Enforcement Plan
Associated Press, The Washington Post, April 11, 2017
“Sessions has been expanding the Justice Department’s role in the anti-immigration agenda of the Trump administration. But his Tuesday speech during his first visit to the border offered the most comprehensive look yet at his plans for federal prosecutions of those in the country illegally.”

Prosecutor: Jeff Sessions’s New Immigration Plan Is ‘F*cking Horrifying’
Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, April 12, 2017
“And with that Sessions officially weaponized the Justice Department to crack down on undocumented immigration. After taking a private border tour with Customs and Border Protections agents in Nogales, on the southern edge of Arizona, the attorney general announced the feds will soon be spending a lot more time prosecuting people who break immigration laws.”

Sessions presenta un memorando para poner mano dura al contrabando de personas y al reingreso ilegal
Univision, 11 de abril de 2017
“El fiscal general viaja a la frontera y anuncia varias medidas para poner en práctica las órdenes ejecutivas. También enviará 50 jueces de inmigración a la zona este mismo año.”

“No vino a hablar con nosotros”, denuncian las comunidades fronterizas sobre la visita de Sessions
Paula Diaz, Amexia, Univision, 11 de abril de 2017
“Autoridades locales y comunidades de la zona cuestionaron que el fiscal general Jeff Sessions no tuviera tiempo para reunirse con las personas que viven los problemas del día a día en la frontera de Arizona”

Attorney General Sessions Doubles Down On Failed Policies That Demonize Immigrants
National Immigrant Justice Center, April 11, 2017
“The number of people entering the United States without authorization has been decreasing for years, yet U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ visit to the southern border today set the stage for the administration’s latest round of white supremacist propaganda demonizing immigrants.”

Sessions Reveals Plan to Ramp up Prosecutions of Low Level Immigration Offenses
Joshua Breisblatt, American Immigration Council, April 11, 2017
“Sessions is directing all 94 U.S. Attorney offices around the country to focus resources away from prosecuting more serious criminals and national security threats, to prosecuting individuals who crossed the border without inspection. This will undoubtedly lead to the creation of rushed processes which are short on due process but a boon to private prisons who will house the low level immigration offenders on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Trump’s Justice Department to End ‘Catch and Release’ Immigration Policy
Andrea Noble , The Washington Times , April 11, 2017
“Prosecutors should prioritize cases against smugglers and should bring felony charges against illegal immigrants who have been removed before and have sneaked back into the U.S. or have other criminal convictions on their records, according to the guidance issued by the attorney general.”

No Matter What Happens To Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions Will Press His Anti-Immigrant Agenda
Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post, April 13, 2017
“No matter what Bannon’s fate, however, his strand of ethno-nationalism will live on in the Trump Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The 70-year-old former Alabama senator has already set the Justice Department on a new path by targeting immigrants, reining in police department reform efforts and curtailing efforts to protect voting rights.”

New DHS Memo


Planning for Trump’s Deportation Force
The Washington Post
“An internal Department of Homeland Security document shows the Trump administration is quickly identifying ways to ramp up its capacity to detain and deport illegal immigrants, but the costs could be prohibitive.”

To Detain More Immigrants, Trump Administration to Speed Border Hiring
Vivian Yee and Ron Nixon, The New York Times, April 12, 2017
“The Trump administration has begun the detail work of stiffening the country’s immigration infrastructure, according to an internal memo from the Department of Homeland Security, moving to speed the hiring of border agents, to find space to detain thousands more immigrants and to hasten deportation cases.”

In Rush for New Agents, Border Patrol Weighs Changing Polygraph Program
Dan Frosch and  Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2017
“For the past several years, the U.S. Border Patrol has struggled to fill its ranks with agents who meet its standards. Now, under orders from President Donald Trump to swiftly recruit thousands of new employees, the agency is contemplating changing some of its hiring requirements.”

DHS planea endurecer más su programa de deportaciones
Redacción, La Opinion, 12 de abril de 2017
“Por ahora, el Departamento ha encontrado 33,000 camas más para albergar, además de que ha tenido serias conversaciones con cuerpos policiacos locales para colaborar en temas migratorios.”

Trump Plan Would Curtail Protections for Detained Immigrants
Caitlin Dickerson, The New York Times, April 13, 2017
“According to two Homeland Security officials who had knowledge of the plans but declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly, new jail contracts will contain a far less detailed set of regulations.”

Trump Administration Moving Quickly to Build Up Nationwide Deportation Force
David Nakamura, The Washington Post, April 12. 2017
“An internal Department of Homeland Security assessment obtained by The Washington Post shows the agency has already found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants, opened discussions with dozens of local police forces that could be empowered with enforcement authority and identified where construction of Trump’s border wall could begin.”

Other U.S. Immigration Updates

A Troubling Trend of U.S. Turning Away Asylum Seekers at Mexico Border
B. Shaw Drake, News Deeply, April 13, 2017
“A Mexican mother on the run from gangs and seeking asylum in the U.S. says she was turned away three times at the border earlier this year. Human Rights First’s Shaw Drake says the case is indicative of a disturbing trend on the southern U.S. border.”

Fear of Trump Makes Migrants Disappear From Mexican Border
Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast,  April 14, 2017
“In the 35 years Gilda and Juan Francisco Loureiro have been running a shelter in northern Mexico for undocumented immigrants, they’ve never seen a week like this one.”

ICE May Deport More People With U.S. Ties If Border Crossings Keep Dropping
Roque Planas, The Huffington Post, April 12, 2017
“The plummeting number of unauthorized crossings from Mexico may allow the Trump administration to focus more energy on deporting undocumented immigrants already living here, former immigration officials say.”

U.S. Judges Pulled From Mexico Border as Crossings by Women, Children Fall
Reuters, The New York Times, April 11, 2017
“The dearth of cases at two Texas facilities where the judges are based can be traced to a sharp drop in illegal border crossings by women and children since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January”

Deportation as a Crime Against Humanity
Liaquat Ali Khan, The Huffington Post, April 12, 2017
“Threats of deportations are evolving into a global phenomenon as nativism, racism, and xenophobia sweep the world. All over the world, nations are turning against “foreigners,” particularly against the most vulnerable populations such as refugees, migrant workers, and undocumented immigrants.”

Deported to Mexico, These Men Feel Lost in a Country They No Longer Know
PBS NewsHour, April 11, 2017
“The Trump administration has vowed to speed up the deportation process, but what exactly happens when undocumented immigrants who have built lives and have families in the U.S. are forced to return to Mexico? Special correspondent Nick Schifrin follows the lives of men who have been recently deported.”

Editorial Cartoon: Torn Away
 Kevin Necessary, WCPO, April 11, 2017
“Maribel Trujillo, a Mexican woman and mother of four children — all of whom are United States citizens — is being deported to Mexico after ICE agents detained her.”

Fairfield Mother Will Be Deported Next Wednesday, According to Mexican Consulate
Jay Warren, WCPO, April 13, 2017
“”As you can imagine, her life has been turned upside down,” Martinez said. “She is scared for her future, but mostly scared for her children’s future. She is the sole provider for her family and they all depend on her. The uncertainty and sense of helplessness is palpable.””

Immigration Issues Threaten Agriculture’s Profitability
Logan Hawkes, Southwest Farm Press, April 11, 2017
“More and more illegal immigrant farm workers are avoiding the risks involved with illegally crossing the border to find work in the fields, and the downturn in the overall availability of farm laborers has taken a significant toll on U.S. farmers.”

Nearly 180 Maine Attorneys Issue Letter Urging End to ICE Arrests at Courthouses
Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos, April 11, 2017
“Nearly 180 Maine attorneys have sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and DHS Secretary John Kelly demanding an end to the arrests of immigrants at courthouses, following ICE sweeping up a 28-year-old immigrant as he was leaving a non-immigration related hearing”

Trump’s Wall: How Much Money Does the Government Have For It Now?
T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, April 13, 2017
“$20 million. That’s enough to cover the cost of seven miles of wall.”

Here’s How Undocumented Immigrants Are Living In The Shadow Of Border Patrol Deep Within The US
Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed News, April 6, 2017
“Most Americans don’t know that there is a 100-mile zone that extends inland from the edge of the US, and within that zone, border patrol agents have the authority to stop and search motorists, for any reason, to investigate whether they are here legally — though they can arrest and question people anywhere in the US.”

Parole Denials Lead to Increased Detention Under Trump’s Executive Order
Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First, April 10, 2017
“In the wake of February 20 memorandum implementing the order, nonprofit attorneys in various locations have told us that eligible asylum seekers are being denied parole even when they meet the criteria: pass a screening interview, establish identity, and present no flight risk or danger to the community.”

Sexual Assault in Immigration Detention
Civic, End Isolation, April 11, 2017
“Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a national advocacy organization, filed a complaint today calling for a federal investigation into reports of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment in immigration detention facilities and for the rapid development of protocols to ensure that all such reports of sexual abuse are thoroughly investigated and that relevant records are disclosed to the public. “

Few Complaints Of Sexual Abuse Inside Immigrant Detention Centers Are Investigated, Report Find
Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed News, April 11, 2017
“Federal officials investigated just 225 out of 33,126 complaints of sexual and physical abuse in immigration detention centers, an advocacy group found.”

Immigrant Women in Texas and California Aren’t Reporting Rape out of Fear of Deportation
Raquel Reichard, Latina, April 11, 2017
“Legal officials in Los Angeles and Houston have reported a decline in Latinxs reporting rapes, and they believe it’s due to fears over the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies.”

Domestic Abuse Survivors Still Face Deportation Under Trump
Michelle Chen, The Nation, April 11, 2017
“No one should have to face this lethal choice, but as President Trump’s deportation drive pummels immigrant communities, many victims of domestic and gender-based abuse are finding themselves trapped with no good option.”

Border Officers Nearly Double Searches of Electronic Devices, U.S. Says
Ron Nixon, The New York Times, April 11, 2017
“Customs officers at the border and at airports almost doubled their searches of electronic devices of people entering the United States in the last six months, according to data released Tuesday by Customs and Border Protection.”

Errors Prompt Trump to Halt Reports Shaming ‘Sanctuary Cities’
Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, April 11, 2017
“After just three weeks, the Trump administration has stopped publishing a weekly report designed to publicly shame “sanctuary cities” that fail to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts after local police agencies complained the reports were filled with errors.”

‘Incompetent’ ICE Halts Mistake-Riddled Reports that Aimed to Shame Sanctuary Cities
Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos, April 12, 2017
“”As ICE comes under increased scrutiny, people will be shocked to find how incompetent, unaccountable and rogue they are,” immigrant rights leader Frank Sharry told USA Today. The multiple counties and law enforcement agencies Trump and his administration falsely attacked in the publications would probably agree”

What Activists Missed in Their Fight to Legalize Undocumented Immigrants
Alfonso Chardy, Miami Herald, April 13, 2017
“Ali Noorani’s new book “There Goes the Neighborhood” shows that the activists’ perception of imminent success was an illusion because they missed the broader picture of an angry populace that eventually helped elect Donald Trump as president — largely on his promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.”

More Immigration Extremists Enter Trump Administration
Auditi Guha, Rewire, April 13, 2017
“”These groups have spent 20 years looking for ways that they could hurt immigrants and now they’ve been given the keys to the kingdom,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice.”

‘Kids Caravan’ Protests Trump Immigration Policies at the White House
Aida Chavez, The Hill, April 13, 2017
“Over 200 children and activists gathered in front of the White House on Thursday to protest President Trump’s immigration policies as part of the “We Belong Together Kids Caravan.””

Frayed U.S.-Mexico Ties Mend as Trump Refrains From Attacks
David Luhnow and Jacob Schlesinger, The Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2017
“Earlier this year, U.S.-Mexican relations hit their worst crisis in decades when Presidents Donald Trump and Enrique Peña Nieto quarreled over who would pay for a proposed border wall, prompting the Mexican president to call off a planned trip to Washington.”

Mexico Enforcement

On the Road in Mexico, Central American Migrants Face an Uncertain Future
PBS NewsHour, April 13, 2017
“Thousands of Central Americans cross into Mexico every day, dreaming of more peaceful and prosperous lives. For many, this is the first moment of a long, dangerous journey north. While more and more migrants are choosing to stay in Mexico, others still hope to make it to the United States. Special correspondent Nick Schifrin reports on the difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions.”

INM ha sido rebasado por la llegada de inmigrantes, alerta Morena
Angélica Melín Campos, Noticias MVS, 13 de abril de 2017
“INM solo tiene 32 albergues, y son insuficientes para atender a los haitianos y africanos que han llegado a México.”

Reporting Crimes Committed against Migrants in Mexico from Abroad
Ximena Suarez-Enriquez and Maureen Meyer, WOLA, April 12, 2017
“As WOLA has stated previously, the Unit and the Mechanism are fundamental to investigate and provide justice for crimes against migrants in Mexico. The Mexican government has made commitments before international and regional bodies to respect migrants’ rights. By ensuring that the Unit and Mechanism operate effectively, the government can turn its commitments into concrete actions and results.”

Mexican Migration Road, a Nightmare for Migrants
Olivier Rey, Red Dirt Report, April 12, 2017
“Jennifer Clark, a professor of Political Science and chair of Women’s Studies at South Texas College talked about the perilous life of the migrants coming from Central America through Mexico at the Symposium on “Migrants in the U.S.: Racism and Social Change” organized by the University of Oklahoma’s Humanities Forum on Monday.”

Immigrants Increasingly Taking to Sea Routes to Mexico
Enrique Lopez Magallon, Deutsche Welle, April 8, 2017
“Dramatic increases in violence in Honduras and El Salvador have forced many Central Americans to adjust to a new reality. Mexico is no longer a transit country on the way to the United States. “Many immigrants are fleeing life-threatening violence and are looking for international protection in Mexico. In other words: We are talking about refugees,” says Ramon Marquez from the immigrant shelter “La 72” in the Mexican state of Tabasco.”

Amenazaron Zetas a Casa del Migrante
Héctor López, El Diario, 14 de abril de 2017
“Fueron “Los Zetas” quienes amenazaron a integrantes de la Casa del Migrante por ayudar a indocumentados a su paso por Coahuila y Saltillo hacia Estados Unidos, pero la Diócesis de Saltillo continuará asistiendo a los migrantes en la defensa de sus derechos humanos; “esto lo tenemos que decir a la sociedad y damos la cara”, señaló el obispo Raúl Vera.”

Ciudad de México arropa a migrantes y los ayuda a emprender negocios
Nelly Segura Granados, México Migrante, 16 de marzo de 2017
“La Ciudad de México es una ciudad hospitalaria y un refugio tanto para los migrantes deportados de Estados Unidos, como para quienes provienen de otras naciones y han decidido hacer de México su segunda patria, además de ofrecer múltiples opciones para emprender negocios.”

Root Causes and Country Conditions

Why Central Americans are Fleeing Their Violent Homelands for the US
Danika Fears and Lorena Mongelli, New York Post, April 13, 2017
“The young mother is one of hundreds of thousands who have fled to the United States to escape the violence of Central America’s Northern Triangle region, which is made up of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.”

La sequía amenaza los suelos salvadoreños
Javier Orellana, La Prensa Grafica, 13 de abril de 2017
“El Salvador presenta un alto nivel de degradación de sus bosques y de sus cuencas, lo que lo deja especialmente vulnerable al cambio climático; esto repercute directamente en la agricultura. Según el Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN), más de 10,000 kilómetros cuadrados –de los 21 que posee el país– tiene posibilidades de ser afectados por sequías, mientras que 1,900 kilómetros han sido afectados por inundaciones fuertes o leves.”

Number of Missing People in Mexico Rises to 30,000 by End-2016
Reuters, April 6, 2017
“The number of people in Mexico disappearing under suspicious circumstances, often related to drug violence, rose to 30,000 by the end of 2016, the National Human Rights Commission said on Thursday.”

Families in Mexico Launch their own Searches for Missing Loved Ones
FSRN, April 11, 2017
“In Mexico, families of the disappeared have been leading efforts to uncover mass graves. More than 300 bodies have been unearthed in recent weeks, and along with the bodies come hints at the answers thousands of families have been seeking since loved ones went missing in the decade of militarized drug war. The graves also expose the tense relationship between the families of the victims and the authorities tasked with solving crimes.”

Victims of Military Torture Fear Mexico Security Bill
Jennifer Gonzalez  Covarrubias, AFP, 7 News, April 11, 2017
“Mexico called in the armed forces a decade ago to fight drug crime. But critics say the military has not been trained for that kind of police work and has ended up torturing innocent suspects.”

Funds for Journalists Security in Mexico About to End
Prensa Latina, April 11, 2017
“Funds available for the protection of journalists in Mexico are about to be exhausted, despite increased attacks on journalists, human rights defenders warned today.”

Main Threat to Mexican Journalists Comes from Officials
Latin American Herald Tribune
“Officials accounted for 53 percent of acts of aggression against journalists in 2016 and pose “the biggest threat to freedom of expression in Mexico,” a representative of press freedom watchdog Article 19 said on Thursday.”

Will Mexico Get Half of Its Territory Back?
Enrique Krauze, The New York Times, April 6, 2017
“The United States invasion of Mexico in 1846 inflicted a painful wound that, in the 170 years that followed, turned into a scar. Donald Trump has torn it open again.”

Mexico Enlists US and UN Observers for War on Drugs
Telesur, April 8, 2017
“As part of Mexico’s ongoing war on drugs and the fight to cut out the illegal heroin trade, the country’s military is allowing the United States and United Nations to help observe opium poppy cultivation eradication programs, according to a Reuters investigation.”

Mexico: Rights Group Worried for Hunger Striking Chiapas Nurses
TeleSur, April 12, 2017
“Several groups condemned “The serious crisis in the health system in Chiapas, which today puts at risk the lives of the nurses,” during a hunger strike.”

Resources and Actions

An Open Letter from 1,470 Economists on Immigration
New American Economy, April 12, 2017
“The undersigned economists represent a broad swath of political and economic views. Among us are Republicans and Democrats alike. Some of us favor free markets while others have championed for a larger role for government in the economy. But on some issues there is near universal agreement. One such issue concerns the broad economic benefit that immigrants to this country bring.”

How Police Entanglement with Immigration Enforcement Puts LGBTQ Lives at Risk
Sharita Gruberg, Center for American Progress, April 12, 2017
“In general, LGBTQ people have high levels of contact with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. LGBTQ immigrants in particular already face increased rates of policing in the United States in addition to the threat of violence in their home countries if they are deported. President Trump’s orders increase the prospect of entanglement between law enforcement and immigration enforcement and therefore increase LGBTQ immigrants’ vulnerability to violence both in the United States—as a result of overpolicing and fear of reporting intimate partner and hate violence—and abroad through deportation.”

Don’t Let Texas Turn Local Police into Trump’s Deportation Force
LUPE, April 11, 2017
“All of our communities should be sanctuaries of safety, justice and due process. That means that we should all be able to feel confident reaching out to law enforcement in our time of need. Texas lawmakers are proposing SB4, which would erode trust between communities and police by forcing police into the business of deportations.”

Lawsuit Targets Trump’s Border Wall, Enforcement Program
Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva Joins Center for Biological Diversity in Suit Against DHS

Center for Biological Diversity, April 12, 2017
“The Center for Biological Diversity and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, who serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, today sued the Trump administration over the proposed border wall and other border security measures, calling on federal agencies to conduct an in-depth investigation of the proposal’s environmental impacts.”

Rethinking Reentry: Prosecution, Defense, and Human Rights Perspectives
Penn State Law, April 21, 2017
“Join the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic for a discussion on prosecuting noncitizens for illegal entry and reentry under 8 U.S.C. §§ 1325-1326.”

During Border Visit, Sessions Outlines Immigration Plan
Astrid Galvan, Associated Press, ABC News, April 11, 2017
“The nation’s top law enforcement official outlined a series of changes that he said mark the start of a new push to rid American cities and the border of what he described as “filth” brought on by drug cartels and criminal organizations.”

Jeff Sessions Announces a New Crackdown on Immigrants and “Filth”
Bryan Schatz, Mother Jones, April 11, 2017
“‘For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country,’ Sessions said, ‘be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era.’”

How Donald Trump Came to Love NATO
Ryan Browne, CNN Politics, April 13, 2017
“President Donald Trump emphatically embraced NATO Wednesday in a reversal of his campaign trail rhetoric lambasting the organization.”

Mexico Sees Swift Nafta Rewrite as Trump Eases Rhetoric
Nacha Cattan, Charlie Devereux, Erik Schatzker, Bloomberg, April 7, 2017
“Mexico’s top trade negotiator said he was heartened by a retreat from more protectionist rhetoric in the U.S. and that talks to redo the North American Free Trade Agreement may conclude as soon as January.”

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*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.