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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for April 18, 2018

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Source: Gabriella Demczuk

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.

U.S. Enforcement

Why Neil Gorsuch just voted with the Supreme Court’s liberals on an immigration case
Dara Lind, Vox, April 17, 2018
“In the case Sessions v. Dimaya, the Court struck down a provision of federal law that allows the federal government to deport legal immigrants — including green card holders — for committing a crime that isn’t specifically named in law but that the government considers a ‘crime of violence.’”

DHS says post-quake Haiti has made ‘significant progress.’ But TPS report says otherwise
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, April 16, 2018
“The report paints a much starker picture of the dire conditions most Haitians currently enrolled in TPS will have to face once the designation terminates in July 2019. DHS estimates that about 40,000 Haitians are enrolled in TPS, which was granted by the Obama administration after the earthquake in order for Haitians to live and work legally in the United States. The report points out that Haiti’s recovery has been affected by a series of challenges. As of August 2017, the country continued ‘to be affected by a convergence of humanitarian needs including food insecurity, internal displacement, an influx of returnees from the Dominican Republic, the persistence of cholera and the lingering impact of various natural disasters.’”

Who Polices the Immigration Police?
Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff, ProPublica, April 16, 2018
“The conduct of arresting officers is rarely scrutinized in the overwhelmed immigration courts, which focus squarely on whether arrested individuals should be removed from the United States. While deportation proceedings are civil, they afford immigrants fewer rights than criminal defendants to challenge their apprehensions.”

How Trump Moved the Mexican Border North
Emily Gogolak, Politico, April 13, 2018  
“The 100-mile border zone exists along all edges of the U.S., but nowhere is the border as tense as it is in Texas. It’s the only state in the country to maintain its own security force on the border. In recent legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers budgeted more than $2 billion for the effort. Meanwhile, the number of federal Border Patrol agents in Texas from 2000 to 2015 has already more than doubled. Their trucks are parked off highways and back roads, the agents scanning the brush that’s a few shades lighter than their green uniforms. Last summer, a Border Patrol agent took me to a stretch of the river to see the hulking black gun boats manned by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Two vessels marked ‘Texas Highway Patrol’ were docked, both armed with four machine guns. When we were walking back to his truck, the Border Patrol agent said, ‘We’d like to see the same go to the interior.’”

Justice Dept. Can’t Tie Police Funding to Help on Immigration, Judge Rules
Jennifer Medina, The New York Times, April 12, 2018
“The Justice Department cannot require that local police departments help immigration agents in order to receive federal funding, a federal judge has ruled. The ruling is a significant victory for local governments that have opposed the Trump administration’s stance on immigration and vowed to stay out of enforcement efforts.”

No Sanctuary
Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff, The Inquirer, April 12, 2018
“Together, these cases paint the picture of an ICE region emboldened by a new commander-in-chief to disregard previous norms that distinguished among undocumented immigrants based on their family ties, work records, and conduct in this country. They reflect an organization that valued high arrest numbers and sometimes skirted the law, with little accountability in a system that rarely scrutinizes arrests.”

‘A new sheriff in town’: As Trump rages about Justice Dept., Sessions praises the president in immigration speech
Robert Moore and Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post, April 11, 2018
“He suggested that asylum seekers could go to ‘some other place’ in the countries from which they are fleeing, rather than come to the United States. He criticized local policies that hinder the deportation of people charged with crimes as “insane” and pointed to what he sees as problems with U.S. immigration laws.”

ICE Accused of Targeting Immigrant Spouses of Citizens
Zack Huffman, Courthouse News, April 11, 2018
“Joined by attorneys at WilmerHale, the ACLU held a press conference this morning to announce the filing of an amended suit in Boston on behalf of several couples where immigrants who are vying to obtain legal status through marriage have either been detained by immigration enforcement agents or fear that they will soon be.”

Detained, Then Violated
Alice Speri, The Intercept, April 11, 2018
Many other women and men held in immigration detention across the country reported routine searches that turned into groping and fondling. Many said they were propositioned, subjected to suggestive stares and sexual innuendo, and threatened with retaliation if they spoke up. Many said officers shrugged when they reported abuse by fellow detainees.

DHS secretary clarifies circumstances for separating immigrant families
Tal Kopan, CNN, April 11, 2018
“Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday… there is no policy that encourages the separation of parents from their children as a punitive or deterrence measure — and it happens only when there is doubt about whether an adult may really be a parent or legal guardian of the child they’re with or when the child might be in danger.”

Watchdog to investigate DHS family separations in immigration custody
WTVR, April 16, 2018
“The inspector general will look into whether the agency is separating the children of asylum seekers from their parents, the letter says… The review comes after Durbin led a coalition of Democrats in requesting the IG look into the matter…”

GOP lawmaker says he has enough support to force immigration votes
Scott Wong and Rafael Bernal, The Hill, April 10, 2018

“Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) told The Hill that he has secured support from more than 40 House Republicans on a resolution that would allow debate and votes on four separate immigration proposals. The four bills that would be considered are the conservative bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); a Democratic measure that would be the Dream Act; a bill offered by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would mirror President Trump’s immigration plan; and the bipartisan USA Act, a narrow bill limited to border security measures and protecting so-called Dreamers.”

Pope Francis Puts Caring for Migrants and Opposing Abortion on Equal Footing
Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, April 9, 2018

“Pushing back against conservative critics within the church who argue that the 81-year-old pope’s focus on social issues has led him to lose sight of the true doctrine, Pope Francis again cast himself, and the mission of the Roman Catholic Church, in a more progressive light. ‘The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist,’ Pope Francis wrote in an apostolic exhortation on the subject of holiness issued Monday morning. ‘Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.’”

Immigration raid takes 97 into custody at Tennessee plant
Associated Press, WHNT 19 News, April 7, 2018

“A federal immigration raid that took 97 people into custody at a Tennessee meat processing plant may be the biggest employment crackdown under President Donald Trump’s administration, civil rights activists said Friday. Eleven people were arrested on criminal charges and 86 were detained for being in the country illegally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Tammy Spicer said in a statement Friday. The Thursday raid on Southeastern Provision, a meat processing plant in Bean Station in eastern Tennessee, is the largest single worksite immigration enforcement action since the administration of President George W. Bush, said Jessie Hahn, labor and employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.”

Despliega Texas 250 soldados en frontera con México
EFE, Excelsior, 7 de abril de 2018

“La Guardia Nacional del Ejército de Texas dijo que 250 guardias junto con aviones, vehículos y equipos de vigilancia serían desplegados a lo largo de la frontera del estado con México en las próximas 72 horas. Los detalles exactos de la misión, incluida la cantidad total de tropas que se desplegarán y el costo, aún no se han determinado, dijo la brigadier general Tracy Norris, comandante de la Guardia Nacional del Ejército de Texas, en una conferencia de prensa… Cerca de 100 miembros del Departamento Militar de Texas están asignados actualmente en un rol de ‘observar e informar’, señaló Norris”.

Militarización de la frontera
Raúl Contreras Bustamante, Excelsior, 7 de abril de 2018
“Militarizar la frontera es una violación a los principios del Derecho Internacional Público que se encuentran contenidos en la Carta de Naciones Unidas y, con ello, enrarece las relaciones y la cooperación internacional entre los dos pueblos. Lo peor es que no solucionará el problema y sólo conseguirá que los migrantes y narcotraficantes busquen rutas cada día más peligrosas, así como fomentar la corrupción e inseguridad dentro de ambas naciones”.

Sessions orders ‘zero tolerance’ policy to prosecute migrants at border
Lomi Kriel, Houston Chronicle, April 7, 2018

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday ordered federal prosecutors along the southern border to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy and criminally charge all immigrants caught entering the country illegally… Criminally prosecuting migrants allows the government to detain them in federal prisons, where there is more capacity than immigrant detention centers, before deporting them after they have served their sentence. It also enables the administration to separate families, as children cannot be held in prison, necessitating their placement in foster care and allowing the government to hold parents until they are deported.”

How Central American migrant caravan grew so big and unintentionally may have backfired
Daniel González, azcentral, April 7, 2018

“I expected (the caravan) to be bigger,” but not this big, said Alex Mensing, an organizer with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the group that has organized annual migrant caravans including this year’s. ‘The percentage of Hondurans is way higher. It’s been like 75 or 80 percent. … That is way higher than it’s ever been.’ The size of the group caught organizers off-guard, and triggered a negative reaction from the United States far bigger than any the organizers expected, even from a president already well-known for his hard-line stance on immigration and promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Texas Begins Sending National Guard Troops to Mexican Border
Dave Montgomery and Manny Fernandez, The New York Times, April 6, 2018

“Even as Mr. Trump announced his mobilization this week, the Texas National Guard already had about 100 troops at the border, as part of a state border-security operation that began in 2014. Texas officials dispatched 1,000 National Guard troops to the border because they said drug cartels were taking advantage of the federal government’s focus on the tens of thousands of Central Americans flooding the border at the time. The deployment was meant to ‘help combat the brutal Mexican drug cartels that are preying upon our communities,’ Rick Perry, then the governor, said in 2014.”

When Soldiers Patrol the Border, Civilians Get Killed
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, April 6, 2018

“In the documentary about the case, the Marines involved in the shooting maintained that they had done what they were trained to do: kill the threat they had identified. The Marine Corps’s investigation took the JTF-6 mission to task on multiple fronts, but stopped short of helping a civilian court convict one of its men. The view seemed to be that the mission was bad, and it was tragedy, but tragedies happen in wars, and on a battlefield, you sometimes shoot people that shouldn’t have been shot — you don’t lock up your troops for it.”

USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), April 6, 2018

“USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.”

U.S. gathers data on migrants deep in Mexico, a sensitive program Trump’s rhetoric could put at risk
Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, April 6, 2018

“The United States government is expanding a program to capture the biometric data of tens of thousands of Central Americans and other migrants arrested in Mexico, gaining unprecedented access to Mexican immigration jails to identify criminals, gang members and potential terrorists long before they reach the border.”

Undocumented, Uninsured, Unafraid
Beatrix Hoffman, Dissent, Spring 2018
“The American public also needs to hear more about the negative effect of Trump’s immigration crackdown on the health of not just undocumented people, but also on their legal immigrant and citizen family members. We need to hear more about the positive effect programs that extend coverage to all can have on public health and government expenditures. Beyond the practical and public health considerations lie ethics, equity, and human rights: providers’ ethical obligation to care for those in need, the reality that immigrant exclusion disproportionately hurts working people of color, and the very definition of human rights as something that should extend beyond borders. Since the United States does not yet recognize the human right to healthcare beyond emergency care, this is a fight not just for immigrants, but for everyone.”

Mexican Enforcement

México reforzará su frontera sur con más elementos de la Gendarmería Nacional
Expansión, 10 de abril de 2018
“El gobierno mexicano anunció este martes que multiplicará el número de efectivos de la Gendarmería Nacional en la frontera sur para reforzar la seguridad pero con el compromiso de respetar los derechos humanos de inmigrantes centroamericanos que atraviesan el país rumbo a Estados Unidos”.

Reforzará México frontera sur, anuncia Segob
Jorge Monroy, El Economista, 10 de abril de 2018
“El gobernador Manuel Velasco, explicó: ‘vamos a reforzar la seguridad en la frontera sur con más elementos, pero privilegiando en todo momento, un trato digno, un trato humano hacia nuestros hermanos migrantes que cruzan día con día por nuestro territorio. Vamos a seguir implementando una estrategia fortalecida con la Secretaría de Gobernación en los albergues para las niñas, las mujeres migrantes, y para los migrantes que vienen de Centroamérica en estos momentos’”.

Mexico puts U.S. ties under review as Trump stirs new tensions
Dave Graham, Reuters, April 10, 2018

“Mexico said on Monday it will review all forms of cooperation with the United States, including efforts to combat powerful drug cartels, in a sign of mounting frustration over President Donald Trump’s antagonistic attitude toward the country.”

Trump’s Attacks on Migrant Caravan Underscore How the U.S. Outsources Immigration Enforcement to Mexico
Jose Olivares, The Intercept, April 5, 2018

“The dueling statements capture the president’s volatility, but also speak to the dynamics that underlie U.S. immigration policy. Though the American right uses Mexico as a foil in its attacks on immigration, Mexico has, for years, been taking action to stop migration. And these measures can be seen as part of a successful bid by the U.S. to outsource immigration enforcement to its southern neighbor. The Mexican government — replete with a history of human rights violations — is staunching migrant flows before they even approach the U.S. border.”

Denuncian la desaparición de 200 migrantes de caravana tras redadas del INM
Gabriela Hernández, Proceso, 7 de abril de 2018
“Integrantes de la Caravana Viacrucis del Migrante denunciaron aquí que más de 200 centroamericanos que participaban en esta movilización están desaparecidos luego que tuvieron que dispersarse en la localidad de El Encinal, Veracruz, a causa de redadas migratorias que lanzó en su contra el gobierno del Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto”.

México otorga 600 permisos a la Caravana Migrante
Roelta Chaca, El Universal, 5 de abril de 2018
“El cambio de planes se debe a que el gobierno mexicano, a través del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), entregó más de 600 permisos, que permiten a los centroamericanos transitar libremente por el territorio nacional hasta por 30 días. En el centro deportivo continúan al menos 400 mujeres y 300 niños, quienes buscarán abordar los autobuses del servicio público en Matías Romero, a partir de este jueves”.

Inconstitucional, la suspensión de plazos de la COMAR
Daniela Gutiérrez, Animal Político, 9 de abril de 2018
“Del referido Acuerdo se desprende que, derivado del sismo del 19 de septiembre, la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (COMAR) no cuenta con la capacidad operativa ni con las instalaciones necesarias para la realización de las entrevistas de elegibilidad y, por lo tanto, les resulta imposible emitir la resolución relativa a la solicitud en el plazo de 45 días hábiles que la Ley en la materia establece. Ambas etapas –la entrevista y la emisión de la resolución– son fundamentales para que el derecho a recibir protección internacional sea verdaderamente efectivo”.

Root Causes

Director PNC revela detalles de la desaparición y asesinato de Karla Turcios, periodista de Grupo LPG
Beatriz Mendoza y Moisés Alvarado, La Prensa Gráfica, 15 de abril de 2018
“La Policía Nacional Civil (PNC) confirmó que un cadáver encontrado ayer en Santa Rosa Guachipilin, en Santa Ana, pertenece a la periodista de ‘El Economista’, de Grupo LPG, Karla Lisseth Turcios, de 33 años. Había desaparecido desde el mediodía del sábado, según confirmaron sus familiares a este periódico”.

Leaders Beset by Graft Scandals to Talk Corruption at Regional Summit
James Bargent, InSight Crime, April 12, 2018
“Top government officials from around the region will assemble tomorrow in Peru for the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Eighth Summit of the Americas. However, amid the usual shows of grandiose statesmanship, this year will likely also see many uncomfortable conversions between nervous politicians — and perhaps a heavy dose of hypocrisy — thanks to the summit’s theme: ‘democratic governance against corruption.’ Corruption scandals in Latin America are developing at a frantic pace, and many of the governments represented at the summit are in precarious positions with multiple investigations eroding their credibility and the credibility of state institutions in general.”

197 environmental defenders have been killed in 2017
The Guardian, 2018
“Since the start of 2015, 145 land and environmental defenders have died in Brazil: the highest number on Earth. Many of the killings were of people trying to combat illegal logging in the Amazon. The Philippines comes second on the list, with 102 deaths in all. Honduras remains the most dangerous country to be a defender, with more killings per capita than anywhere else.”

Widespread killings of candidates cast shadow over Mexican elections
Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, April 10, 2018
“Authorities have confirmed the slayings of at least 30 candidates, according to Alfonso Navarrete, Mexico’s interior secretary. Some reports indicate the toll since last year may be almost twice as high. The killings — mostly of local candidates in provincial areas far from the Mexican capital — form a chilling backdrop to the July 1 elections, which include races for president, Congress and local posts across the country. In all, more than 3,000 offices are up for grabs, the most ever on a single day.”

Mexican marines admit helicopter fire killed 3 civilians
Mark Stevenson, The Washington Post, April 6, 2018
“Mexican marines accepted responsibility Friday for the deaths of three civilians killed when they drove through a running gun battle between marines and cartel gunmen in the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo in late March. The Navy said it accepted responsibility after a prosecution ballistics expert found evidence that gunfire from a helicopter supporting the marines in a confused series of pre-dawn gun battles killed a female passerby and her two children. One marine was also killed in the gun battles and 12 were wounded. Four gunmen also died.”

Actions, Reports & Resources

Statement for the Record: Hearing on “A ‘Caravan’ of Illegal Immigrants: A Test of U.S. Borders”
National Immigration Forum, April 12, 2018
“The majority of the Central American migrants travelling with the caravan through Mexico are women, children and seniors, who do not represent a threat to the U.S. Many of them plan to stay in Mexico, where the caravan has ended its journey. While a minority may continue the trek to the U.S.-Mexico border, they plan to apply for asylum and go through the lawful immigration process that is consistent with U.S. law. The National Immigration Forum believes that it is in our interest to let the asylum seekers, who reach the U.S. ports of entry and legally apply for asylum, to go through legal immigration process and allow those who meet the U.S. legal requirements settle and start new lives in America.”

FY 2019 Budget Hearing – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Homeland Security, April 12, 2018

Written testimony of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for a House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security, April 11, 2018
“The FY 2019 Budget request provides funding to advance core DHS missions. It sustains and strengthens our most critical programs and capabilities and places emphasis on protecting our nation from terrorism and countering threats; securing and managing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws; preserving and upholding the nation’s prosperity and economic security; securing cyberspace and critical infrastructure; and strengthening homeland security preparedness resilience. DHS will also build a culture of efficiency on the foundation of agency reform efforts to ensure accountable, effective, and efficient operations.”

Durbin, Dem Senators Press DHS IG To Investigate Allegations Of Separation Of Children From Asylum-Seeking Parents At U.S. Border
Office of Congressman Dick Durbin, March 22, 2018
“Following recent reports of the case of a seven-year-old girl and her mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who were separated for more than four months after they presented themselves at the U.S. border and sought protection in accordance with the law, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 23 of his Senate colleagues today pressed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Inspector General to investigate allegations that DHS is separating the children of asylum-seekers from their parents.”

*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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