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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for April 4, 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).

This week’s MNB focuses on updates on the U.S. immigration and refugee policies as well as top issues of migration in Mexico and Central America (articles in English and Spanish). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs: ebuckhout@lawg.org.


U.S. Immigration Enforcement

Kelly Says DHS Won’t Separate Families at the Border
Tal Kopan, CNN, March 29, 2017
“US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on Wednesday assured Senate Democrats he doesn’t intend to separate mothers and children at the border — apparently walking back an earlier statement he made that such a policy could deter people from entering the country illegally.”

Wary Democrats Look to Kelly for Answers on Immigration
Ted Hesson and Seung Min Kim, Politico, March 29, 2017
“Senate Democrats met with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday to seek reassurances that there would be boundaries to President Donald Trump’s plan to intensify immigration enforcement.”

Migrant Misery: U.S. Incarcerating Immigrants and Abusing Asylum Seekers
Yuram Abdullah Weiler, American Herald Tribune, March 30, 2017
“The United States, the singular superpower whose self- proclaimed exceptionalism is well known, is also exceptional for its gargantuan immigrant detention infrastructure, which is the largest in the world.[2]  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) annually detains some 400,000 men, women and children in both public and privately operated for-profit prisons.  Moreover, the U.S. congress mandates that ICE maintains the capacity for 34,000 detainees.[3]”

How to Stir up a Refugee Crisis in Five Steps, Trump Style
Madeleine Penman, Inter Press Service, March 29, 2017
“What we recently witnessed along the border, however, is increasing confusion and utter fear. As many advocates described it “the quiet before the storm”. This is not a new situation, things have been building up in the area but they are likely to get devastatingly worse.”

Number Of Refugees Resettled In U.S. Has Skyrocketed Since Trump’s Ban Struck Down
Willa Frej, The Huffington Post, March 29, 2017
“The number of refugees being resettled in the U.S. has shot up ever since a federal court struck down portions of President Donald Trump’s second executive order on immigration earlier this month. While this has allowed many to breathe a sigh of relief, it’s placing serious strain on the organizations responsible for bringing refugees to America and helping them resettle.”

13 States Urge Appeals Court to OK Trump Travel Ban
Alanna Richer, The Washington Post, March 27, 2017
“A group of 12 state attorneys general and one governor is backing President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban targeting six predominantly Muslim countries, telling a federal appeals court Monday that the Republican acted lawfully in the interest of national security.”

Justice Department Appeals Hawaii Judge’s Ruling on Revised Travel Ban

Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2017
“The Justice Department on Thursday formally appealed a Hawaii judge’s ruling that blocked President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration and refugees, the latest chapter in a legal battle playing out in courts across the U.S.”

Trump Administration Reopens H-1B Program, With a Twist
Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2017
“The federal government on Monday began accepting visa applications for a fresh round of high-skilled foreign workers, without the wholesale changes President Donald Trump promised in his campaign. His administration did, though, announce one shift that could put pressure on outsourcing companies that typically win a large share of the coveted visas.”

Homeland Security Announces Steps Against H1B Visa Fraud
Reuters, The New York Times, April 3, 2017
“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced steps on Monday to prevent the fraudulent use of H1B visas, used by employers to bring in specialized foreign workers temporarily, which appeared to fall short of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to overhaul the program.”

The U.S. Immigration Debate
Danielle Renwick, and Brianna Lee, Council on Foreign Relations, March 28, 2017
“Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on comprehensive immigration reform for years, effectively moving some major policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government, and fueling debate in the halls of state and municipal governments. Meanwhile, the fates of an estimated eleven million undocumented immigrants in the country, as well as rules for legal immigration, lie in the balance.”

U.S. Interior Enforcement, Sanctuary Cities

Trump Team Still Hasn’t Defined Those ‘Sanctuary Cities’ That It Plans To Quash
Elise Foley, The Huffington Post, March 29, 2017
“On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated a threat to deny certain funds to sanctuary cities. On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released its second weekly report listing jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with immigration agents and the number of times they declined to honor ICE’s requests to hold individuals longer.”

U.S. Attorney General Escalates Pressure on ‘Sanctuary’ Cities
Reuters, The New York Times, March 27, 2017
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened on Monday to cut off U.S. Justice Department grants to cities that fail to assist federal immigration authorities, moving the Trump administration closer to a potential clash with leaders of America’s largest urban centers.”

Seattle Sues Trump Administration over Sanctuary City Ban
Reid Wilson, The Hill, March 30, 2017
“The city of Seattle has filed suit to clarify an executive order signed by President Trump that would end funding for so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration officials.”

Jeff Sessions’ Threat on Sanctuary Cities is Sadly Misguided
The Denver Post Editorial Board,The Denver Post, March 28, 2017
“Sessions gave it a shot. He threatened to strip additional money from cities that don’t follow Trump’s executive order of two months ago regarding illegal immigration. But in doing so, Sessions should have taken more care with the facts.”

Sanctuary Churches: Who Controls The Story?
NPR, March 29, 2017
“Code Switch’s Adrian Florido has been covering the new sanctuary movement for us. For this episode, he spoke to key players to understand why hundreds of churches are ready to start a public fight with the current administration to prevent deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.”

U.S. Sanctuary Cities Weigh Response to Trump’s Threat to Curb Funding
Reuters, The New York Times, March 28, 2017
“Officials from so-called sanctuary cities met in New York on Tuesday to discuss their response to threats from the Trump administration to cut off some funding to cities and states that fail to assist federal authorities in arresting illegal immigrants.”

Trump Publishes List of Alleged Crimes by Immigrants: the Majority are Latinos Who Haven’t Been Convicted
Damià S. Bonmatí, Jorge Cancino, Univision News, March 20, 2017
“Nearly 70 percent of the immigrants on the list are from Mexico. More than 95 percent are from Latin American countries, according to a Univision analysis of the data. After Mexico, Honduras is the most frequent country of origin. The immigration status of detainees is not listed.”

Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Policies Are Scaring Eligible Families Away From the Safety Net
Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic, March 24, 2017
“Still, in New York and across the country, a climate of fear—sparked by Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, a series of highly public raids, and a draft executive order that would push families off of means-tested benefit programs—has spooked some untold number of families away from the safety net.”

Deportation Fears Prompt Immigrants To Cancel Food Stamps
Pam Fessler, NPR, March 28, 2017
“Groups that help low-income families get food assistance are alarmed by a recent drop in the number of immigrants seeking help. Some families are even canceling their food stamps and other government benefits, for fear that receiving them will affect their immigration status or lead to deportation. Many of the concerns appear to be unfounded but have been fueled by the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration.”

The Latest: Activists Call for Transparency in ICE Shooting
Associated Press, The Washington Post, March 28, 2017
“Chicago activists and residents are calling for more transparency as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigates an officer-involved shooting that left a man wounded.”

ICE Detainee Dies 6 Days After Attempting Suicide At Adelanto Facility
Julia Wick, LAIST, March 28, 2017
“The privately-owned Adelanto Detention Facility is run, like many other immigrant detention facilities, by GEO Group, the nation’s second largest for-profit prison operator. ICE contracts with the city of Adelanto for the space, and the city of Adelanto contracts with Geo Group to run it, according to KPCC. Adelanto is the largest immigrant detention center in California, with a population approaching 2000 people.

The Latest: High Court Weighs Deportation Case
Associated Press, The Washington Post, March 28, 2017
“The Supreme Court is trying to figure out whether immigrants should get a second chance in court when bad legal advice leads to a guilty plea and certain deportation.”

Immigration Agents Shoot Chicago Man During Raid, Reportedly Acknowledge They Targeted Wrong Person
Chris Sommerfeldt, Daily News, March 28, 2017
“A Chicago man was shot after immigration agents stormed into a house on the city’s northwest side Monday morning — and officials have acknowledged that the wounded man was not the person they were looking for, according to reports.”

ICE Rounds Up 26 Parolees Showing Up for Court-Ordered Community Service
Jorge Rivas, Fusion, March 27, 2017
“Immigration officials in Texas arrested 26 undocumented immigrants on Sunday who were showing up to a job site to perform their court-ordered community service hours.”

‘They’ve Survived Untold Horrors’: Undocumented Teens Don’t Deserve to be Demonized
Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post, March 27, 2017
“In country with a growing compassion deficit, plenty of people resent these kids, demonizing them along with other undocumented immigrants. But I wish those folks got to spend the time with them that I did. They’re funny, vulnerable, hard-working and stunningly resilient.”

U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement

This Man Has Tried Crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border 5 Times. He says He Won’t Try Again
Joshua Barajas, PBS, March 28, 2017
“One sign says: ‘Tengo derecho a vivir una vida libre de violencia,’ which nods to the surges of Central American migrants fleeing crime and violence in their home countries. The sign is also meant as a reminder to those who experienced mistreatment at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol.”

Throwing Money at the Wall: An Overview of the Trump Administration’s Border Wall Funding Requests
Adam Isacson, WOLA, March 31, 2017
“We’re now about 70 days into the Trump administration, and reality is beginning to set in about one of the new President’s signature campaign promises: a “big, beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Border Wall on Back Burner
Ted Hesson, Politico, March 29, 2017
“It isn’t just Mexico that doesn’t want to pay for President Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” on the southern border. House and Senate committees are racing to assemble a supplemental spending bill for fiscal year 2017. The final vote needs to take place before April 28 to prevent a government shutdown.”

White House Signals It Can Live Without Border Wall Funds
Jordan Fabian, The Hill, March 29, 2017
“The White House indicated Wednesday that President Trump could go along with a government funding bill that does not include money to begin building his proposed wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Border Agents Beat an Undocumented Immigrant to Death. The U.S. is Paying His Family $1 million.
Cleve R. Watson, The Washington Post, March 28, 2017

“The story of Hernandez’s 2010 death at the Tijuana-San Diego border, backed up by the video on that card, exemplified the brutality of the law enforcement officers who patrolled the border and the impunity with which they act, advocates for Border Patrol reform say.”

Native Tribe Fear Trump’s Mexico Wall Will Divide Them
AFP, The Daily Mail, March 28, 2017
“On the baked sands of northern Mexico, barefoot tribeswomen chant and dance in clouds of incense, calling on the eagle to save them from US President Donald Trump’s border wall.”

The Mérida Initiative and Shared Responsibility in U.S-Mexico Security Relations
Eric L. Olson, The Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2017
“By looking at the bilateral security relationship in its most recent historical context and seeing how it has evolved beyond the original “Mérida Initiative” set out by Presidents George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, it is possible to see a number of options for building on and improving this relationship.”

Mexican Companies Aiming to Work on Trump’s Border Wall Get Criticized
Dudley Althaus, The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2017
“The Trump administration’s plan to build a wall along the U.S. southern border has sparked an outcry here—and a warning to Mexican businesses that might consider profiting from the venture, as a deadline to submit initial bids approaches.”

Don’t Throw Away the U.S.-Mexico Defense Relationship
Craig Deare, The Washington Post, March 29, 2017
“In a world with increasingly aggressive state and non-state actors (including terrorist organizations) with ill intent against the United States, a neighbor and partner that prefers strong ties with us (as opposed to Chinese or Russian military establishments) clearly should be the preferred option for any U.S. administration.”

Root Causes, Country Conditions

San Salvador Aparece Como La Ciudad Más Violenta Del Mundo
Lourdes Quintanilla, La Prensa Grafica, 3 de abril de 2017
“El Salvador apareció de nuevo en el número uno de los países más peligrosos por la frecuencia de los homicidios durante 2016, de acuerdo con el artículo que publicó la revista The Economist con datos del brasileño Igarapé Institute. Igual que el promedio nacional, San Salvador es la ciudad considerada más violenta en el mundo, siempre por los homicidios”

The World’s Most Dangerous Cities
The Data Team, The Economist, March 31, 2017
“The cities with the highest homicide rates are once again nearly all in Latin America”

OAS Commission Holds Hearing on Anti-LGBT Violence in El Salvador
Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade, March 27, 2017
“Bianka Rodríguez of Comunicado y Capacitando a Mujeres Trans, a Salvadoran advocacy group known by the acronym COMCAVIS, told commissioners during the March 21 hearing in D.C. that at least 600 people have been victims of hate crimes based on their sexual orientation or gender identity since 2004.”

Mexico: Priest Receives Death Threats for Human Rights Work
Vickie Knox, ICN, March 28, 2017
“Fr Solalinde is well known for his work defending migrants and refugees in Mexico. He runs several migrant shelters providing food, accommodation and medical care, as well as human rights advice and support in applying for asylum or reporting crimes. He also advocates for migrant rights and human rights throughout Mexico and has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work.”

Los combates: La “guerra contra las drogas” de Felipe Calderón
Alejandro Madrazo Lajous, Jorge Javier Romero Vadillo, Rebeca Calzada Olvera, Nexos, 26 de marzo de 2017
“Los autores revisan aquí la actuación de las fuerzas del Estado durante los primeros años de la “guerra contra las drogas”. El análisis demuestra que la estrategia contra el crimen organizado constó de prácticas institucionales poco o nada controladas, y fue agresiva, improvisada, crecientemente letal. Con datos de la Base CIDE-PPD, este ensayo demuestra que los resultados fueron catastróficos, tanto para la seguridad como para los derechos humanos”

Mexican State Attorney General Arrested at U.S. Border in San Diego on Drug Trafficking
Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2017
“Federal agents in San Diego have arrested the attorney general for the Mexican state of Nayarit on charges that he conspired to smuggle heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine into the U.S”

Mexican Judge Is Suspended after Controversial Ruling in Sexual Assault Case
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2017
“On Monday, Gonzalez issued a verdict in which he said the 22-year-old defendant, Diego Cruz Alonso, should be freed because although Cruz touched the victim without her consent, he did not enjoy himself and did so without “lascivious intent.”
The ruling was widely criticized in Mexico, where many held it up as an example of the country’s failure to deliver justice in cases of sexual assault and of the impunity of Mexico’s powerful elite.”

Presidencia busca una nueva ley que permita a los criminales de guerra evitar la cárcel
Nelson Rauda Zablah, El Faro, 26 de marzo de 2017
“El proyecto de ley que el gobierno alista para sustituir la derogada Ley de Amnistía busca alternativas a la persecución penal y condenas de cárcel para los victimarios de la guerra civil salvadoreña. La Presidencia se asesora de una experta colombiana en ‘justicia transicional’. Arena celebra la iniciativa del primer gobierno de izquierdas. Las víctimas exigen justicia, reparación y verdad.”

Actions and Resources

Family Separation Sign-on Letter
Women’s Refugee Commission, March 22, 2017

Getting Off the Assembly Line: Overcoming Immigration Court Obstacles in Individual Cases
Immigration Collaborative, Appleseed Network, 2016

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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.