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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for August 2, 2018

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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.


•Elected officials in YOUR hometown. ACT for immigrants & refugees
Latin America Working Group, July 31, 2018

“Congress may be on summer break, but we are not backing off. Not when the fate of over a million immigrants and refugees continues to hang in the balance. That’s why we’re calling on YOU to use the congressional August lull to push even harder for the rights of these members of our communities.”

U.S. Enforcement

•Disagreements on child detentions could sink hopes for streamlined immigration courts
Kate Irby, McClatchy DC Bureau, August 1, 2018

“As Congress leaves for its summer recess, it leaves behind major disagreements over whether there should be limits on how long immigrant children can be held. While both sides want families to be together, Democrats favor solutions that don’t involve detention, or only short-term detention, while Republicans equate allowing parents to go free with their children before court dates to catch and release.”

•Worker at child immigration facility molested teen, police say
Associated Press, NBC News, August 2, 2018

“A worker at a nonprofit organization that houses immigrant children separated from their parents at the border has been booked on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl at one of its facilities in Phoenix, police said Wednesday.”

•The Trump administration is making plans to detain more immigrants in Texas. Here’s where they would be held.
Jolie McCullough and Chris Essig, The Texas Tribune, August 2, 2018

“Despite protests, several facilities have opened to hold more migrant adults and children this summer, and there are proposals that would nearly double the total number of beds at authorized centers. For family detention and child-only shelters, the capacity would nearly triple. The vast majority of the requested increase would hold children and families on two Texas military bases.”

•Migrant child died after release from detention, attorneys group alleges
Maria Saccheti, The Washington Post, August 1, 2018

“The American Immigration Lawyers Association said Wednesday that a migrant toddler died shortly after being released from an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Dilley, Tex.”

•How One Agency Built a Multimillion-Dollar Business in Migrant Children
Liz Robbins, The New York Times, July 31, 2018

“Despite a troubled history, Cayuga Centers has quietly become the largest provider of foster care for unaccompanied minors in federal government custody.”

•Migrant Detention Centers Are ‘Like a Summer Camp,’ Official Says at Hearing
Ron Nixon, The New York Times, July 31, 2018

“Matthew Albence, the acting No. 2 official at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, described family detention centers set up to shelter migrants as ‘more like a summer camp.These individuals have access to 24/7 food and water,’ Mr. Albence said. ‘They have educational opportunities. They have recreational opportunities, both structured as well as unstructured.’”

•Trump administration must stop giving psychotropic drugs to migrant children without consent, judge rules
Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, July 31, 2018

“A federal judge on Monday found that U.S. government officials have been giving psychotropic medication to migrant children at a Texas facility without first seeking the consent of their parents or guardians, in violation of state child welfare laws.”

•A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Sexually Abused in an Immigrant-Detention Center
Ari Honarvar, The Nation, July 27, 2018

“According to immigrant-rights advocates, a 6-year-old girl separated from her mother under the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy was sexually abused while at an Arizona detention facility run by Southwest Key Programs. The child was then made to sign a form acknowledging that she was told to maintain her distance from her alleged abuser, who is an older child being held at the same detention facility.”

•Mexican reporter and son released from immigration detention in Texas
Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune, July 26, 2018

“Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son Oscar spent seven months in federal detention. Their release comes a day before a court-ordered deadline for federal officials to turn over emails about why the two were detained.”

•Family separations: Surviving danger only to suffer trauma at the US border
Cady Voge, The Guardian, August 1, 2018

“‘I told him that I would always be with him. But when they separated us, my promise was broken,’ Carlos said. Nine months after entering the US, Aaron still stutters when he talks, and he refuses to speak to his father. ‘The relationship we had is broken, the trust we had is broken,’ Carlos says.”

•”I expected it to be a better place”
Jorge Ramos, Univision News, July 31, 2018

“From behind a window, Alexander saw his mother be taken away. ‘Her hands, feet and waist were in chains,’ the boy told me, the memory still painful. Soon he was put on an airplane with other boys and taken to a detention center for children in Chicago.”

•A Migrant Boy Rejoins His Mother, but He’s Not the Same
Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, July 31, 2018

“Before they were separated at the southwest border, Ana Carolina Fernandes’s 5-year-old son loved playing with the yellow, impish Minion characters from the ‘Despicable Me’ movies. Now his favorite game is patting down and shackling ‘migrants’ with plastic cuffs.”

•Top U.S. officials say they got no warning of family separation policy
Julia Ainsley, NBC News, July 31, 2018

“Top officials from key government agencies told a Senate committee Tuesday that they first learned of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which led to the separation of migrant children from their parents, when the Attorney General announced the policy publicly in April.”

•A Father and Son Were Finally Reunited. Later that Day, the Government Ripped Them Apart Again.
Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, July 29, 2018

“After more than 50 days apart, a migrant father known in legal documents as “F.G.,” was reunited with his 17-year-old son in Texas on Wednesday. Guards loaded them onto a bus, where they were told they would be taken to a shelter. But eight minutes down the road, the bus turned around. When they pulled back into the El Paso Service Processing Center, uniformed officials allegedly distributed forms for the parents on the bus to sign that meant they agreed to be deported with their children. When F.G. refused, he was removed from the bus and separated from his son a second time.”

•ICE agents pressured parents to be deported with their children — then separated them again when they refused
Dara Lind, Vox News, July 29, 2018

“A lawyer claims that several fathers have been separated from their children by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a second time, after the fathers refused to withdraw their children’s cases to stay in the US and allow the government to deport the family together. The fathers say that shortly after being reunited with their teenage children, they were presented with forms that gave them three ‘options’ for their families’ cases — with the option for deporting the child along with the parent already selected.”

•‘Deleted’ families: What went wrong with Trump’s family-separation effort
Nick Miroff, Amy Goldstein, and Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, July 28, 2018

“Customs and Border Protection databases had categories for ‘family units,’ and ‘unaccompanied alien children’ who arrive without parents. They did not have a distinct classification for more than 2,600 children who had been taken from their families and placed in government shelters. So agents came up with a new term: ‘deleted family units.’”

•Inside the Trump Administration’s Chaotic Effort to Reunite Migrant Families
Nour Malas and Alicia Caldwell, The Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2018

“For months, federal immigration officials along the 268-mile stretch of border that separates New Mexico and West Texas from Mexico had been testing a policy of separating migrant parents from their children. What they didn’t plan for was how to reunite them.”

•If Congress cares about ending family separation, why do they keep paying for it?
Kathryn Johnson, The Hill, July 27, 2018

“This week, the House Appropriations Committee voted to advance an appropriations bill that includes $17.8 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and $7.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These dramatic proposed funding increases – which combined are $4.1 billion more than last year’s funding – come amid massive public outcry against the separation of families at the border, detention of asylum seekers, rampant human rights violations by both agencies, and a cruel and sweeping crackdown on immigrants across the country.”

•‘I came back to life when I was reunited with them’
Angela Kocherga, Albuquerque Journal, July 27, 2018

“Concepción arrived at the airport with her three children Thursday morning, weary but relieved they were together again. ‘I felt like I came back to life when I was reunited with them,’ she told the Journal at El Paso International Airport.”

•The Family Reunification Deadline Passed. What’s Next for Separated Families?
Royce Murray, Immigration Impact, July 27, 2018

“The court-imposed deadline of July 26 for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reunite families separated at the southern border has passed. So far, over 1800 children have been released to their parents. However, the Trump administration has refused to reunite hundreds of others by excluding many families from the reunification process. It remains unclear how far the federal court will go to correct this and insist that all parents have an opportunity to see their children again.”

•Hundreds of migrant children remain in custody, though most separated families are reunited at court deadline
Nick Miroff and Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, July 26, 2018

“At the expiration of a court deadline to reunite migrant families separated during its ‘zero tolerance’ border crackdown, the Trump administration said Thursday that it has delivered 1,442 children to parents detained in immigration custody, and is on track to return all of those deemed eligible for reunification. But 711 children remain in government shelters because their parents have criminal records, their cases remain under review or the parents are no longer in the United States, officials said. They added that 431 parents of those children have been deported.”

•The Trump Administration Is Funneling Money From Health Programs to Fund Its Family Separation Policy
Melissa Cruz, Immigration Impact, July 23, 2018

“The financial ramifications of separating, detaining, and reuniting migrant children and their parents are steep—President Trump has burned through $40 million in HHS funds within the last two months. At least $17 million of that funding was pulled from the agency’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which provides financial resources and health care coverage for low-income individuals living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).”

•White House Weighs Another Reduction in Refugees Admitted to U.S.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times, August 1, 2018

“The White House is considering a second sharp reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States, picking up where President Trump left off in 2017 in scaling back a program intended to offer protection to the world’s most vulnerable people, according to two former government officials and another person familiar with the talks.”

•At US Ports of Entry, the Government Is Denying Asylum to Those Seeking Refuge
Astrid Dominguez and Mike Seifert, ACLU, July 31, 2018

“Good things don’t always come to those who wait. This is the harsh reality of asylum seekers who have recently reached our ports of entry and are turned back by U.S. officials, only to wait indefinitely for a chance at refuge in America that may never come.”

•Following Trump’s Immigration Crackdown, Migrants are Taking More Dangerous Routes into the U.S.
David Leffler, Pacific Standard, July 31, 2018

“The president continues to mold his anti-immigrant rhetoric into the most restrictive American border policy to date. Experts and advocates worry this double-down on deterrence will make 2018 an especially deadly year for migrants in search of refuge.”

•The “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Policy Is Driving Immigrants Into The Dangerous Desert
John Stanton, BuzzFeed News, July 30, 2018

“Everyone knows the dangers of the desert, and they’ve heard the stories of the hundreds of bodies that are found every year by human rights workers combing the desert just over the US border. But Romero said people still come, ‘expecting an opportunity to cross here that may not exist elsewhere.’”

•Pilot program brings asylum screening to San Ysidro port of entry
Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 29, 2018

“Asylum seekers at the San Ysidro port of entry may find out more quickly whether they’ll be allowed to pursue their cases in immigration court because of a new program being piloted at the border crossing. Through the program, people who are afraid to return to their home countries but do not have permission to enter the U.S. stay in the port’s temporary holding cells until officials decide whether their stories have a chance at winning in court. The screening process, known as a credible fear interview, is run by asylum officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

•When the government wrongly deports people, coming back to the US is almost impossible
Tiziana Rinaldi, PRI, July 26, 2018

“On Dec 30, 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that lower immigration courts had “erred” in adjudicating Cortez’s removal to Guatemala. He needed to be allowed to return to his family. But coming back to the US when the government wrongfully deports you is a tortuous if not impossible process. It can drown out even a preacher’s jubilance.”

•Court rules Trump order threatening to withhold funding from sanctuary cities is unconstitutional
Emily Birnbaum, The Hill, August 1, 2018

“A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that President Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold funding from so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ is unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press.”

Mexican Enforcement

•¿Qué se necesita para transformar la política migratoria?
José Knippen, SinEmbargo, July 31, 2018
“Sin duda es una buena noticia que el tema migratorio se vuelva una prioridad para el futuro Presidente de México. Desde los inicios de la campaña de MORENA hasta la fecha, e incluso en el reciente escrito del virtual Presidente López Obrador dirigido a Trump, la migración está a la par de otras prioridades nacionales, como el comercio y el desarrollo. Esto promete mucho, pero habría que ver si en realidad se busca una transformación profunda en la materia”.

•Migration Flow Increases in Mexico
Prensa Latina, July 30, 2018

“The flow of migrants transiting Mexico increased 36.3 percent from January to June compared to the same period of 2017, according to data from the Interior Ministry (SEGOB). The federal agency also reported an increase of 29.6 percent in the deportations of Mexicans from the United States.”

•Mexico Can’t Handle Your Tired, Poor, and Huddled Masses
Maya Averbuch, Foreign Policy, July 30, 2018

“What has received less attention, however, is whether Mexico, despite its emerging status as a destination for other migrants, is truly capable of receiving them. Once a country of transit, Mexico is already buckling under the demands of its new reality. Although its government had once styled itself as a progressive defender of refugees, some immigrants are discovering that the country isn’t nearly as welcoming to its neighbors in need as its rhetoric suggests.”

•Albazo de Videgaray: aceptar que México sea el filtro migratorio de EU
 J. Jesús Esquivel, Proceso, July 28, 2018

“El gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto estaría a punto darle una sorpresa a Andrés Manuel López Obrador: la firma del cuestionado acuerdo del Tercer País Seguro (TPS) con Estados Unidos”.

Root Causes

•Guatemala Arrests Mayan Activist Opposing Hydroelectric Plant
teleSUR, August 1, 2018

“Rogelio Cac, a Mayan Q’eqchi environmental activist opposing a hydroelectrical plant in Guatemala, was arrested on Monday after his community filed a complaint against the project in Pansamala.”

•Guatemala: Mayan Ixil Activist Juana Raymundo Murdered
teleSUR, July 31, 2018

“The murder of Juana Raymundo, a 25-year-old Mayan Ixil nurse and activist, has sparked outrage in Guatemala as social movements are being criminalized and leaders threatened and murdered.”

•100 Women: Playing mother to El Salvador’s gang children
Bryan Avelar, BBC News, August 1, 2018

“It is often the women in El Salvador’s communities who bear the brunt of the threats and violence these gangs bring – and now the gangs have found a new way to intimidate and control them. An unexpected knock at the door turned Damary into a new mother, instantaneously.”

•Mexico Organized Crime-Related Executions Hit Record High: Report
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, July 26, 2018

“A record 11,241 executions linked to organized crime groups in Mexico were recorded during the first six months of 2018, an average of more than 60 per day and a 28 percent increase from the same period last year.”

•Rising suicides in Mexico expose the mental health toll of living with extreme, chronic violence
Cecilia Farfán-Méndez, The Conversation, August 2, 2018

“In places where the violence has been highly concentrated, residents have spent the past decade taking precautions, coping with fear and processing tragedy. Now, new data from the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua reveals the dangerous mental health toll of living with extreme, chronic violence: suicides.”

•Trump says Mexico’s violence is a threat to the U.S. Here are 3 ways the U.S. helps drive that violence
Katie Linthicum, The New York Times, August 1, 2018

“Although factors within Mexico fuel much of the violence, the U.S. is helping drive Mexico’s rising homicide rates as well.”

•Defendamos a quienes defienden la tierra
Rubén Albarrán, The New York Times, July 31, 2018

“La vida de los activistas que luchan por la conservación de las selvas, reservas y comunidades indígenas, está en riesgo permanente. Y cada vez más”.

•El Salvador: Tackling Impunity Past and Present
Anna Egas and Michael Camilleri, The Inter-American Dialogue, July 27, 2018

“In the two years since the repeal of the amnesty law, El Salvador has taken tentative steps towards establishing accountability for the atrocities of the civil war. Are these nascent advances in transitional justice threatening political stability and exacerbating present-day challenges as critics feared? Alternatively, could seeking accountability for past abuses facilitate efforts to tackle widespread impunity for contemporary crimes?”

•Manuel Zelaya denuncia ante comisión de la CIDH el estado de impunidad y ausencia de institucionalidad que vive Honduras
Criterio.hn, July 29, 2018

“El expresidente de Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, entregó una carta a la misión de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) que está de visita en Honduras, donde dio a conocer la grave situación que vive Honduras en la violación de los derechos humanos y la impunidad”.

•Jueza deja libres a los acusados en el caso Pandora
El Pulso, July 28, 2018

“La jueza Lidia Álvarez Sagastume dictó en la madrugada del sábado un auto de formal procesamiento contra 26 de los 29 implicados en el caso Pandora, únicamente Jacobo Regalado continuará en prisión”.

•US State Dept to Create Central America Corruption ‘Blacklist’
Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, July 27, 2018

“On July 26, the US House and Senate approved a bill that will require the Secretary of State to share the identities of government officials in Central America’s Northern Triangle countries who are involved in corruption and drug trafficking with Congress.”

•Nicaragua rails against OAS special commission to probe unrest
EFE, July 31, 2018

“Nicaragua on Monday strongly rejected a proposal by eight member countries of the Organisation of American States, including the United States, to establish a special commission to investigate the ongoing political crisis gripping the central American nation.”

•UNHCR steps up its response as thousands flee violence in Nicaragua
UNHCR, July 31, 2018

“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for international solidarity and support for Costa Rica and other countries hosting Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers, as thousands of Nicaraguans flee mounting political tensions, violence and serious human rights violations in their country.”

•Flujo de nicaragüenses a Honduras crece en 24% en primer semestre
Ronald Ordonez, Departamento 19, July 31, 2018

“El flujo de nicaragüenses hacia Honduras se ha disparado en 24 %, en lo que va de 2018, en relación al año anterior, reflejan las cifras proporcionadas por el estatal Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM)”.

•’If I go back they’ll kill me’: Nicaraguan dissenters flee south to survive
Tom Phillips, The Guardian, July 30, 2018

“‘It’s terrifying because you know they are tracking you … every footstep, every little noise, every branch, every tree – you think it’s the army and they’re going to grab you … you’re a fugitive,’ said Pineda, 54, who bolted after receiving death threats for treating the victims of Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on protesters and denouncing those killings.”

•Nicaragua rights group urges Ortega to disband paramilitaries
MSN, July 27, 2018

“A rights group in Nicaragua on Thursday called on President Daniel Ortega to disband paramilitary groups accused of killing, torturing and kidnapping anti-government protesters. The head of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, Alvaro Leiva, told a news conference that if Ortega wanted to prove his assertion that the paramilitaries were not under government control, ‘he should step up to guarantee citizens’ right to security.’”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

•U.S. Immigration Policy under Trump: Deep Changes and Lasting Impacts
Sarah Pierce, Jessica Bolter, and Andrew Selee, Migration Policy Institute, July 2018

“This report examines the wide range of changes the Trump administration has set in motion, from enhanced enforcement measures and new application vetting requirements, to cuts in refugee admissions and the scaling back of temporary protections for some noncitizens.”

•“Come Back Later”: Challenges for Asylum Seekers Waiting at Ports of Entry
Adam Isacson, Maureen Meyer, and Adeline Hite, WOLA, August 2, 2018

“Less scrutiny has been given to the inefficient and technically illegal practices occurring at ports of entry across the border. Officials at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been on the offensive in delaying and preventing the processing of families seeking to petition for asylum.”

•The Trump Zero Tolerance Policy: A Cruel Approach with Humane and Viable Alternatives
Refugees International, July 31, 2018

“In light of both the enormous human and other costs of current practices – not to mention their failure to achieve immigration control objectives – it is incumbent upon policymakers to consider alternatives to detention. There may be no single alternative that, by itself, will achieve critical human rights and enforcement goals, but there is powerful evidence indicating that a combination of alternatives could provide far greater possibilities to do so than current efforts of the Trump administration.”

•Separated: Children at the Border
Frontline, July 31, 2018

“The inside story of what happened to immigrant children separated from their parents at the border. The film explores the impact of the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance policy, and how both Trump and Obama dealt with minors at the border.”

*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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