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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for December 6, 2017

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A compilation of recent top articles and reports related to issues of U.S. immigration and enforcement policy and migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish). Please feel free to send us recommendations or requests for upcoming news briefs: lfolkerts@lawg.org.

Source: The Washington Post


Spotlight: Between a Wall and a Dangerous Place

Repression in Honduras as Citizens Protest Disputed Election
Lisa Haugaard, LAWG, December 4, 2017
“The government declared a ten-day state of siege on December 2…  At least 500 people were detained in the first two nights. Hondurans banged pots and pans from their homes to protest during the curfew. Many protests have been peaceful although there has been property damage and looting. Security forces are shooting and throwing tear gas at protesters and observers, including journalists and human rights activists.. Honduran police and military receive extensive U.S. assistance and training.”

Between a Wall and a Dangerous Place
LAWG, 2017
“The Latin America Working Group’s (LAWG) weekly series, “Between a Wall and a Dangerous Place,” discusses the intersection of human rights, migration, corruption, and public security in Honduras and El Salvador. The series shows how the dangers that propel children, teenagers, women, and men from those countries to seek refuge in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere have not ended. The blogs are based on interviews with activists, government officials, journalists, humanitarian workers, diplomats, and academics, and aim to present a more nuanced understanding of the root causes of emigration.”

U.S. Enforcement

U.S. Quits Migration Pact, Saying It Infringes on Sovereignty
Rick Gladstone, The New York Times, December 3, 2017
“The administration’s decision to renounce the talks on the agreement, the Global Compact on Migration, was announced in a statement Saturday night by the United States Mission to the United Nations, surprising migrant-rights advocates who called it shortsighted and counterproductive. Many said the decision appeared to reinforce what they called an atmosphere of renewed American isolationism and exceptionalism at the United Nations in the first year of the Trump White House.”

President Trump reached out to an ICE union chief over feud with Homan
Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, December 4, 2017
“Tensions spilled over in November when Trump nominated Homan to serve in the role permanently… The dispute pits two of Trump’s loyal supporters against each other — the union that endorsed him for president and the top ICE official who defends his hard-line views. It is erupting as the White House is urging Congress to significantly expand the agency.”

Ending refugee program for Central American youth may drive them to smugglers
Caitlin Dickson, Yahoo News, December 4, 2017
“Daniella Burgi-Palomino, a senior associate at the nonprofit Latin America Working Group, told Yahoo News that while it’s hard to predict whether eliminating CAM will create a resurgence of unaccompanied children over the border, one thing is clear: The deadly levels of violence and corruption that led so many young people to flee El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in 2014 have not abated.”

Trump’s border wall will not “make America great again”
Nazwa A. Khalid and Ryan Mace, Amnesty International, December 5, 2017
“The wall would also prevent those fleeing unimaginable violence and hardship from seeking protection at the U.S. border… If the wall is built, these women, children, and families — whom the U.S. has a legal obligation to protect — will face yet another barrier to safety and protection. Instead. they will find the United States’ doors closed.”

Detentions spike, border arrests fall in Trump’s first year
Elliot Spagat and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press, December 5, 2017
“Figures released by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday show Trump is delivering on his pledge to more strictly control immigration and suggest that would-be immigrants are getting the message to not even think about crossing the border illegally. Even as border crossings decline, however, Trump continues to push for his promised wall along the border — a wall that critics say is unnecessary and a waste of cash.”

Arrests along Mexico border drop sharply under Trump, new statistics show
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, December 5, 2017
“The sharp decline in illegal crossings only casts more doubt on the wisdom of building a border wall, said Doris Meissner, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank. “It’s a throwback response to yesterday’s problems,” she said, arguing that the money would be better spent addressing what accounts for a growing share of illegal migration: families with children fleeing rampant violence and dismal poverty in Central America.”

The Justice Department Goes To The Supreme Court To Keep DACA Documents Secret
Chris Geidner, Buzzfeed, December 1, 2017
“The Justice Department filed two requests at the Supreme Court late Friday, asking the justices to stop a lower court ruling that ordered the federal government to compile and turn over documents regarding the decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in a lawsuit challenging that decision. The Trump administration is pushing back against lower court orders that it says would force the Trump administration to turn over ‘deliberative and other privileged materials, including White House documents covered by executive privilege.’”

‘This is the moment’: Dreamers face make-or-break push on immigration fight with Trump
David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post, December 4, 2017
“This month, the dreamers face the biggest test yet of their political clout — a make-or-break moment in their long path to the precipice of becoming fully legalized residents. A loss would mean a devastating return to living in the shadows and the perpetual fear of being deported. President Trump, who ended the Obama-era deferred action program in September, has set a March 5 deadline for lawmakers to act before the bulk of the permits begin to expire at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day. Most on Capitol Hill said a deal must realistically be done before the end of December because a bipartisan agreement would become more difficult in a midterm election year.”

Man detained by ICE after speaking with news reporters
The Associated Press, December 3, 2017
“A Mexican man who spoke with reporters about his longtime girlfriend’s immigration arrest has now been detained himself, and he says agents told him it’s because he was in the newspaper… The family’s story was featured by the newspapers as examples of the effect of ramped-up deportation efforts under President Donald Trump, which include removing longtime residents with no apparent criminal records.”

The immigrants who saved America — and the rest of the free world
David N. Schwartz, The Washington Post, December 2, 2017
“When we turn away immigrants today, are we sending away men and women who might develop the cure to cancer or other diseases? Whose minds will create new technologies that could radically transform the way we live? … The 75th anniversary of the nuclear age reminds us that immigrants have played a critical role in our national life before — and can be expected to do so as long as we welcome them.”

Mexican Enforcement

La violencia en Centroamérica expulsa familias enteras hacia México
Claudia Altamirano, Animal Político, 6 de diciembre de 2017
“…México, como país de tránsito, ha participado en este ejercicio disuasivo estadounidense con un enfoque de seguridad y un escaso uso de sus mecanismos de protección a las personas migrantes. Esta intensificación del control migratorio en México y Estados Unidos, de acuerdo con el Instituto, ha dejado más vulnerables a las familias del TNC al aumentar el tráfico de personas, elevar sus costos y recrudecer la violencia contra los migrantes durante su tránsito y la detención”.

México ignora desapariciones y ejecuciones de migrantes en su territorio, pese a ser parte de Pacto Global para una Migración Segura: ONG’S
Redacción Revolución, Revolución 3.0, 4 de diciembre de 2017
“Además, sumaron que resulta preocupante que este pacto llegue a convertirse en un instrumento para respaldar y promover más deportaciones, separaciones familiares, detenciones migratorias, una mayor explotación laboral de las personas trabajadoras migrantes, así como la criminalización de la migración y de la defensa de los derechos humanos”.

Lamenta Videgaray retiro de EU del pacto migratorio
Javier Santos, La Jornada, 4 de diciembre de 2017
“La inauguración la realizó el secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, Luis Videgaray, quien lamentó en su mensaje el retiro de Estados Unidos, y señaló que seguirá trabajando, ya que esta es la segunda reunión en la que se efectuará un balance y se presentarán resultados. Destacó que Estados Unidos pierde la oportunidad de liderazgo y señaló que México seguirá trabajando en el principio fundamental del respeto a los Derechos Humanos”.

Root Causes

Want to limit migration? We can start by supporting democracy in Honduras.
Kendra McSweeney and Sarah Chayes, The Washington Post, December 4, 2017
“Hernandez’s tenure has been marred by egregious corruption, the hijacking of government institutions and brazen assassinations of environmental activists, who have exposed the systemic character of that corruption. Despite this track record, Washington — the Obama and Trump administrations alike — has bolstered Hernandez, applauding him as a trusted ally. He has proved deft at securing material and moral support in exchange for a degree of cooperation on two U.S. obsessions: narcotics trafficking and immigrant flows.”

De procesos electorales, mujeres invisibles y una lista de preguntas
El Pulso, 5 de diciembre de 2017
“Lo que se definirá a continuación una cuestión de negociaciones entre el poder. El poder tradicional, caudillista, vertical entre hombres. El pueblo, nosotras y nosotros, lamentablemente, nunca hemos tenido ni aspirado a ese tipo de poder, mucho menos las mujeres, los pueblos indígenas o garífunas, las personas discapacitadas, los y las pobres: la marginalidad del mundo. Siempre hemos estado por los bordes, alcanzado cuotas de poder quizás, pero no más que eso”.

Honduran Vote Recount Urged as Tally Shows President Is Ahead
Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, December 4, 2017
“The opposition, alleging fraud, has demanded recounts of almost a third of the tally sheets, as well as in three departments where sharply higher turnout was reported… As part a recount effort, Mr. Nasralla asked for the O.A.S. to audit the results based on the opposition’s paper copies of the tally sheets.”

Honduras: police refuse to obey government as post-election chaos deepens
Sarah Kinosian, The Guardian, December 4, 2017
“Honduran police have announced they will refuse to obey orders from the government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernández, and will remain in their barracks until a political crisis triggered by last Sunday’s contested presidential election has been resolved… Thousands protest in Honduras in chaos over contested presidential election. ‘We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,’ said the spokesman outside the national police headquarters.”

Costa Rica Second in Latin America for Number of Refugees Received
Laura Alvarado, The Costa Rica Star, November 28, 2017
“… the purpose of the initiative Living the integration is to promote the social and economic integration of refugees, trying to educate companies and employers in the private sector with regards to the legal situation of a refugee which many times is not clear and becomes an obstacle in the search for jobs; another problem has to do with the recognition of the education degrees or certifications provided in their native country.”

The crisis in Honduras should matter to the U.S.
Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post, December 4, 2017
“The Honduran government gets millions of dollars in U.S. aid each year, and its elite police units have received training from the U.S. military. Hernández, a member of the right-wing National Party, is seen as a reliable U.S. ally… Some Democrats have pushed for legislation making aid to Honduras contingent on anti-corruption measures and curbs on the killings of Honduran civil society figures, but its prospects of passage look dim in the Republican-dominated Congress.”

The President of Honduras is Deploying U.S.-Trained Forces Against Election Protesters
Lee Fang and Danielle Marie Mackey, The Intercept, December 3, 2017
“People were being forced out of their houses and into the streets when Honduran law enforcement, including the PNH, launched tear gas canisters into their homes. Police attacked because the neighbors had begun a “cacerolazo,” a common form of protest in Latin America, banging pots and pans when state repression makes anything else impossible. Upon forcing people out of their homes, the PNH arrested them… The PNH and elite military police units are among the beneficiaries of generous security-related foreign aid earmarked for Honduras by the U.S. government.”

Exclusive: U.S. document certifies Honduras as supporting rights amid vote crisis
Patricia Zengerle, Reuters, December 4, 2017
“The document, dated Nov. 28, which was seen by Reuters on Monday, showed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified Honduras for the assistance, two days after a controversial presidential election that has been claimed by an ally of Washington. Honduras has faced violent protests over the disputed results of the election, which has still not produced a clear winner over a week after the vote ended… State Department officials did not have an immediate response when questioned about the timing of the certification.”

Amid cries of ‘fraud!’ and clashes with police and soldiers, Honduras awaits results of presidential vote count
Kate Linthicum and Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2017
“‘We won’t allow the fraud to go forward,’ he said. ‘If the president is declared the winner, there will be a civil war.’ As dusk fell, thousands of protesters headed up a main thoroughfare, Boulevard Centroamerica, toward the institute where the votes were being counted. Soldiers in riot gear and brandishing plexiglass shields chased opposition activists away from the institute.”

In Honduras Election, Ex-Sportscaster Takes Lead Over President
Español: En la elección en Honduras, la oposición toma la delantera y deja atrás al actual presidente
Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, November 27, 2017
“As Honduras counted votes on Monday in its presidential election, Salvador Nasralla, a former sportscaster representing a left-wing alliance, took an early lead over President Juan Orlando Hernández, an unexpected development that could reshuffle the country’s political forces if the trend holds. A victory by Mr. Nasralla would be a sharp rebuke to Mr. Hernández, an authoritarian who has maneuvered to take control over most of the country’s fragile institutions.”

Fighting Impunity, Seeking Justice in Guatemala
Jeff Abbott, NACLA, November 27, 2017
“Since the end of the internal armed conflict, the Guatemalan judicial system has struggled as an accountable government institution. Between 1996 and 2006, Guatemala suffered from an impunity rate of 95 percent. Since the formation of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), this rate has fallen to 72 percent.”

US Rep. McGovern Joins Human Rights Trip to El Salvador
The Associated Press, December 2, 2017
“Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern is in El Salvador hoping to highlight human rights issues and strengthen U.S. ties with the country… McGovern says while El Salvador has made progress in strengthening its judicial system, ‘pursuing justice in the El Mozote case is a critical opportunity to make a clear break with the culture of impunity that has plagued the country for so long.’”

Representante de la ONU dice que los grupos de exterminio son “intolerables”
Agencias, ElSalvador.com, November 28, 2017
“El uso de la ‘mano dura’ y de la ‘venganza’ en el combate a la criminalidad, encabezada por las pandillas, en El Salvador, es ‘intolerable’ por los atropellos que supone, dijo en una entrevista con Acan-Efe el delegado del alto comisionado de DD.HH. de la ONU en Centroamérica, Alberto Brunori”.

Former El Salvador colonel extradited to Spain over 1989 murder of Jesuits
The Guardian, November 29, 2017
“US court documents said Montano was part of a group of military officers accused of conspiring to kill the priests, in order to derail peace talks during El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war. The killings sparked international outrage and helped erode US support – which had included money, weapons and training – for the rightwing Salvadoran government.”

Mexico’s Government Is Blocking Its Own Anti-Corruption Drive, Commissioners Say
Azam Ahmed, The New York Times, December 2, 2017
“Marred by scandals that have embroiled his administration, his allies and even his own family, Mr. Peña Nieto agreed to the creation of a broad anti-corruption system last year that was enshrined in the Constitution, a watershed moment in Mexico. But after nine months of pushing to examine the kind of corruption that ignited public outrage and brought the new watchdog into existence, some of its most prominent members say they have been stymied every step of the way, unable to make the most basic headway.”

Desplazamiento forzado en Chiapas: Una historia que se repite desde hace 45 años
Rodrigo Soberanes, Animal Político, 4 diciembre de 2017
“Desde el primer día de noviembre los tiros siguen asustando a las familias por las noches en comunidades aledañas a los límites entre los municipios de Chenalhó y Chalchihuitán, en la zona de Los Altos de Chiapas, en el sureste de México, donde una añeja disputa territorial ha traído de vuelta la violencia armada, causando el desplazamiento de más de 4000 personas, de acuerdo con la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU)”.

La PGR pierde la batalla contra la corrupción: investiga cientos de casos y solo logra castigar uno
Ernesto Aroche Aguilar, Animal Político, 30 de noviembre de 2017
“Las investigaciones realizadas por PGR – entre Averiguaciones Previas y Carpetas de Investigación – involucran a 1,351 funcionarios, 67 particulares, 577 casos en los que no se señala a un responsable directo sino a “quien resulte responsable” y en 769 se desconoce al responsable del delito, de acuerdo a cifras dadas por la Visitaduría General a una solicitud de información… De las 872 denuncias por desvío de recursos que se han presentado en la PGR sólo 10 casos han llegado a juicio, y ni uno solo tiene sentencia”.

Mexico Bill Cements Military’s Crime-Fighting Role. Some Civilians Are Uneasy.
Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, November 29, 2017
“Supporters say the measure would provide a legal framework for Mexico’s armed forces to continue battling organized crime under a presidential declaration… But a wide array of critics, including constitutional lawyers and human rights groups, say the legislation will cement the military’s leadership in the drug war, putting it beyond civilian oversight and removing any incentive for state and local leaders to build effective police forces.”

Detenciones militares y espionaje, lo que está en juego con la Ley de Seguridad Interior
Arturo Angel, Animal Político, 1 de diciembre de 2017
“Pero además, la ley incluye otros elementos importantes como la clasificación de la información reservada en estas acciones, la posibilidad de realizar acciones de espionaje, la condición de que las marchas sean ‘pacíficas’ para que no se les considere una amenaza, y efectuar detenciones con la policía”.

Mexico Is Quietly Confronting A New Security Crisis
Nathaniel Parish Flannery, Forbes, November 28, 2017
“The incident highlights the fact that violent crime is on the rise again in Mexico. While Trump and the future of NAFTA have dominated the news the security dynamic in Mexico has quietly but rapidly deteriorated. During the first ten months of 2017 there were 20,878 murders in Mexico. Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has been criticized for not defining a clear national security strategy.”

IACHR Welcomes Entry into Force of General Law on Disappearance of Persons in Mexico
Organization of American States, December 1, 2017
“The IACHR commends the fact that the law is consistent with inter-American human rights standards in this area, it establishes the creation of a national mechanism to search for missing persons, establishes that there is no statute of limitations for this crime, creates a declaration of absence in cases of disappearance, sets up a national mechanism to search for missing persons, and provides tools to attend to the special needs of victims and relatives, among other aspects.”

La desaparición de niños y adolescentes se triplica en el gobierno de Peña Nieto
Claudia Altamirano, Animal Político, 30 de noviembre de 2017
“Durante los primeros cinco años del gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto, el número de niños y adolescentes desaparecidos ha sido tres veces más alto que la cifra registrada en todo el sexenio pasado: de mil 584 casos reportados entre 2006 y 2012 se pasó 4 mil 394 de 2013 a julio de este año”.

En octubre, cada 18 minutos hubo un homicidio en el país; Guerrero, el estado más violento
Redacción Animal Político, Animal Polítoco, 28 de noviembre de 2017
“Entre enero y octubre de 2017, se registraron en todo el país 20 mil 878 carpetas de investigación por homicidio doloso, la cifra más alta desde que se tienen registros oficiales (1997). En este periodo de tiempo, Guerrero (9.22%), Baja California (8.30%) y Estado de México (8.07%) se concentró más de una cuarta parte (25.58%) del total de ilícitos del país”.

Actions, Reports, and Resources

U.S. Civil Society Organizations Call for Transparent Vote Count in Honduras
Latin America Working Group, November 29, 2017
“We urge the Honduran authorities to refrain from any actions that would limit the ability of the Honduran people, journalists and social communicators, social movements, and civil society organizations to freely express their opinions and exercise their right to freedom of association and peaceful protest. We urge the U.S. government and other international donor governments, as well as the Organization of American States and other electoral observers, to insist upon full transparency in the vote count and a review of the electoral process to ensure that the elections were free and fair and represent the will of the Honduran people.”

Statement from US Civil Society Participants During the UN Stocktaking Meeting on the Global Compact for Migration
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, December 4, 2017
“Human rights and worker rights standards are universal, and as such, a global process to address the critical issues related to migration around the world is essential. The US government’s decision to abandon its responsibility to being part of the global community is deeply disappointing. Instead of working with the international community to fashion human rights-based responses to global migration, the Trump Administration has chosen to bow to the voices of anti-immigrant groups in the United States. This comes in the context of multiple policy decisions by the US that are anti-immigrant and seek to undermine the human rights of migrants.”

The Deported: Immigrants Uprooted From the Country They Call Home
Human Rights Watch, December 2017
“This report sets forth the 2017 official data on immigration arrests and deportations and
details the often-wrenching human impact of Trump’s policies on undocumented
immigrants, their families, and their US communities. The latter analysis draws heavily on
43 in-depth Human Rights Watch interviews with long-term immigrants deported since
Trump’s election. Taken together, the data and firsthand accounts illustrate how the
enforcement machine President Trump has moved so eagerly to accelerate rarely ever
considers people’s deep and longstanding ties to the United States before deporting them.”

The Mixed Motives of Unaccompanied Child Migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle
Matthew Lorenzen, Center for Migration Studies, 2017
“This paper examines the mixed-motive migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America’s Northern Triangle states (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), using data from a small 2016 survey carried out in 10 shelters for unaccompanied child migrants run by a Mexican government child welfare agency. Using this survey, the paper identifies the immigrating minor’s motives, which are oftentimes mixed, and details differences by nationality, gender, and age groups.”

*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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