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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for February 9, 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.


Source: Cambria Harkey


U.S. Enforcement

•Congress Passes Massive Spending Deal, Ending Shutdown Before It Ever Really Started

Matt Fuller and Elise Foley, The Huffington Post, February 9, 2018
“In spending, it’s a huge win for Democrats, but they did not get the assurances they wanted on DACA, meaning House Republicans are free to bring up an immigration bill that they want rather than one that hews closer to Democratic priorities. Democrats still hope that, because McConnell has made those open amendment concessions, and because the Senate is expected to go first on a DACA bill, there will be pressure on Ryan to put the Senate immigration measure up for a vote in the House.”

•Shutdown ends after Trump signs budget deal
John Bresnahan, Jennifer Scholtes and Heather Caygle, Politico, February 8, 2018
“The House vote, around 5:30 a.m., was 240-186. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) had urged her members to oppose the bill over the GOP’s failure to resolve the standoff over 700,000 Dreamers, but her efforts ultimately fell short. Seventy-three Democrats ended up backing the bipartisan package, which came after months of closed-door talks.”

•Trump, Guatemala’s Morales Push for Restoring Democracy in Venezuela

Latin America Herald Tribune, February 8, 2018
“Trump also emphasized the importance of halting illegal immigration to the US from Guatemala and dealing with the security and prosperity challenges underlying it in the Central American country, according to the White House statement on the meeting.”


•Exclusive: Trump administration may target immigrants who use food aid, other benefits

Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters, February 8, 2018
“The Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules seen by Reuters that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden. For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.”

•Mattis says DACA recipients in military are “protected” even if program expires

Kathryn Watson, CBS News, February 8, 2018
“Mattis, speaking to CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin and other reporters Thursday, said he has spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Kjirsten Nielsen and confirmed that anyone who has enlisted in the military and is waiting to report to boot camp, anyone on active duty or in the active reserves or anyone with an honorable discharge will not be deported.

•Service Members, Not Citizens: Meet The Veterans Who Have Been Deported
Quil Lawrence, NPR, January 13, 2016
“‘We’re not just some foreigners that got deported,’ Torres says. ‘We feel like Americans that have been banished, in exile from the country we love the most.’”

•Florida Bill Seeks to Stop Arrests Of Injured Immigrant Workers

Michael Grabell and Howard Berkes, NPR, February 7, 2018
“Legislators and advocates have been pushing for the measure since last summer, when ProPublica and NPR documented more than 130 cases in which immigrants who had suffered legitimate workplace injuries were flagged to law enforcement agencies by their employers’ insurers. The workers faced felony fraud charges for using a fake ID when they sought medical care. Meanwhile, the insurers often avoided paying the workers’ compensation benefits legally due to all employees injured at work. Some workers were detained by federal immigration agents and deported without getting proper medical treatment for serious injuries.”

•ICE Wants to Be an Intelligence Agency Under Trump

Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, February 7, 2018
“’The prospect of ICE joining the Intelligence Community, if true, should sound alarm bells,’ [Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project] said. ‘Such a move threatens to give an agency responsible for domestic immigration enforcement access to a vast pool of sensitive information collected by our spy agencies for foreign intelligence purposes. Those spying tools do not belong in the hands of ICE agents.’”

•Trump’s assault on immigrant children must stop

Sarah Sherman-Stokes, The Hill, February 6, 2018
“In essence, rather than being immediately deported upon apprehension at the border, these children now are given a chance to make their case before an immigration judge or agency. Far from a free pass, these children — often traumatized survivors of violence — are placed in removal proceedings and, often without an attorney, must navigate a complex judicial system in an effort to stay safe.”

•When Deportation is a Death Sentence: The Fatal Consequences of U.S. Immigration Policy

Democracy Now, February 6, 2018
“The article focuses in part on a Mexican-born woman named Laura. Despite living her whole adult life in Texas, she was deported to Mexico after a traffic stop. She warned a U.S. Border Patrol agent, ‘When I am found dead, it will be on your conscience.’ Within a week of her deportation, she was murdered by her ex-husband.”

•Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker and other evangelical leaders are publishing a letter urging Trump, Congress to act on immigration

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post, February 6, 2018
“A diverse group of evangelical leaders have put their names on a full-page advertisement in Wednesday’s Washington Post urging President Trump and Congress to act on immigration and refugee policy, issues that have become especially divisive among conservative evangelicals.”

•Polls show Americans are closer to Democrats than Donald Trump on immigration

Dylan Matthews, Vox, February 5, 2018
“People want relief for DREAMers. They don’t want a border wall. And they want immigration levels kept constant or increased, not lowered. It’s totally in line with public sentiment for Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans in Congress to insist on a deal that helps DREAMers without building a wall or cracking down on immigration.”

•Trump Aims to End Aid to Countries That Don’t Keep Drugs Out of US

Latin American Herald Tribune, February 5, 2018
“‘We think they’re our friends, and we send them massive aid, and I won’t mention names right now. But I look at these countries, I look at the numbers we send them, we send them massive aid and they’re pouring drugs into our country and they’re laughing at us,’ Trump said.”

•Trump to establish National Vetting Center focused on travelers, immigrants to US
Jeremy Diamond, CNN, February 5, 2018
“While the center’s efforts are largely expected to focus on visa applicants, immigrants and others looking to enter the US, the center will also look to streamline vetting of certain individuals who are already in the US, including those subject to deportation proceedings, according to the National Security Council official.”

•The judge Trump disparaged as ‘Mexican’ will preside over an important border wall case
Eli Rosenberg, The Washington Post, February 5, 2018
“District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, who was targeted by the president while he was the judge of a class-action lawsuit against the president’s now-defunct Trump University, will on Friday hear the case brought by the state of California, some environmental groups and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). It challenges waivers that were given to the federal branch more than 10 years ago to bypass some federal and state laws for border security.”

•Green card backlog puts lives in, on the line
Trisha Thadani, San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2018
“As the Trump administration ramps up scrutiny of H-1B visas, it has said it would review extensions as if they were new applications. That means the wait to qualify for a green card is accompanied by newfound uncertainty. ‘It’s like a constant sword hanging over your neck,’ one H-1B holder said.”

•AP Exclusive: US Rep visits El Salvador to meet deported man

Rachael Rodriguez, The Virginian Pilot, February 4, 2018
“U.S. Rep. Al Green still calls Jose Escobar one of his constituents, even though Escobar was deported after what he thought would be a routine check-in with immigration authorities. That’s why Green, a Houston Democrat, flew to El Salvador on Saturday to meet with Escobar in the hopes it will call attention to the plight of families separated by deportation. Another 200,000 people could be forced to return there because President Donald Trump’s administration announced it would end a temporary visa program for Salvadorans.”

•‘Quiero un muro real, no uno pequeño’: Trump

EFE, Excelsior, 2 de febrero de 2018
“También declaró ayer, en un discurso ante legisladores republicanos, que a los jóvenes indocumentados que llegaron al país siendo niños no se les debe llamar ‘dreamers’, pese a que es el nombre que recibieron popularmente desde que comenzaron los esfuerzos en el Congreso para regularizar su situación en 2001. ‘Alguna gente los llama ‘soñadores’. No son soñadores, no caigan en esa trampa’, afirmó”.

•ICE to Pay Private Sector for Each Deportation Officer It Helps the Agency Hire

Eric Katz, Government Executive, February 1, 2018
“As President Trump called for in a January executive order, the contractor will assist ICE in hiring 10,000 law enforcement agents, including 8,500 deportation officers and 1,500 criminal investigators. It will also assist in the recruiting and onboarding of about 6,600 support staff positions.”

•U.S. tries to target asylum-seeker backlog by reviewing newer cases first

Amy Taxin, PBS News Hour, January 31, 2018
Immigration attorneys said the new plan was absurd and would only result in even longer delays for those in line the longest. They say the government handled cases similarly some years ago before a surge in arrivals on the U.S.-Mexico border, but many applicants didn’t get timely interviews and it didn’t deter people from seeking asylum.

•After Post-Trump Decline, More Central American Children Arriving at U.S. Border
Tim Henderson, The Pew Charitable Trusts, January 30, 2018
“‘The reality is these children are not necessarily coming to the U.S., they’re just trying to get away from their home country,’ said Catherine Hulme, project manager and attorney for unaccompanied children at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland in Baltimore.”

Mexican Enforcement


•México deja a refugiados en el limbo

Diana Higareda, El Universal, 4 de febrero de 2018
“De los 15 mil 336 solicitantes que sí llegaron al final, sólo 6 mil 803 lograron quedarse como refugiados”. 

•Mexico finds nearly 200 migrants hidden in cramped lorry

BBC News, February 4, 2018
“Mexican police said the lorry was stopped at a checkpoint and scanners detected the people hidden inside. They had no food, water or proper ventilation. Twenty-four of the migrants were unaccompanied children, officials added.”

•Joint Press Availability With Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

U.S. Department of State, February 2, 2018
“Foreign Secretary Videgaray: ‘If the DACA people are coming back, it would be a win situation for Mexico and a lose situation for the United States. It would be one of the most important losses in humanity, because this is a situation of people who came as children and they have a clean record, most of them, and are engineers.’”

Root Causes

•ONU: medidas extraordinarias son ilegales y buscan la “deshumanización de los reos”

Gabriel Labrador, El Faro, 6 de febrero de 2018
“La relatora especial de Naciones Unidas para ejecuciones extrajudiciales le ha advertido al Gobierno que su política insignia para el combate a las pandillas es ilegal, viola derechos humanos y, de no ser abolida, la presión internacional aumentará. Agnes Callamard también detectó patrones de comportamiento en la PNC que apuntan a ejecuciones extrajudiciales y abuso de fuerza”.

•U.N. finds possible extrajudicial killings in El Salvador gang offensive

Reuters Staff, Reuters, February 5, 2018
“Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said her findings did not indicate a state policy that came from above but rather the actions of a few members of the security forces.”

•Funcionarios reconocen ejecuciones: relatora ONU

Ezequiel Barrera, La Prensa Gráfica, 5 de febrero de 2018
“Los funcionarios reconocen que hay episodios aislados de ejecuciones extrajudiciales, pero yo discrepo con el Gobierno porque no son episodios aislados, parece que hay un patrón”, dijo la relatora”.

•Honduras Attorney General, Civil Society Challenge ‘Impunity Pact’

Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, February 5, 2018
“The reform in question, passed by congress on January 18, establishes a period of up to three years for the Superior Accounts Tribunal (Tribunal Superior de Cuentas – TSC) to conduct an auditinto suspected instances of misspending of public funds. During that time period, individuals suspected of wrongdoing could not be prosecuted by judicial authorities, effectively preventing the Attorney General’s Office from pursuing corruption-related cases. The reform applies retroactively to all such cases since 2006.”

•Accusations Land Honduras Police Reform Commission in Hot Water

Ronna Rísquez, InSight Crime, February 5, 2018
“In an article published on January 26, the Associated Press reported that Police Director José David Aguilar Morán and one of his subordinates were bribed into working with Wilter Blanco Ruíz, the leader of the Atlantic Cartel who pleaded guilty in the United States last year to drug trafficking charges.”

•San Salvador con tasa homicidios superior a la de todo El Salvador

Gabriel Garcia, Edwin Segura y Ezequiel Barrera,
La Prensa Gráfica, 5 de febrero de 2018
“En el municipio capitalino han sido asesinadas 1,175 personas en los últimos tres años, es decir, el 7% de los homicidios reportados en los 262 municipios del país”.

•México se volvió más inseguro, en 2017 los delitos subieron en 22 estados

Arturo Angel, Animal Político, 5 de febrero de 2018
“De acuerdo con los datos oficiales se trata de Colima, donde la incidencia delictiva, como ya se mencionó líneas arriba, es de 3 mil 266 ilícitos por cada cien mil habitantes. Le sigue Baja California con una tasa de 3 mil 94 delitos, Baja California Sur con 2 mil 985, Querétaro con 2 mil 587 y Aguascalientes con 2 mil 538”.

•Man shot dead at protest over Honduras’ disputed election

Associated Press, The Washington Post, February 5, 2018
“Opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla alleges there was fraud in the Nov. 26 election, which was marred by numerous irregularities. At least 31 people have died in political unrest since then.”

•Journalists are fleeing for their lives in Mexico. There are few havens

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2018
“Gutierrez… is certain he will be killed if he is sent home.‘They want to turn me over to the same government that wants me dead,’ he said in an interview inside the sprawling immigrant detention center in El Paso. ‘I’m just looking for a place to find peace.’”

•Gangs as ‘Terrorists’ Proposal Is a Smoke Screen in Guatemala

Felipe Puerta, InSight Crime, February 2, 2018
“Introducing a debate on whether to classify gangs as terrorist groups may be intended to serve more as a political distraction than as a stand against crime as the government scrambles to undermine anti-corruption efforts.”

•Iván Velásquez: Guatemala’s Elites Are Vying for Total State Control

Héctor Silva Ávalos and Felipe Puerta, InSight Crime, February 1, 2018
“Powerful groups in the country’s capital have made it clear that they will do everything in their power to stop investigations of corruption, impunity and organized crime being carried out by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG) and the Attorney General’s Office.”

•2017 was the most dangerous year ever for journalists. 2018 might be even worse.

Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post, February 1, 2018
“‘There is no indication that the situation for journalists in Mexico will improve. There’s a complete lack of political will to put a stop to these killings,’ Margaux Ewen, the North America director of Reporters Without Borders, told The Post.”

•A Brief History of El Salvador, Gangs, the U.S., and The Difficulties of Empathy

Oscar Martínez, New American Story Project
“We think this will generate a new generation of undocumented people. They will build their lives in the United States without anybody’s permission, until the day they’re deported. It’s a new generation guaranteeing that within five or ten years we’ll continue to receive lost teenagers, who speak better English than they do Spanish, and can’t build a life in a violent place like El Salvador. We don’t have a positive outlook with the arrival of Trump.”

•The Mutilated and the Disappeared

Alice Driver, Longreads, January, 2018
“The shelter began in the home of Olga Sánchez, in 1990. At the time, Sánchez was in the hospital recovering from illness, and there she met a mutilated couple—migrants who had nowhere to go to recuperate. They had fallen off the train; one had lost an arm and the other a leg. Sánchez offered them a room in her house, and soon after she found herself going to the hospital to search for mutilated migrants with nowhere to go. Eventually there was no room in her house for more migrants, so she rented rooms. Then, around 2004, using roughly $77,000 USD provided by the Canadian Embassy and the labor of migrants, she built the current shelter. It has beds for 200 migrants, but has housed up to 400 people at a time. The shelter serves an average of 1,400 migrants per year, of which between 400 and 600 have been mutilated or are sick and require extensive stays.”

•The Mother of El Salvador’s Trans-Rights Movement

Alice Driver, Lenny Letter, January 30, 2018
“Her mere existence challenges societal norms in her conservative birth country of El Salvador. That’s why she founded the NGO Comcavis Trans Association in San Salvador in 2008.”

•El Salvador: life in Mara Salvatrucha’s territory

Sofía Martínez, Open Democracy, January 30, 2018
“El Salvador’s prospects can only be improved by a profound change in the country’s economic model, a policy of victim assistance that does not criminalise people for where they live and, above all, engagement in community dialogue with those who want to leave behind a criminal life.”

•Fue el Estado (Translation – It was the State)

Radio Ambulante, January 23, 2018
“The narcogovernment doesn’t want us to correctly inform the public of what’s going on, they don’t want us to name who’s involved —businessmen, priests, artists, governors, presidents— and the cartels don’t want us making things inconvenient for them. So we are completely vulnerable: if it’s the State that’s killing us, then who’s protecting us. In Mexico there is no freedom of expression In Mexico, we live in a narcostate, where the president of the Republic and the PGR are accomplices who allow journalist to continue being assassinated. This wouldn’t be happening if the president of the Republic really wanted to protect freedom of expression and ensure that there be justice.”

Actions, Resources, & Reports

•Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States

Jie Zong, Jeanne Batalova and Jeffrey Hallock, Migration Policy Institute,
February 8, 2018
“This Spotlight offers in one accessible resource the most current data available about the nearly 44 million immigrants living in the United States in 2016. By compiling some of the most frequently requested facts and figures, this article provides answers to questions such as: How many people have immigrated to the United States, and through which channels? How many entered as refugees, and from which countries? Is Mexico still the top country of origin? Has the number of unauthorized immigrants changed in recent years? What jobs do immigrants tend to hold in the U.S. labor market? And how many U.S. residents are either immigrants or children of immigrants?”

•Migrant Deaths Remain High Despite Sharp Fall in US-Mexico Border Crossings in 2017

International Organization for Migration, February 6, 2018
“Reports of deaths south of the border often surface locally from radio stations and small newspapers, as well as social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Often IOM researchers become aware of these fatalities weeks, even months after they occur.”

•Trump Wants a Border Wall. See What’s in Place Already.

Sarah Almukhtar and Josh Williams, The New York Times, February 5, 2018

*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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