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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for July 20, 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.

Casa Monarca with Latin America Working Group and Washington Office on Latin America
in meetings with congressional offices.


Voces from Casa Monarca: The View from Mexico’s Northern Border
Anna Flores, The Latin America Working Group, July 19, 2018
“In June, LAWG hosted Padre Luis Eduardo Zavala of Casa Monarca, a migrant shelter located in Monterrey, a city in the Mexican state of Nuevo León just a three-hour drive from the U.S.-Mexico border. He visited to discuss Casa Monarca’s observations as a migrant shelter in northern Mexico and spread awareness of the state of migration and access to asylum in Monterrey.”

U.S. Enforcement
Documents reveal DHS knew ending protections could cause more, not less, illegal immigration
Tal Kopan, CNN, July 18, 2018
“The Trump administration was warned by intelligence analysts that ending protections for hundreds of thousands of Central Americans living in the US would likely drive a spike in illegal immigration. They did it anyway.”

Regional solution needed for illegal immigration, CBP chief says
Ted Hesson, Politico, July 17, 2018
“Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan stressed Tuesday that the U.S. must engage with Mexico and Central America to prevent illegal immigration. In particular, McAleenan highlighted the value of a ‘safe third country’ agreement with Mexico.”

‘Credible Fear’ for US Asylum Harder to Prove Under Trump
The New York Times, July 16, 2018
“Patricia Aragon told the U.S. asylum officer at her recent case assessment that she was fleeing her native Honduras because she had been robbed and raped by a gang member who threatened to kill her and her 9-year-old daughter if she went to the police… The officer said the Honduran government wasn’t to blame for what happened to Aragon and recommended that she not get asylum, meaning she’ll likely be sent home.”

Sexual Assault Inside ICE Detention: 2 Survivors Tell Their Stories
Emily Kassie, The New York Times, July 17, 2018
“A few months into her seven-month stay, she was sexually assaulted by a male guard. ‘I didn’t know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported,’ she said. ‘I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It’s like they order you to do something and you have to do it.’”

Trump’s Immigration Plan Imposes Radical New Income and Health Tests
Melissa Boteach, Shawn Fremstad, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Heidi Schultheis, and Rachel West, Center for American Progress, July 19, 2018
“Under a new policy being drafted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an archaic federal immigration provision known as the ‘public charge’ test would be reinterpreted to limit both family-unity and diversity-based immigration in ways that are a radical departure from current immigration law.”

Latest On Family Reunifications
Renee Montagne and Caitlin Dickerson, NPR, July 14, 2018
“NPR’s Renee Montagne speaks with Caitlin Dickerson of The New York Times about the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as the courts mandate immigrant families be reunited.”

Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border
Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, July 14, 2018
“While some children have been turned over to family members, thousands are still in shelters and foster homes run by the government and nonprofit groups. Yancy is just one of many parents who still don’t know where their children are, and families like hers will now have to navigate a messy, potentially expensive bureaucratic process to get Darlin back.”

The Activist Effort to Find the Children the Government Took From Their Parents
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, July 13, 2018
“‘The government’s tracking system was not even close to acceptable.’ Later that afternoon, Gelernt got in touch with a group of immigrant-rights advocates. Together, they came up with a plan to assemble their own list of the children and parents who remained separated.”

The Trump Administration Is Making Immigrant Parents Pay $800 for DNA Tests to Get Their Kids Back
Luke Darby, GQ, July 11, 2018
“The Department of Homeland Security has claimed it has a database of separated children and parents but has never proved it exists. Trump himself has said that the procedure for reuniting families is ‘don’t come to our country illegally’ in the first place. And now, as the Daily Beast reports, government officials have told at least four immigrant women that to get their children back, they’ll have to pay for their own DNA tests to prove that they’re related.”

Judge temporarily halts deportation of reunified families
The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 16, 2018
“The American Civil Liberties Union had asked Judge Dana Sabraw to delay deportations a week after reunification. The ACLU said in a court filing that its request is a response to ‘persistent and increasing rumors … that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon reunification.’”

‘I’m here. I’m here.’ Father reunited with son amid tears, relief and fear of what’s next
Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2018
“But no amount of planning could have prepared him for the empty gaze he’d find in his son’s eyes as he swept the boy into his arms. Jefferson Che Pop, a playful boy who loved racing tiny cars across the dirt floor of his Guatemala home, stood stiff, staring vacantly at the gray carpet, then at his father.”

Cleaning Toilets, Following Rules: A Migrant Child’s Days in Detention
Dan Barry, Miriam Jordan, Annie Correal, and Manny Fernandez, The New York Times, July 14, 2018
“The facility’s list of no-no’s also included this: Do not touch another child, even if that child is your hermanito or hermanita — your little brother or sister. Leticia had hoped to give her little brother a reassuring hug. But ‘they told me I couldn’t touch him,’ she recalled.”

In El Paso, Immigrants Reunited With Their Small Children Tell Their Stories of Detention, Separation, and Release
Robert Moore, Texas Monthly, July 11, 2018
“What the men described seemed to contradict story lines of the Trump administration: that children are well cared-for while separated from their parents, for instance—Roger said his son told him he was struck by a caregiver, and that a friend was bathed in cold water because he hadn’t behaved. The administration has also claimed that parents would not be separated from their children if they followed the law and presented themselves for asylum at a U.S. port of entry, but Annunciation House officials said both Honduran men had their children taken away from them after they asked for asylum at a port of entry.”

•’What if I lose her forever?’ In Guatemala, a couple fears for their child still in detention in U.S.
Patrick McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2018
“Trump ended the policy amid a global outcry. But families in Guatemala and elsewhere are still missing their children.”

“They basically disappeared him”: How Trump is using a refugee agency to jail immigrant kids
Keegan Hamilton, June 26, 2018
“But J.Z.’s case — and dozens like it — reveal how the Trump administration had already been using ORR facilities to detain immigrant youth, alone and without due process, for months at a time.”

Migrants describe hunger and solitary confinement at for-profit detention center
Bob Ortega, CNN, July 11, 2018
“The facility, which US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said held 1,495 detainees as of June 30, sits within a toxic sludge field and EPA Superfund site where residential construction has been barred. It has been the target of more than a dozen hunger strikes in recent years, each involving from a dozen to hundreds of detainees, over complaints of inadequate food and medical care, among other issues.”

Detaining immigrant kids is now a billion-dollar industry
Martha Mendoza and Larry Fenn, Associated Press, July 13, 2018
“Detaining immigrant children has morphed into a surging industry in the U.S. that now reaps $1 billion annually — a tenfold increase over the past decade, an Associated Press analysis finds.”

Immigrant infants too young to talk called into court to defend themselves
Christina Jewett and Shefali Luthra, The Texas Tribune, July 18, 2018
“The Trump administration has summoned at least 70 infants to immigration court for their own deportation proceedings since Oct. 1, according to Justice Department data provided to Kaiser Health News.”

Mexican Enforcement
El muro en el sur de México también funciona: detenciones de niños migrantes se disparan 90%
Manu Ureste, Animal Politico, July 19, 2018
“‘Tal vez en México no se esté levantando un muro físico, pero aquí tenemos otro muro que consiste en una política migratoria que busca detener y deportar, y que para hacerlo usa a múltiples cuerpos policiacos, entre policías federales, estatales, municipales, gendarmería nacional, y hasta soldados y marinos’, sostuvo”.

Blocked from entering the U.S., will asylum-seekers find a welcome mat in Mexico?
Wayne A. Cornelius, Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2018
“Although it has improved in recent years, Mexico’s asylum program remains understaffed and underfunded, and many transit migrants don’t know they can ask for refuge there. Still, the option of seeking asylum in Mexico will become increasingly attractive — or the only option — given the sharp restriction of the grounds for asylum claims in the United States.”

Exclusive: Mexico opposes U.S. plan to make it take asylum seekers
Gabriel Stargardter, Reuters, July 12, 2018
“Mexico is opposed to a U.S. request to make people seeking asylum in the United States apply in Mexico instead, according to a source and a briefing note.”

Mexico wrestles with rising immigrant asylum requests as U.S. asks for more help stemming flow north
Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News, July 14, 2018
“‘What we’re seeing is that many were headed for the USA, but now many are looking at staying in Mexico and want more time,’ she said. But, she cautioned, ‘The United States is never far from their minds.”

Piden activistas a Ebrard reforma integral sobre migración con EU
La Jornada, July 16, 2018
“La Coalición de Migrantes remitió una carta al próximo canciller mexicano, Marcelo Ebrard, en la que solicitaron que la postura nacional en ese problema bilateral involucre el impulso a una nueva reforma integral con el país del norte, movilidad laboral, la solicitud de un ‘alivio a los dreamers’ y el tráfico de armas en la frontera”.

Root Causes

Central American kids come to the US fleeing record-high youth murder rates at home
Julio Ernesto Acuna Garcia, The Conversation, July 13, 2018
“My research in the Northern Triangle shows that homicide rates among people aged 19 or younger have been steadily rising since 2008. Youth homicides in the region are now over 20 per 100,000 – that’s four times the global average. Put another way, Central American children are 10 times more likely to be murdered than children in the United States. Kids aged 15 to 17 face the highest risk of death by homicide.”

Could This Prosecutor Become Guatemala’s Next President?
Ximena Enriquez, Americas Quarterly, July 10, 2018
“When Thelma Aldana finished her term as Guatemala’s Attorney General last May, she left office as the most popular public official in the country, according to private polling.”

Guatemala asks President Trump to weaken anti-corruption commission
Michael Allison, The Hill, July 15, 2018
“Until recently, the United States and international community had remained steadfast in their support for CICIG. However, such support seems to be wavering as the Guatemalan government hopes to leverage its newfound goodwill with the Trump administration to weaken CICIG. If these forces collude to weaken CICIG, the United States and Guatemala will suffer the consequences.”

Reunión secreta con Kushner confirma intenciones del gobierno
Diario La Hora, La Hora, July 12, 2018
“En la embajada de Guatemala en Estados Unidos se concretó un encuentro privado con Jared Kushner, asesor y yerno del presidente estadounidense Donald Trump… Este acercamiento podría ser un nuevo intento del Ejecutivo por buscar apoyo en su lucha contra la Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG)”.

El Salvador’s Legacy of Impunity Hampers Its Ongoing Fight Against Corruption
Christine Wade, World Politics Review, July 12, 2018
“The failure to punish past crimes has led high-ranking public officials, like Funes, Saca and Flores, to believe they are above the law.”

EUA reclama que país no designa a delegado policial para combate a la MS-13
Carmen Rodríguez, La Prensa Gráfica, July 15, 2018
“El Gobierno de El Salvador debió haber nombrado hace varios años a oficiales y a un delegado de la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC) en Washington para apoyar a Estados Unidos en la lucha contra la MS, tal y como se comprometió a hacerlo al firmar varios convenios de cooperación desde 2008, pero no lo ha hecho”.

Nicaragua security forces launch deadly raids
BBC, July 16, 2018
“At least 10 people were killed in Nicaragua on Sunday as security forces moved into anti-government protest hotspots, a human rights group says.”

‘They are shooting at a church’: Inside the 15-hour siege by Nicaraguan paramilitaries on university students
Joshua Partlow, The Washington Post, July 14, 2018
“During a 15-hour siege, some 200 university students and others were pinned down by gunfire inside this small Catholic church compound. Two students were killed and at least 10 were injured before top Catholic clergy were able to negotiate their release on Saturday morning and escort the surviving students across police lines.”

U.S. condemns ongoing violence in Nicaragua
Mary Jane Maxwell, Share America, July 10, 2018
“The U.S. government has sanctioned three Nicaraguans for human rights abuses and corruption, including the commissioner of the country’s national police for directing the beating and killing of peaceful protesters.”

On Trump’s Latin America Team: Trump nominates Kevin Sullivan to be Ambassador to Nicaragua
Global Americans, July 12, 2018

“President Donald Trump has nominated career diplomat Kevin Sullivan to be the United States Ambassador to Nicaragua. The decision comes as tensions continue to arise between Washington and President Daniel Ortega’s government following rising violence at the hands of pro-government forces.”

There were 43 missing at graduation of Ayotzinapa’s class of 2018
Mexico News Daily, July 14, 2018
“Almost four years ago, 43 young men studying to become teachers at a college in rural Guerrero were forcibly disappeared and never seen again. Yesterday, they should have graduated.”

The Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the murder of another journalist in Mexico and urges to investigate the relationship to his journalistic activity
IACHR, July 11, 2018
“The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist José Guadalupe Chan Dzib, who died on June 29 in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and urges the Mexican State to investigate the case with due diligence and clarify its possible relation to the journalistic activity.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

LAWG Joins U.S. Civil Society Groups in Condemning the Repression of Protests and Violence in Nicaragua
Latin America Working Group and Civil Society Organizations, July 18, 2018
The signatories express solidarity with Nicaraguan civil society, and call on the Central American government to “immediately stop its security forces from responding with excessive force against protesters and take action to dismantle armed parapolice groups.”

The Zero Tolerance Policy
Adam Isacson, Maureen Meyer, and Adeline Hite, Washington Office on Latin America, July 16, 2018
“The experience of zero tolerance’s first two months has revealed it to be cruel, a drain on resources, and unlikely to deter future migrants. Federal courts and prisons have already run up against serious and foreseeable capacity issues.”

*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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