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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for July 27, 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.

Photo by: Edgard Garrido, Reuters


U.S. Enforcement
Jeff Sessions Has Been Targeting Asylum-Seekers Fleeing Domestic Violence. It’s Been “Devastating.”
Noah Lanard, Mother Jones, July 26, 2018
“Carlos García, a South Texas immigration lawyer who has been working with separated parents at Port Isabel, has seen an ‘overwhelming’ number of credible fear denials since Sessions’ decision, known as Matter of A-B-. ‘It’s devastating,’ García says.”

The Lost Ones
Alex Wagner, The Atlantic, July 27, 2018
“While the 463 children of deported parents (or 431, depending on which statistics the government is using) would seem to represent the toughest challenge for this government—the most troublesome examples of its controversial policy—the administration, it seems, has effectively washed its hands of them: No plan is in place to assist these reunifications, no specific resources allocated.”

ICE Detainee Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Spent 21 Days in Solitary Confinement, Then Took His Own Life
José Olivares, The Intercept, July 27, 2018
“For lawyers, advocates, and the families of the dead, the suicides at Stewart represent a pattern of mistreatment at the hands of ICE, leading to widespread concerns about the safety of immigrant detainees, especially at privately run facilities like Stewart.”

Central America demands information on still-separated migrant children
Reuters, July 26, 2018
“Officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico on Thursday called on the United States to provide more details on migrant children still separated from their parents.”

Republicans Voted to Block Jeff Sessions’ Attacks on Asylum-Seekers Fleeing Domestic Violence
Noah Lanard, Mother Jones, July 26, 2018
“On Wednesday afternoon, the House appropriations committee voted across party lines to block the Department of Homeland Security from using any funds to implement Sessions’ decision, which is known as ‘Matter of A-B-.’”

As Deadline for Family Unification Nears, Congress Tries to Weaken Protections for Immigrant Children
Scott Bixby, Daily Beast, July 26, 2018
“The resolution could remove vital safeguards protecting standards of care for migrant children currently held in state- and county-operated detention facilities, including in three ICE-contracted family detention centers currently running without a state license.”

The next family separation crisis: Finding hundreds of deported parents
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, July 27, 2018
“According to the latest government statistics, some 430 parents from separated families were likely deported without their kids. Officials maintain that before that happened, the parents consented.”

Migrant parents were misled into waiving rights to family reunification, ACLU tells court
Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, July 26, 2018
“Some parents said they thought they were signing paperwork that would, in fact, allow them to reunite with their children, according to their immigration lawyers. Others described being crowded into rooms with dozens of people, given only a few minutes to fill out forms that would determine whether they would reunite with their children or leave them behind in the United States. They signed the forms out of fear, or confusion, or a belief that they had no other choice, lawyers wrote in the court filing.”

Reunifying the families Trump tore asunder will take a long, long time
Editorial Board, The Washington Post, July 25, 2018
“Even as hundreds of parents and children have been rejoined in recent days and, in most cases, released (with parents wearing electronic-monitoring ankle bracelets), it has emerged that the stitching together of what the administration sundered may go on for weeks or months more.”

Hundreds of families could be deported almost as soon as they’re reunited
Dara Lind, Vox, July 25, 2018
“More than half of the parents who have been reunited with children (or will be reunited this week) have already received deportation orders. They’re supposed to have a choice between having their children deported with them or leaving their children in the US — to truly be the ‘unaccompanied alien children’ the government treated them as to begin with.”

Reunification of deported parents
Ted Hesson, Politico, July 25, 2018
“A federal judge ordered the Trump administration Tuesday to provide better information about migrant parents who may have been deported after they were separated from their children at the border.”

Government: 463 migrant parents may have been deported without their children
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, July 23, 2018
“The Trump administration said in a court filing Monday that 463 parents of migrant children are no longer present in the United States, indicating that the number of mothers and fathers potentially deported without their children during the ‘zero tolerance’ border crackdown could be far larger than previously acknowledged.”

‘What we were suffering for’: Separated, then reunited, immigrant families face what comes next
Michael Miller, The Washington Post, July 24, 2018
“In each room, parents held their children while hiding their worries. Some teenagers clung to their parents like toddlers. Others wouldn’t talk. A few stared into space and cried.”

RAICES Dedicates $3 Million to Flights and Housing for Separated Immigrant Families
Chantal da Silva, Newsweek, July 24, 2018
“The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) has announced it will dedicate at least $3 million toward flights to reunite families separated under the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration practice.”

Family detention is not the answer to family separation. It’s a failure and a disgrace.
Bree Bernwanger and Gracie Willis, USA Today, July 23, 2018
“Yes, keeping families together should be our government’s ultimate goal. A federal judge in California agreed and ordered immediate reunification. But confining asylum-seeking parents and children to family detention centers is not a solution. There are viable alternatives to detention that will uphold due process, lessen trauma, and negate the need to contract with private prison companies.”

Immigrants Sent to ICE Custody After Paying Bail Sue Miami-Dade County
Jerry Iannelli, Miami New Times, July 23, 2018
“In the new suit, the immigrant groups argue that ICE detainers constitute unconstitutional, new ‘arrests’ separate from the charges that send people to the jail in the first place. The suit says 882 people in 2017 and 219 as of this past February 2 have been held in Miami-Dade jails on ICE detainers, but ICE has not arrested all 1,101 detained individuals.”

Migrant women remain in legal limbo while waiting to see their children
Nick Valencia, Tal Kopan, and Rosa Flores, CNN, July 23, 2018
“Multiple female detainees at the Port Isabel Detention Center, near the southern tip of Texas, have been officially processed for release but continue to be held without explanation at the facility, according to immigration attorneys and witnesses.”

Incommunicado in South Texas: Migrant parents await reunification in seclusion
Jay Root and Shannon Najmabadi, The Texas Tribune, July 22, 2018
“On the brink of being released from detention and reunited with children separated from them sometimes months ago, migrant parents are held at a South Texas facility in a sort of limbo — not free to leave, but without access to phones or commissary accounts that regular detainees get.”

These migrants were separated from their children — and aren’t sure they should be reunited
Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, July 19, 2018
“While the U.S. government scrambles to reunify migrant families separated at the border, some parents, such as the Ottoniels, think that the best option for their children might be the thing they most dread — to remain apart. ‘It’s not that we don’t love him,’ said José, 27. ‘It’s that we want him to have a better chance at life.’”

Honduran man separated from son at U.S. border 2 months ago fears he ‘lost everything’
Jim Wyss and Brenda Medina, The Miami Herald, July 5, 2018
“‘I gave up absolutely everything to try to protect my family,’ he said. ‘Not only did I lose everything, but I feel like I’ve lost them also.’”

Analysis: An immigration fiasco on the U.S.-Mexico border, in one government chart
Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune, July 18, 2018
“A government chart — part of a federal court brief — lays out what happens to immigrant children separated from the adults who brought them to the U.S. It shows three outcomes. Only one ends in reunification.”

“Why Abolish ICE Doesn’t Go Far Enough”: Oscar Chacón on the Roots of Trump’s Immigration Crackdown
Oscar Chacón, Democracy Now!, July 25, 2018
“Yet the call to dismantle ICE, established in the post-9/11 push for national security, represents only the most initial of steps in addressing the deep-seated racism, xenophobia and criminalization of immigrants that are baked right in to US immigration policy.”

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance
Emily Yoffe, The New York Times, July 25, 2018
“This entire catastrophe isn’t just the result of a deliberately cruel and incompetently implemented policy, though it is certainly that. These sundered families are the latest casualty of ‘zero tolerance’ — a misguided mind-set that bludgeons the people it targets, no matter how vulnerable. For a generation, American policymakers have been addicted to zero tolerance as a response to all social ills: crime, drugs, sexual violations — even misbehaving school children.”

New Data Shows How Trump Administration Prosecuted Migrant Parents With Children Instead of Adults Traveling Alone
Noah Lanard, Mother Jones, July 24, 2018
“The Justice Department couldn’t prosecute all unauthorized migrants, and federal officials needed to choose who to target. Newly released government data shows that the Trump administration prosecuted thousands of parents instead of prosecuting adults traveling without children.”

Justice Department: Use ‘illegal aliens,’ not ‘undocumented’
Tal Kopan, CNN, July 24, 2018
“The Justice Department has instructed US attorneys offices not to use the term ‘undocumented’ immigrants and instead refer to someone illegally in the US as ‘an illegal alien,’ according to a copy of an agency-wide email obtained by CNN.”

Day after Air Force One trip, Yoder defies Trump on immigration
Lindsay Wise and Bryan Lowry, McClatchy, July 25, 2018
“A day after flying with President Donald Trump on Air Force One, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas joined Democrats to push forward an investigation of the Trump administration’s separation of more than 2,500 migrant children from their parents. Yoder also threw his support behind an effort to make it easier for immigrants to claim asylum if they credibly feared domestic or gang violence. That plan is in direct opposition to administration policy.”

House panel pushes back against Trump asylum rule on domestic, gang violence
Niv Elis, The Hill, July 25, 2018
“The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday pushed back against a Trump administration decision to deny asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.”

Trump Administration Considers Unprecedented Curbs on Asylum for Migrants
Caitlin Dickerson, The New York Times, July 18, 2018
“Mr. Trump has taken monumental steps to shrink the asylum system and discourage people from applying based on a belief that the United States is taking in too many foreigners. The moves are part of a larger plan developing in Washington to reshape the reputation of America as a safe haven, one that has inspired generations of people like Francisco and Miguel to journey here.”

Asylum Seekers Face Long Odds In West Texas And New Mexico
Mallory Falk, KRWG, July 23, 2018
“Nationwide, about 47% of asylum seekers win their cases. They can stay in the U.S., apply for a green card and eventually for citizenship. But in El Paso immigration courts, which serve West Texas and most of New Mexico, that number is much lower. Just 7%.”

We Need to Offer More Than Asylum
Robert Suro, The New York Times, July 14, 2018
“Whether the goal is to provide humanitarian protection to the deserving or to keep out the unwanted, current policies are failing…A lasting solution must recognize that these surges are not isolated events but rather desperate developments in a decades-long migration. People who make up nearly 10 percent of the populations of those countries are already living here. It is a migration with momentum, and it comes from close by.”

While migrant families seek shelter from violence, Trump administration narrows path to asylum
Emma Platoff, Alexa Ura, Jolie McCullough, and Darla Cameron, Texas Tribune, July 10, 2018
“As federal officials clamp down on asylum, citing a need to root out abuse — and as Trump himself complains of drawn-out court proceedings that grant legal rights to migrants — concerns are mounting that the administration is undermining the country’s long-standing commitment to sheltering the helpless.”

Putting Asylum-Seeking Immigrants in Impossible Positions
Katy Vine, Texas Monthly, July 17, 2018
“Rio Grande Valley attorney Jennifer Harbury explains the nightmares facing immigrants today, whether they gain entry or are turned away.”

Impact of Sessions’ asylum move already felt at border
Tal Kopan, CNN, July 14, 2018
“Immigrants are already being turned away at the border under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent reinterpretation of asylum law. And advocates for them fear there may be no end to it anytime soon.”

Despite Trump’s Asylum Crackdown, Migrants Fleeing Violence in El Salvador Still Plan for the U.S.
Emily Green and Alicia Vera, The Intercept, July 22, 2018
“She thought that she could ask for asylum, but her sister dismissed the idea outright. ‘She told me ‘no,’ that it would be a waste of money,’ Tobar Rodríguez said. ‘If you fight and lose, they deport you anyway.’”

As the U.S. Shuts Its Doors, Migrants at the Mexican Border Continue to Hope
Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, July 23, 2018
“There is a sense of sincere and stubborn hope in this shelter and in this town: people keep coming, and will probably continue to try to keep coming, even as the United States grows ever more hostile to asylum seekers.”

Reminder: Women Migrants Are Fleeing Countries The U.S. Helped Decimate
Molly Redden, The Huffington Post, July 22, 2018
“But domestic violence in Central America is not the product of random misfortune, advocates for these asylum-seekers say. The region’s civil wars, which became bigger and more brutal because of U.S. intervention, created a generation of abusers and decimated the institutions that ought to have kept survivors safe.”

Mexican Enforcement
Cuando México perdió la defensa de sus migrantes
Leticia Calderón Chelius, El Universal, July 21, 2018
“El episodio es simplemente increíble: en un momento de extrema fragilidad para la comunidad mexicana que radica en Estados Unidos, un mes después de que Donald Trump tomara posesión, en enero de 2017, el gobierno mexicano otorgó recursos ‘excepcionales’ a la Cancillería con el propósito explícito de que defendiera a los connacionales ante la embestida que empezaron a vivir en ese país de una manera más abierta y hostil que cuando gobernaba el Partido Demócrata”.

Root Causes
•Lista de corruptos centroamericanos será elaborada por el Secretario de Estado de EE. UU.
Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, July 27, 2018
“Las dos cámaras que forman el Congreso de Estados Unidos acordaron la aprobación el miércoles 26 de julio en Washington de una ley que obligará al Secretario de Estado a informar al Congreso la identidad de los funcionarios de los países del Triángulo Norte involucrados en corrupción y tráfico de drogas”.

Nicaragua rights group urges Ortega to disband paramilitaries
AFP, Yahoo, July 26, 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.”

A Mexican journalist was attacked by police — then he turned up dead
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2018
“A Mexican journalist who was enrolled in a government protection program after he was attacked by police was shot dead Tuesday morning in the Caribbean resort city of Playa del Carmen, authorities said.”

Mexico sees 16 percent rise in murders in 1st half of 2018
Mark Stevenson, The Washington Post, July 23, 2018
“Homicides in Mexico rose by 16 percent in the first half of 2018, as the country again broke its own records for violence.”

​’A hitman could come and kill me’: the fight for indigenous land rights in Mexico
Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, July 21, 2018
“Isela Gonzalez has been threatened more times than she can remember by university-educated men in suits, whose business interests – in logging, mining, agriculture and narcotics – are challenged by her work as director of Alianza Sierra Madre to protect indigenous land rights in Mexico’s western Sierra Madre.”

US warns Nicaragua as more killed in unrest
AFP, The Tico Times, July 24, 2018
“The United States on Tuesday warned Nicaragua to halt violence against opposition groups as at least four more people were killed in unrest that has gripped the country for three months.”

Nicaragua Clergy, Siding With Protesters, Becomes ‘Terrible Enemy’ of Ortega
Elisabeth Malkin and Frances Robles, The New York Times, July 22, 2018
“‘We continue to be pastors, and an authentic pastor of the Catholic Church will never side with the executioners,’ said Monsignor Báez. ‘He will always be with the victims.’”

Bloody uprising in Nicaragua could trigger the next Central American refugee crisis
Jose Miguel Cruz, The Conversation, July 20, 2018
“This migration pattern may soon change. My research on violence in Central America reveals that the destabilizing conditions that have historically prompted many Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans to flee are now taking root in Nicaragua.”

As Nicaragua Violence Soars, Doubts About Those Responsible Disappear
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, July 16, 2018
“‘This is a country that knows how to overcome great tragedies,’ Ortega’s wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo said in a statement issued by the government. ‘We have grown in patience, prudence, wisdom and faith. We know that God is just and that evil cannot prevail over what is good. This is why the actions of a small group of terrorists will not prevail over the will of the vast majority of the people.’ But the government is standing alone. Indeed, if there were doubts surrounding who is responsible for the hundreds of killings in Nicaragua in recent months, they have been completely washed away.”

The Assassinations of Indigenous Leaders in Guatemala Trigger Fear as Political Cycle Begins
Jeff Abbott, Truthout, July 22, 2018
“On May 9, 2018, Luis Arturo Marroquin was murdered in San Luis Jilotepeque, Jalapa, Guatemala. Witnesses report seeing two men exit a vehicle before gunning Marroquin down and fleeing the scene. Onlookers wrote down the license plate of the vehicle, which was later identified as belonging to Mayor Jose Manuel Mendez Alonzo.”

IACHR, UN Experts Express Concern over Forced Evictions and Internal Displacement in Guatemala
OAS, July 20, 2018
“The IACHR and the United Nation’s Special Rapporteurs on Adequate Housing and on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons observe with concern the practice of forced evictions that the Guatemalan State has been implementing in recent years, as well as the forced displacement that has occurred as a result of that practice.”

AG Silence Could Signal Difficult Path to Justice in Guatemala
Felipe Puerta, InSight Crime, July 17, 2018
“The slow pace of some of the country’s biggest corruption and organized crime cases coupled with silence from new Attorney General María Consuelo Porras in light of surprising new developments could be a sign of where her loyalties lie and how far these cases will go.”

No deal reached between government, transport sector after 3 days of strike
EFE, July 24, 2018
“The Honduran government and the leaders of transport sector leaders, who are demanding a reduction in fuel prices, have failed to come to an agreement after three days of a national transport strike, Cabinet Secretary Ebal Diaz said on Monday.”

Honduras: Judge Orders Arrest of 38 Lawmakers, Officials for Graft
teleSUR, July 22, 2018
“A Honduran judge Saturday ordered the arrest of 38 Hondurans, including lawmakers, officials and individuals, accused of diverting more than US$11.7 million to finance political campaigns in the 2013 elections, EFE reported according to a judicial source.”

Honduran Anti-Corruption Agent Murdered, Not Suicide
teleSUR, July 16, 2018
“Julissa Villanueva, the Honduran director of forensic medicine told the press again on Monday that the 29-year-old head of an anti-corruption commission within the Criminal Investigation Technical Agency (ATIC) of Copan – Sherill Yubissa Hernandez – was murdered, and did not commit suicide, as was originally stated by investigators.”

El Salvador declares emergency to ensure food supply in severe drought
Reuters, July 24, 2018
“El Salvador on Tuesday began taking emergency measures in a drought that has plagued the country for a month and cost tens of thousands of farmers their corn crops, the civil protection agency said.”

El Salvador: Deserción escolar ronda los 13,000 estudiantes
Susana Peñate, La Prensa Gráfica, July 22, 2018
“El ausentismo y la deserción escolar por diferentes causas rondan los 13,000 estudiantes en todo el sistema educativo, según cálculos que el Ministerio de Educación (MINED) tiene registrados hasta junio de 2018, que sería aproximadamente el 1 % de la población estudiantil, comentó ayer el titular de dicho ministerio, Carlos Canjura”.

El Salvador Citizen Security Plan Struggling to Reduce Insecurity
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, July 16, 2018
“While officials say Plan Secure El Salvador is working, a closer look at criminal dynamics and other indicators suggests that the significant decline in the national murder rate and other crimes doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources
Deadliest year on record for land and environmental defenders, as agribusiness is shown to be the industry most linked to killings
Global Witness, July 24, 2018
“Global Witness today reveals that at least 207 land and environmental defenders were killed last year – indigenous leaders, community activists and environmentalists murdered trying to protect their homes and communities from mining, agribusiness and other destructive industries.”

Convención de la ONU da 20 recomendaciones a México contra el feminicidio y discriminación
César Reveles, Animal Politico, July 25, 2018
“La Convención para la Eliminación de Todas las Formas de Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW), a través de la ONU-DH México, emitió una serie de recomendaciones al Estado mexicano ante la falta de acceso a la justicia de mujeres y niñas y los altos niveles de violencia que atraviesa el país”.

Changing the Guard in Mexico: AMLO’s Opportunities and Challenges
Duncan Wood, Viridiana Rios, Christopher Wilson, Rachel Schmidtke, Eric L. Olson,and Earl Anthony Wayne, The Wilson Center, July 20, 2018
“Herein lies the first major challenge for the President-elect. He will, for sure, enjoy an extended honeymoon period with the Mexican public, but the nation is justifiably anxious to see progress on solving the country’s problems sooner rather than later.

Organized Crime and Central American Migration in Mexico
Mexico Security Initiative, Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law, June 2018
“The following report was researched and written in response to a request by the Mexican
Federal Police for an evaluation of the interactions between organized crime and Central
American migrants transiting through Mexico. Given that protecting migrants and combating
organized criminal groups both fall within the Federal Police’s mandate, this evaluation also
outlines how protecting migrants can help deprive organized criminal groups of a lucrative
funding source.”

How Donald Trump’s war on immigrants is playing out in his hometown.
The Marshall Project, July 23, 2018
“In this ‘sanctuary city,’ the local government promises to defend New Yorkers regardless of status, restricting law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents (although not prohibiting it entirely, to the chagrin of many immigrant advocates). But in recent months, with headlines about terrified toddlers in ‘baby jails’ and a president who refers to migrants as an ‘infestation,’ it’s become increasingly clear: In the era of Donald Trump, even New York City doesn’t feel safe for the undocumented.”

“Why Doesn’t Anyone Investigate this Place?”: An Investigation into Complaints and Inspections at the Otero County Processing Center in New Mexico
Freedom for Immigrants, July 2018
“The report “Why Doesn’t Anyone Investigate this Place?” reveals concerns raised by migrants detained at the Otero County Processing Center (OCPC) in Chaparral, New Mexico, an ICE immigration detention facility run by the for-profit Management and Training Corporation (MTC).”

Family Case Management Program
Women’s Refugee Commission, July 20, 2018
“The FCMP was a formal ICE alternative to detention (ATD) program that operated from January 2016 through June 2017, when the Trump administration terminated it. FCMP’s cornerstone principle, as borne out by international research and prior, non-government funded programs, was that individualized case management services lead to an understanding of the immigration process and high compliance with the government’s immigration requirements. The program focused on support and rule of law without the use of restrictive and punitive measures that are ineffective. It did not use ankle monitors.”

*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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