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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for June 5, 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: Lily Folkerts, LAWG


•Behind the Caravan: Seeking Asylum Isn’t Easy, Especially in Mexico

Lily Folkerts, Latin America Working Group, May 29, 2018

“But as of now, no law forces individuals to seek asylum in Mexico or justifies the rejection of asylum protection in the United States based on the possibility to do so in Mexico. Caravan participants and any migrant can apply in either country, but in neither is it easy. What does it look like to be a migrant seeking asylum in Mexico?”

•Tell Secretary Nielsen: Stop Separating Families

We’re almost at 100,000 signers. Add your name to the list and share it!

U.S. Enforcement


•Taking immigrant kids from parents shows contempt for families.

Dr. Reshem Agarwal and Dr. Marsha Griffin, The Houston Chronicle, June 3, 2018

“The practice of separating immigrant children from their parents goes against everything we do as doctors to help families protect their children and promote their mental and physical development.”

•Feinstein plans bill to halt separation of families at the border

Jordain Carney, The Hill, May 31, 2018

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) plans to introduce legislation to prevent the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the Trump administration is facing deep scrutiny over its policy.”

•How the Trump Administration Got Comfortable Separating Immigrant Kids from Their Parents

Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, May 30, 2018

“Two months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, John Kelly, then the Secretary of Homeland Security, publicly confirmed that his department was considering separating immigrant parents from their children at the border, as a way of discouraging families from crossing illegally. It was a radical idea, one that past Administrations had considered and then dismissed as too extreme and too complicated.”

•Over 10,000 migrant children are now in US government custody at 100 shelters in 14 states

Michelle Mark, Business Insider, May 30, 2018

“The US Health and Human Services Department said it was holding 10,773 migrant children in custody as of Tuesday — up 21% from the 8,886 it was holding a month earlier.”

•US lost track of 1,500 immigrant children, but says it’s not ‘legally responsible’

Dakin Andone, CNN, May 28, 2018

“Between October and December 2017, Wagner told the subcommittee, the ORR reached out to 7,635 unaccompanied children to check on them. But the ORR ‘was unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 children,’ Wagner testified.”

•DHS Prosecutes Over 600 Parents in Two-Week Span and Seizes their Children

Joshua Breisblatt, Immigration Impact, May 25, 2018

“Following implementation of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ), where migrants who enter without inspection are referred for criminal prosecution, a DHS official announced that 638 parents who crossed with children had been prosecuted in just a 13-day span this month.”

Family Separation and “Zero-Tolerance” Policies Rolled Out to Stem Unwanted Migrants, But May Face Challenges

Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter, Migration Policy Institute, May 24, 2018
“Meanwhile, the moves will likely add to the backlogged immigration caseloads of the federal courts in border states, further strain the limited capacity of the immigration detention system, and face legal challenges. They also could potentially divert migrants to ports of entry, where the new changes do not apply, adding more traffic to already-bustling official crossings.”

•Hidden Horrors of “Zero Tolerance” — Mass trials and children taken from their parents
Debbie Nathan, The Intercept, May 29, 2018

“But now, in federal courts like Morgan’s, not only are parents are finding themselves charged with the crime of “illegal entry,” but the government is breaking up families, sending children to detention centers, often hundreds of miles from their mothers and fathers, or to distant foster homes.”

•ACLU Report: Detained Immigrant Children Subjected To Widespread Abuse By Officials

Richard Gonzales, NPR, May 23, 2018

“The allegations include reports of physical, verbal, sexual and psychological abuse of migrant children and the denial of clean drinking water and adequate food.”

•Attorneys for immigrants: Rush to clear backlog may rush deportations
Edwin Delgado, United Press International, May 30, 2018

“Attorneys representing immigrants along the U.S. border with Mexico say an effort to expedite court proceedings and clear a backlog of cases could lead to thousands of deportations without proper consideration.”

•Repudiamos asesinato de Claudia Gómez y demandamos justicia
Asociación Pop No’j, May 28, 2018

“El asesinato de Claudia, evidencia una vez más el racismo, la xenofobia y el militarismo que promueve el gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América.”

•‘Don’t Treat Us Like Animals’: Family of Woman Shot by Border Patrol Denounces U.S.
Christina Caron, The New York Times, May 26, 2018

“The aunt of the woman shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent last week after crossing the border illegally near Laredo, Tex., has a message for the United States: ‘Don’t treat us like animals.’”

•The Surge: How Texas’ decade-long border security operation has turned South Texas into one of the most heavily policed and surveilled places in the nation.
Melissa del Bosque, The Texas Observer, May 23, 2018

“Once devoted primarily to enforcing statewide traffic laws and conducting criminal investigations, over the past decade DPS has received billions in taxpayer dollars to invest in special-ops teams, armored gunboats, spy planes and other military equipment to patrol the Texas-Mexico border.”

•Border Agents Are Using a New Weapon Against Asylum Seekers

Robert Moore, Texas Monthly, June 2, 2018

“So began a tense standoff Saturday that marks an escalation in U.S. tactics to keep immigrants out of the country—including those legally entitled to enter and seek asylum—and relieve crowded immigration facilities that officials say are filled beyond capacity.”


•They Wanted The World To Pay Attention To Migrants. But The Attention Came At A Price.

Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed News, June 3, 2018

“But a series of tweets from President Donald Trump changed that, thrusting this group of Central Americans into the unforgiving glare of the international spotlight and upending what had been the usually unseen journey of people fleeing to the United States.”

•This Is What It Was Really Like To Be Part Of The Migrant Caravan In Mexico
Kate Bubacz, BuzzFeed News, June 3, 2018

 “Whatever this was like for us, I can’t begin to imagine the uncertainty that the actual migrants had. I knew I was just going back to my apartment, whereas they were maybe going to get deported to extremely violent countries or perhaps spend two years in detention. They had no idea what was coming, and it must have been terrible.”

•TPS Cancellations Leave Many Unanswered Questions
Victoria Macchi, VOA News, May 30, 2018

“There isn’t much — if any — data about what happens to TPS recipients once their status expires or is canceled. Even if there were, the next 18 months will be unprecedented in the volume of recipients who lose legal status.”

•Going home to El Salvador, as the American Dream slips away
Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, May 30, 2018

“Like millions of others living in the United States without permanent residency, Mendoza had resisted going home for years, fearful that the U.S. government might not let him return. Then the grandmother who raised him fell ill and he applied for a travel permit, hoping to see her before she died. The pass arrived four months too late.”


Mexican Enforcement

•El efectivo “muro” de policías y militares que usa México para detener migrantes centroamericanos
Alberto Najar, BBC Mundo, May 24, 2018
“‘El muro no es de ladrillo y hormigón sino de gente, de cuerpos de seguridad del Estado.’”


•Sólo 1% de niños migrantes obtiene asilo en México

El Debate, May 23, 2018

“De los 56 mil menores no acompañados que han terminado en custodia del INM los últimos cuatro años, tan sólo 721 fueron canalizados a la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados.”

Root Causes

•Jesuits Decry Violence and Intimidation, Call for Justice in Nicaragua

The Jesuits, May 31, 2018

“The Jesuits of Canada and the United States join our brother Jesuits and the Nicaraguan bishops in denouncing recent violence in Nicaragua and calling for justice.”

•Nicaragua unrest: Government colluding with mobs, says Amnesty

BBC, May 29, 2018

“Amnesty International has accused the Nicaraguan government of colluding with paramilitary groups to suppress weeks of student-led demonstrations against President Daniel Ortega.”

•In Search of Safety, Growing Numbers of Women Flee Central America

Jeffrey Hallock, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Michael Fix, Migration Policy Institute, May 30, 2018

“Social norms and legal precedent in Northern Triangle countries routinely allow gender-based crimes to go unpunished, and perpetrators of violence act with impunity. Forced recruitment of females to be the girlfriends of gang members (novias de pandillas) and some of the highest femicide rates in the world have produced patterns of behavior and feelings of personal insecurity that directly contribute to women’s decisions to migrate.”

•For Many Kids In Honduras, The Options Are: Flee, Join A Gang, Or Train With The Military

Karla Zabludovsky, BuzzFeed News, May 23, 2018

“The Guardians of the Homeland program is intended to give kids from poor, crime-ridden communities in this country of 9 million an alternative to joining gangs while learning about self-defense, self-esteem, and the fear of God.”

•US-funded police linked to illegal executions in El Salvador

Nick Paton Walsh, Barbara Arvanitidis, and Bryan Avelar, CNN, May 30, 2018

“As FES officers were shooting gangsters dead in the streets, the US government was sending money and equipment to the group while also deporting thousands of MS-13 recruits back to El Salvador, further fueling the growth of the group in a country where police may be getting away with murder.”

•US Congress Approves Continued Monitoring of Central America Graft

Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, May 28, 2018

“On May 24, the US House of Representatives approved an amendment to strengthen anti-graft measures in Central America, the latest in a string of political messages to officials investigated for corruption and illicit enrichment in Central America’s Northern Triangle region.”

•Trump’s Racist Immigration Policies Ignore the Real Causes of Migration from Central America

Doug Hertzler, ActionAid, May 30, 2018

“But what Trump and his team are intent on ignoring are the root causes of this problem. People like Claudia from Guatemala and other Central American countries are being forced to leave their homes in no small part because longstanding U.S. policies and practices in Central America make access to land and resources among the most unequal in the world.”

•U.N. says Mexico’s security forces likely behind disappearances of people along the border

Joshua Partlow, The Washington Post, May 30, 2018

“The United Nations has ‘strong indications’ that Mexican security forces were involved in the disappearances of 23 people over the past four months who were plucked off the streets of a Mexican city along the U.S. border, a top U.N. official said Wednesday.”

•Another Journalist has been killed in Mexico — the sixth this year

Katie Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2018

“This week, Gonzalez became another victim of what he once described as ‘the crisis of insecurity’ in Tamaulipas.”

•Survivors of Massacre Ask: ‘Why Did They Have to Kill Those Children?’

Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, May 26, 2018

“Survivors like Ms. Márquez had faint hope they would ever see justice. But a provincial judge has reopened a long-dormant trial over the massacre at El Mozote, ordering the retired military commanders who once sowed terror across El Salvador to hear charges of war crimes in his 40-seat courtroom.”

•A New Beginning for Victims of Gang Violence

Cristosal, May 15, 2018

“The family has come a long way since violence forced them to flee four years ago, but the road they have to walk is not an easy one. In the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, John Holmes and Walter Kölin acknowledge that ‘durable solutions are not simple solutions.’ When I asked what he wanted in the future, Edgar said simply, ‘To survive. To raise my son and survive.’”

Actions, Reports, and Resources


•RELEASE: Civil & Human Rights Groups File Emergency Request to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Stop Family Separations, Reunite Families

Texas Civil Rights Project, May 31, 2018

“Today, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Women’s Refugee Commission, the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic, and Garcia & Garcia Attorneys at Law, P.L.L.C., filed an Emergency Request for Precautionary Measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of parents systematically separated from their children at the United States-Mexico border.”

•Family Separation at the Border

Kids in Need of Defense and Women’s Refugee Commission, May 30, 2018

“Several legislative proposals and bills introduced in Congress would help to ensure the safety and well-being of migrant children and families by halting the use of family separation as a deterrent, ensuring humane treatment at the border, helping children separated from their parents due to immigration enforcement, and providing legal representation to ensure unaccompanied children have a full and fair opportunity to make their cases and access legal protection.”

•Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua’s Strategy to Repress Protest

Amnesty International, May 29, 2018

“The strategy adopted by the Nicaraguan authorities, which has resulted in, among other things, an alarming number of fatalities and serious injuries, was intended to punish dissenting voices, discourage further public criticism and cover up human rights violations and crimes under international law.”

•Reports and Findings: US Human Rights Delegation to Honduras April 8-18, 2018

US Human Rights Delegation to Honduras, April 2018

“A delegation, organized by Alliance for Global Justice and La Voz de los de Abajo, focused on the criminalization of social movements and protests, on political prisoners and their families, and the campaign to free them.”

•Making the Invisible Visible: Hidden Signs of Violence

Cristosal, 2018

“The 2017 Report on Forced Displacement in El Salvador presents and analyzes the forced displacement cases received by Cristosal and the Quetzalcóatl Foundation in 2017.”

*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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