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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for March 16, 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: Ricardo Brazziell (Associated Press)


U.S. Enforcement

•GOP open to 3-year DACA fix in spending bill
Niv Elis and Mike Lillis, The Hill, March 15, 2018
“Some Republicans, such as Rep. David Schweikert (Az.), are still taking a harder line on the issue. ‘Once again we’re back on that treadmill of avoiding doing those things to fix the solution permanently,’ he said. ‘I want a sort of holistic solution on immigration policy that both fixates on economic growth but also makes it so we never have this situation in the future.’”

•Asylum seekers sue Trump administration over prolonged detention
Alan Gomez, USA Today, March 15, 2018
“The suit claims that Homeland Security has violated U.S. law by refusing to allow entire groups of asylum seekers to be released on parole from prisons and detention centers while their applications are decided. The lawsuit, filed by a group of civil rights organizations in federal court in the District of Columbia on behalf of nine plaintiffs, estimates that more than 1,000 asylum seekers are now facing indefinite detention even though they have passed initial screenings to verify their stories and pose no threat to national security.”

•How Will US State Department Shake-Up Impact LatAm Crime Fighting?
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, March 13, 2018
“Lisa Haugaard, the executive director of the Washington, DC-based Latin America Working Group, echoed these statements, and told InSight Crime that Pompeo will not be the type of ‘moderating force’ that Tillerson was on Trump’s policy towards Latin America. Haugaard expressed concern that ‘US policy could be steered further in the direction of ‘drugs, thugs and borders’ with no broader viewpoint’ as it relates to addressing regional security issues and the many factors driving insecurity.”

•Texas’ Ban on ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Can Begin, Appeals Court Rules
Maggie Astor, The New York Times, March 13, 2018
“The law in question — Senate Bill 4, passed by the Texas Legislature in May 2017 — requires police chiefs and sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration officials, and allows the police to question the immigration status of anyone they arrest. It was passed in response to the proliferation of sanctuary cities, which restrict such cooperation and have gained national attention as President Trump pursues stricter immigration policies.”

•If We Want to Support Refugees, We Need To End the Wars That Create Them
Azadeh Shahshahani and Maha Hilal, In These Times, March 12, 2018
“For decades, the United States has trained members of the region’s militaries in the arts of torture and intimidation, impeded democracy by supporting a variety of dictatorships, and tampered in elections—right on up to the recent election in Honduras. There, the U.S.-trained forces of a right-wing government have brutally cracked down on protesters who, backed by international observers, say the vote was fraudulent. Meanwhile, mass U.S. deportations of gang members and gun exports and—in the case of Honduras—support for a coup government have helped make El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras three of the deadliest countries on earth. Despite inflicting this damage, the United States recently pulled back on humanitarian relief measures such as Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, threatening 200,000 people with deportation.  Moreover, Trump has repeatedly (and infamously) called for a border wall between the United States and Mexico, where decades of U.S. trade policy and drug war intervention have also caused tremendous violence and displacement.”

•Advocates Help Sue to Save Immigrants With Protected Statuses
Connor D. Wolf, InsideSources, March 12, 2018
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Unite Here, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the National TPS Alliance, and others are assisting in the lawsuit as part of a larger coalition. The groups are hoping to save hundreds of thousands of immigrants who will soon lose legal status under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The lawsuit was filed by a group of immigrants within the program including Wilna Destin.”

•Defiance, resistance: The front lines of California’s war against the Trump administration
Maria Sacchetti, The Washington Post, March 11, 2018
“California’s defiance marks a seismic shift in a state that has morphed from the nation’s biggest critic of undocumented immigrants a generation ago into their fiercest protector. In 1994, nearly 59 percent of voters passed Proposition 187, a ballot initiative that sought to deny public benefits to those here illegally and expel undocumented children from public schools. The measure ultimately was blocked in court. But outrage over its passage, fueled by the state’s rapidly growing Latino population, helped turn a Republican stronghold into a mecca for Democrats. Since then, California has granted undocumented immigrants privileges they can’t get in most other states: driver’s licenses, in-state college tuition and even some financial aid. After Trump took office and reversed Obama-era policies that shielded millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, the resistance shifted into overdrive.”

•Human Smuggling Across the Southern Border
Scott Pelley, CBS News, March 11, 2018
“18-wheelers packed with people are discovered at a rate of more than 100 a year just in Texas. Last July, this one was found in San Antonio with well over 100 Mexican and Central and South American migrants inside.”

•Single mom to be deported — without her 3 daughters
San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 2018
“Bernarda Pineda, 33, has lived in the U.S. for 12 years, the past seven in Marysville. She’ll be leaving her three daughters when she returns to Honduras. She fled because the Central American country is politically unstable, impoverished and dangerous, particularly for women. She wants better for her children. Stacey is 9, Sheyla is 11 and Sherly is 14.”

•‘I was blindsided’: How a routine immigration interview turned into an arrest
Maria Cramer, The Boston Globe, March 11, 2018
“Minutes later on that January morning, Calderon, a 30-year-old waitress, was in handcuffs, sobbing. Her husband, Luis Gordillo, who had been waiting outside, was told by government officials that she was in federal custody. They handed him a binder of family photos and documents Calderon had brought to the interview, to prove their relationship was real. ‘You’re all set,’ he recalled they said, then walked away as he stood in a daze.”

•Is it still worth trying to come to America as an asylum seeker? I’m not sure
Luis Mancheno, The Guardian, March 10, 2018
“If you try to cross our borders, people in military uniform called border patrol agents, will arrest you, throw you in a freezing cage and subject you to all kinds of abuses. These agents who don’t speak your language will sit you down and interrogate you. It won’t matter if you didn’t understand their questions, they will write whatever they want in dozens of forms, make you sign them, and use them against you later as they try to deport you. You will tell them that you don’t understand the forms, but they won’t care. They will tell you that if you don’t sign them, they won’t let you go free. So you will sign them. But even after signing the forms, they will keep you caged.”

•ACLU files lawsuit accusing U.S. of broadly separating immigrant families seeking asylum
Associated Press, Los Angeles Time, March 9, 2018
“The lawsuit follows action the ACLU took in the case of a Congolese woman and her 7-year-old daughter, who the group said was taken from her mother ‘screaming and crying’ and placed in a Chicago facility. Though the woman was released Tuesday from a San Diego detention center, the girl remains in the facility 2,000 miles away. Immigrant advocates say the case is emblematic of the approach taken by President Trump’s administration. The lawsuit, which asks a judge to declare family separation unlawful, says ‘hundreds of families’ have been split by immigration authorities.”

•’No One Is Safe.’ How Trump’s Immigration Policy Is Splitting Families Apart
Haley Sweetland Edwards, Time, March 8, 2018
“In Maria and Alejandro’s neighborhood, news of his arrest went viral. His Facebook feed, already a portrait of a community’s anxiety, began to accrue up-to-the-minute reports on ICE sightings in town and rumors of planned immigration raids at warehouses nearby. Don’t go to the Walmart, an ICE truck was seen parked nearby. Plainclothes agents are watching the park. In a phone interview from Mexico, Alejandro told me that many of his old friends now avoid leaving the house, limiting necessary errands to blitzes after dark, when agents are thought to be less active. Sitting in a folding chair on the patio outside her home, Maria describes a similar drumbeat of distress. She doesn’t use the word miedo, fear, but a more visceral term: pavor. Dread.”

•Trump Calls on Latinos to Pressure Democratic Lawmakers for Dreamer Solution
Latin American Herald Tribune, March 8, 2018
“President Donald Trump called on Wednesday on Latinos to pressure Democratic lawmakers to reach a solution with the administration and Republicans for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people known as Dreamers. He said he was ready to solve the DACA issue but ‘the Democrats are nowhere to be found.’”

•Refugee skeptic lands top State Department refugee job
Nahal Toosi, Politico, March 8, 2018
“A White House aide close to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller who has advocated strict limits on immigration into the U.S. has been selected for a top State Department post overseeing refugee admissions, according to current and former officials. Andrew Veprek’s appointment as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) is alarming pro-immigration activists who fear that President Donald Trump is trying to effectively end the U.S. refugee resettlement program.”

•‘I Am a Pawn’: Trump’s Immigration Fight With California Squeezes Those Caught in the Middle
Miriam Jordan and Jennifer Medina, The New York Times, March 8, 2018
“To comply with federal law, Mike Poindexter began amassing documents to turn over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. To comply with a new state law, he posted a notice above the time clock informing workers that ICE was auditing their employment records, a process that could take months. Immediately, workers began resigning, and Mr. Poindexter signed their last pay checks. ‘I am a pawn caught between the federal and state governments, like a child between two fighting parents,’ said Mr. Poindexter, the company’s chief executive. ‘Each is threatening to punish me if I don’t listen.’”

•Asylum Seeker Separated From Young Daughter Is Released From California Jail
Aliia A. Caldwell, The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2018
“An asylum seeker who sued the Trump administration after being jailed and separated from her 7-year-old daughter has been released, the American Civil Liberties Union said late Tuesday.”

•‘The whole system is guilty’: Frustration mounts as Trump, Democrats play blame game on immigration

David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim, The Washington Post, March 7, 2018
“‘The whole system is guilty,’ said Maria Duarte, 23, a DACA recipient who immigrated to Georgia with her family from Mexico when she was 5 years old. Duarte was among two dozen undocumented immigrants who protested Monday outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, temporarily blocking the entrance. ‘Republicans stabbed us in the heart by continually and openly harboring hatred and hateful rhetoric,’ Duarte said. ‘Democrats express a different rhetoric, but at the end of the day, they stab us in the back. Our community has been attacked on both ends, and it needs to be acknowledged that we do not feel Democrats are on our side. They could be doing more.’”

•Jeff Sessions’s lawsuit against California’s “sanctuary” laws, explained
Dara Lind, Vox, March 7, 2018
“The Department of Justice has just filed a lawsuit against the state over three laws it passed in 2017 that limit government officials’ and employers’ ability to help federal immigration agents, and that give California the power to review conditions in facilities where immigrants are being detained by the feds… It’s a huge escalation of the Trump administration’s fight against ‘sanctuary cities’ that limit local-federal cooperation on immigration enforcement. After a year of slow-moving or unsuccessful attempts to block ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions from getting federal grants, Sessions is moving to stop them from passing laws that limit cooperation to begin with. And he’s starting with a shot across the bow: targeting the bluest state in the union, whose 2017 bills represented a model for progressives to use federalism against the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.”

•‘There is no secession’: Sessions blasts California for ‘sanctuary’ policies, says he will use his power to stop them
Allen Young, Matt Zapotosky and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post, March 7, 2018
“In an unusually strident speech that emphasized the supremacy of the federal government by referencing Abraham Lincoln and secession, Sessions said California’s actions ‘directly and adversely impact the work of our federal officers’ and ‘undermine the duly-established immigration law in America.’”

•El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz in Washington to advocate for ‘Dreamers,’ immigrants, border
David Burge, El Paso Times, March 6, 2018
The leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso spoke with members of Congress on Monday, took part in a march and preached during the celebration of a Mass. ‘Stand for something,’ Seitz told a group of lawmakers in Congress, according to a tweet from the Hope Border Institute. ‘Don’t be guided by the political morass in Washington.’”

•Exclusive: Visa waivers rarely granted under Trump’s latest U.S. travel ban: data
Yeganeh Torbati and Mica Rosenberg, Reuters, March 6, 2018
“Between Dec, 8 and Jan. 8, more than 8,400 people applied for U.S. visas from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Venezuela, the countries listed in the ban. Of those, 128 applicants qualified for visas because they fell into categories exempted from the ban, according to a letter from the State Department sent last month to U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat. Exemptions to the ban are made for lawful permanent residents of the United States and certain other categories of applicants.”

•Intense security on both sides of border for Trump’s visit to wall prototypes

Kristina Davis and Sandra Dribble, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2018
“The eight prototypes represent a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign promise to build a ‘big, beautiful wall’ across the 2,000-mile Southwestern U.S. border. He called for the models in an early executive order, and they were built in September along a dusty section of land next to the actual border fence.”

•President Trump arrives in California to inspect border wall prototypes
Alexander Mallin, ABC News, March 13, 2018
“The president’s visit is his first to the country’s most populous state since taking office, and comes just one week after his Department of Justice announced its plan to sue California over ‘obstructing federal immigration enforcement efforts.’”

•‘This visit is a political stunt:’ Trump’s California trip draws criticism from state leaders
John Wagner, The Washington Post, March 12, 2018
“’This visit is a political stunt to rally his base around a stupid boondoggle,’ said California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who also accused Trump of ‘misogyny and bigotry’ and suggested his visit to the border is an attempt to distract voters from the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

Mexican Enforcement

•Peticiones de refugio presionan a México
Gabriel Moyssen, El Universal, 11 de marzo de 2018
“El número de refugiados en México, que en 2017 registró un aumento de 66% respecto al año previo, con más de 14 mil 500, sobre todo centroamericanos, incluyendo a los venezolanos que solicitaron asilo en el país, mantendrá su tendencia a incrementarse, aseguró Mark Manly, representante del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR)”.

•Genaro Lozano entrevista a Mark Manly
Noticieros Televisa, Forotv, 1 de marzo de 2018
“En Foro Global, Genaro Lozano entrevista a Mark Manly, representante del ACNUR en México”.

•Destitución de Tillerson es ‘mala noticia para México’: PRD
Ivan E. Saldana, Excelsior, 13 de marzo de 2018
“Sobre Pompeo, el senador perredista señaló que se trata de un personaje de la política estadounidense ‘más duro’, por lo que auguró que el diálogo y relaciones entre México y Estados Unidos será más ‘complicado’”.

•Trump dice que abril será clave para mejorar relación con EPN
EFE, Excelsior, 13 de marzo de 2018
“El presidente de Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, dijo hoy que en el próximo mes se sabrá si puede llegar a entenderse con su homólogo mexicano, Enrique Peña Nieto, antes de que abandone el poder, y que algunos candidatos a las elecciones en México ‘no son tan buenos’. ‘Tengo una gran relación con el presidente de México, un hombre maravilloso, Enrique. Un tipo estupendo. Estamos tratando de arreglar las cosas, veremos si ocurre o no. No sé si va a ocurrir’, dijo Trump al visitar los prototipos para el muro que planea construir en la frontera común, cerca de San Diego (California)”.

Root Causes

•Carta abierta al señor Fiscal General del Estado, abogado Óscar Chinchilla
Joaquin Mejia, 15 de marzo de 2018
“En sus manos está, abogado Chinchilla, ser recordado como el Fiscal General que cumplió con su obligación constitucional de representar los intereses generales de la sociedad y reprimir las graves violaciones a derechos humanos, o ser recordado como el Fiscal General cómplice del desprecio a la dignidad humana y corresponsable de los crímenes documentados por la OACNUDH y las organizaciones nacionales e internacionales de derechos humanos. No olvide que, como lo señala Julio Scherer Ibarra, ‘dejar pasar el delito es tanto como extenderlo en la práctica’”.

•Deadly Corruption in Honduras
The Editorial Board, The New York Times, March 13, 2018
“As the Cáceres investigation was making headlines, the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, twisted the law to run for re-election and win a vote so dubious that international observers called for a new election. Yet the Trump administration kept quiet.”

•’Immoral sentence’: Salvadoran woman jailed for stillbirth set free after 14 years

Liz Ford, The Guardian, March 13, 2018
“It is inconceivable that Maira spent almost 15 years in prison for experiencing a pregnancy complication. Although she has been released, her conviction has not been overturned and she continues to be guilty in the eyes of the law.”

•Informe de la OACNUDH: 23 personas murieron en contexto postelectoral
La Tribuna, 12 de marzo de 2018
“En el documento, la OACNUDH añade que de las 23 muertes existen elementos concretos que indican que 16 personas, entre ellas dos niños y dos mujeres, ‘fueron asesinadas a tiros por las fuerzas de seguridad durante la dispersión de las protestas o las subsiguientes operaciones de persecución’”.

•U.N. blames Honduras security forces for killing electoral protesters
Reuters, March 12, 2018
“Analysis of the type of injuries suffered by the victims indicate that the security forces made intentional lethal use of firearms, including beyond dissuasive or self-defense (legitimate) purposes, such as when protesters were fleeing.”

•ONU denuncia al mundo que ejército hondureño ejecutó a 22 manifestantes. ¿Si hay asesinatos hay culpables?
Libertad Digital, 12 de marzo de 2018
“En el documento de 36 páginas, evidencia situaciones que impidieron a la Oficina del Alto Comisionado realizar con mayor prontitud su trabajo por falta de colaboración de algunos funcionarios de entes estatales de seguridad y justicia, también formula recomendaciones para prevenir que los hechos se repitan y que en el diálogo nacional se establezcan compromisos para reducir las violaciones a los derechos humanos, exhortando al Estado la cooperación por parte de la Secretaría de Seguridad, Policía Nacional, Secretaría de Defensa y MP”.

•A Year after the Tragedy at a Guatemalan Residential Institution, the IACHR Expresses Concern about the State’s Slow and Incomplete Response
Organization of American States (OAS), March 8, 2018
“On the one-year anniversary of this tragedy, the Commission notes that the approach to this situation has been slow and incomplete and has failed to recognize the serious lack of protection of children in the country, which demands an urgent response. The IACHR cautions that there is a lack of comprehensive medical, material, and psychological support for the survivors and the victims’ family members, and notes with concern the delay in judicial proceedings against those responsible.”

•Latin American countries sign legally binding pact to protect land defenders
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, March 5, 2018
“Last year, 60% of them in Latin America. The new treaty obliges states to ‘guarantee a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups and organisations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters.’ It compels strong measures to protect national environmental defenders from threats or attack – and investigate and punish these whenever they occur. And it codifies the rights of environmental defenders ‘to life, personal integrity, freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and free movement.’”

Actions & Resources

•Strategic Leverage: Use of State and Local Laws to Enforce Labor Standards in Immigrant-Dense Occupations
Andrew Elmore and Muzaffar Chishti, Migration Policy Institute, March, 2018
“This report examines how states and localities across the country—both red and blue, with and without a long history of labor-protection regimes—are developing innovative strategies to enforce labor standards, and to do so more strategically. Many of these approaches leverage unique state and local powers and access to data to target enforcement efforts, change employer behavior, and make the most of scarce resources. Others bring together multiple agencies and levels of government, combining their powers in task forces.”

•Human rights violations in the context of the 2017 elections in Honduras
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, March 12, 2018
“The human rights violations described in this report occurred in the context of a political, economic and social crisis, which can be traced back to the 2009 military coup d’état, and the subsequent delay in undertaking critical institutional, political, economic and social reforms. The report offers recommendations aimed at preventing further violence and human rights
violations. OHCHR continues to encourage the cooperation of all State entities to address chronic and recent human rights concerns in Honduras.”
En Español: Las violaciones a los derechos humanos en el contexto de las elecciones de 2017 en Honduras
 Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos
“Ofrece una visión general de la situación de los derechos humanos en la fase preelectoral, pero se centra en las violaciones a los derechos humanos que tuvieron lugar en todo el país entre el día de la votación, el 26 de noviembre, y la toma de posesión del Presidente, el 27 de enero. En el informe también se describe un patrón de intimidación y represalias tras las protestas electorales contra los defensores de los derechos humanos y los miembros o simpatizantes de los partidos de la oposición”.

•Trump’s visit: What you need to know about the U.S.-Mexico border wall
Brandon Quester, inewsource, March 12, 2018
“Using previously undisclosed data from the federal government, we were able to build a map that shows every piece of fencing along the border and when it was constructed. We layered that data with illegal immigration patterns over several decades and enforcement initiatives under previous presidents. The map shows today’s wall is relatively new — nearly 90 percent was built in the past 13 years.”

•Amnesty International USA Calls on ICE to Release Young Girl and Father
Amnesty International, March 8, 2018
“This family was ripped out of their home by armed ICE agents in the middle of the night, without warning or warrant,” said Naureen Shah, senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA. ‘It defies logic to put a young girl and her father behind bars for trying to rebuild their lives. People fleeing harm should be treated with compassion. ICE must immediately release Astrid and her father while they are pursuing their asylum claim.’”

•Connecting the Dots: Emerging Migration Trends and Policy Questions in North and Central America
Claudia Masferrer, Víctor M. García-Guerrero, and Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Migration Policy Institute, March 7, 2018
“Owing to geographic proximity coupled with sustained historical, cultural, social, and economic ties, the migration patterns in North America and the Central American countries of the Northern Triangle will likely remain dynamic and multidirectional. This broader regional perspective acknowledges existing ties and transnational communities in all countries. Yet demographic and socioeconomic transformations in traditional places of origin are underway and will continue. This trend may translate into changes in the composition of the flows. For example, increasing numbers of Mexican and Central American migrants have higher levels of education and come from urban centers.”

•Healthcare Sector: Immigrants are Indispensable to U.S. Workforce
Zuzana Jerabek, National Immigration Forum, March 5, 2018
“This fact sheet focuses on immigrants in the U.S. healthcare sector, highlighting key facts about their demographics and role in our workforce.”

*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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