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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for March 2, 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: Fanny Aishaa


US Enforcement

•New statistics show the government is sitting on tens of thousands of DACA applications
Dara Lind, Vox, March 1, 2018

“That means that 20,000 or so immigrants have had to live in fear of deportation, and haven’t been able to get a job in the US legally, since September 5, 2017 — when the administration announced no new DACA applications would be accepted — even though they applied for DACA before the cutoff… What’s clear is that the overwhelming majority of those immigrants submitted their applications back when DACA was still in full effect — and have been waiting anxiously to hear back from the government as the program’s future has been called into doubt.”

•‘Act of solidarity’: Catholic nuns & priests arrested on Capitol Hill in Dreamers protest
RT, March 1, 2018

“Addressing the protesters outside the Capitol Building, Sister Elise Garcia from Michigan said while she was joining in the prest as an ‘act of solidarity’ with the Dreamers. ‘To our leaders in Congress and in the White House, I say ‘arrest a nun, not a Dreamer,’’ she said, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

•With no more deadline, Congress has stopped talking about immigration
Paul Kane, The Washington Post, March 1, 2018

“Just like that, in the span of a few days — Senate gridlock, a madman’s bullets killing children and a judicial ruling — and the issue that consumed Washington for most of December, January and February is no longer worth a mention at a leadership news conference.”

•The Cruel Ploy of Taking Immigrant Kids From Their Parents
Dora Galacatos, Alan Shapiro and Brett Stark, The New York Times, February 28, 2018

“The Trump administration’s goal is to strong-arm families into accepting deportation to get their children back. Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, admitted this when she told the Senate on Jan. 16 that separating families may ‘discourage parents’ from seeking refuge in America.”

•LAWG joins partners in urging regional human rights body to defend DACA and TPS
LAWG, February 27, 2018

“Advocates urged the Commission to call on the U.S. Government to reconsider its decision and renew the Temporary Protected Status for the countries for which it was canceled and the DACA Program until Congress approves legislation that enables them to request a visa or residence permit, in light of their long-term residence in the U.S; to apply legislation and conduct enforcement in a manner that ensures family life, due process and in which the best interests of children are protected; and undertake all legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures necessary to ensure that civil, social, economic and cultural rights are guaranteed without discrimination, among other points.”

•A Mother and Child Fled the Congo, Only to Be Cruelly Separated by the US Government
Jenny Samuels, ACLU, February 26, 2018

“The government has no legitimate interest in separating Ms. L. from her daughter since there’s been no evidence, or even accusation, of abuse or neglect. Instead, there is overwhelming medical evidence that the separation of a young child from her parent will have a devastating, and possibly permanent, negative impact on the child’s well-being.”

•To Curb Illegal Immigration, DHS Separating Families At The Border
John Burnett, NPR, February 27, 2018

“The mother is being held in the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, Calif. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement; her daughter is 2,000 miles away at a youth shelter in Chicago run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. They are only able to speak by phone. ‘When the daughter was taken, she (Ms. L) could hear her daughter in the next room, screaming, ‘Mommy, don’t let them take me!’ said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.”

•Women’s Refugee Commission Supports American Civil Liberties Union’s Lawsuit Challenging Family Separation

Joanna Kuebler, Women’s Refugee Commission, February 27, 2018

“The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. L., an asylum-seeking mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was wrongfully separated from her seven-year-old daughter, S.S., at the border by U.S. immigration officials in November 2017.”

•The Americans Left Behind by Deportation
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The New York Times, February 28, 2018

“America’s historic uneasiness with interracial marriage and mixed-race children has found a new incarnation in the persecution of families with mixed legal status. There are nearly six million citizen children who live with at least one undocumented parent, and perhaps millions of other Americans who are married to undocumented immigrants. Reports are multiplying of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents picking up immigrants at their green card couple interviews, while their American spouses are left speechless and powerless. The Trump administration’s aggressive detention and removal of undocumented immigrants is not only inhumane in its treatment of immigrants, but a direct attack on the rights and well-being of their American family members.”

•CNN poll: 8 in 10 back DACA, supporters hold Trump, GOP responsible for not extending program
Jennifer Agiesta, CNN, February 28, 2018

“The poll, conducted before the Supreme Court declined Monday to immediately consider a case on the program, found that those who back continuing the program hold President Donald Trump (33%) and the Republicans in Congress (31%) responsible for it not yet having been extended more than they do the Democrats in Congress (17%).”

•If the GOP loses the House, immigration will be the reason why
Ali Noorani, The Hill, February 28, 2018

“Key portions of the Republican electorate, from business leaders, to law enforcement, to the faith-community are unified in their goal of passing common-sense reform that protects Dreamers and secures the border. A consensus deal is not only the right thing to do politically, it’s the right thing to do morally, and it is in the best interest of American workers and their families.”

•Supreme Court throws out ruling that said detained immigrants deserve bond hearings
Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, February 27, 2018

“The court sent the case back to the lower court, however, to analyze whether the Constitution requires such hearings. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ahilan Arulanantham, who argued the Supreme Court case, said the decision gives his organization a second chance. ‘We have shown through this case that when immigrants get a fair hearing, judges often release them based on their individual circumstances,’ he said in a statement. ‘We look forward to going back to the lower courts to show that these statutes, now interpreted by the Supreme Court to require detention without any hearing, violate the Due Process Clause,’ he said.”

•Mexican-American Judge Rules in Trump’s Favor on Border Wall
Latin American Herald Tribune, February 27, 2018

“Mexican-American Judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Donald Trump administration in a lawsuit attempting to block construction of the president’s much-touted and controversial wall along the US-Mexico border… Curiel ruled that the US government has the authority to waive a number of environmental protection regulations and laws that would have to be cleared away before construction – which Congress has not yet approved or provided funding for – could begin.”

•A Different Perspective on the Border
Lawrence Downes, The New York Times, February 27, 2018

“‘We mostly arrested the little people,’ Cantú tells José. ‘Smugglers, scouts, mules, coyotes. But mostly I arrested migrants, I confessed. People looking for a better life.’”

•Supreme Court rejects Trump request to weigh in quickly on Dreamers
Josh Gerstein, Politico, February 26, 2018

“The justices’ action is a mixed bag for the immigrants known as Dreamers. It means that as the legal process grinds on in federal courts, people who received work permits and protection from deportation through DACA will likely be able to keep renewing their participation. The work permits, which grant legal work authority in the U.S., are good for two years. However, the high court’s decision to pass up the issue for now also reduces the urgency of the drive in Congress to craft a legislative solution to the problem. That effort appeared to result in stalemate earlier this month after three different proposals failed to advance in the Senate.”
En espanol:
El Supremo rechaza el recurso de Trump y mantiene la protección a los ‘dreamers’
Joan Faus, El Pais, 27 de febrero de 2018

•Removal of ‘Nation of Immigrants’ from USCIS Mission Ignores Agency’s Mandate and American History
Mary Giovagnoli, Immigration Impact, February 26, 2018

“For USCIS, the prior mission statement was a touchstone of the why and the how, informing both employees and the public of the core values driving the work of the agency. Removing references to a nation of immigrants, the promotion of citizenship, and customer service cuts the heart out of the agency.”

•I ran USCIS. This is a nation of immigrants, no matter what mission statements say.
León Rodríguez, The Washington Post, February 26, 2018

“The new mission statement is a faithful articulation of the Trump administration’s policies grounded in the view that immigrants, with a few carefully defined exceptions, are a threat and burden to the United States, rather than the very essence of what has made our country a beacon and an example to the rest of the world.”

•Why Trump’s effort to curb immigration could hurt US economy
Paul Wiseman, Chicago Tribune, February 26, 2018

“Sixty-three percent of current American jobs — and 46 percent of jobs expected to be created between 2016 and 2026 — require no more than a high school degree, according to the Labor Department. The new positions include low-paying jobs that most native-born Americans are loath to pursue — an estimated 778,000 personal-care aides (median pay in 2016: $21,920), 580,000 food-service workers ($19,400), 431,000 home-health aides ($22,600).”

•Visits by federal immigration authorities are spooking California businesses and workers
Andrew Khouri and Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2018

“’There is a heightened level of stress and anxiety,’ said Alexandra Suh, executive director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, which helps low-wage immigrant workers in the Los Angeles neighborhood. ‘Even just the request for documentation caused a number of workers to quit on the spot.’”

•La frontera más caliente entre México y Estados Unidos
El País
, 26 de febrero de 2018
“Miles de familias centroamericanas continúan arriesgando su vida para llegar a los Estados Unidos. La mayoría busca asilo político por la violencia en sus países de origen y la falta de oportunidades laborales. El Valle del Río Grande en Texas registra el mayor número de cruces de inmigrantes indocumentados y de contrabando de drogas de toda la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos”.

•Oakland mayor’s warning puts immigrants, advocates on high alert
Sarah Ravani and Evan Sernoffsky, SFGate, February 25, 2018

“Schaaf said she sought legal counsel before taking to social media Saturday evening with an alert about immigration action. She called the warning an ‘ethical obligation…’ She acknowledged sending the alert could perpetuate fear within immigrant communities, but nevertheless, said it was her duty. ‘This is an opportunity for people to learn their rights and responsibilities,’ she said.”

•As DACA deadline looms, churches open doors
Monica Rhor, Houston Chronicle, February 25, 2018

“It is an intensely personal issue in many U.S. churches, where immigrants fill the pews, serve as priests and deacons, attend Sunday school, file into parochial classrooms and aspire to be pastors. They are, said Rodriguez, ‘the future of American Christianity.’ ‘As goes the immigrant community,’ he said, ‘so goes Christianity in America.’”

•After testy call with Trump over border wall, Mexican president shelves plan to visit White House
Philip Rucker, Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, February 24, 2018

“‘The problem is that President Trump has painted himself, President Peña Nieto and the bilateral relationship into a corner,’ said Arturo Sarukhan, a former Mexican ambassador to the United States. ‘Even from the get-go, the idea of Mexico paying for the wall was never going to fly. His relationship with Mexico isn’t strategically driven. It’s not even business; it’s personal, driven by motivations and triggers, and that’s a huge problem.’”

•Deportado se lanza de puente en Nuevo Laredo
Marco Espinoza, Excelsior, 23 de febrero de 2018

“Después de ser deportado por autoridades de Aduana de los Estados Unidos, Juan García caminó algunos metros sobre la estructura del puente Internacional Juárez-Lincoln, antes de lanzarse de una altura de 18 metros. El hombre de 32 años impactó su cuerpo sobre tierra firme lo que le ocasionó graves fracturas para luego ser trasladado en estado crítico a la ciudad de San Antonio, Texas”.

•Arrests of immigrants, especially non-criminals, way up in Trump’s first year
Tal Kopan, CNN, February 23, 2018

“According to new data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, there was a 41% increase in the number of undocumented immigrants who were arrested by the agency in 2017 compared to 2016. But the increase was driven by the agency arresting a significantly higher rate of immigrants without a criminal background. While the share of criminals arrested was up 17%, there was an increase 10 times that — of 171% — in the share of non-criminals arrested.”

•A Case for Dismantling the U.S. Border Patrol
Geoffrey Alan Boyce, NACLA, February 22, 2018

“Communities along the southern border, as elsewhere, could benefit from sustained federal investment around social issues that for too long have remained unaddressed. Rather than spending billions of federal dollars on walls, drones, and surveillance towers, why not invest this money in programs and infrastructure that will be of benefit to communities in the borderlands?”

•Salvadoran Migrant Recounts Harrowing Journey to US-Mexico Border
Latin American Herald Tribune, February 26, 2018

“Salvadoran Iris Evelyn crossed Mexico on foot with her two young children to flee her gang-affiliated boyfriend and difficult economic circumstances in a bid to reach the United States, a goal that is now just 20 meters (yards) away. ‘It’s been very hard,’ Evelyn, 21, told EFE at a migrant shelter where she is staying with her two-year-old son Justin and her five-year-old daughter Monica.”

Mexican Enforcement

•US Ambassador to Mexico to Resign, Amid Strained Relations
Associated Press, VOA, March 1, 2018

“’I have come to the difficult decision that it is the right time to move on to new challenges and adventures. … This decision is all the more difficult because of my profound belief in the importance of the U.S.-Mexico relationship and knowledge that it is at a crucial moment,’ Jacobson said.”

•Militares entran en rutas migratorias.
Edgar Magaña, El Territorio, 26 de febrero de 2018

“Las organizaciones se han visto envueltas en ilegalidades de esta práctica, ya que el INM no debería aceptar a extranjeros ubicados por el Ejército o la Policía. Así fue como lo explicó Gretchen Kuhner, directora del Instituto para las Mujeres en la Inmigración: ‘Ya hay una recomendación de la CNDH de 2006, que dice que si Marina, Policía o Ejército rescata víctimas, como no tienen facultades de revisión migratoria, Migración debería de decirles: No te los acepto, porque estás excediendo tus facultades’”.

•CNDH: el sistema de protección a refugiados, ante un posible colapso
Emir Olivares Alonso, La Jornada, 26 de febrero de 2018

“El sistema de protección a refugiados en México está ante un posible colapso, pues las autoridades federales no han resuelto más de 7 mil solicitudes de asilo presentadas el año pasado, advirtió la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH). En 2017 se presentaron 14 mil 595 solicitudes de asilo ante la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (Comar) –un máximo histórico–, de las cuales 7 mil 719 aún no son resueltas, lo que representa un rezago de casi 60 por ciento, detalló el organismo”.

•Comisionada de Acnur comienza visita de trabajo en México
Emir Olivares Alonso, La Jornada, 26 de Febrero de 2018

“En ese contexto, el Acnur informó que el año pasado 141 mil 800 ciudadanos del llamado Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica (Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador) fueron deportados a sus países de origen, y la cifra en los cinco años recientes supera el millón de migrantes devueltos (muchos de ellos expuestos a altos riesgos de violencia)”.

•Saturadas estaciones migratorias del país
Silvia Garduño, Agencia Reforma, 24 de febrero de 2018

“El organismo fiscalizador indica que las 32 estaciones tienen una capacidad instalada para alojar a 3 mil 705 migrantes, sin embargo recibieron a 7 mil 725 al mes. El sobrecupo asciende así a 108 por ciento”.

•Mexico Rescues 103 Migrants Abandoned in Trailer
Latin American Herald Tribune, February 24, 2018

“Troops on patrol in the area spotted the trailer on a roadside and heard cries for help from inside. The troops then requested the INM’s assistance to tend to the 67 adults, 24 accompanied minors and 12 unaccompanied minors, who showed signs of dehydration after having spent over 12 hours in suffocating conditions. The INM, the army and the National Human Rights Commission provided medical attention, water and food to the migrants, 91 of whom were from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and five from El Salvador.”

•Alerta en Tamaulipas por más de 700 migrantes asegurados en 2018
Hector Gonzalez Antonio, Excelsior, 24 de febrero de 2018

“El aseguramiento de más de 700 migrantes en lo que va del 2018, 103 de ellos apenas el jueves pasado en el municipio de Camargo, Tamaulipas, encendió las alertas de la SEGOB, Instituto Nacional de Migración, PGR y autoridades estatales, por el incremento de personas liberadas en comparación con años anteriores”.

Root Causes

•Berta Cáceres Murder Unveiled Network of Impunity for Honduras Elites
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, March 2, 2018

“‘This is a case that has received the most international attention and pressure. If Honduras’ judicial system cannot advance this investigation beyond the material authors and to the intellectual authors, this shows the weak and corrupt state of the judicial system in Honduras,’ said Lisa Haugaard, the executive director of the Washington, DC-based Latin America Working Group.”

•Amid political unrest, violence in Honduras, TPS holders in U.S. worry about their fate
Nicole Acevedo, NBC News, February 22, 2018

“More than 400,000 immigrants in the U.S. are TPS beneficiaries, a program that gives protections to people from countries “unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately” due to armed conflicts or environmental disasters.”

•Ousting of Police Director May Shift Guatemala’s Balance of Power
Héctor Silva Ávalos, Felipe Puerta, and Kelly Grant, InSight Crime, March 2, 2018

“The recent ousting of the police leadership appears to be a new attempt by Morales and his allies to shield themselves from criminal investigations. However, it seems to have had the effect of distancing powerful private sector actors from the different groups that support Morales and his administration.”

•72 mujeres han sido asesinadas en dos meses
Ezequiel Barrera, Gabriela Cáceres y Jonatan Funes, La Prensa Gráfica, 2 de marzo de 2018

“El primero de los casos de marzo ocurrió ayer en una vivienda de la colonia San Antonio, en Cuscatancingo, donde una mujer de 60 años fue asesinada por tres hombres armados que ingresaron por la fuerza a la casa”.

•Police Use Tear Gas to Break Up Opposition Protest at UN Office in Honduras
Latin American Herald Tribune, February 28, 2018

“The demonstrators carried three coffins and several crosses to symbolize the 40 people who, according to Nasralla, have died at the hands of the president and the country’s security forces since Nov. 29 during protests against Hernandez’s re-election. While the rally started peacefully, several people were injured after clashes broke out between demonstrators and police.”

•Wife of ex-president of Honduras arrested on graft charges: officials
Reuters, February 28, 2018

“Corruption scandals have led to a string of arrests in Central America in recent years, thanks to growing pressure from activists and backing from foreign powers.”
“Bonilla was detained a day after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited Honduras to talk about drug trafficking and corruption.”

•IACHR Grants Precautionary Measure to Attorney General of El Salvador
Organization of American States (OAS), February 28, 2018

“According to the application for precautionary measures received by the IACHR, in his capacity as Attorney General, Douglas Arquímides Meléndez Ruiz has carried out investigations into high-level former public officials, business leaders, law enforcement, and various criminal groups. Because of that, he has reportedly been a target of threats and harassment, which he attributes to groups and individuals said to have interests opposed to these investigations.”

•Haley thanks Honduras for backing U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Carol Morello, The Washington Post, February 27, 2018

“Calling it the Year of the Americas, Haley predicted, ‘You will see multiple members of the Cabinet making visits to Latin America to really talk about more in-depth discussions on what else we can be doing and how else we can be partnering.’”

•In Honduras, US Envoy Haley Tempers Trump Threat Over Drug Trafficking
Reuters, VOA, February 27, 2018

“She also praised Hernandez — and plans to do the same with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales on Wednesday — for their opposition to a U.N. General Assembly resolution in December that called for Washington to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. ‘That was one that was not an easy decision for any country to have to vote on. But the people of Honduras stood with us in being able to make that decision for ourselves,’ Haley told reporters as Hernandez stood beside her.”

•El Salvador’s military not opening archives for missing kids
Marcos Aleman, The Washington Post, February 27, 2018

“The country’s military has so far refused to open its archives from that period to allow an investigation into the whereabouts of children separated from their families during combat between guerrillas and government forces.”

•A Former Mexican Official Accused The Government Of Making Up Homicide Rates
Karla Zabludovsky, Buzzfeed News, February 26, 2018

“Osorio Chong, who served in his role [as state attorney general in Mexico] from 2012 until earlier this year, ‘gave precise instructions to the areas that manage crime statistics to manipulate information,’ Juan Miguel Alcántara, former attorney general of Guanajuato State, said during an interview with Zona Franca, a digital news outlet, on Thursday. Alcántara said the order targeted states governed by the Revolutionary Institutional Party, or PRI, which President Enrique Peña Nieto belongs to, and were limited to homicide and kidnapping numbers. Alcántara did not provide evidence or reveal the names of the prosecutors who supposedly told him about Osorio Chong’s orders.”

•Salvadoran Dreams of Liberating Other Women Jailed for Abortion
Latin American Herald Tribune, February 24, 2018

“According to women’s organizations, 23 women in El Salvador are currently serving sentences of more than 20 years for abortion. The Central American nation is one of the few countries worldwide where abortion is outlawed even in cases where the health of the pregnant woman is at risk.”

•Los escuadrones de la muerte en Veracruz
Jacobo García, El País, 24 de febrero de 2018

“Por primera vez en México se lograría demostrar la existencia de un grupo paramilitar incrustado en la estructura del Estado que actuó de forma metódica en la desaparición de personas —jóvenes pobres a los que acusaban de colaborar con el ‘narco’— siguiendo órdenes de superiores. Lo que en otras ocasiones eran sospechas —las matanzas estudiantiles de Tlatelolco en 1968 o Ayotzinapa en 2014—, esta vez tiene nombre y apellidos”.

•The American Gun Glut Is a Problem for the Entire World
Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, February 23, 2018

“According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 73,684 firearms seized in Mexico and traced from 2009 to 2014 originated in the United States, over half of which were long guns.”

Actions, Reports, & Resources


•In the Freezer: Abusive Conditions for Women and Children in US Immigration Holding Cells
Human Rights Watch, February 28, 2018

“All immigration detainees have the right to be treated with dignity and humanity, and children, whether unaccompanied or with family members, are entitled to additional safeguards under US and international law. This report examines US authorities’ compliance with the specific protections that should be afforded to children, drawing on 110 interviews with children themselves or women detained with their children. As detailed below, we found that conditions in holding cells at the southern border are often poor and in several critical respects identical to those previously found by US courts to be in violation of CBP’s obligations and prior commitments.”

•U.S. Immigration Enforcement Policy and Its Impact on Teaching and Learning in the Nation’s Schools
Patricia Gándara and Jongyeon (Joy) Ee, The Civil Rights Project, February 28, 2018

“Many hundreds of respondents told us that their immigrant students (whether they were US born or not) were terrified that families and friends, and occasionally they themselves, would be picked up by ICE that it was, at times, very difficult for students to learn and teachers to teach.  90% of administrators reported observing emotional and behavioral problems among immigrant students.  Two-thirds of respondents also reported that the fear and concern for classmates was affecting the education of students who were not targets of enforcement.”

•Hacia una política integral de protección a personas defensoras de derechos humanos
CIDH, 29 de diciembre de 2017

“Una ‘política integral de protección’ parte del reconocimiento de la interrelación e interdependencia de las obligaciones que tiene el Estado para posibilitar que las personas defensoras puedan ejercer en forma libre y segura sus labores de defensa de los derechos humanos. En este sentido, hace referencia a un enfoque amplio y comprensivo que requiere extender la protección más allá de mecanismos o sistemas de protección física cuando las personas defensoras atraviesan situaciones de riesgo, implementando políticas públicas y medidas encaminadas a respetar sus derechos; prevenir las violaciones a sus derechos; investigar con debida diligencia los actos de violencia en su contra; y, sancionar a los responsables intelectuales y materiales”.

•Trump Administration Ratchets up Pressure on “Sanctuary” Jurisdictions
Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter, Migration Policy Institute, February 22, 2018

“As President Donald Trump and his administration continue to publicly excoriate cities and states that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities—so-called sanctuary cities—the Justice Department has been steadily building a case to turn those words into concrete penalties. After federal court rulings appeared to deal a blow to initial efforts to punish noncompliant jurisdictions, via an executive order the President signed early in his term, the administration has moved in recent months to place new demands on these states and localities. By February 23, nearly two dozen cities, counties, and states must turn over all formal and informal documents relating to rules of communication between their employees and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—or risk a Justice Department subpoena.”

*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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