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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for March 29, 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: John Moore, Getty Images

•Tell Secretary Nielsen: Stop Separating Families!

Al Otro Lado, Alianza Americas, Amnesty International USA, Kids in Need of Defense, Latin America Working Group, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, MomsRising, National Immigrant Justice Center, Women’s Refugee Commission, March 26, 2018
Sign the petition: “Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, abandon the cruel, costly, and unjustified practice of separating families seeking protection at our borders, including those who are fleeing persecution in their home countries. Children belong with their parents in safe communities, not locked up in detention centers.”

US Enforcement
•Mexico, U.S. sign accords on customs, border cooperation
Reuters, March 26, 2018
“…first agreement aimed to promote joint cooperation to stop illegal merchandise crossing the border… Finally, the governments signed an accord that would promote the trade of agricultural goods, the minister added.”

Trump proposal would penalize immigrants who use tax credits and other benefits
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, March 28, 2018
“Current rules penalize immigrants who receive cash welfare payments, considering them a ‘public charge.’ But the proposed changes from the Department of Homeland Security would broaden the government’s definition of benefits to include the widely used earned-income tax credit as well as health insurance subsidies and other ‘non-cash public benefits.’ The changes would apply to those seeking immigration visas or legal permanent residency, such as a foreigner with an expiring work visa. While they would make little difference to those living here illegally, it could affect immigrants protected by the ­Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program…”

•At Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question
Michael Wines and Emily Baumgaertner, The New York Times, March 27, 2018
“Opponents of the added citizenship question said it was certain to depress response to the census from noncitizens and even legal immigrants. Critics accused the administration of adding the question to reduce the population count in the predominantly Democratic areas where more immigrants reside, in advance of state and national redistricting in 2021.”

•A Census Question About Citizenship Should Worry You, No Matter Your Immigration Stance
Juan Escalante, Huffington Post, March 29, 2018
“This question about U.S. citizenship could have damaging effects on our nation. Not only would taxpayers see their states losing millions of dollars over inaccurate data, but it could lead to President Donald Trump’s already supercharged deportation force to request additional resources, should it determine that too many noncitizens are residing in the United States.”

•At Q&A in Provo, Mitt Romney says he’s more conservative than Trump on immigration
Katie England Daily Herald, Daily Herald, March 26, 2018
“‘…I’m also more of a hawk on immigration than even the president. My view was these DACA kids shouldn’t all be allowed to stay in the country legally.’ [said Romney]… Romney said that President Obama’s and both parties wanting to allow the 1.8 million to stay in the country and give them legal residence was ‘not my posture.’”

•Trump to end special legal status for Liberian immigrants
The Guardian, March 27, 2018
“Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to special legal status for certain immigrants from Liberia, thousands of whom escaped the violence of war and have lived in the United States for decades.”

•A timeline of DACA offers Trump has rejected
Tal Kopan, CNN, March 23, 2018
“‘The Republicans are with you, they want to get your situation taken care of,’ Trump said at the White House, as he complained about the $1.3 trillion spending bill program, speaking directly to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. ‘The Democrats fought us, they just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill.’ But as Congress left town increasingly unlikely to pass any major immigration legislation before November’s midterms, the White House has repeatedly rejected deals to fix DACA, the Obama-era policy he ended then implored Congress to save.”

•DACA recipients face uncertainty after court decision

Rafael Bernal, The Hill, March 29, 2018
“Beneficiaries of DACA say that the program’s limitations and the heated politics around it have sowed confusion among potential employers… Karla Monterroso, CEO of Code2040, an organization that connects black and Hispanic applicants to tech jobs, said some companies in the industry are reluctant to hire DACA recipients.”

•R.I. bill would give ‘Dreamers’ continued access to licenses, permits
Katherine Gregg, Providence Journal, March 26, 2018
“Simply put: the legislation would require the R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles to continue to issue driver’s licenses to ‘every qualifying applicant’ or past recipient of a grant of deferred action from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It would also authorize the director of the R.I. Department of Labor and Training to continue to issue special limited work permits. A caveat: ‘Issuance of a Rhode Island operator’s license under this chapter shall not confer the right to vote in the state of Rhode Island.’”

•When the Elderly Call for Help, a ‘Chain’ Immigrant Often Answers

Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, March 25, 2018
“‘In any plausible future scenario, the U.S. needs far more new low-skilled workers than high-skilled workers,’ said Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, ‘so many that it will be impossible for native labor to fill all those jobs, even if native workers wanted to.’ According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, among the 10 occupations expected to grow the most through 2026, only three require university degrees, all of them digital or data-focused: software developers, statisticians and mathematicians. The two that will require the most new workers: personal care and home health aides, with 1.2 million new positions between them.”

•34 people from 3 countries detained in Arizona immigration raid
Reuters, March 28, 2018
“‘Federal agents discovered 34 undocumented aliens inside the residence. The group included 27 Guatemalan nationals, 5 Mexican nationals and 2 Honduran nationals,’ Mack [ICE spokeswoman] said. All 34 were detained for violations associated with the failed human smuggling operation and processed for removal.”

•Florida ACLU Demands Greyhound Stop Letting Border Patrol Raid Its Buses
Jerry Innelli, Miami New Times, March 22, 2018
“The ACLU… says it needs to explain basic concepts such as ‘search warrants’ to Greyhound, because the company is at least publicly acting like CBP agents have a legal right to storm onto any bus. The ACLU says that because passengers need to buy a ticket to board a privately owned Greyhound bus, government agents need warrants to search anyone traveling on a Greyhound vehicle.”

•Week of Hell: Dozens of African Detainees Allege Serial Abuse and Hate Crimes at Notorious Private Immigration Jail
Ryan Devereaux, José Olivares, Maryam Saleh, The Intercept, March 24, 2018
“What all of the men have in common, the report notes, is that they ‘were in ICE custody for the sole purpose of effectuating deportation after receiving final orders of removal.’ All of the men interviewed reported having been pepper-sprayed at least once during their week in detention, while 14 others — nearly half of the interviewees — reported other types of physical abuse.

•Where Fear and Hope Collide: Images From Mexican Border, and Beyond
Azam Ahmed, The New York Times, March 25, 2018
“For nearly a decade, the photographer John Moore has traversed the Mexico-United States border, covering the story of immigration from all sides — American, Mexican, immigrant and border agent… For Mr. Moore, immigration begins and ends well beyond the physical border — a line where fear and hope collide to shape American politics.”

•Trump privately presses for military to pay for border wall
Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, March 27, 2018
“He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling project, citing a ‘national security’ risk… senior Capitol Hill officials later said it was an unlikely prospect.”

•Trump: Construction of US-Mexico Border Wall to Begin Immediately
Latin American Herald Tribune, March 24, 2018
“The funding bill sets forth restrictions on how the $1.6 billion may be spent, including how long the stretch of allowed wall will be and where it will be located. Of the funds, $251 million must be used to renovate or revamp the double fence that already stands between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. ‘Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M(exico)!’ Trump said in another tweet.”

•Border Trilogy Part 1: Hole in the Fence
Radiolab, March 23, 2018
“We begin one afternoon in May 1992, when a student named Albert stumbled in late for history class at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas.  His excuse: Border Patrol. Soon more stories of students getting stopped and harassed by Border Patrol started pouring in. So begins the unlikely story of how a handful of Mexican-American high schoolers in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country stood up to what is today the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency.   They had no way of knowing at the time, but what would follow was a chain of events that would drastically change the US-Mexico border.”

•Border Patrol Is Making Some Very Humiliating Pleas to Recruit New Agents
Jorge Rivas, Splinter, March 23, 2018
“The agency is so desperate that it’s offering $10,000 cash bonuses and a fast track to more appealing positions if existing agents move to the state. To hear the agency tell it, it’s surprising there are so many issues, because, as an Arizona Border Patrol spokesman told Fronteras, going to work for the Border Patrol is actually really fun. ‘You can ride ATVs, there’s bike patrol, if you like to ride bicycles, you can do that. There’s horse patrol, there’s different units, flex team units. If you like to hike, you get paid to go out there and hike,’ the spokesman said. Of course, there’s also the part where you deport people, but sure, bikes.”

Mexican Enforcement
•Where Fear and Hope Collide: Images From Mexican Border, and Beyond
Azam Ahmed, The New York Times, March 25, 2018
“For nearly a decade, the photographer John Moore has traversed the Mexico-United States border, covering the story of immigration from all sides — American, Mexican, immigrant and border agent. His depiction of the border is both literal and figurative.”

•Number of Migrants Requesting Shelter in Mexico Increases
Prensa Latina, March 25, 2018
“Mexico faces a complex reality. It is a country of origin, of transit of migrants and of comeback of the same ones; but also increasingly we see that the refugee persons, the persons who flee of the violence, pursuit and conflicts armed in other countries, every time are more and see to this country as a destination.”

•Young Migrants’ Return to Mexico Is More ‘Exile’ Than Homecoming
Kirk Semple, The New York Times, March 24, 2018
“The size of the response by the Mexican government has not matched the scope of the struggle of its young citizens who have returned, according to returnees, their advocates and migration scholars. This stands in contrast to the Mexican government’s supportive approach toward Mexican immigrants in the United States, where the vast Mexican consular network has provided a range of services, including legal assistance and guidance in obtaining benefits in the United States such as DACA protections. ‘Mexico is helping migrants become members of a country where they are not citizens while denying their membership in the country where they do hold citizenship,’ said Alexandra Délano Alonso, a professor of global studies at The New School in New York and an expert on migration and the Mexican diaspora.”

Root Causes
•Central American ‘Migrants in Struggle’ Caravan Heads to Mexico, US for Dignity, Asylum
teleSUR, March 26, 2018
“From Mexico and the United States, the migrants are demanding open borders and asylum access, an end to deportations which destroy families, not terminate vital migrant programs such as the Temporary Protected Status, TPS, which has given access to people fleeing violence in Central American countries to the United States.”

•The War on Drugs Breeds Crafty Traffickers
Sanho Tree, The New York Times, March 26, 2018
“The kind of get-tough measures that may give one country leverage against another have little effect among individual actors who need only to move drugs through their own segment of the supply chain. Indeed, by making the drugs ever more valuable, they have only amplified the motivational feedback loop of the very people lawmakers are trying to stop.”

•IACHR Releases a New Report on the Human Rights Situation in Guatemala
Organization of American State (OAS), March 27, 2018
“This report examines the human rights situation in Guatemala. The IACHR addresses the system for the administration of justice, the situation of human rights defenders and justice operators, women, children and adolescents, indigenous peoples and afrodescendants, migrants and displaced persons, the situation regarding freedom of expression, citizen security issues and the situation of people in State custody. The report further provides recommendations aimed at assisting the State of Guatemala in strengthening its efforts to protect and enforce human rights in the country.”

•IACHR Calls on El Salvador to Not Renew Extraordinary Measures in Detention Centers
Organization of American States (OAS), March 26, 2018
“The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the Salvadoran State to comply with its duty to guarantee the life and integrity of persons deprived of their liberty, through the non-renewal of extraordinary security measures, to be decided by the Legislative Assembly in the following days. These measures, which have been in force for almost two years, have resulted in serious risks to the lives and integrity of those detained in the centers where such measures are in force.”

•The Link Between America’s Lax Gun Laws and the Violence that Fuels Immigration
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, March 22, 2018
“The ready availability of guns in America is often discussed as a domestic-policy matter. But it is an international issue, too. Every year, guns that were initially sold in the U.S. are used in thousands of crimes in Canada, Central America, and the Caribbean, according to the Center for American Progress. It’s estimated that some two hundred thousand American guns are smuggled across the southern border each year. The region that’s been hit the hardest is Central America, where gun laws are relatively strict yet homicide rates are among the highest on earth. Gang wars, massive state corruption, and murderous criminal syndicates are to blame for the violence, but American firepower facilitates it.”

•Mexicans Fear Abuses as New Law Empowers Military – But U.S. Security Aid Keeps Coming
José Olivares, The Intercept, March 24, 2018
“The ‘big monster’ is not just the Mexican authorities relishing their impunity. It is also the entire structure that funds and enables further abuse, including the United States government.”

•Welcome to Veracruz, Mexico, One of the Most Dangerous Places in the World to Be a Journalist
James North, The Nation, March 23, 2018
“Murdering journalists in Veracruz is only one element in a campaign of state terror—one that, according to widespread allegations, was organized and abetted by the former governor of Veracruz and the one-time head of his statewide security force. In the decade preceding 2016, the official number of people who disappeared was only 2,750, but other estimates by victims’ organizations oscillate between 4,000 and 20,000. The fear that the 8 million people of this state have lived with is only part of a rising wave of violence and corruption that is spreading across Mexico, for which the ruling elite is mainly responsible. In spite of Mexico’s worst crisis in a century, that elite continues to count on the support of the United States.”

•3 Members of Mexican Family Killed in Crossfire between Military, Armed Group
teleSUR, March 27, 2018
“Initial reports stated that the bullets, which killed Ruiz and her daughters, came from a Navy helicopter. However, a release from the Mexican Navy, claims that an analysis of the caliber of bullets responsible for their deaths showed that law enforcement officials did not fire them…In their original report, from the scene, officials also allegedly failed to mention that the members of the family, including two girls, had died during the clashes, saying only that ‘civilians’ had been killed in the crossfire.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources
•Security for Sale
Sarah Kinosian and James Bosworth, The Inter-American Dialogue, March 2018
“ In Latin America and the Caribbean, over 16,000 Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) employ an estimated 2.4 million people. While private security guards outnumber police officers around the world, the gap is far larger in Latin America. In Brazil, the ratio is four to one, in Guatemala, five to one, and in Honduras there are almost seven private guards for every public officer.”

•“I was treated like an animal”: Abuses Against African Detainees at the West Texas Detention Facility
Texas A&M University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, RAICES & University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic, March 22, 2018
“While detained at the WTDF, the men reported suffering numerous abuses, including: physical assault; sexual abuse; excessive and arbitrary discipline (use of pepper spray and solitary confinement) without cause; verbal insults, including racial slurs; dangerous and unsanitary conditions of confinement; and denial of medical and mental healthcare. LaSalle Corrections officers committed the    abuses. ICE officers may have been present for some of the abuses.”


*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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