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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for May 14, 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: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP


Spotlight

Guess the Rights of More than Half the World Don’t Matter
Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director of the Latin America Working Group
Medium, May 10, 2018
“Someone at the top (of the State Department? of the White House?) wanted to eliminate the mention of reproductive rights and reduce the focus on women’s rights and ethnic discrimination — and other pesky issues…. The hardworking and dedicated State Department officials who actually write these reports probably did their level best to keep coverage on these issues… but the word from the top was: The rights of more than half the world don’t matter.”

Tell Secretary Nielsen: Stop separating families!
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.”

U.S. Enforcement

Trump administration to step up family separation at the border
Ted Hesson, Politico, May 7, 2018
“The Homeland Security Department will refer ‘100 percent of illegal southwest border crossings’ to the Justice Department for prosecution under a federal statute that prohibits illegal entry, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday… The department’s new commitment to prosecute border crossers will almost certainly lead to an increase in family separation.”

Advocates walk out of hearing to protest plan to separate migrant families
Daniella Silva, NBC, May 8, 2018
“A group of mothers, carrying their children, on Tuesday denounced the Trump administration’s plan to separate families who enter the United States illegally, walking out of a hearing in Washington where the homeland security secretary was speaking… Podkul told NBC News that she hoped that the demonstration sent a message of solidarity with mothers whose children have been taken from them. ‘These mothers can’t speak for themselves — you can’t see them walking through the halls of Congress,’ she said.”

Homeland Security Secretary Defends Separating Families Who Cross Border Illegally
John Burnett and Richard Gonzales, NPR, May 10, 2018
“In a wide-ranging interview with NPR’s John Burnett airing on All Things Considered, [Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen stood by the policy announced earlier this week as well as the administration’s broader crackdown on illegal immigration, saying her department is merely following the law.”

Separation of Families on the U.S.– Mexican Border as a form of Torture
Gerald Gray, Border Observatory by Hope Border Institute, May 7, 2018
“Forced disappearance—the unwanted physical separation of family members to places unknown, for instance—has been recognized and clinically treated as a form of torture for years in torture treatment clinics… What is happening with the ICE separation of children from parents or other caretakers is one form of forced disappearance—in this case, the kidnapping of two parties instead of one.  Even if the parent or caretaker knows enough of the prison staffs’ language (presumably usually English), they don’t really know most of the time where the children are, who is responsible for them and whether they care, how the children’s health is, and if and when they will ever see the children again.”

Jeff Sessions’s breathtaking policy of malice toward migrants
Editorial Board, Washington Post, May 8, 2018
“Will babies be separated from nursing mothers? Will toddlers be housed in institutions far from parents? How many children will be traumatized by being carted away from their parents for weeks or months — or longer? The attorney general doesn’t say or, apparently, care.”

MS-13: Children aren’t lining up at the Mexican Border to Join Gangs | Opinion
Dora Schriro, Newsweek, May 8, 2018
“They did not come here to join Mara Salvatrucha, better known as MS-13, or other gangs. They traveled thousands of miles on foot or riding the roof of ‘la bestia’ (the beast), fast-moving freight trains from which many fell and others were pushed. They came here, boys and girls alike, seeking refuge from conscription in gangs, sex trafficking, slavery, and war in their countries.”

A War on Women at the US Border
Michelle Chen, The Nation, May 8, 2018
“In addition to the administration’s new policy of splitting migrant families at the border by detaining parents and children in separate facilities—a practice condemned as dangerous and abusive—Sessions is now challenging an individual asylum case with the aim of shredding humanitarian precedents for all migrants fleeing domestic violence. If the White House prevails, rights groups say, it could become nearly impossible to ensure essential refugee protection for countless survivors escaping gender-based abuse in their home countries.”

US deportations to Mexico rise to start year

Associated Press, May 9, 2018
“Mexican government data show that the U.S. deported 53,764 Mexicans in the first three months of the year, up 40 percent over the same quarter a year earlier. Deportations had fallen during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, but this year’s figures have now surpassed the total for the same period in 2016.”

Border crossings steady in April after March spike
Tal Kopan, CNN, May 4, 2018
“In April, there were 38,234 apprehensions at the southern border and 12,690 people deemed ‘inadmissible,’ or who came to a port of entry without papers that authorized them to enter the US, virtually unchanged from the month before. The number of family units and children in both categories also held roughly steady from the previous month. The news comes as the administration has claimed a ‘crisis’ on the southern border, a narrative largely driven by the jump in March and the comparison to the numbers last spring, when crossings were at abnormally low levels.”

Trump’s DHS is using an extremely dubious statistic to justify splitting up families at the border
Dara Lind, Vox, May 8, 2018
“The Trump administration is explicitly doing this to try to stop more families from coming to the US in the future. And their argument that prosecuting parents actually works to deter future border crossings relies on a ‘statistic’ that their own data shows to be fake… The government says its new policy reduced border crossings 64 percent. They actually increased 64 percent.”

How The Refugee Caravan Became A Scapegoat For Trump’s Border Crackdown
Elise Foley, Huffington Post, May 9, 2018
“The caravan has traveled to the border each year for a decade, and apprehension numbers, while higher than last year, were well in line with standard trends. But that didn’t seem to matter. Fox News covered the caravan constantly. The president tweeted about it… The message was that the caravan was a symbol that the border wasn’t secure, thanks in part to ‘loopholes’ for asylum-seekers that the administration wants to eliminate.”

Five myths about the U.S.-Mexico border
Christopher E. Wilson, Washington Post, May 4, 2018
“1. The border is out of control…  2. A border wall would stem the opiod epidemic…. 3. Border enforcement does not curtail illegal crossings… 4. Terrorist groups are exploiting a porous border… 5. Mexico’s border laws are strong, and ours are weak.”

This Mexico City restaurant is rescuing deportees with jobs and Texas barbecue
Kate Linthicum, LA Times, May 9, 2018
“In the days after his deportation, Victor Cruz Ortega wandered the crowded streets of Mexico City in an escalating panic…. This month, he started working as prep cook at Pinche Gringo, a popular Mexico City barbecue joint whose American proprietor has made a special effort to hire deportees and other Mexicans who have returned after long stints north of the border. Owner Dan Defossey says it’s his answer to President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, which last year resulted in the deportation of more than 11,000 Mexicans each month.”

Republicans seek enough signatures to force DACA vote in House
Tal Kopan, CNN, May 9, 2018
“A group of Republicans are making good on their threat to attempt to force an immigration floor vote in the House—potentially paving the way for a showdown among proposals to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program… The effort is being spearheaded by three moderate Republicans who have long been vocal about trying to save DACA—Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, Jeff Denham of California, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida.”

U.S. embassy cables warned against expelling 300,000 immigrants. Trump officials did it anyway.
Nick Miroff, Seung Min Kim, and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, May 8, 2018
“The cables’ contents, which have not been previously disclosed, reveal career diplomats’ strong opposition to terminating the immigrants’ provisional residency, known as temporary protected status (TPS), and the possible deportation of hundreds of thousands of people to some of the poorest and most violent places in the Americas… Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson dismissed the advice and joined other administration officials in pressuring leaders at the Department of Homeland Security to strip the immigrants of their protections.”

“TPS is not just three letters…it’s my family’s life”
Pilar Marrero, La Opinión, 3 de mayo de 2018
“Juan and Sarah fell in love in 1998 after arriving undocumented to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, a disaster that devastated their country of Honduras…. For Juan, his family and his life in this country was the equivalent of a happy ending for a difficult childhood… Juan is eager for his story to be heard. ‘Please tell people that for us TPS is not just three letters, it’s my family, it´s my children, it’s my life.’”

Fatal encounters: 97 deaths point to pattern of border agent violence across America
Sarah Macaraeg, The Guardian, May 2, 2018
“The shootings are only part of a larger litany of Customs and Border Protection agency-related violence inside the US. Encounters have proven deadly for at least 97 people – citizens and non-citizens – since 2003… From Maine to Washington state and California to Florida, the deaths stem from all manner of CBP activity. Border agents manning land crossings and a checkpoint have used deadly force, as have agents conducting roving patrols – up to 160 miles inland from the border.”

Exclusive: Kirsten Gillibrand introduces a bill to crack down on immigration agents
Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, May 11, 2018
“The Department of Homeland Security Accountability and Transparency Act would require border patrol and immigration enforcement agents to document every instance when they stop, search, or interrogate people… Under current law, agents from both departments have broad authority to stop and question people about their immigration status… But the law doesn’t require agents keep track of whom they stop or why, unless the agents detain someone or end up using force.”

Border agent to face new trial in Tucson on deadly shooting of Mexican teen

Perla Trevizo, Arizona Daily Star, May 11, 2018
“Federal prosecutors have decided to retry Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz in the killing of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodríguez… Swartz has admitted shooting through the border fence in Nogales in response to a group of rock throwers, but his defense attorneys argued it was justified because it was in self defense.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico Deploys A Formidable Deportation Force Near Its Own Southern Border
James Fredrick, NPR, May 7, 2018
“President Trump singled out a group of families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador heading to the United States as evidence that ‘Mexico is doing very little, if not nothing,’ to stop immigration. But Mexico has actually assembled an aggressive enforcement strategy, with U.S. backing.”

Mexican caravan migrants protest lack of visas in Mexico
Associated Press, WTOP, May 9, 2018
“Some of the migrants who peeled off from a caravan and decided to stay in northern Mexico are protesting delays in granting residency visas and are threatening to go to the U.S. border to seek asylum… Mexican Sen. Maria del Carmen Ojesto said Wednesday that 15 of the Central Americans are on a hunger strike in the northern state of Sonora to demand visas they say they were promised.”

Root Causes

The threat to Central America’s prosecutors
The Economist, May 10, 2018
“A bigger worry is who will replace five supreme-court justices in July.… The parties regret naming independent-minded judges in 2009. ‘They won’t make that mistake again,’ says Abraham Abrego of Cristosal, a human-rights group. In the northern triangle, a golden age of judicial independence may be ending.”

Honduras: A pesar de los esfuerzos del Estado, los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos están en serio peligro
OACDH, 11 de mayo de 2018
“El Relator Especial de la ONU sobre la situación de los defensores y defensoras de los derechos humanos, Michel Forst, ha concluido su visita a Honduras… ‘La impunidad, la falta de participación activa y la colusión entre poderosos intereses, son ingredientes mortíferos que han convertido a Honduras en un lugar peligroso para los defensores de los derechos humanos’, dijo el Sr. Forst en una declaración con la que concluye su misión de investigación de 10 días”.

Honduran lives at risk
Ismael Moreno, The Hill, May 12, 2018
“Many of us are particularly under threat because we have exercised our right to freedom of expression and have defended the victims of repression and abuses committed by the armed forces… For these actions, which are regarded as inalienable rights in the U.S., we are targets in our country.”

Boston City Council asks for government accountability in Honduras
Akilah Johnson, Boston Globe, May 2, 2018
“The Boston City Council passed a resolution Tuesday urging Congress to stop financially backing police and military operations in Honduras until the Central American country investigates human rights violations by law enforcement… The council resolution urges Congress to pass the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, introduced after an environmental and indigenous rights leader was killed by two men allegedly trained through a US military combat training program.”

ONU demanda acceso a Nicaragua para investigar situación violenta del país
Elizabeth Romero, La Prensa, 11 de mayo de 2018
“La Oficina del Alto Comisionado de Derechos Humanos de la ONU demanda al Gobierno les permita recopilar información de primera mano sobre la situación de Nicaragua”.

¿Qué municipios en El Salvador han registrado un incremento de homicidios en estos últimos días?
Ricardo Flores, La Prensa, 10 de mayo de 2018
“El fiscal general, Douglas Meléndez, echó mano ayer de un informe estadístico y de análisis de datos de la Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) para asegurar que en lo que va del año han aumentado los homicidios en los municipios que están dentro del Plan El Salvador Seguro, lanzado por el Ejecutivo”.

El Salvador OKs initiative to fight violence against women
Associated Press, May 4, 2018
“El Salvador’s government has approved an initiative presented by women’s rights groups for a national alert over gender-based violence… Among the measures is a campaign to combat sexual harassment in public institutions, emphasizing prevention of sexual violence and killings of women… The statistics say four out of every 10 women have experienced some kind of violence.”

“Ignoring the phenomenon of displacement can be a way of avoiding responsibility”

Meg Mitchell and Iliana Cornejo, Cristosal, May 11, 2018
“Cristosal’s executive director, Noah Bullock, suggests that the authorities will start creating policies for victim protection when the population demands it… He urges the government to recognize the phenomenon of forced displacement. Bullock indicates that regardless of which political party is in power, Cristosal will work alongside it to assist victims of forced displacement by violence, both legally and psychologically.”

Hundreds of people in Mexico are kidnapped every year. And the problem’s getting worse.
Rory Smith, Vox, May 11, 2018
“Mexico’s kidnapping problem was bad enough when most of the crimes were being committed by a handful of cartels. But now that many of those criminal organizations have begun to splinter, there are more groups vying for a piece of the drug trade, which means that they have more costs to meet. Abducting people and demanding ransom money is one way to do that.”

Mexico: Over 20,000 Displaced Due to Conflict, Violence in 2017
TeleSUR, May 5, 2018
“Drug-related violence and other forms of conflict forced over 20,000 people to leave their homes and look for safer places to live in 2017 according to Mexican Commission on Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH). The data, which was published in a report Wednesday, shows 20,390 citizens in six states fled because of the violent actions of state forces and ‘organized armed groups’ such as cartels, local gangs, and vigilantes… According to the report, 60 percent of those displaced belong to an indigenous group.”

Caritas migrant shelter in Tijuana under police protection after attacks
David Agren, Crux, May 12, 2018
“A Catholic-run shelter for migrants in the border city of Tijuana has been put under police protection after a robbery and arson attack on consecutive days.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Mexico’s Southern Border: Security, Violence and Migration in the Trump Era
International Crisis Group, May 9, 2018
“Mexico’s border policy, currently part of the government’s efforts to get what it wants in negotiations with the U.S., should turn instead to preventing the festering local resentments, crime and violence that lurk along its southern frontier. The geopolitics of migration must not delay or dilute attempts to lessen the perils that refugees and migrants face.”

The Math of Immigration Detention, 2018 Update: Costs Continue to Multiply
Laurence Benenson, National Immigration Forum, May 9, 2018
“Each year, Congress spends billions of dollars to detain a population that includes thousands of people who have no criminal record and pose little danger to the public. The daily cost of a detention bed has continued to rise, as the number of people held in detention has also increased.”

Predicting Unauthorized Salvadoran Migrants’ First Migration to the United States between 1965 and 2007
Karen A,. Pren and Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal, Center for Migration Studies, May 1, 2018
“ In this study, we… perform an event history analysis to discern the factors that influenced the likelihood that a Salvadoran household head would take a first unauthorized trip to the United States between 1965 and 2007.”

Desplazamiento interno forzado en México: Cifras 2017
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)
“Miles de personas han tenido que abandonar sus hogares a causa de la violencia en México. Durante el 2017, ocurrieron 25 eventos de desplazamiento interno forzado en México, que afectaron a 20,390 personas”.

Making the Invisible Visible: Forced Displacement in El Salvador
Cristosal and the Quetzalcóatl Foundation
Infographic on forced displacement in El Salvador.

 

*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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