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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for September 1, 2017

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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.

Photo by Emma Buckhout

U.S. Enforcement

A torn Trump still weighing fate of young immigrants
Jill Colvin, The Washington Post, August 30, 2017
“Trump railed against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during his campaign, slamming it as illegal ‘amnesty.’ But he changed his tune after the election, calling DACA one of the most difficult issues he’s grappled with. The program has given nearly 800,000 people a reprieve from deportations. It has also provided the ability to work legally in the U.S. in the form of two-year, renewable work permits — permits the Trump administration has continued to grant as the president has mulled the issue.”

Trump seriously considering ending DACA
Jonathan Swan, Axios, August 24, 2017
“Sources familiar with the deliberations tell Axios that Trump has made no final decision, and the White House continues to receive advice from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Jeff Sessions strongly believes Trump should end DACA; DHS, however, has a more nuanced position, and Trump himself has said he’s sympathetic to the children helped by the program.”

The Trump White House’s ugly new strategy: Use ‘dreamers’ as a bargaining chip
Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, August 22, 2017

“The White House officials want Trump to strike an ambitious deal with Congress that offers Dreamers protection in exchange for legislation that pays for a border wall and more detention facilities, curbs legal immigration and implements E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status, according to a half-dozen people familiar with situation, most involved with the negotiations.”

Federal Judge Blocks Texas’ Ban on ‘Sanctuary Cities’
Manny Fernandez, The New York Times, August 30, 2017

“The judge’s ruling was only temporary, and prevents the law from taking effect on Friday while a suit against it goes forward. But the decision, which Texas said it would appeal, served as a legal blow to one of the toughest state-issued immigration laws in the country and puts the brakes on a measure backed by the Trump administration that critics had called anti-Latino.”

Lawmakers pressure Trump to let Central Americans stay in the US
Luis Alonso Lugo, McClatchy, August 30, 2017

“Lawmakers from across the country are trying to build support in Congress to pressure President Donald Trump to allow nearly 300,000 immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador to stay in the country, adding to a growing pile of requests facing a White House that is trying to reduce, not expand, legal immigration.”

Illinois se convierte en el primer estado santuario
Agencia EFE, Noticias Telemundo, 28 de agosto de 2017

“‘Illinois le ha dado la bienvenida a los inmigrantes durante mucho tiempo y con esta ley continuará esa tradición’, declaró el gobernador republicano en la ceremonia que colmó las instalaciones de un restaurante muy popular del barrio mexicano La Villita, en Chicago”.

CAM Program Parole Termination: Latest Sign of the Administration’s Intent to Harm Children & Families from Central America
Latin America Working Group, August 16, 2017

“..the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated temporary parole as an option for individuals and children under the Central America Minors (CAM) Program, after more than two years of the program’s implementation and expansion. The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) condemns this decision as yet another sign of the current administration’s intent to harm children and families from Central America by ending the only lifeline many had to escape from the worsening security situation in the region.”

Trump pardons former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of contempt of court for violating Latinos’ rights
Jackie Calmes, The Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2017

“‘Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is [a] worthy candidate for a presidential pardon,’ a statement issued by the White House said. There was immediate reaction from some of those who have accused the aging lawman of brutality and racism.”

The year I spent in Joe Arpaio’s tent jail was hell. He should never walk free.
Francisco Chairez, The Washington Post, August 26, 2017

“I am not ashamed of what I did: I committed a crime and I paid my dues. How ironic it is, that the immigrant who committed a minor criminal act has to live with a conviction on his record for the rest of his life, while a criminal like Arpaio gets to walk away unscathed for his crimes, which are greater in scale and severity.”

Indocumentados fueron dejados por ICE en una estación de bus durante el paso de Harvey
Univision, 27 de agosto de 2017

“Sin hablar inglés, sin dinero y sin celulares, tuvieron que soportar la embestida del fenómeno meteorológico en un lugar desconocido para ellos. Gracias a la ayuda de activistas, estas familias lograron conseguir refugio mientras el transporte vuelve a estar habilitado para llevarlos a su destino”.

ICE defends actions after 50 immigrants reportedly left at bus station
Ellen Mitchell, The Hill, August 27, 2017

“The families, the majority of whom were asylum-seekers from Central America, were stranded after Greyhound suspended services before the hurricane, according to Rivard Report. They were eventually taken in by a local church until bus services resumed… Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett had called ICE officials on Thursday to tell them not to drop families off, Buzzfeed reported.”

Border Patrol says Texas checkpoints to remain open during Hurricane Harvey
Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune, August 24, 2017

“…CBP public affairs officer Roberto Rodriguez said officers would prioritize public safety but keep intact the goals of the agency’s mission. ‘We’re not going to impede anybody getting out of here, but at the same time we’re a law enforcement agency, so we still have to conduct our duties,’ he said.”

Trump Widens Rift With Congress as Critical Showdowns Loom
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times, August 23, 2017

“In a challenge to Republicans late Tuesday, Mr. Trump threatened to shut down the government in a matter of weeks if Congress did not fund the wall on the southern border that was a signature promise of his campaign for the White House.”

Can Trump actually shut down the government over wall funding?
Elise Viebeck, The Washington Post, August 24, 2017

“Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios we could see playing out this fall — some leading to a shutdown, others keeping the government open past the Sept. 30 deadline.”

Trump poised for a September fight over border wall
Niv Elis, The Hill, August 21, 2017

“Unless Congress approves a new funding bill, the government will shut down on Oct. 1. Trump is demanding funds for the wall that was the centerpiece of his successful presidential campaign, but Democrats have warned they will vote en masse against any legislation that includes money for the wall.”
DHS announces vendors for border wall prototypes
Tal Kopan, CNN, August 31, 2017

“Customs and Border Protection’s acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello announced that the top designs for a concrete wall that will be built along the San Diego border will be from four companies. There were two requests for proposals: a 30-foot high concrete wall design and then any other alternatives. The latter will be announced in the next week, CBP said.”

More Immigrants are Dying in Detention, and the Government Wants More Facilities
Tory Johnson, Immigration Impact, August 24, 2017

“The Geo Group, a for-profit, private prison corporation, has begun constructing a $110 million, 1,100-bed facility in Conroe, Texas… Geo already operates a nearby 1,500-bed detention center, as well as the country’s second-largest detention facility for jailing asylum-seeking families… According to ICE records, 173 people have died in DHS custody since 2003. As of June 2017, the death rate in ICE detention this fiscal year (FY) is on track to be the highest in six years.”

Missing in the US desert: finding the migrants dying on the trail north
Alex Hannaford, The Guardian, August 20, 2017

“Last year, there were officially 322 deaths along the US border with Mexico. Human remains were found in the deserts and remote ranchland in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. In the past decade there have been 4,205. It’s an estimation because these are just those they have recovered. There are probably hundreds more hidden under trees in that scorched Arizona desert alone. All were migrants: men, women and children heading north for a better life, often carrying just the clothes they were wearing.”

‘We Can’t Just Pull Out Our Gun’: Border Patrol Alters Training
Ron Nixon, The New York Times, August 18, 2017

“‘They key is what happens post-training,’ Mr. Erickson said. ‘And while we do credit the Border Patrol Academy with teaching it agents to de-escalate, there are still a number of things, including shooting at vehicles, that the agency needs to address in its training and in practice. De-escalation is just one step in meaningful reform.’”

Government Watchdog Questions Need for More ICE and Border Patrol Personnel
Joshua Breisblatt, Immigration Impact, August 18, 2017

“CBP [Customs and Border Protection] admitted to the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] that they do not know their operational need or have a deployment strategy for the new personnel and were years away from being at that point… The last time DHS received a large infusion of new hires, cases of corruption and misconduct spiked within the Border Patrol.”
FACT CHECK: What Has President Trump Done To Fight Illegal Immigration?
Joel Rose, National Public Radio, August 22, 2017

“Now seven months into his presidency, Trump has pushed for dramatic changes to the nation’s immigration system. But he’s also been stymied by Congress and by the courts. Here’s a look at what the Trump White House has accomplished on each of those 10 promises — and what it hasn’t.”

En Honduras los perseguían para matarlos, en EEUU para deportarlos
Lorena Arroyo y Laura Prieto Uribe, Univision, 22 de agosto de 2017

“La historia reciente de la familia Huete conlleva una enumeración de dramas: el de la violencia de la que huyeron en su país, uno de los más peligrosos del mundo, el de enfrentarse a los peligros del camino y cruzar México para llegar a EEUU y, finalmente, el dolor de ver cómo, desde marzo, los agentes del alguacil del condado de Monroe han detenido a cinco miembros de su familia con la intención de entregarlos a Inmigración”.

Pope Francis: prioritise migrants’ dignity over national security
Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, August 21, 2017

“Pope Francis has issued a 20-point action plan to governments on refugees and migrants to try to galvanise… The document’s 20 points are grouped in four calls to action: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate. Their ‘ultimate goal is the building of an inclusive and sustainable common home for all’.”

Jeff Flake: We Need Immigrants With Skills. But Working Hard Is a Skill.
Jeff Flake, The New York Times, August 18, 2017

“History doesn’t much record the unglamorous and often excruciating work of moving sprinkler pipe, digging ditch, chopping hay or keeping a broken-down feed truck running for just one more year. Manuel did all of that, and so much more… Without such work there is no ranch. Without ranches, my town and towns like it falter. And so in my estimation, Manuel is just about the highest-value immigrant possible, and if we forget that, then we forget something elemental about America.”

Told to Go Back to Guatemala, She Sought Sanctuary Instead
Liz Robbins and Jonathan Wolfe, The New York Times, August 18, 2017

“Local clergy estimate that more than a dozen people around New York City have quietly been hiding in churches to avoid deportation from federal immigration agents since the Trump administration began, but Ms. Morales was the first to publicly seek sanctuary.”

Mexican Enforcement

U.N. official urges Mexico and U.S. to boost refugee protection
Daina Beth Solomon and Lizbeth Diaz, Reuters, August 25, 2017

“U.N. figures show some 8,000 people applied for refugee status last year in Mexico, up 5,000 from 2015. Asylum applications in Mexico jumped 150 percent between November 2016 and March 2017, according to Mexican refugee agency COMAR… Mexico is among the countries that could wind up accepting more refugees and asylum seekers if the United States continues toughening its migration policies.”

Después de 3 años, CNDH reconoce masacre de 72 migrantes en San Fernando como violaciones graves a derechos humanos
Artículo 19, 29 de junio de 2017

“El pasado 20 de junio de 2017, a la Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho le fue notificada a través del Juzgado Décimo Quinto de Distrito en Materia Administrativa, de una importante resolución emitida por la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH), en la que después de una batalla legal de tres años reconoció que la masacre de San Fernando, Tamaulipas, debe ser calificada como una grave violación de derechos humanos”.

Alerta Defensa DH | Preocupación por la integridad y derecho a defender DH de las personas defensoras de migrantes
Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos, 28 de agosto de 2017

“La Red TDT ha documentado al menos 13 casos de agresiones relacionados con personas defensoras de migrantes en tiempos recientes. Tras valorar la existencia de un patrón que pone en riesgo esta importante labor ha decidido emitir una Alerta de Defensa DH cuyo primer paso es emitir esta Acción Urgente para llamar a las autoridades a garantizar el derecho a defender derechos humanos de estas personas defensoras”.

Mexico Rights Group Slams ‘Systematic Violence’ Facing Migrants
teleSUR, August 22, 2017

“’The case of San Fernando was a turning point in the history of migrants in transit, as it accounts for the context of systematic violence and impunity faced by migrants in their transit through Mexico, becoming figures and forgotten cases,’ the commission said in a statement.”

PGR rescata a 133 migrantes secuestrados en una ranchería en Tabasco
Manuel Espino Bucio, El Universal, 29 de agosto de 2017

“Una llamada anónima, informó la Procuraduría General de la República, alertó a los elementos de la Agencia de Investigación Criminal, del grupo de las Fuerzas de Reacción Inmediata Mixta (FRIM) y del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), quienes al acudir a un domicilio en dicha zona encontraron a las personas originarias de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador, hacinadas”.

Some 115 Migrants Rescued From Truck in Eastern Mexico: Official
Lizbeth Diaz, Reuters, August 20, 2017

“Police in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz have rescued 115 migrants, including 41 minors, traveling in ‘in deplorable conditions’ in a truck, a state official said on Sunday.”

Migrantes reciben ayuda para librar batallas legales y ser reconocidos como refugiados en México
Mayela Sánchez, Animal Político, 22 de agosto de 2017

“Entre 2013 y 2016, el 11 por ciento de los 13,948 solicitantes de refugio en México tenían representación legal. Muchos de esos abogados fueron facilitados a través de 16 organizaciones que trabajan apoyando a migrantes y a refugiados”.

Root Causes

Press Release: LAWG Joins U.S.-Based Civil Society Organizations in Condemning President Morales’s Decision on CICIG, Urging President to Abide by Court Ruling
Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Latin America Working Group, August 29, 2017

“The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) and other civil society organizations based in the United States released a joint statement condemning President Jimmy Morales’ decision to expel the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Iván Velásquez Gómez.”

Press Release: LAWG reaffirms crucial role of CICIG to combat corruption and impunity in Guatemala
Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group, August 23, 2017

“’We urge the Guatemalan government to reaffirm its commitment to working with CICIG and Commissioner Iván Velásquez to improve justice and end corruption in Guatemala,’ remarked Lisa Haugaard, executive director of LAWG.”

Guatemala Court Rules President Cannot Remove Anti-Corruption Head
Angelika Albaladejo, InSight Crime, August 30, 2017

“According to an August 29 ruling by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, Morales issued the expulsion order improperly, violating Guatemala’s constitution and an agreement with the United Nations, which backs the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG), led by Colombian Iván Velásquez.”

Guatemala crea nueva fuerza para atacar crimen en frontera con El Salvador
Agence France-Presse, 30 de agosto de 2017

“Autoridades guatemaltecas presentaron este miércoles una nueva fuerza de seguridad integrada por policías y militares para enfrentar al crimen en el este del país, fronterizo con El Salvador, informó el ministro del Interior Francisco Rivas. El grupo está integrado por 150 agentes de la Policía Nacional Civil y 100 efectivos del Ejército, dijo a periodistas el ministro tras poner en marcha la denominada Fuerza de Tarea ‘Xinca’’.

El Salvador Asks US Government for TPS Extension
Victoria Macchi and Gesell Tobias, Voice of America, August 27, 2017

“‘We’ve told the U.S. also that, of course they had their reasons initially for granting TPS in 2001 — the instability following the earthquakes in January and February of 2001 — and while we have overcome some of that instability, unfortunately we’ve suffered other catastrophes,’ Martinez said.”
Two Salvadoran news websites threatened for their reporting
Committee to Protect Journalists, August 28, 2017

“Beginning on August 22, El Faro and Revista Factum, two digital news outlets specializing in investigative journalism, began receiving direct threats on social media networks including Twitter and Facebook, according to news reports. The threats identified journalists by name and included photos. Journalists at the two outlets told CPJ they believed the threats were in response to an article published on Revista Factum’s website that same day about an elite anti-crime unit’s alleged involvement in criminal activity including three extrajudicial killings, sexual assault, and extortion.”

Revelan comunicaciones internas y crímenes de grupo de exterminio en la PNC
Carlos Martínez, El Faro, 23 de agosto de 2017

“La Revista Factum ha probado la existencia de un grupo de exterminio al interior de la Policía Nacional Civil en una amplia investigación que narra la participación de agentes de la Fuerza Especializada de Reacción de El Salvador (FES) en tres homicidios, pero también detalla las comunicaciones y maneras de operar de una célula del grupo élite para combatir a las pandillas, creado por el gobierno de Salvador Sánchez Cerén en abril de 2016”.

Official: El Salvador must protect police attacked by gangs
The Associated Press, August 28, 2017

“Street gangs like Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha are attacking police in response to a government crackdown. This year four police have been killed on duty and 18 have been slain off duty. Nine off-duty soldiers have been killed.”

PNC Elite Corps Involved in Homicides, Sexual Assault and Extortion
Bryan Avelar y Juan Martínez d’Aubuisson, Revista Factum, August 22, 2017

“The Salvadoran government already has knowledge of the crimes attributed to Diaz Lico’s group in the FES: Rastreador presented the facts to the Attorney General’s Office in May of this year. The Attorney General’s office offered him protection and arranged for him to speak with two agents of the Elite Division against Organized Crime of the PNC. However, rather than question the witness regarding the crimes attributed to the members of the FES, the agents focused instead on asking him questions regarding the location of gang members and details of the interviews he had provided to reporters from Factum.”

Desplazados salvadoreños buscan amparo de Supremo por falta de reconocimiento
EFE, 14 de agosto de 2017

“…lo que las familias buscan es el reconocimiento del desplazamiento forzado por la violencia que vive el país y que el Constitucional mande al Congreso y al Gobierno a legislar y crear programas especiales… durante los primeros seis meses del 2017 un total de 53 casos de desplazamiento que involucran a 254 víctimas. De este total, el 78 % fueron desplazados forzosamente por las pandillas y un 6 % abandonaron sus hogares por acciones de miembros de la Policía o el Ejército…”

How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have restarted the war on drugs
Lois Beckett, The Guardian, August 21, 2017

“What is so striking about the move by Sessions and the Trump administration is that it is at odds with much thinking across the globe about the war on drugs, including among leaders in Latin America. Ever since 2011 when Juan Manuel Santos, as the president of Colombia, declared that the war on drugs had failed, a growing international consensus has been forming on the need for a new conversation to discuss the violence, bloodshed and ruined lives that followed in the wake of the war on drugs – whether in Colombia, Mexico or America.”

Incrementan Violaciones en 2017
Ezequiel Barrera, La Prensa Grafica, 25 de agosto de 2017

“Este es uno de los 873 casos de violación denunciados en la PNC entre enero y junio de este año, según los datos publicados en la nueva plataforma de transparencia que la Policía lanzó el miércoles de esta semana. El dato revela que en promedio hubo cinco violaciones diarias en el país”.

Los homicidios dolosos bajan 9% en julio, pero sigue siendo el año más violento del sexenio
Animal Político, 24 de agosto de 2017

“Las cifras de este año superan incluso a las de 2011, uno de los años más violentos desde que comenzó la llamada guerra contra el narcotráfico, cuando se contabilizaron 13,517 casos de homicidio doloso en los primeros siete meses, 673 menos que los de este año”.

ONU-DH condena el asesinato del periodista Cándido Ríos Vázquez en Veracruz
Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, 24 de agosto de 2017

“Con el asesinato del Sr. Ríos ha habido, al menos, ocho periodistas asesinados en México durante 2017 y al menos uno permanece desaparecido. Según la Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Veracruz es la entidad con mayor cantidad de periodistas asesinados en la República”.

Destaca México como 1er lugar de impunidad en América
La Silla Rota, 28 de agosto de 2017

“‘El problema de la impunidad en México es funcional y estructural, no nació con el actual gobierno, sin embargo, se observa un aumento crítico en las estadísticas delictivas. Esto podría deteriorar futuras mediciones de la impunidad’”.

As Mexico debates giving the military more power, a judge asks why soldiers gunned down 22 people
Kate Linthicum, The Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2017

“Human rights advocates say that instead of solidifying the presence of the armed forces in Mexican communities, lawmakers should instead focus on initiatives to strengthen and professionalize Mexico’s civilian police forces. They point to the military’s role in grave rights violations, including documented cases of soldiers engaging in torture and carrying out execution-style killings.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Human Consequences of the Interior Immigration Enforcement Executive Orders

“Below is a small sample of the people who have been arrested, jailed, are in immigration proceedings, or are facing deportation as a result of the January 25th, 2017 Executive Orders, and subsequent policies. They are the human consequences of this misguided direction. They are Dreamers who have become targets, key members in their communities, and mothers and fathers of American citizens. They are the stories of a broken immigration system.”

Temporary Protected Status: An Overview
American Immigration Council, August 24, 2017

“This fact sheet provides an overview of how TPS designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.”

A Brief Guide for Families, Organizations, and Public Officials: Resources to inform, support, and prepare families for a possible return to Mexico

Leer en español.
The Institute for Women in Migration
“In the face of uncertainty, it is important to be informed, obtain necessary documents, and prepare families for a possible return to their country of origin, whether it’s involuntary or voluntary. This newsletter explains key bureaucratic procedures most families face during a return to Mexico. It includes recommended actions to take in order to avoid family separation and guarantee access to rights and basic services in Mexico.”

Letter to President Trump from Six Members of Congress, regarding DACA
Office of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham, August 22, 2017
“We write to express our support for maintaining the protections of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for current recipients of the policy.”

Food Security and Emigration: Why people flee and the impact on family members left behind in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras September 2017 Research report
United Nations World Food Programme, September 2017

“This study highlights the link between food insecurity and migration, and describes the main push-factors that trigger the decision to leave one’s homeland, such as poverty, violence and climate variability.”

*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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