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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for September 10, 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.

Photo of sign that says,
Source: Proceso Digital


U.S. Enforcement
•Central American security conference scrapped amid U.S. tensions with Guatemala, El Salvador
Nick Miroff and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, September 7, 2018

“A high-level conference intended to highlight U.S. security cooperation with Mexico and Central America was abruptly called off Friday amid flaring diplomatic tensions with El Salvador and Guatemala, according to two Trump administration officials.”

•Trump administration to circumvent court limits on detention of child migrants
Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, September 6, 2018

“U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who oversees the Flores agreement, has rejected the government’s requests to extend the amount of time migrant children can be held in immigration jails beyond the limit of 20 days. The administration’s new proposal does not set limits on the amount of time children could be held in detention. Rather, it seeks the authority to hold migrant children and their parents until their cases have been adjudicated, a process that could take months.”

•For Families Split at Border, an Anguished Wait for Children’s Return

Kirk Semple and Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, September 1, 2018

“The only contact the family has with the boy are brief video phone calls three times a week that are initiated by the boy’s social worker in Texas. Otherwise, they can only wait in agonizing isolation. They don’t know the name of the shelter where he is being held. They are not allowed to contact the social worker. They do not have phone numbers for anyone in the United States or Guatemalan governments who might be able to help.”

•In mountains of Guatemala, searching for parents deported from U.S. without children
Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2018

“The searchers work with Justice in Motion, a U.S.-based group that is part of a network of U.S. and Central American nonprofits. If they’re lucky, they’ll receive a name or hometown from U.S. officials. The U.S. government only recently began releasing phone numbers for deported parents — but those often do not work.”

•As Months Pass in Chicago Shelters, Immigrant Children Contemplate Escape, Even Suicide
Melissa Sanchez, Duaa Eldeib and Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica Illinois, September 6, 2018

“One 16-year-old from Guatemala said he wanted to “quitarme la vida,” or “take my life away,” as he waited to be released from a Chicago shelter for immigrant children. He was kept there for at least 584 days.”

•163 border-crossers detained by Border Patrol in often deadly AZ desert
Paul Ingram, Tucson Sentinel, September 5, 2018

“‘Transnational criminals—the cartels—are using people,’ said Sullivan. ‘They’re just milking the situation, trying to get as much as they can and they’re putting people out here in the desert, where they’re at risk. … And, we cannot stress this enough, this isn’t a place people can cross easily. They’re putting their lives at risk.’”

•Dozens of students separated from families still in limbo as school starts
Madina Touré, Politico, September 5, 2018

“The children are in temporary foster care and have not been placed with sponsors, meaning they cannot be enrolled in city schools. Advocates and elected officials are urging the city’s Department of Education to take steps to support the children and have expressed broad concerns about the type of education they can expect at the facilities where they are being housed.”

•Inside Stephen Miller’s hostile takeover of immigration policy

Nahal Toosi, Politico, August 29, 2018

“He has installed acolytes across key U.S. agencies, such as the State Department. He has inserted himself into NSC deliberations to an extraordinary degree for someone not in that elite group’s ranks. … He has cajoled and bullied some career staffers into implementing his vision of radically tighter U.S. borders — a vision that, according to a former White House official, even Trump has privately suggested can be extreme.”

•Why Did The Border Patrol Shoot Claudia Gómez?
Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed News, August 28, 2018

“Marta Martínez is no stranger to recording border agents or police activity near her house, which sits less than half a mile from the Rio Grande. … Martínez said she didn’t hear any shouts or orders from Border Patrol officers before she heard the single shot that hot, sunny day in May. Claudia had fallen dead just feet from her bathroom window.”

•’It IS bad there’: Emails reveal Trump officials pushing for immigrant protection terminations
Tal Kopan, CNN, August 27, 2018

“The revelation comes in a collection of internal emails and documents made public Friday… In the emails, Trump administration political officials repeatedly pushed for the termination of TPS for vulnerable countries, even as they faced pushback from internal assessments by career staffers and other parts of the administration.”

•Embajada brinda número telefónico para que hondureños consulten sobre separación de familias en EEUU
Proceso Digital, 25 de agosto de 2018

“‘Las familias o representantes legales con preguntas sobre la separación de familias pueden llamar a esta línea directa: +001 646-478-1560’ … la línea telefónica directa es atendida por abogados que hablan español e inglés habilitada en el horario de 9am a 5pm en el llamado horario del este de Estados Unidos (dos horas adelante del hondureño), de lunes a viernes”.

•Will Anyone in the Trump Administration Ever Be Held Accountable for the Zero-Tolerance Policy?
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, August 22, 2018

“To date, no one in the Trump Administration has been held accountable for its family-separation policy, even after evidence has steadily mounted as to its immense human costs and administrative failures.”

•Photographs That Humanize the Immigration Debate

James Estrin, The New York Times, September 3, 2018

“One photo of the crying child, Yanela, was often used as a potent symbol of the agony of family separation and led opponents of the hard-line policy to donate millions of dollars to fight for family reunification.”

•Mural going up in El Paso draws attention to environmental impact of border wall
Alfredo Corchado, Dallas Morning News, August 24, 2018

“Custodio and eight other students from La Fe Preparatory School’s enrichment program in El Paso are part of a community of artists and activists working on a 60-foot-long, 14-foot-tall mural that features five endangered species native to the U.S.-Mexico border and Chihuahuan Desert. They painted on large canvases that will be applied to a wall in downtown El Paso.”

•Logic’s VMA Performance Was a Powerful Protest Against Immigrant Family Separation

Charles Holmes, MTV, August 20, 2018

“As Logic rapped onstage with Latinx children behind him, a video screen featuring a border wall started to rise symbolically. When the song reached its mighty crescendo the children reunited with their parents, standing in solidarity against the injustice countless immigrants are currently facing.”

•’For I Was a Stranger…’

Jean Stokan, Sojourners, August 2018

“This is a critical moment for Honduras, and one needing the engagement of U.S. faith communities.”

Mexican Enforcement
•Peña destaca ayuda a migrantes; omite reportes de maltrato a centroamericanos
Lizbeth Padilla, Animal Político, 7 de septiembre de 2018

“México incrementó su capacidad para deportar migrantes pero no ha desarrollado los mecanismos para investigar los delitos cometidos contra ellos. Sobre las autoridades migratorias, el informe de Peña Nieto señala que se puso mayor atención en la supervisión de los funcionarios del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) que atienden a los migrantes”.

•Migrant Activist Who Led Asylum Caravans Released From Jail In Mexico
Jean Guerrero, KPBS, September 5, 2018

“‘I think it was clear to everybody that the police had abused their authority … they were under too much pressure to keep pretending there was any good reason for them to be in jail.’”

•Report: Nearly 1/2 of Underage Migrants in Mexico Last Year Were Unaccompanied
Jorge Valencia, Arizona Public Media, August 23, 2018

“It isn’t the largest number of unaccompanied minors Mexico has seen from Central America. But the number is still high: About 46 percent of minors were traveling alone or with a smuggler.”

•Mexico, Guatemala to push development program to reduce migration
Al Día, August 28, 2018

“The most significant point of agreement between them was that the foreign ministries of the two nations will ‘define a (comprehensive) program of development and cooperation’ that deals with the migration phenomenon through the ‘development of (our) peoples,’ said Lopez Obrador.”

•Central American Migrants Kidnapped in Chiapas, Mexico

Prensa Latina, August 25, 2018

“About 20 immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala were kidnapped by a gang of criminals operating in the highlands of Chiapas, south of the capital, announced today. The kidnappers are demanding large sums of money to free them, and so far the state and federal authorities are continuing their search.”

•Reintegrating Returned Mexican Migrants through a Comprehensive Workforce Development Strategy
The Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center, Forbes, August 22, 2018

“The strategy should take into account Mexican returnees, who can greatly contribute to emerging innovations, technologies, and human capital. Investing in the economic reintegration of returning migrants can help address skills gaps in the Mexican labor force. This investment would have a spillover effect across the country by helping to increase firm performance, boost economic growth and reduce regional income gaps.”

Root Causes

•The Hidden Problem of Forced Internal Displacement in Central America
Jessica Tueller and Eric L. Olson,The Wilson Center, August 21, 2018

“The report outlines a humanitarian crisis distinct from those produced by traditional internal armed conflicts or natural disasters, emphasizing the high levels of criminality and inadequate government response that have resulted in increased internal displacement.”

•Guatemala Morales defends ending UN anti-graft commission
Sonia Perez D., Washington Post, September 6, 2018

“Morales argued that the exit of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala next year will not jeopardize further investigations of corruption. He added that his decision not to renew the mandate of the commission, known as CICIG for its initials in Spanish, doesn’t obstruct justice but rather aims ‘to locate the constitution of the republic as our highest law.’”

•Trial for the murder of Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres Set to Begin Despite Mishandling of Evidence
Jackie McVicar, America Magazine, August 28, 2018

“‘It’s a crime of the state that has transcended the Honduran borders,’ she said. ‘There is little will to find integral justice. The criminal structure which ordered her murder must be uncovered.’”

•’Suicide,’ ‘catastrophe’: Nicaraguans in US terrified of looming end of protections
Tal Kopan, CNN, August 30, 2018

“’The Nicaraguans that would be returning would be returning to a very dangerous and unstable situation, and the fear is it might create more migration and more instability in the region,’ Olson said.”

•El Salvador: Civil War, Natural Disasters, and Gang Violence Drive Migration

Cecilia Menjívar and Andrea Gómez Cervantes, Migration Policy Institute, August 29, 2018

“This article traces the history of Salvadoran immigration and emigration, profiles the population of Salvadoran immigrants in the United States—with a focus on their treatment under U.S. immigration policies—and examines emerging and ongoing policy issues affecting these migrants and their families.”

•How U.S. Aid Is Contributing to Anti-Corruption Efforts in Honduras
Ambassador James Nealon (r) and Kurt Alan Ver Beek, Ph.D., The Wilson Center, August 15, 2018

“Why does this matter to the United States? Why do we care about conditions in Honduras? Because it’s these very conditions—violence, weak institutionality and corruption, lack of economic opportunity—that are the push factors of migration. If we can help Hondurans achieve sustained progress over time, then eventually Hondurans will see their futures at home and not in the United States.”

•Forced Displacements Are Common in Southern Mexico
Marissa Revilla,
Global Press Journal
“Thousands of indigenous people were forced from their homes in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, in 2017. The displacement was part of a local, violent land dispute that has been going on for years, but similar scenes occur every year throughout the country.”

•Mexico opened 2,599 homicide investigations in July — the most ever recorded in a month

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2018

“The 16,399 homicide cases opened in the first seven months of 2018 represent a 14% increase over the same period last year. July’s total breaks the previous monthly record of 2,535 set in May.”

•Guatemala’s Civil War Devastated the Country’s Indigenous Maya Communities
Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2018

“A report by a United Nations-backed truth commission after the 36-year civil war formally ended in 1996 found that security forces had inflicted “multiple acts of savagery” and genocide against Maya communities.”

•Cuarenta organizaciones piden el cese de la represión contra defensores de Derechos Humanos
Claudia Ramírez, El Periódico, 19 de agosto de 2018

“Organizaciones de sociedad civil rechazaron hoy actos de represión en contra de defensores de Derechos Humanos los cuales han sido víctimas de guerras mediáticas, criminalización y estigmatización, por medio de un comunicado”.

•El Salvador arrests more than 400 Mara gang members

Associated Press, August 29, 2018

“The gang is also known as the MS-13, and some of the arrested were allegedly involved in extortion, drug trafficking and ordering the killings of police officers. The director of the National Civil Police said Tuesday the arrests were aimed at disabling the gang’s vast financial and logistics network.”

•White House Criticizes China Over El Salvador Recognition
Austin Ramsy, The New York Times, August 24, 2018

“The White House comments were far sterner than those made by the State Department after other countries in the region, including Panama and the Dominican Republic, switched ties from Taiwan to China…Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said this week that he had spoken with President Trump about ending American aid to El Salvador after it established formal ties with Beijing, and he would join with a fellow Republican, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, to carry that out.”

•Nicaragua names police chief sanctioned by US over crackdown
Associated Press, August 23, 2018

“New police chief Francisco Diaz, who is also related to Ortega through the marriage of their children, replaces Aminta Granera, who months earlier left the top police job. An announcement in the government’s official Gazette said Diaz assumes the post Sept. 5.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

•Congresswoman Speier and Colleagues Send Letter to DHS Urging Action to Reunite Families
Office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier, August 29, 2018

“‘We call upon DHS to limit the damage inflicted upon these children by offering humanitarian parole to parents who have been removed from the country, staying the removal of parents who have waived their reunification rights, and assuming a presumption of reunification for families with a parent that has been found ineligible.’”

•Closing Asylum at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Refugees International, August 29, 2018

“But other measures have also caused asylum seekers significant harm. These include the blocking of access at U.S. ports of entry, the criminal prosecution of asylum seekers for unauthorized entry without regard to the credibility of their requests for protection, an unreasonable narrowing of grounds for asylum, and pressure in detention facilities for asylum seekers to self-deport.”

•Violaciones de derechos humanos y abusos en el contexto de las protestas en Nicaragua
Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, agosto de 2018

“La grave crisis de derechos humanos en Nicaragua desde el comienzo de las protestas
sociales el 18 de abril de 2018 se ha caracterizado por múltiples formas de represión y otras
formas de violencia, que han resultado en miles de víctimas, incluyendo aproximadamente
300 personas fallecidas y 2000 heridas”.

•Major Developments Relating to “Sanctuary” Cities Under the Trump Administration
ACLU, August 27, 2018

“Since his first week in office, President Trump has attempted to leverage the power of the federal government to coerce state and local law enforcement agencies to assist with his mass detention and deportation agenda – regardless of their own law enforcement priorities, the wishes of their communities, and the U.S. Constitution.”

•Haz que se vean
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos y Propuesta Cívica, agosto de 2018
“Conoce las historias de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos y periodistas de la campaña #HazQueSeVean”.

*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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