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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for September 24, 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.

4 Years Ayotzinapa: La esperanza esta en la verdad. Hope is in the truth. 43 students disappeared. 120+ arrested. 0 convicted of enforced disappearance.

•Ayotzinapa: Hope is in the Truth Toolkit
Latin America Working Group, September 19, 2018

September 26th marks the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students in Mexico. Check out this toolkit with actions you can take to understand and protest the lack of progress in the case!

•118 House Democrats to AG Sessions: Reverse Decision Ending Asylum for Victims of Domestic, Gang, and Gender-Based Violence

Office of Congressman Jim McGovern, September 13, 2018

“Taken together, these decisions, policies and practices have violated and shredded decades of precedent of U.S. law, careful jurisprudence within the immigration court system, and compliance with U.S. obligations under international law as a signatory to the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of the of the 1951 Refugee Convention.”

U.S. Enforcement

•Trump Administration Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those on Public Aid
Michael D. Shear and Emily Baumgaertner, The New York Times, September 22, 2018

“Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country.”

•Immigrants may be denied green cards if they’ve received benefits
Ted Hesson, Nancy Cook. Helena Bottemiller Evich and Andrew Restuccia, Politico, September 22, 2018

“The regulation could force millions of low-income families to choose between government assistance and permanent settlement in the United States. Advocates fear it could ultimately restrict children’s access to food and health care. The move will mainly affect legal immigrants and their families, since undocumented immigrants are not eligible for most federal benefits.”

•US Slashes the Number of Refugees It Will Allow into the Country
Carol Morello, Washington Post, September 17, 2018

“The United States will admit no more than 30,000 refugees in the coming fiscal year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, the lowest number in decades and a steep cut from the 45,000 allowed in this year. The new number is a small fraction of one percentage point of the almost 69 million displaced people in the world today.”

•Trump is gutting America’s refugee program even though most Americans support it

Nick Miriello and Keegan Hamilton, Vice News, September 19, 2018

“Overall, 51 percent of Americans said the U.S. has a responsibility to take in refugees. Despite the highly polarized atmosphere surrounding a program that’s historically enjoyed bipartisan support, resettlement experts say Americans across the country remain ready and eager to help as many refugees as they can.”

•’People will die’: Obama official’s warning as Trump slashes refugee numbers
Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian, September 19, 2018

“Bob Carey, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) under the Obama administration from 2015 to 2017, told the Guardian the new limit of 30,000 refugees per year and the Trump administration’s justification for the cap was ‘a new low in our history.’ ‘People will be harmed,’ Carey said. ‘People will die.’”

•Despite what this administration wants, the US can’t close its border to asylum seekers
Gregory Chen, The Hill, September 18, 2018

“The United States cannot close its borders to asylum seekers as the administration is now attempting to do. Our laws and Constitution require that every person arriving at the border receives a fair and just legal proceeding.”

•Congress questions CBP after Border Patrol agent charged in murders of four Texas women
Alan Gomez, USA Today, September 21, 2018

“Eighteen members of the House of Representatives — all Democrats, most from border states — sent a letter to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan this week requesting detailed information about the crimes Ortiz is charged with, whether he was on duty or used government resources while committing them, and whether the agency failed to identify any changes in his conduct.”

•“Kick Ass, Ask Questions Later”: A Border Patrol Whistleblower Speaks Out About Culture of Abuse Against Migrants
John Washington, The Intercept, September 20, 2018

“Just as the officer was arriving on the scene, Mario handed the 4-year-old boy a jug of water. Before the boy could take a sip, however, the officer kicked the jug out of the child’s hands and barked, ‘There’s no amnesty here.’”

•Two Border Patrol Agents Charged with Murder Highlights the Need for Robust Hiring Standards
Joshua Breisblatt, Immigration Impact, September 19, 2018

“However, to meet President Trump’s desire to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, many in Congress have been looking to relax the hiring standards again. These serious criminal cases, however, demonstrate why that would be a mistake.”

•Justice Department Attempts to Suppress Evidence that the Border Patrol Targeted Humanitarian Volunteers
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, September 16, 2018

“‘To actively thwart efforts of its citizens to assist those in need through the provision of the most basic necessities — emergency food and water — is cruel and shameful behavior. And to threaten to imprison citizens for searching for distressed migrants stranded in highly dangerous locations — generous, humane actions the government should encourage and applaud — is unconscionable. It violates the universal sense of justice.’”

•ICE arrested undocumented immigrants who came forward to take in undocumented children
Tal Kopan, CNN, September 20, 2018

“…many of these children are fleeing extremely dangerous situations in their home countries and have legitimate claims to stay in the US that could take years to pursue. Family and friends already in the US can provide stable homes for them as they pursue those avenues of legal status.”

•CBP chief to inspect Border Patrol facilities housing minors
Alan Gomez, USA Today, September 17, 2018

“That’s why he wants to spend more time analyzing ways to modernize Border Patrol facilities. And it’s why he’ll travel to Central America this month to meet with his counterparts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to see how those governments can improve living conditions so fewer people feel compelled to flee.”

•Zero Tolerance Lives On
Julia Preston, The Marshall Project, September 14, 2018

“Judge Juan F. Alanis swears them in and they promise to tell the truth. Then, in an exercise of wholesale justice at lightning speed, each of them is charged with the crime of illegal entry and convicted and sentenced—all before lunchtime.”

Mexican Enforcement
•Mexico’s next president could be on a collision course with Trump over immigration
Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff, Washington Post, September 21, 2018

“‘We are not going to chase migrants. We are not going to criminalize them,’ said Alejandro Encinas, the incoming undersecretary in Mexico’s ministry in charge of immigration. ‘We have to stop looking at immigration as an issue of public security or national security, or the national security of the United States.’”

•On other side of border, Mexico detaining thousands of migrant children
Patrick Timmons, UPI, September 17, 2018

“Mexican law prohibits detaining migrant children, but it happens anyway because state-run children’s shelters lack the capacity to handle the tens of thousands of children, mostly from Central American countries. Instead, Mexican immigration authorities detain children and their families and then deport them together after 60 days if there is no political asylum petition.”

•Aseguran 121 migrantes en Huajuapan, Oaxaca; hay 12 detenidos
Ismael García, El Universal, 17 de septiembre de 2018

“Los extranjeros provenientes de Guatemala y Nicaragua viajaban en un camión de carga… cuando fueron detectados… En el operativo la corporación de seguridad detuvo a 12 personas originarias del estado de Chiapas por transportar de manera ilegal a los migrantes indocumentados”.

•Migrantes denuncian violencia durante redada en Veracruz
Conexión Migrante, 14 de septiembre de 2018

“Aseguraron que durante la persecución, sufrieron múltiples agresiones por parte de los agentes en su intento por escapar.  Algunas fuentes indicaron que los elementos realizaron disparos contra los migrantes, y dos de ellos fallecieron. También se reportó  lo que ocurrió con una mujer que tuvo un aborto debido a los golpes que recibió por los agentes”.

•Trump Has It Backward: Many Migrants Are Victims of Crime
Stephanie Leutert, The New York Times, September 18, 2018

“Over the past three decades, the risks and dangers on the journey from Central America to the United States border have increased — ramped-up United States and Mexican migratory enforcement has pushed migrants onto more invisible, risky paths, and impunity in Mexico for criminal perpetrators has kept them on the streets.”

Root Causes
•Guatemalan human rights activist shot to death, 21st in 2018
Associated Press, September 23, 2018

“Human rights prosecutor Jordan Rodas said Sunday that Juana Ramirez Santiago was shot to death Friday. She is the 21st human rights activist to be slain this year in Guatemala. Rodas is calling for a full investigation into the killing and for greater government protection for activists.”

•Why Is Trump Tacitly Supporting Corruption in Guatemala?
Francisco Goldman, The New York Times, September 21, 2018

“Some commentators say that the Trump administration wants to reward Mr. Morales for moving the Guatemalan Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Others speculate that Mr. Trump’s advisers fear provoking Mr. Morales into swapping American patronage for that of China.”

•U.N. to send deputy to Guatemala as anti-graft leader remains banned
Sofia Menchu and Michelle Nichols, Reuters, September 19, 2018

“In a letter to President Jimmy Morales, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he stood by Ivan Velasquez, who leads the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, but would instruct him to name a deputy.”
En Español: http://bit.ly/2DcHQrD

•Guatemalan President Sued for Contempt of Court Over Anti-Graft Body
Telesur, September 18, 2018

“Human rights organizations filed a lawsuit Monday against Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart, General Solicitor Luis Donado, and Foreign Affairs Minister Sandra Jovel for violating a Constitutional Court ruling ordering the government to allow the head of the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to re-enter the country.”

•5 Ways the Guatemalan Government Is Trying to Dismantle CICIG
Ximena Enriquez, Americas Quarterly, September 18, 2018

“Most international coverage has focused on his direct actions against CICIG. That includes his most recent attempt to prevent CICIG’s chief, Colombian prosecutor Ivan Velásquez, from reentering the country following a trip to the United States. But his efforts don’t stop there.”

•The Other Americans: Corruption Fuels an Exodus of Guatemalans
Jeff Abbott, The Progressive, September 17, 2018

“‘We should not be forced to migrate another country,’ Ixkat says. ‘Our government should have a plan to generate better employment and provide a just salary. But corruption means that the officials have a high salary, and the minimum wage for a worker does not cover the costs.’”

•Asesinatos en 2018 llegan a 22 mil víctimas y se registra el agosto más violento en 20 años
Arturo Angel, Animal Político, 21 de septiembre de 2018

“En agosto pasado casi 3 mil personas fueron asesinadas violentamente en México. Con ello, ya son más de 22 mil las víctimas de homicidio y feminicidio en el país en lo que va del año. Se trata de una cifra récord, que equivale a un incremento de casi el 85 por ciento de los asesinatos en comparación con lo registrado apenas hace tres años”.

•He reported threats against his life. This week, he became the ninth journalist killed in Mexico this year
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2018

“Gomez, who worked at a newspaper in the southern state of Chiapas, said he had been threatened on Facebook by the driver of a member of Congress whom Gomez had accused of corruption in a recent news story.”

•In Mexico, a Truck Full of Corpses Takes a Mystery Road Trip

Kirk Semple, The New York Times, September 18, 2018

“The truck was eventually returned to the morgue after a 10-day absence, but it has become a gruesome symbol of the worsening violence afflicting Mexico and a deep embarrassment for the authorities in Jalisco.”

•ONU y Consejo Ciudadano exigen información y trato digno a restos humanos en Jalisco
SIDIDH, 20 de septiembre de 2018

“… consideró sumamente preocupante la falta de trato digno y adecuado para los cadáveres que se hallan en dos tráileres con refrigeración en Jalisco e instaron a las autoridades estatales a adoptar todas las medidas necesarias para corregir esta situación”.

•Ayotzinapa: Confirma Tribunal que se debe crear Comisión de investigación
SIDIDH, 21 de septiembre de 2018

“El Tribunal Colegiado reitera que la investigación no ha sido pronta, eficaz, imparcial ni independiente”.

•Number of Detainees for Ayotzinapa Case Decreases in Mexico

Prensa Latina, September 20, 2018

“Of the more than 120 detainees arrested by the disappearance of the 43 primary school teachers of Ayotzinapa, the Attorney General”s Office of the Republic (PGR) of Mexico today recognizes only 69 who are imprisoned waiting for the solution of their legal status.”

•Rights group accuses Mexican armed forces of unlawful killings
Lizbeth Diaz, Reuters, September 19, 2018

“A report by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said police and troops manipulated the scene by placing high-caliber firearms beside the two bodies. Eight other people died and 13 people, including four minors, were detained with excessive force, the report said.”

•Fiscal deja entrar a madres a megafosa de Alvarado pero sin prensa ni CNDH
SIDIDH, 19 de septiembre de 2018

“Con 190 cráneos extraídos y cientos de restos óseos recolectados, familiares de desaparecidos se hicieron acompañar de la prensa para presionar a la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) a que les permitiera el acceso a la zona de manglares y de dunas, donde forenses han sacado decenas de cuerpos”.

•Berta Cáceres murder trial set to begin in climate of suspicion
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, September 16, 2018

“Bertita Zuniga Cáceres, the murdered leader’s daughter and current Copinh coordinator, condemned the court’s actions as “grossly negligent” and said the decision was part of a wider effort to conceal the full truth.”

•Berta Cáceres murder trial to be monitored by international lawyers
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, September 17, 2018

“The trial against the eight men accused of murdering Cáceres will be observed by lawyers from the US, Spain, Guatemala, France and Canada. The defendants are also charged with Castro’s attempted murder. They all deny the charges.”

•In Berta Cáceres Murder Trial in Honduras, Prosecutors Will Fall Short
Parker Asmann, Insight Crime, September 17, 2018

“The murder trial of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras could open a small window into the nexus between criminal networks and elites, but will more likely illustrate just how difficult it is to prosecute powerful families.”

•Guardian stringer covering notorious Honduras murder trial shares safety fears amid online smear campaign
Charoltte Tobitt, Press Gazette, September 18, 2018

“Lakhani told Press Gazette: ‘It’s not the first time there’s been an online smear campaign against me linked to my Caceres coverage, but this time I’m in Honduras and linking me to known killers in a region of the country which is full of narcos and paramilitaries is worrying.’”

•IACHR Adopts Precautionary Measures in Favor of More Than a Hundred People at Serious Risk in Nicaragua
María Isabel Rivero, OAS, September 18, 2018

“In the context of the serious human rights crisis that Nicaragua has been going through since April 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has adopted precautionary measures to protect the rights of more than a hundred people. With the adoption of the most recent precautionary measure resolution, on September 17, 2018, the number of people directly benefiting from IACHR protection measures in Nicaragua increased to 114.”

•El Salvador prosecutors request extradition of former president Funes

Nelson Renteria and Christine Murray, Reuters, September 14, 2018

“Leftist Funes, who governed El Salvador between 2009 and 2014 and is currently in Nicaragua, is accused of embezzlement and money laundering involving $351 million, the prosecutors’ office said.”

•El Salvador: Civil War, Natural Disasters, and Gang Violence Drive Migration
Cecilia Menjívar and Andrea Gómez Cervantes, Migration Policy Institute, August 29, 2018

“For most Salvadorans seeking a reprieve from violence, migration itself entails another layer of danger. This trip involves traveling a long distance by land and crossing multiple international borders. Most Salvadorans lack a pathway to obtain a U.S. visa.”

•Crime, not money, drives migration from El Salvador and Honduras
Liz Entman, Vanderbilt University, September 18, 2018

“‘We found that one of the most powerful predictors of migration is if the person has been victimized by crime in the previous 12 months, and an even more powerful predictor is if that person has been victimized multiple times by crime,’ Hiskey said.”

•Can Governments Deter Violence Committed by Crime Groups?

Mike LaSusa, Insight Crime, September 18, 2018

“The thrust of his argument is that governments can deter criminal organizations from committing violence against the state by focusing increased repression on more violent groups.”

•Reducing Homicide: What Presidents are Doing

Emilie Sweigart, Americas Quarterly

“The murder epidemic in Latin America is an appalling tragedy. But it is also an incredibly complex public policy challenge stemming from problems that have plagued the region for decades… AQ looks at the wide range of policies presidents have implemented (and presidents-elect are proposing) to protect the lives of their citizens.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources
•Torres, Engel, Lofgren Urge President Trump to Expand Life-Saving Program for Central American Refugees
Office of Congresswoman Norma Torres, September 14, 2018

“In particular, we encourage you to allow more vulnerable Central Americans to seek protection in a legal and orderly manner, by expanding the Protection Transfer Agreement (PTA)… to transfer small numbers of vulnerable individuals to Costa Rica while their claims for refugee status are adjudicated, and to resettle those who qualify for refugee status to the United States or other countries in the region.”

•Breaking the Green Line: Former Border Patrol Agent Speaks Out Against Agency
Southern Border Communities Coalition, September 19, 2018

“For years, the Border Patrol has operated with little to no oversight, accountability, or transparency, leading to abuses and deaths across the southern border and beyond. Under the Trump Administration, the Border Patrol is set to grow even larger, with more agents, and more miles of a deadly and dangerous wall, bringing further militarization to the Southern Border. But now, a former agent is speaking out against the agency’s culture of corruption, death, and abuse.”

•La interpretación y aplicación del derecho internacional y nacional de los refugiados en México
Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México

“… desean aportar a la Red algunos elementos para la reflexión sobre la situación de las personas refugiadas en México, en particular sobre el acceso al procedimiento administrativo para ser reconocidos como tales”.

•Petition: Human Rights Defenders for the Nobel Peace Prize
Peace Brigades International, September 14, 2018

“9 December 2018 will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). It is an ideal and opportune moment to recognise and celebrate the efforts of these extraordinary individuals who despite threats of violence and unlawful imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, torture and assassination, continue to peacefully challenge injustice and call for the implementation and strengthening of the rule of law.”

•LXIV Legislatura debe garantizar continuidad y fortalecimiento de las comisiones de asuntos migratorios, GTPM
Grupo de Trabajo sobre Política Migratoria, 20 de septiembre de 2018

“Armonización de Ley de Migración con la Ley General de los Derechos de Niñas, Niños y
Adolescentes; la no privación de libertad por motivos migratorios y el acceso a derechos a
población migrante, refugiada y sujeta de protección internacional, entre los principales
pendientes de las Comisiones de Asuntos Migratorios”.

*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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