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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for September 30, 2016

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A compilation of this week’s top articles and reports related to issues of migration from Central America and Mexico (articles in English and Spanish).

Root Causes, Country Conditions

•   Human Rights Groups Denounce Displacement in El Salvador
Associated Press, The Washington Post, September 26, 2016
“Human rights activists in El Salvador say more than 1,000 people have been internally displaced by threats from gangs and, in some cases, from authorities since the beginning of 2015.”

•   Forced Displacement in El Salvador: Causes, Trends, and Responses
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), September 26, 2016
“Although there are an estimated 289,000 internally displaced persons in the country, the Salvadoran government has yet to recognize the existence of internal displacement due to violence, and victims far too often find inadequate services and a lack of protection from state institutions.”

•   El primer refugio de desplazados en tiempos de paz
Carlos Martínez, El Faro, 27 de septiembre de 2016
“19 familias del caserío El Castaño se resguardan en un refugio improvisado en Caluco al que, a medida que pasan los días se suman más personas amenazadas por pandilleros. El refugio se está quedando sin provisiones y nadie tiene un plan para resolver la crisis. Ningún funcionario del gobierno ha llegado a verlos.”

•   El Salvador: Dealing with the New Reality of Violence
Eric Hershberg, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) American University, September 26, 2016
“A surge in violence in El Salvador over the past five-plus years demands a more comprehensive and inclusive strategy than the ongoing Plan El Salvador Seguro.”

•   New Migration: Haitians Carve a Dangerous 7,000-mile Path to the U.S.
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald, September 24, 2016
“In recent months, an increasing number of Haitians have been attempting the trek—by mini-van and bus, in overcrowded canoes and on foot—desperate to get to the U.S. border. Mostly young and despairing over the lack of progress in Haiti, they are looking north for hope, joining thousands of violence-fleeing Hondurans and Salvadorans, asylum-seeking Cubans and undocumented migrants from Congo, Mali and as far away as Nepal along a circuitous route to San Diego, California.”

•   Brazil, Once a Haven, Now a Dead End for Many Haitians
Kevin G. Hall, The Miami Herald, September 24, 2016
“Jocelyn Benoit wants to go home. He just can’t. Benoit is one of thousands of Haitians stuck in Brazil, where many headed after the island’s 2010 earthquake. They withstood arduous journeys across Andean high plains and Amazonian jungles to reach Brazil — only to find themselves a few years later in a worse economic situation than the one they fled. Now many are weighing an equally perilous exit, to other Latin American countries or even the U.S.”

•   UN Rolls Out Aid Package for Cholera-Hit Haiti
André Viollaz, AFP, September 29, 2016
“More than 10,000 people have been killed and 700,000 affected since the outbreak in 2010. There are still 500 new cases of cholera reported every week.”

•   A Year After Mudslide Killed 280, Little Change in Guatemala
The Associated Press, September 30, 2016
“Officials estimate there are 8,000 places in Guatemala where the threat of floods, mudslides and other disasters make it too risky to live. Yet none of those communities has been successfully relocated in the year since the disaster.”

•   The New Mission Leading a Crackdown on Corruption in Honduras
Huw Spencer, El País, September 26, 2016
“A new international mission has been set up by the Organization of American States (OAS) to tackle such injustice in Honduras. The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) aims to “capture the most corrupt individuals in the country.” But the MACCIH, as it is known in its Spanish initials, has an enormous task ahead.”

•   Honduras Aims to Double National Police by 2022
Michael Lohmuller, InSight Crime, September 30, 2016
“Honduras is looking to double its National Police within the next six years, an ambitious yet questionable plan given previous underwhelming attempts at police reform and the perennial issue of corruption.”

•   81 Honduras Police Officers Allegedly Worked for MS13 Gang
Fernando Alonso, InSight Crime, September 26, 2016
“An internal investigation alleges that 81 police officers in Honduras, including high-ranking officials, have been working for an MS13 gang leader and participated in horrific crime sprees that include the massacre of 12 people at a pool hall.”

•   Guatemala’s Chief Human Rights Prosecutor Arrested on Trumped-Up Charges
Annie Bird, CIP Americas Program, September 23, 2016
“Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Attorney General Thelma Aldana arrived in Washington to convince aid and lending agencies of Guatemala’s commitment to rule of law just a day after their government arrested its most prominent human rights prosecutor.”

•   A dos años de la desaparición de 43 normalistas, Iguala es más violenta
Paris Martínez, Animal Político, 26 de septiembre de 2016
“A dos años de la desaparición forzada de 43 normalistas en el municipio de Iguala, esta localidad del norte de Guerrero sufre índices de violencia aún mayores a los registrados en septiembre de 2014.”

•   Mexican Priest Killed in Central State of Michoacan
Reuters, The New York Times, September 26, 2016
“A Mexican priest was found murdered in the central state of Michoacan, the state attorney general said on Sunday, the third to be killed in the country in less than a week.”

•   Mexico Grapples With a Rise in Killings
Hanaa’ Tameez, The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2016
“Criminal violence in Mexico is rebounding after a three-year decline, reaching levels not seen since 2011, when the country’s murderous war between drug cartels was at its worst.”

•   ‘Mexico Is One Big Cemetery.’ The Search for the Secret Graves of the Disappeared
Patrick J. McDonnell, The Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2016
“Mexico’s decade-long, military-led crackdown on drug cartels has swelled the multitudes of desaparecidos — the “disappeared” who vanish without a trace. Their ranks include many with no known link to criminal gangs — kidnapped for ransom, robbery or revenge, or caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

•   Central America: One Coup, Three Summits and the United States
John Lamperti, Truthout, September 28, 2016
“In April 2009, newly inaugurated US President Obama told the fifth ‘Summit of the Americas’ that a new era in US/Latin American relations was at hand….It’s important to compare the actual history of Washington’s involvement to its rhetoric and a glance at the earlier history provides necessary perspective.”

Mexican Enforcement

•   La llegada masiva de haitianos y africanos provoca emergencia humanitaria en BC
Humberto Melgoza Vega, Animal Político, 30 de septiembre de 2016
“La llegada masiva de migrantes haitianos y africanos a las fronteras de Tijuana y Mexicali, Baja California (BC), que pretenden cruzar a Estados Unidos, mantiene una alerta humanitaria, social y sanitaria en estas dos ciudades, porque están llegando por cientos, y muchos se están quedando varados en México.”

•   Llegan a México 12 mil africanos en un mes: INM
Fanny Miranda, Milenio, 28 de septiembre de 2016
“Un oleada de 11 mil 900 migrantes africanos, en su mayoría procedentes del Congo que huye de los conflictos bélicos así como de la pobreza y que se dirigen a Estados Unidos en busca de asilo político, ha ingresado a México a través de Tapachula, Chiapas, en un lapso de solo cinco semanas, informó Jordán de Jesús Alegría Orantes, delegado federal del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) en esa entidad.”

•   Mexico Sees Surge of Migrants from Haiti, Africa and Asia
Associated Press, The Washington Post, September 25, 2016
“Mexican immigration authorities said Saturday they have been hit by a surge of almost 5,000 Haitian, African and Asian migrants entering by the southern border in just a few days.”

•   CentAm Migrants Suffer Brunt of Mexico Crackdown: Report
James Bargent, InSight Crime, September 26, 2016
“Mexico’s crackdown against Central American migrants has increased human rights violations and crimes against the migrants, according to a new report, suggesting it is the vulnerable rather than the human smugglers that are suffering as a result of the new security measures.”

•   Consulate Launches New Programs Meant to Help Women and Deportees
Paula Pineda, Nogales International, September 29, 2016
“The Mexican Consulate in Nogales launched two new programs last Friday aimed at providing comprehensive care for women in Santa Cruz County and deported migrants in Nogales, Sonora.”

U.S. Enforcement

•   Haitian Men Cut Off From Families as U.S. Tightens Entry Rules
Kirk Semple, The New York Times, September 29, 2016
“A sudden shift in American immigration policy has divided scores of Haitian families trying to enter the United States from Mexico, immigrants and advocates say.”

•   Haitians, After Perilous Journey, Find Door to U.S. Abruptly Shut
Kirk Semple, The New York Times, September 23, 2016
“But on Thursday, the Obama administration announced that it was fully resuming the deportations of undocumented Haitians, meaning that anyone who showed up at a border post without a visa would likely be put into a fast-track deportation process that is often used for migrants without visas. The news stunned advocates on both sides of the border, who struggled to predict what might happen next.”

•   Do Central American Migrants Have Legal Claim to Asylum?
Gustavo Solis, The Desert Sun, September 27, 2016
“In the first six months of 2016, the U.S. received about 12,000 asylum applications from Northern Triangle countries. That is a 250 percent increase from the same time frame just two years ago and is on pace to eclipse last year’s total of 22,000 applications from the region, according to statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

•   Sending Minors to Immigration Court without Lawyers is Shameful
Scott Martelle, The Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2016
“How’s this for a conundrum: A teenage boy identified in court documents as S.R.I.C. was being pressured by gang recruiters in his native Guatemala, but he kept refusing to join. When one gang member sliced his leg as an inducement and other gang members threatened to kill him and the rest of his family, S.R.I.C. fled to the U.S., eventually joining his father, a lawful permanent resident on the path to citizenship, in Los Angeles.”

•   Washington Must Address Legal Help for Minors in Immigration Court
The Times Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2016
“Talk about a rigged system. If you’re a child — an unaccompanied minor, who arrived at the border from Central America —  seeking permission to live in the U.S., you have a 75% chance of winning your case if you have a lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, and you’re forced to navigate the byzantine system on your own, you’ve got a 15% chance, according to statistics compiled by Syracuse University’s  Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.”

•   Immigrant Detention System Could Be in Line for an Overhaul
Miriam Jordan, The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2016
“A recent Homeland Security Department decision to consider ending the widespread outsourcing of immigrant detention could mean overhauling a $2 billion-a-year system built around private prison contractors that house the majority of immigrant detainees.”

•   Entregan 200,000 firmas al DHS y exigen a secretario de Seguridad Nacional cierre de prisiones privadas para inmigrantes
María Peña, La Opinión, 28 de septiembre de 2016
“Activistas pro-inmigrantes entregaron este miércoles al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) unas 200,000 firmas para exigir que anule sus contratos con centros de detención privados para inmigrantes, y confrontraron al secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Jeh Johnson, al respecto.”

•   El Centro de Detención de Adelanto es un infierno, dice joven guatemalteco
Araceli Martínez Ortega, La Opinión, 27 de septiembre de 2016
“A un mes de haber salido del Centro de Detención Migratoria de Adelanto, Henry Sánchez describe el lugar como un verdadero infierno y está convencido de que su arresto, ocurrido un día después de protestar contra las redadas del Servicio de Migración y Aduanas (ICE), fue una venganza.”

•   Amid Immigration Debate, New Border Chief Seeks to Turn around Beleaguered Force
Lisa Rein, The Washington Post, September 28,2016
“The man who would be in charge of guarding a wall with Mexico if Donald Trump is elected president isn’t so sure the strategy would keep undocumented immigrants out. Instead, Mark Morgan —  the first outsider to lead the 21,ooo uniformed agents who make up the U.S. Border Patrol — has had another priority in the three months he’s been on the job: changing the agency’s culture.”

•   Renewed Surge Of Central American Migrants Heads For Places Like D.C.
Armando Trull, WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, September 28, 2016
“After a one-year dip, the number of undocumented Central Americans entering the U.S. is on track to exceed the surge that came in 2014 and pushed the U.S. and Mexico to tighten their borders. The violence and poverty in Central America haven’t gone away and smugglers have changed tactics, observers say. The numbers were halved in 2015, but this year they are climbing.”

•   Las 319 muertes silenciosas de inmigrantes en las fronteras de EEUU con México y Canadá
Jorge Cancino, Univision, 28 de septiembre de 2016
“Las muertes no se detienen en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos. Tampoco en el norte, con Canadá. En lo que va del año fiscal 2016 (al 27 de agosto) “hemos contabilizado 319 cuerpos”, dijo a Univision Noticias Marlene Castro, vocero de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (CBP).”

•   Supreme Court to Hear Case over Deportations
The Associated Press, September 29, 2016
“The federal appeals court in San Francisco said the section of the law that defines a “crime of violence” is too vague. Conviction for a crime of violence subjects an immigrant to deportation and usually speeds up the process.”

•   California impone una ley de transparencia para colaborar con ICE
Isaias Alvarado, Univision, 28 de septiembre de 2016
“Una ley firmada este miércoles por el gobernador de California, Jerry Brown, impone un marco de transparencia para cuando las fuerzas del orden estatales colaboren con el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE).”

•   Undocumented Artist Draws Portraits of Detainees at Miami Immigrant Detention Center [English]
El artista indocumentado detenido que no paró de dibujar hasta que fue liberado [Español]
Melvin Félix, Univision Noticias, September 23, 2016
“Venezuelan artist José Álvarez (D.O.P.A.) spent two months at Krome, in South Miami…Alvarez says the portraits help to eliminate an element of anonymity that many immigrants face in the United States, and to shine a light on their stories. Each portrait is accompanied by the immigrant’s name and country of origin, followed by a short paragraph describing a part of his life.”

Reports, Resources, Actions

•   Access to Counsel in Immigration Court
Ingrid Eagly and Steve Shafer, American Immigration Council, September 28, 2016
“Whereas in the criminal justice system, all defendants facing even one day in jail are provided an attorney if they cannot afford one, immigrants facing deportation generally do not have that opportunity. Detained immigrants, particularly those held in remote locations, face the additional obstacle of accessing counsel from behind bars. Yet, in every immigration case, the government is represented by a trained attorney who can argue for deportation, regardless of whether the immigrant is represented.”

•   Inside Out: The Challenge of Prison-Based Criminal Organizations
Benjamin Lessing, The Brookings Institute, 2016
“In Central America and Brazil—and even in the United States—prison gangs have evolved from small predatory groups to sophisticated criminal organizations with the capacity to organize street-level crime, radically alter patterns of criminal violence, and, in the extreme, hold governments hostage to debilitating, orchestrated violence and corruption.”

•   ‘As Deadly as Armed Conflict? Gang Violence and Forced Displacement in the Northern Triangle of Central America
David James Cantor, Agenda Internacional, 2016
“This article highlights the extreme nature and scale of gang violence in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, which has resulted in substantial forced displacement of affected populations. The article argues that, despite certain commonalities with situations of internal armed conflict (such as Syria), the scenario in the Northern Triangle poses a distinct set of additional challenges for ensuring the protection of refugees and displaced persons from these countries.”

•   Creating a 21st-Century Immigration System
National Immigration Forum
“Reforming immigration will benefit our country and all Americans. A 21st-century immigration process will improve our nation’s ability to compete globally by addressing market and workforce demands and by attracting and retaining new Americans. It will provide a better life for many hardworking individuals and families, giving them the security they need to contribute fully to our country.”

•   Petition: Free the Berks Hunger Striking Moms!
Amy Maldonado, Change.org
“It has been more than a year since “family detention” was declared unlawful by a federal judge, and more than a year since the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued its scathing report calling for an end to family detention. Please sign my petition in solidarity with these courageous mothers, demanding that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) free them.”

*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.