en English

Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for July 15, 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

mpilation 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:

•   El Salvador’s Half-Year Murder Toll Tops 3,000
AFP and Yahoo! News, July 12, 2016
“The Central American government’s Forensic Medicine Institute said on Tuesday there were 3,058 homicides between January and June, a seven percent increase over the same period last year… According to the institute, the bulk of the murders in the first half of 2016 occurred in the early months, followed by a marked decline from April, when the government launched a militarized crackdown on the gangs.”

•   Death Squad Linked to 40 Murders Dismantled in El Salvador
Latin American Herald Tribune
“Five civilians and five police were arrested Friday in the first crackdown in 20 years on a “social cleansing” group in El Salvador… Eleven other suspected members of the gang, which operated in the eastern province of San Miguel, remain at large… Although the group has been linked to 40 homicides, the detainees will be charged with 9 killings, he added.”

•   Guatemalan Police Raid Rival Gangs, More than 100 Arrested
Natalie Schachar, Reuters, July 14, 2016
“Guatemalan police captured 106 suspected gang members in a series of raids against warring gangs responsible for a wave of drug violence, authorities said on Thursday. The operation involved 146 raids in 12 states in which police seized ammunition, firearms, bank receipts and cell phones used by gangsters in the Central American country to threaten to kill their victims, officials said.”

•   Violencia genera devaluó de viviendas
Sara Martínez, La Prensa Gráfica, 11 de julio de 2016
“En algunos sectores del país, como consecuencia de la delincuencia, se ha generado un devalúo de las viviendas ubicadas en sectores con altos índices de criminalidad; donde las propiedades, en lugar de ganar plusvalía, disminuyen su precio, generando pérdidas económicas para sus propietarios, afirman diversas fuentes… Las zonas donde más se presenta esta problemática están en La Libertad, Soyapango, Ilopango y Apopa, manifestó la administradora de Inmobiliaria Las Américas, Estela de Dubón. ‘En algunas zonas se firman contratos de venta por $12,000, luego se baja a $10,000 y así se termina vendiendo en $7,000’, añadió [la jefe de agencia de LOTIVERSA, Sara de Vásquez]”.

•   Historia de un desplazado
Sara Martínez, La Prensa Gráfica, 11 de julio de 2016
“El sonido de las balas se había hecho común para Cruz. El constante enfrentamiento de ambas pandillas causaba tiroteos continuos y muchos habitantes de la zona resultaban heridos, desaparecidos o, en el pero de los casos, muertos. La comunidad, describe el testigo, solo tenía una entrada. Eso implicaba que algunos de los habitantes debían pasar por ambos sectores para llegar a sus hogares… Hubo un momento, explica Antonio, en el que muchas familias optaron por retirarse, la mayoría de las viviendas de la zona quedaron solas y eran ocupadas como casas ‘destroyer’. “Esta colonia de donde yo salí experimentó una migración masiva, el mismo día salieron unas 15 o 12 familias en un solo día y fue así como yo también salí con mi familia”, cuenta Cruz”.

•   Gobierno invertirá $264,000 en personas deportadas
Fátima Membreño, La Prensa Gráfica, 10 de julio de 2016
“El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de El Salvador y el Fondo de Inversión Social para el Desarrollo Local (FISDL) firmaron ayer en el departamento de Usulután el convenio de cooperación técnica para beneficiar a personas retornadas a El Salvador, en el cual invertirán $264,600. Dicha cantidad será para la entrega de capital semilla en especies, es decir que incluirá herramientas de trabajo, insumos, y además de una formación emprendedora y atención psicosocial… [el canciller Hugo] Martínez dijo que esa nueva iniciativa fomenta la promoción del respeto y protección de los derechos humanos de las personas salvadoreñas migrantes y de sus familias, así como el fortalecimiento de la vinculación de la ciudadanía residente en el exterior con los procesos sociales, culturales, políticos y económicos del país”.

•   El Salvador Prosecutor Charges Police in Extrajudicial Executions
Mike LaSusa, Insight Crime, July 11, 2016
“In a July 8 press conference, Attorney General Douglas Meléndez announced that his office had ordered the arrest of seven members of the national police in connection with the March 26, 2015, killing of eight people at the San Blas farm in San Jose Villanueva. Meléndez also said that a total of 22 suspects, including police officers and business owners, had been ordered detained on charges that they belonged to a criminal structure that carried out murders for hire… The arrest orders, combined with Meléndez’s statements, strongly suggest that the attorney general is attempting to send a message that police must act lawfully when carrying out operations against the country’s powerful gangs.” 

•   Salvadoran Court Overturns Wartime Amnesty, Paving Way for Prosecutions
Elisabeth Malkin and Gene Palumbo, NY Times, July 14, 2016
“In a ruling that clears the way for El Salvador to prosecute the perpetrators of war crimes committed during its brutal civil war, the country’s highest court has struck down an amnesty law that has protected soldiers, rebel fighters and death squads for more than two decades… The amnesty is ‘contrary to the access to justice’ and the ‘protection of fundamental rights,’ the court said, because it impedes the state from fulfilling its obligation to investigate, try and punish grave violations of those rights…”

•   Three Members of Same Honduran Environmental Group Have Been Murdered Over the Past 4 Months
Patrick J. McDonnell and Cecilia Sanchez, LA Times, July 13, 2016
“The string of slayings has raised alarms about a possible systemic effort to target the group, which has been at the forefront of regional opposition to the government-backed privatization and exploitation of natural resources.  Government officials have denied any involvement in the slayings and defended hydro-electric projects as necessary for generating electricity across the country.”

•   US Investigating Allegations Honduran Military Had Hitlist of Activists to Target
Ed Pilkington and Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, July 8, 2016
“US officials have been in contact with counterparts in the Honduran government, as well as individuals and groups that monitor human rights in the country, to look into the allegations of a hitlist… The state department review of the Guardian allegations comes as a group of prominent Congress members renew their call for the Obama administration to suspend all US aid to Honduran police and military units… But US officials say high-level contacts with the Honduran government and human rights groups have not yielded any evidence of a hitlist. They added that they were continuing to follow the issue closely.”

•   Alleged Killers of Honduran Environmental Activist Captured
teleSUR, July 15, 2016
“Police said a dispute over inheritance was the motive, though many COPINH supporters initially believed that Urquia was targeted because of her environmental activism. Three people were detained Wednesday in connection to the murder of Lesbia Yaneth Urquia Urquia, an environmental activist and a supporter of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH.”

•   Guatemala Grave Crimes Cases Delayed
Jo-Marie Burt, International Justice Monitor, July 13, 2016
“While a Guatemalan court has found sufficient evidence to bring the CREOMPAZ case to trial, aspects of its decision have been challenged by plaintiffs. The proceedings are on stand-by until the appeals are decided. In the Molina Theissen case, the hearing to determine whether the case goes to trial has again been delayed; this time because the case will be transferred to the High Risk Tribunal system. The Maya Ixil genocide case also remains stalled as defense counsel for former chief of intelligence José Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez appeals the recent decision to separate the proceedings against him and co-defendant former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt.”

•   Siguen desaparecidas 16 mujeres: Fiscalía
Luz del Carmen Sosa, El Diario, 9 de julio de 2016
“La Fiscalía Especializada en Atención a Mujeres Víctimas del Delito por Razones de Género (FEM) dio a conocer que del primero de enero al 8 de julio un total de 339 mujeres han sido reportadas como ausentes en Ciudad Juárez. Sólo en 16 casos las mujeres siguen desaparecidas, dio a conocer Silvia Nájera, vocera de esta Fiscalía… En las tres fases de búsqueda el 90 por ciento de las féminas fueron localizadas dentro de las primeras 24 horas en la primera etapa de la investigación; un 5 por ciento son ubicadas dentro de 48 horas y el resto son localizadas en tiempos mayores… La portavoz refirió que en el mes de julio han sido interpuestos 14 reportes y 10 de estas mujeres ya fueron localizadas. En tres casos la FEM activó la segunda fase del Protocolo Alba para dar con su paradero”.

•   Fourteen People from Two Families Killed in Mexico City Plagued by Drug Cartels
ABC, July 9, 2016
“Gunmen have killed 11 relatives, including five girls, in a northern Mexican city plagued by drug cartels, while three people from another family were murdered in a second attack… More than 100,000 people have been killed or gone missing across Mexico since 2006, when the government escalated its battle against drug cartels. Around 28,000 people are reported missing in Mexico, with 5,000 of them from Tamaulipas, according to official figures.”

•   Guatemala Arrests Prominent Executive on Suspicion of Tax Fraud
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, July 10, 2016
“Carlos Enrique Monteros Castillo, owner of the local Camino Real chain [one of the country’s biggest hotel chains], was arrested on Saturday night at the Guatemala City airport, while another executive from the same group was detained in a house raid, the attorney general’s office said. Monteros and Oscar Humberto Jimenez Contreras are suspected of having evaded some $2.8 million in taxes, authorities said… Led by a U.N.-backed anti-graft body known as the CICIG, investigators in Guatemala have cast a wide net to root out corruption, making dozens of arrests and turning the political establishment upside down in the process.”

•   Latest Guerrero, Mexico Arrest Promises Little Change in Insecurity
Deborah Bonello, InSight Crime, July 12, 2016
“The capture of an alleged local Knights Templar chief on the coast of Guerrero promises to bring down insecurity in one of Mexico’s most violent states, say authorities. But it will take more than that to stave the soaring homicide rate in the country’s top heroin-producing region… Insecurity in the state has reached such levels that Governor Astudillo has suggested legalizing the poppy industry in an attempt to bring down the violence. To suggest that the arrests of individual drug bosses will contribute to a decrease in violence is to ignore the poverty and climate of lawlessness that pervades so many parts of the state — bigger problems that cannot be resolved without sweeping social programs and serious anti-corruption efforts.”

•   Making El Salvador’s Abortion Law More Punitive Would Compound Injustices
Kelly Castagnaro, The Guardian, July 14, 2016 
“A conservative political party in El Salvador wants jail terms for women accused of having abortions increased to up to 50 years… Since 1998, abortion has been illegal in El Salvador, even when pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or puts the woman’s life at risk. Despite the ban, the Salvadoran health ministry’s information, monitoring and evaluation unit estimates that more than 19,000 clandestine abortions took place…  Local groups estimate that, to date, 17 women have been imprisoned…”  

•   Teachers and Students: Tip of Iceberg of Mexico’s Human Rights Crisis
Ines M. Pousadela, Inter Press Service, July 14, 2016
“Mexico is experiencing a monumental human rights crisis. There is abundant evidence of widespread human rights violations in the country, including torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and violence against journalists and human rights defenders. As worrying as the hard data is, what’s even more worrying is the Mexican government’s continued refusal to acknowledge the situation. In the words of Yésica Sánchez Maya of Consorcio Oaxaca, a local civil society organisation, the State ‘is investing more efforts and resources in denying the existence of a problem that is apparent [to the whole world] than in actually solving it.’”

Mexican Enforcement:

•   US and Mexico Agree to Improve Asylum Access for Tens of Thousands of Refugees
Sibylla Brodzinsky, The Guardian, July 12, 2016
“The commitments were laid out in a draft document circulated at the end of a two-day meeting last week [hosted by the UN refugee agency in Costa Rica] on the plight of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras… The countries agreed to set up a monitoring system to collect and analyse data on the patterns of displacement… Asylum countries – mainly the United States and Mexico, but also Belize, Costa Rica and Panama – agreed to ensure the ‘timely identification and documentation, in particular at border areas, of persons in need of international protection’ and to ‘implement, where possible, alternatives to detention’.”

•   Migration is a Business on Mexico’s Southern Border
Lorne Matalon, Market Place, July 8, 2016
“In a country where the truth is often elusive and opaque, it is widely believed the idea of Mexico actually sealing the border is a platitude — words — because the political will just isn’t there. ‘The reason they don’t do anything is because police and the authorities make money also, because they get a cut of the action, so they don’t make any move to stop anyone,’ said Leonardo Perez, a Mexican who lives near the border. This isn’t just his opinion. Responsibility for stopping river traffic rests with Mexico’s immigration agents. But Mexico says allegations of corruption against immigration agents rose 52 percent in the first 13 months of Mexico’s Southern Border Plan.”

•   Pronunciamiento | Foro La defensa de los DH de las personas migrantes y refugiadas en México, una labor imprescindible
Comunicación Red TDT, 14 de julio de 2016
“Las organizaciones, casas y albergues del norte, centro y sur del país que brindan atención directa a población migrante y refugiada de México, Centroamérica y de otros países, nos encontramos reunidas por la culminación de un proceso de fortalecimiento y articulación en protección, seguridad y autocuidado para defensoras y defensores de migrantes, desarrollado de 2010 a 2016 con el apoyo de PCS, Colectivo ANSUR y la Fundación Ford”.

•   Pies Descalzos Boletín No. 3
La 72 Hogar – Refugio para Personas Migrantes, junio de 2016
“La 72 Hogar – Refugio para Personas es una albergue ubicado en la ciudad fronteriza e Tenosique, Tabasco. Donde día con día atendemos un aproximado de ciento cincuenta personas, quienes por distintas causas, transitan México en busca de condiciones dignas de vida. A través del Boletín Pies Descalzos, queremos expresar el camino: sus dolores, las historias, las experiencias, y pos supuesto, las esperanzas, los sueños y la digna lucha”.

•   Readout of Secretary Johnson’s Meeting with Mexican Ambassador Sada
Department of Homeland Security, July 11, 2016
“Secretary Johnson and Ambassador Sada discussed opportunities for continued bilateral collaboration on topics addressed at the recent North American Leaders Summit, such as enhancing cooperation on border security and facilitating the secure flow of lawful trade and travel. They highlighted the importance of trusted trader and traveler programs to our shared economic and national security… Secretary Johnson and Ambassador Sada reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Mexico relationship and to advancing common goals shared by President Obama and President Peña Nieto, particularly in ensuring strong economic growth; good jobs and expanded opportunity for our citizens; a commitment to transparency; and safe and secure communities…” 

•   Three Amigos’ Sunny Ways Obscure Dangers Migrants Face
Maia Rotman, DailyXtra, July 12, 2016
“Our interviews with journalists, academics, and human rights defenders crystallized for us that Canada’s policy for Mexican claimants was clearly misguided and in crucial need of reform. Our interviews also described a hierarchy of vulnerability in Mexico. At the very bottom, languishing in a human rights desert, are LGBT migrants who face intersecting oppressions and violence that render their lives and experience invisible… Each year, hundreds of thousands of people migrate to Mexico from Central America. Many — and it is impossible to know exactly how many —  are undocumented LGBT individuals who seek refuge from increasing homophobic and transphobic violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.”

U.S. Enforcement:

•   Lawmakers Call for US to be a Refuge for Central Americans
Maria Sacchetti, Boston Globe, July 11, 2016
“Markey and 25 other Senate Democrats last month said the Obama administration could consider granting newer arrivals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras temporary protected status, a form of protection that does not lead to citizenship. In a letter to Obama, the senators cited a study that said 83 people deported to those countries since 2014 were later killed. And on June 28, Senate minority leader Harry Reid filed a bill to help people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras apply for refugee status in the United States. He said the bill would also ensure that asylum seekers who reach the United States are ‘treated fairly.’”

•   Save the Lives of Central American Migrants
Javier H. Valdés, Quarterly Americas
“Judging from the rhetoric coming from both parties’ presidential campaigns, immigration will continue to be a hotly contested issue under the next administration. Regardless of who takes office, you [future U.S. President] should use your executive powers to address the crisis currently facing recent arrivals from the Northern Triangle region of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.”

•   Interview – Victims of Gang Violence in Central America Flee Homes to “Save Their Lives” – U.N.
Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 6, 2016
“UNHCR said the number of refugees and asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras reached 109,800 in 2015 – a more than five-fold increase over the past three years… Rights groups says governments in Central America have either downplayed or been slow to recognise that violence is the main reason why people are fleeing their homes. Instead governments tend to list people seeking to be reunited with relatives already living in the United States, poverty and the lack of jobs as the key drivers of migration.”

•   Lofgren and Leahy Lead Bicameral Introduction of Refugee Protection Act
Office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, July 14, 2016
“The Refugee Protection Act reaffirms the commitments made when the United States ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention, and will help to restore the United States to its rightful role as a safe and welcoming home for those suffering persecution around the world. It would repeal some of the most significant barriers facing refugees and asylum seekers in their search for safety and protection.  It would increase protection for children and families, and those suffering gender-based persecution or persecution for their LGBT identity… would ensure that children and vulnerable adults in immigration court do not face a judge and prosecutor without a lawyer.  It would update conditions of immigration detention so that they address important issues of access to counsel, religious practice, and visits from family.  The legislation would authorize a study of the refugee resettlement program and improve the collection of data to ensure that the system uses resources efficiently.”

•   House Democrats Introduce Legislation to Address Central American Violence and Protect Refugees
Office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, July 14, 2016
“The Secure the Northern Triangle Act, a House companion to legislation introduced last month by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, authorizes critical foreign assistance to restore the rule of law and address Central American violence and instability, provides for refugee processing in the region, and orderly and humane screening of individuals who reach the U.S.-Mexico Border seeking protection. It also cracks down on smugglers, cartels and traffickers exploiting children and families.”

•   Uprooted in Mexico: the US Children ‘Returned’ to a Country They Barely Know
Nina Lakhani and Monica Jacobo, The Guardian, July 13, 2016
“Jorge is one of at least half a million American citizens to enrol in Mexican schools since 2010 amid a rising wave deportations and voluntary repatriations driven by the US economic downturn and family obligations… the transition is tough for many American-born children who face a shock of cultural and language changes, as well as delays accessing basic education and health services while their families tackle the expensive, onerous bureaucratic process of claiming Mexican nationality.”

•   Beyond the Wall: Once a Migration Point, Now ‘They Barely Cross Here’
Curt Prendergast, Tuscon, July 11, 2016
“Downtown San Luis, Arizona, is a fortress, with eight miles of triple-layered fencing and nearly two miles of stadium lighting between the first two layers. The Yuma Sector’s 800 Border Patrol agents are stationed throughout the enforcement zone and are ever-present on the streets of San Luis and the other towns in the sector. Escalante and several migrants at the shelter say the triple-layer fencing, the use of surveillance technology, and prison sentences for illegal re-entry in the Yuma Sector make San Luis an inhospitable crossing point… Despite the seemingly insurmountable difficulty, people still cross the triple-layered border fence, climbing a ladder or sometimes scaling the fence with grappling hooks.”

•   Mexico’ President: ‘No Way’ We’d Pay for a Wall
Kristen East, Politico, July 10, 2016
“Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he will work with whoever is elected president of the United States in November, but he wants to make one thing clear: Mexico will not be paying for a wall. ‘There is no way to have Mexico pay the — a wall, but any decisions inside United States is a decision of its government,’ Peña Nieto told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired Sunday on Zakaria’s program. ‘There is no way that Mexico can pay [for] a wall like that.’”
Lee una versión en español: Peña Nieto: “De ninguna manera México puede pagar un muro” como el que plantea Trump

•   Illegal Immigrants – Trump Says Deport Them – But Obama Should Pardon Them
Andy J. Semotiuk, Forbes, July 8, 2016
“There are some 11 million such illegal immigrants. More than 60 percent have lived in the United States for at least a decade. Roughly 50 percent are Mexicans. Some four million of them are parents of children born in the United States. Most live in six states: California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Illinois.  They make up about 5 percent of America’s work force. These are the cold, hard statistics about them… As Professor Markowitz has suggested, President Obama can initiate a Presidential pardon to deal with the problem… The pardon would simply acknowledge that anyone who has been present in the United States for over 10 years, in the absence of any criminal behavior and having paid taxes, deserves a chance to correct his or her life.”

•   New Border Patrol Chief Faces Uphill Battle to Reform Agency
Andrew Becker, Texas Tribune, July 11, 2016
The selection of Morgan, a career FBI official, to run the 20,000-strong force sends a clear message: The Border Patrol has a culture problem that needs to be fixed… with a massive expansion since 9/11, the agency also has alienated the public and other law enforcement with its militaristic approach to border security… The choice to go with Morgan addresses outside criticism of systemic abuse, misconduct and discipline issues within the ranks, all of which have received sustained media attention in recent years… The agency has come under fire in recent years for how it metes out discipline, its policies around use of force and several controversial shootings, including deadly cross-border confrontations with Mexicans.” 

•   GOP Bill Would Block Undocumenteds from Military Service
Kristina Wong, The Hill, July 12, 2016
“The bill, introduced Monday, would prevent those who fall under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and ‘other unlawful aliens’ from enlisting in the U.S. military… A limited number of legal immigrants with highly specialized skills are currently allowed to enlist in the U.S. military as a fast-track to becoming a U.S. citizen. Last year, the Pentagon allowed undocumented immigrants who fall under DACA to also be eligible for the program. Gosar [R-Ariz.] slammed that move as ‘backdoor amnesty’ in a statement last month.” 

•   Immigration Detention Center in Arizona Failed to Contain Measles Outbreak
Julia Preston, NY Times, July 12, 2016
“The outbreak started in late May in the detention center in Eloy, Ariz., and has grown to 22 cases, currently the largest episode in the country of the disease, which was once eradicated in the United States… The flow of migrants crossing the border illegally has been an issue in Arizona for years, with some residents warning that migrants could import diseases to the United States. But health officials said a larger problem was the declining vaccination rate in Arizona.”

•   Prosecutions of Illegal Entry a Driving Force in Mass Incarceration in US – Report
Renée Feltz, The Guardian, July 14, 2016
“Cases against immigrants for having illegally entered the country, known as illegal entry and re-entry, accounted for half of all criminal cases in the US federal court system last year, a report from Justice Strategies and Grassroots Leadership found. Non-citizens currently make up nearly a quarter of the total federal prison population, with Mexican nationals alone accounting for 15%. Now several US judges who sentenced thousands of immigrants say the zero-tolerance policy for such cases they helped enforce was ineffective and should end.”

Resources and Reports:

•   Latin America Working Group Encouraged by Protection Approach in Secure the Northern Triangle Act
Latin America Working Group, July 11, 2016
“The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) is encouraged by the protection approach taken by the Secure the Northern Triangle Act, introduced in June by Democratic Leader Reid and Senators Leahy, Durbin, Schumer, Murray, Carper, and Cardin. The bill proposes a comprehensive and coordinated response to address root causes driving the flow of refugees and migrants from the Northern Triangle countries—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—and to improve protections for asylum seekers and refugees in the region, including upon their arrival to the United States.”

•   Secure the Northern Triangle Act: Section-by-Section Summary
Office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
Section-by-section summary of the bill.

•   The Refugee Protection Act of 2016: Sectional Analysis
Office of Senator Patrick Leahy
Sectional analysis of the bill.

•   Indefensible: a Decade of Mass Incarceration of Migrants Prosecuted for Crossing the Border
Judith A. Greene, Bethany Carson, and Andrea Black, Grassroots Leadership, July 2016
“This book provides an oral history of the evolution of Operation Stream-line over 10 years and its legacy today. We document the beginnings of Operation Streamline and the evolution of targeted migrant prosecutions. We explore how the program took hold across border districts in distinct ways. We examine how an already politicized issue collided with media hype and, “moral panic” over immigration levels. We describe how ambitious and powerful individuals and agencies within the newly formed Department of Homeland Security launched this huge, targeted prosecution program. We interviewed more than three dozen people who work inside the federal criminal justice system, or who have been impacted by it, for this book.”