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Central America/Mexico Migration News Brief for July 8, 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:

•   Unknown Assailants Abduct, Murder Activist in Honduras
teleSUR, July 7, 2016
“Another Indigenous activist has been murdered in Honduras, with local activists reporting Wednesday night that a woman identified as Yaneth Urquia Urquia was found dead near a garbage dump with severe head trauma… Urquia was a member of The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, the group founded by Berta Caceres, who was assassinated in March.”

•   El Salvador, Deadliest Nation in 2015, Sees Lull in Violence
E. Eduardo Castillo and Marcos Aleman, AP and Washington Post, July 3, 2016
“The government attributes the drop to a tough military counteroffensive against the country’s powerful gangs, deploying a special security force and transferring imprisoned ­organized-crime leaders to a maximum-security lockup to isolate them. But the gangs also claim credit. The three main groups — the Mara Salvatrucha, Barrio 18 Revolucionarios and Barrio 18 Sureños — forged a nonaggression pact in March to try to reduce the killings. In a joint video message, they said their aim was to convince the government that the crackdown was unnecessary.”


•   Familias desplazadas por la violencia en Centroamérica
Univision, 3 de julio de 2016
“En Centroamérica, muchas familias intentan mudarse dentro de su propio país, después de que las pandillas asesinaran y amenazaron a varios de sus miembros… Según el Consejo Noruego para los Refugiados en el Triángulo Norte de CentroAmérica, 550,000 personas han abandonado sus hogares y se han convertido en desplazados internos debido a la criminalidad. El caso más preocupante es El Salvador…”

•   America’s Funding of Honduran Security Forces Puts Blood on Our Hands
John James Conyers, Jr,Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Jan Schakowsky and Jose E Serrano, The Guardian, July 8, 2016
“Until the Honduran government protects human rights and holds its security forces responsible for their crimes, we should not be working with its police and military. As long as the United States funds Honduran security forces without demanding justice for those threatened, tortured and killed, we have blood on our hands. It’s time to suspend all police and military aid to Honduras.”

•   Famed Mexico Drug Lord Challenging Sinaloa Cartel: Official
Michael Lohmuller, InSight Crime, July 6, 2016
“Intelligence reports suggest legendary drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero is seeking to expel the Sinaloa Cartel from Mexico’s Chihuahua state, raising fears the city of Ciudad Juárez may experience yet another drug-fueled murder spike… This possibility raises the spectre of a return to the huge levels of violence Ciudad Juárez began to experience in 2008…”

•   Costa Rica califica de éxito Operación Mesoamérica contra trata de migrantes
EFE y W Radio, 28 de junio de 2016
“El fiscal general de Costa Rica, Jorge Chavarría, declaró en una conferencia de prensa que la Operación Mesoamérica, simultánea en Panamá, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador y Costa Rica, ‘ha sido un éxito’ y que además ‘demuestra la capacidad del trabajo conjunto en Centroamérica’. ‘Esta es la operación más importante que se ha realizado en el continente contra la trata de personas. Fue una operación contra la parte de la organización criminal que opera en la región mesoamericana’, afirmó el fiscal general”.

•   Scandals Hurt Confidence in Guatemala Institutions: Poll
Mike LaSusa, InSight Crime, July 4, 2016
“Although the military still ranks among the most-trusted institutions in Guatemalan society, it has lost ground in recent years due to corruption scandals… Fifty percent of Guatemalans expressed confidence in the military, the poll found. That figure represents a drop of more than 10 percent since 2014…”

•   How Drug Trafficking Operates, Corrupts in Central America
Steven Dudley, InSight Crime, July 6, 2016
“The implications of drug trafficking in the region are devastating.” The four major ones are corruption, impunity, violence, and migration. “US policy as it relates to drug trafficking in the region is slowly evolving” but currently involves a kingpin strategy, interdiction and reforming/rebuilding the police.

•   Doce años de migración según Google
Tanvi Misra, Univision, 4 de julio de 2016
“Cada día, la humanidad escribe sus preguntas en el motor de búsqueda de Google… En una nueva herramienta interactiva… la gente de Google ha reunido los datos combinados de entre 2004 y 2016 que contienen la palabra migración más los nombres de los países del G7… México no está [en la lista top 10 de Estados Unidos] en ninguna ocasión desde 2004. Mientras tanto, países centroamericanos como El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala tienen bastante presencia (están en casi todas las listas desde 2013). Esto se condice con el hecho de que la inmigración mexicana aumentó a comienzos de la década de 2000 y ha declinado especialmente en los últimos años. Respecto a Centroamérica, la migración ha ido aumentando permanentemente en las últimas décadas…”

•   Registra julio un promedio de 4 homicidios por día
Francisco Chávez, El Diario, 4 de julio de 2016
“Julio inició como uno de los meses más violentos del año con 13 asesinatos, es decir, un promedio de cuatro homicidios por día hasta esta fecha, de acuerdo con un análisis de estos crímenes bajo investigación de la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) Zona Norte [de México]… Del total de homicidios, sólo en el registrado el 1 de julio en la colonia 9 de Septiembre, se logró la captura de los presuntos asesinos”.

Mexican Enforcement:

•   Before the US Border, Migrants Face Harrowing Journey in Mexico
Matt Gutman, ABC News, July 5, 2016
This Nightline clip documents the hardships, such as extortion and assault, many Central American migrants face when they reach the US-Mexico border. The piece follows two El Salvadorans and a group of Hondurans, documenting their stay in shelters. “We don’t have any other options. If I go home, I die.” stated one of the interviewees.

•   El gobierno de México, insensible ante crisis de migración: Solalinde
Rusvel Rasgado, Quadratin, 3 de julio de 2016
“Un total de 50 jóvenes de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras partieron este domingo del albergue de migrantes Hermanos en el Camino de Ciudad Ixtepec hacia el Centro de Protección Internacional para Adolescentes Centroamericanos (CEPROIAC) en la Ciudad de México, acompañados por el sacerdote Alejandro Solalinde Guerra… ‘La migración sigue siendo crítica y sumamente dinámica porque el principal factor de expulsión obligada de los centroamericanos es la violencia…’, explicó Solalinde”.

•   Preocupa a ONG ayuda de EEUU a México en migración
EFE y La Opinión, 28 de junio de 2016
“La ONG American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) alertó que la cooperación de Estados Unidos a México en materia migratoria puede contaminar de malas prácticas a los agentes locales a la hora de respetar los derechos humanos. ‘Hemos visto las violaciones de DD.HH. cometidos por las instituciones de migración de Estados Unidos, y nos preocupa que estén aquí enseñando a agentes de México cuando no respetan las normas de EEUU’, dijo la coordinadora de Impacto de Políticas de AFSC, Kathryn Johnson”.

•   Chiapas, el estado con mayor violencia contra migrantes
Mundo Hispánico, 30 de junio de 2016
“Los migrantes hondureños son el grupo con el mayor número de víctimas de violencia a su paso por México, y Chiapas es el estado donde más actos violentos se registran… A su vez, el coordinador del Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes México, Arturo González González, expuso que la impunidad en México es el combustible que detona la violencia contra las personas migrantes’”.

•   Mexico Launches Plan to Save Migrants’ Lives
Lorena Figueroa, El Paso Times and Las Cruces Sun-News, July 2, 2016
“The plan comes as a result of Beta Group, a Mexican federal border unit similar to the U.S. Border Patrol, reporting an increase of more than 50 percent in the number of migrants found in distress since the beginning of 2016 compared with the same period last year… Beta Group is reinforcing prevention, rescue and humanitarian assistance through the plan to help migrants in risky situations in the desert.”

•   Mexican Gov’t Agencies to Help in Reintegration of Returning Nationals
EFE and Latino Fox News, July 6, 2016
“The program, “Somos Mexicanos. Aquí tienes las puertas abiertas” (We are Mexicans, You Have the Doors Open Here), seeks to help returning Mexicans find employment and reintegrate into the community… the program would be coordinated by different government agencies, including about 50 Mexican consulates in the United States.”
Lee una versión en español:
México ofrece ayuda a los migrantes que quieran regresar de Estados Unidos

U.S. Enforcement:

•   An Exodus in Our Own Backyard
The Editorial Board, NY TImes, July 4, 2016
“They are families and young children, many traveling alone, who have tried to escape Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the hemisphere’s murder capitals… President Obama has spoken of them with sympathy. But he and his Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, have done far too little to match words with actions… They have compounded that failure by treating the emergency mainly as a border-control problem, to be dealt with through family prisons, an overburdened and unjust immigration court system, and deportation even of those who pose no threat. And they have outsourced an ugly job to Mexico: intercepting migrants at the Guatemalan border, to keep them out of sight and mind. These migrants are refugees, but persuading a court to let them stay requires legal counsel, and relatively few have lawyers.

•   Hondureño es asesinado al ser deportado
Univision, 4 de julio de 2016
“Una inmigrante hondureña hace responsable al Gobierno estadounidense por la muerte de su hijo de 23 años de edad… él estuvo peleando su caso de asilo en el estado Tejas… al final del cuento lo deportaron y el viente cuatro de mayo, al pleno luz del día, en una calle de San Pedro Sula, lo mataron… ella culpa la falta de sensibilidad del gobierno estadounidense porque, a pesar de todas las pruebas que su vida corría peligro, lo deportaron…”

•   U.S. Must Release Child Migrants Held in Family Detention, Court Says
Cindy Carcamo, LA Times, July 6, 2016
“‘This decision makes it clear that the Obama administration can no longer detain accompanied children for long periods of time in unlicensed, locked-down facilities,’ said Peter Schey, one of the lead plaintiff attorneys and president of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.”

•   Senate Blocks 2 Bills on Immigration
AP and NY Times, July 6, 2016
“Absent sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system, the first measure would have barred federal funds from sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that resist turning over immigrants to federal authorities. The second measure would have increased the maximum sentence for illegal re-entry into the country, with up to a 10-year penalty for an individual denied admission or deported at least three times… Each Senate measure faced a 60-vote threshold. The first measure fell short, 53-44. The second measure failed on a 55-42 vote.”

•   San José Conference on Forced Displacement in Central America Ends with Commitments to Strengthen Asylum Systems in the Region
UNHCR, July 8, 2016
“The High-Level Roundtable on the plight of people fleeing growing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras… concluded yesterday in San José, Costa Rica, with a series of comprehensive actions to address the various dimensions of the situation, including the provision of international protection for asylum-seekers and refugees, and protection measures in the countries of origin. This was the first international event to focus on current forced displacement in the region. It highlighted the urgency of addressing the needs of those displaced in a more systematic way among all concerned actors.”

•   Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on Southwest Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Priorities
Jeh C. Johnson, Department of Homeland Security, July 7, 2016
“‘In June 2016, apprehensions by the Border Patrol on our southwest border – an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally – decreased from the levels we saw in May and April.  Year to date, apprehensions are somewhat higher than in FY 2015, but significantly lower than FY 2014 and FY 2013…’”

•   The Corrections Corporation of America is Blocking Immigrants from Seeking Their Lawyers at a Georgia Detention Center
Rhonda Brownstein, Huffington Post, July 5, 2016
“It’s a basic principle of the U.S. justice system that all people, no matter their citizenship status, are guaranteed due process. Yet, 94 percent of immigrants in this prison-like detention center lack representation. And both U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its for-profit prison operator, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), continue to erect barriers that prevent them from finding help.”

•   Can Obama Pardon Millions of Immigrants?
Peter L. Markowitz, NY Times, July 6, 2016
“There is one area, however, where the president’s unilateral ability to forgo punishment is uncontested and supported by over a hundred years of Supreme Court precedent: the pardon power… It’s a common assumption that pardons can be used only for criminal offenses, and it’s true that they have not been used before for civil immigration violations. However, the Constitution extends the power to all “offenses against the United States,” which can be interpreted more broadly than just criminal offenses.”

•   Government Reverses Policy on Using Border Agents as Translators
Joshua Breisblatt, Immigration Impact, July 5, 2016
“In December 2012, then acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) David Aguilar had announced a policy restricting his agencies’ officers and agents from acting as interpreters for state or local law enforcement agencies—which had become a common practice along the northern and southern borders. However, just last month, current CBP Commissioner, Gil Kerlikowske reversed course and authorized CBP Agents to again act as interpreters for state and local police despite significant civil rights concerns associated with that practice.”

•   Border Bodies: The Grim Mysteries of Southern California
Brett Kelman and Gustavo Solis, The Desert Sun and USA Today
“More than 450 unidentified bodies have been found in Imperial County since 1990, and authorities estimate that at least 90 percent are undocumented immigrants who died while crossing the border… Undocumented immigrants have crossed these empty spaces since the late 1990s, when the Border Patrol introduced Operation Gatekeeper,’ concentrating agents near population centers in the belief that migrants wouldn’t risk a long walk through the dangerous desert.”
Lee el artículo en español: Cuerpos en la frontera: Misterios en el sur de California

•   Immigration reformers eye Gang of 8 Revival
Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett, Politico, July 5, 2016
“Several influential lawmakers see another opening for immigration reform in 2017, especially if Hillary Clinton wins and the GOP takes another hit among Latinos… It’s far from certain, though, that another reform push would get any farther than last time.”

•   Más agentes hispanos custodian la frontera sur de EEUU
AP y Yahoo! Noticias, 2 de julio de 2016
“… en los últimos 18 meses más de 40% de las 450 personas que se capacitaron para ser patrulleros del Departamento de Seguridad Pública de Texas (DPS, por sus siglas en inglés) eran hispanos. Se trata del mayor porcentaje en una década”.

•   Nations Hinder U.S. Effort to Deport Immigrants Convicted of Crime
Ron Nixon, NY Times, July 1, 2016
“Thousands of immigrants with criminal convictions, including for assault and attempted murder, have been released from detention because their native countries refused to take them back,according to statistics recently released by the Department of Homeland Security. The inability to deport the criminals has prompted outrage among lawmakers and advocates of tighter immigration laws… More than 100 of the immigrants released by the government have later been charged in homicides.”
 
•   Report: Federal Officials Complicit in Deportation of U.S. Veterans
Cindy Carcamo and Tatiana Sanchez, LA Times, July 6, 2016
“The federal government lost, misplaced or failed to file the naturalization applications for dozens of foreign-born U.S. veterans who were later deported or face deportation, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of California… Although military service entitled many of the men in the report to naturalization, the federal government failed to ensure that the service members became naturalized during their time in the military, the report alleges… The ACLU report estimated there are more than 250 deported veterans in 34 countries. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they don’t keep track of that data.”

•   Delayed Care Faulted in Immigrants’ Deaths at Detention Centers
Megan Jula and Julia Preston, NY Times, July 7, 2016
“Deficient medical care contributed to at least seven immigrants’ deaths in federal detention, according to a report published on Thursday by Human Rights Watch… medical staff members failed to follow up on critical symptoms and were slow to seek emergency treatment, providing ‘inadequate care’ that was probably a factor in the deaths.”

•   Estados Unidos extiende TPS para inmigrantes de El Salvador hasta 2018
  La Opinión, 7 de julio de 2016
“…el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos (DHS) ha dado un anuncio previo hoy sobre una nueva extensión del programa de Estatus de Protección Temporal (TPS) para los inmigrantes de El Salvador acogidos a este. Las personas que califican podrán permanecer bajo la protección del programa otros 18 meses a partir del 10 de septiembre del 2016, es decir hasta el 9 de marzo del 2018”.

New Reports and Resources:

•   Informe testimonial: de desplazamiento forzado en El Salvador enfocado en niñez, adolescencia y juventud
Civil Society Working Group Against Forced Displacement by Violence and Organized Crime in El Salvador
Celia Medrano, Cristosal, 28 de junio de 2016
“El presente informe testimonial tiene como objetivo principal visibilizar la situación que viven las familias de niñas, ninos, adolescentes y jóvenes… en el contexto del desplazamiento forzado por violencia generalizada y el crimen organizado en el Área Metropolitana de San Salvador… La redacción del informe es de manera descriptiva y se utiliza una serie de citas textuales de testimonios para visualizar de mejor manera la experiencia de sobrevivir a las diferentes manifestaciones de violencia que afectan a las familias internamente desplazadas”.

•   Roundtable on Protection Needs in the Northern Triangle of Central America
UNHCR, July 6-7, 2016
Meeting documents and additional resources from the two-day “high-level roundtable” in Costa Rica that “is the first international meeting of its kind focused on current forced displacement in Central America”. It brings together “government representatives… UN organizations; and key actors from the humanitarian and development sectors at the national and regional level…”

•   Discharged, Then Discarded
ACLU, July 6, 2016
“…analysis of 59 cases of veterans who have been forced out of the country or are still in the U.S. but facing deportation…Veterans deported to Mexico or Central America face serious threats from gangs and drug cartels that seek to recruit them because of their military training, and threaten them and their families with death if they refuse.”