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Migration News Brief 12.5.19

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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: lalvarez@lawg.org.


Making Way for Corruption in Guatemala and Honduras
Lisa Haguaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund, December 5, 2019

“In Guatemala and Honduras, corrupt officials in executive branches and legislatures are putting into place laws and policies to limit oversight and action by judicial authorities, human rights defenders, civil society activists, and journalists to expose and protest abuses, while sweeping away obstacles to their own corruption.

Forced Return to Danger
AFL-CIO, WRC, KIND, LAWG, Alianza Americas, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, WOLA, December 5, 2019

“In the Forced Return to Danger report, LAWG and other civil society organizations outline the disturbing impacts of the agreements on asylum seekers’ protection and well-being, and the likelihood that they will violate U.S. and international refugee law. The memo highlights the ways in which the agreements completely ignore the distinct but concerning realities that fuel forced migration and displacement of thousands of individuals from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.”

US Enforcement

Immigrants Targeted by Trump Deserve Protection
Oscar Chacon, Sulma Arias, Progressive, December 4, 2019

“This means that, for the time being, TPS beneficiaries can continue working with the permits they received, but the looming possibility of deportation remains a constant and imminent threat.”

Appeals judges appear skeptical of rule limiting asylum seekers from Central America
Geneva Sands, CNN Politics, December 2, 2019

“‘The Justice Department argued that the ‘critical executive branch rule’ was designed to prioritize urgent asylum claims, combat human smuggling, protect vulnerable migrants and find a lasting diplomatic solution to mass migration. Stewart, the attorney on behalf of the administration, said that the US attorney general and secretary of homeland security, who implemented the rule, ‘have square authority to issue additional conditions and limitations on the granting of asylum.’”

‘Black hole’ of medical records contributes to deaths, mistreatment at the border
Darius Tahir, Politico, December 1, 2019

“Patients suffer from ‘delays in medical care, refusals to accommodate disabilities, and nearly constant isolation,’ according to the suit. ‘Conditions in detention are so brutal that many people are forced to abandon viable claims for immigration relief and accept deportation out of a desperate desire to escape the torture they are enduring in detention on U.S. soil.’”

‘Only God’s hand has kept us safe’: Migrants describe kidnappings and other dangers at the Mexico border
Rosa Flores, CNN, December 1, 2019

“LaRock says she hopes the migrants’ desperate letters will help other Americans understand how US policies are exposing asylum seekers to some of the same dangers they fled in their native countries.”

En Silencio, Guatemala Recibe 3 Migrantes Centroamericanos En El Marco Del Tercer País Seguro
David Toro, Prensa Comunitaria, 3 de diciembre de 2019

“Este 3 de diciembre, arribaron dos hondureños y un salvadoreño, en un vuelo proveniente de Arizona, Estados Unidos, que además traía a más de 70 guatemaltecos deportados. Usualmente, Estados Unidos envía 6 vuelos semanales.”

Whistleblower: US Violates International Law By Sending Migrants Back to Mexico
Alex Witt, MSNBC, November 30, 2019

“A whistleblower from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tells Alex Witt that the U.S. is violating the law by sending people with viable asylum claims back to a country where they are not safe.”

Black Friday At Immigration Court: Migrants Mistakenly Show Up for 5-Year-Old Court Date
Bonnie Petrie, Texas Public Radio, November 30, 2019

“Over the years many of those cases have been resolved, Tabaddor said, but not all of them. The remaining cases were pushed to 2021, but not everyone got the message.That’s how more than 100 people ended up at immigration court at 8 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving, with no judges to hear their cases.”

More than 100 show up at San Antonio immigration court for an artificial hearing date 
Alia Malik, San Antonio Express News, November 30, 2019

“Immigrants who could be tracked down were alerted not to show up Friday. But the court lacked capacity to notify everyone. Signs went up in the immigration court on Dolorosa Street downtown. Some of the immigrants were notified by mail, but others — especially those who didn’t have lawyers, or who’d moved — were not.”

ICE deports worker who survived the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, despite concerns over investigation 
Bryn Stole, Nola.com, November 29, 2019

“Activists and Ramirez’s attorneys have also raised the possibility that his arrest came in retaliation for complaining about structural issues and unsafe conditions at the worksite as well as an interview from the scene of the disaster he gave to Jambalaya News, a local Spanish-language news outlet.”

ICE arrests 9- more students at fake university in Michigan
Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, November 27, 2019

“Attorneys for the students arrested said they were unfairly trapped by the U.S. government since the Department of Homeland Security had said on its website that the university was legitimate. An accreditation agency that was working with the U.S. on its sting operation also listed the university as legitimate.”

Big Data: Zero
Jeremy C. Fox, Boston Globe, November 27, 2019

“The United States resettled zero refugees in the month of October. It was the first time since reporting began that the number was so low.”

Border-wide campaign aims to stop US from forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico
NEXSTAR, Fox31 News, November 26, 2019

“Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials say MPP has been one of their most successful tools in reducing a migrant wave that taxed the resources of border agencies, placed detention centers above capacity and led to allegations of shortcomings in the care of detainees.”

Primer experimento de asilo a migrantes evidencia falta de coordinación estatal
Ana Lucia Ola, Prensa Libre, 26 de noviembre

“El primer experimento para recibir a migrantes centroamericanos solicitantes de asilo evidenció la falta de protocolos para implementar el Acuerdo de Cooperación de Asilo (ACA), que fue firmado entre Guatemala y Estados Unidos.”

Trump: Park rangers will patrol Mexican border, arrest migrants
Karen Chavez and Trevor Hughes, USA Today, November 23, 2019

“Park rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, the National Mall in Washington and Zion National Park in Utah, among others, temporarily relocated to Arizona and Texas to work with Border Patrol agents. Park officials say they’ve been told they should continue sending park rangers to the border through September 2020.”

Mexican Enforcement
Caravana de madres de migrantes llega a la Ciudad de México en busca de sus hijos desaparecidos
Univision, 28 de noviembre de 2019

“El Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) de México informó que, el grupo conformado por más de 40 mujeres procedentes de diversos países de Centroamérica y Sudamérica, ha estado acompañado en todo momento desde su ingreso al país por el grupo de atención de primeros auxilios y asistencia social que es conocido como Beta.”

Albergua Juárez a 10 mil migrantes
El Diario de Juárez, Hérika Martínez Prado, 27 de noviembre de 2019

“Debido a los diferentes fenómenos migratorios, Ciudad Juárez alberga actualmente aproximadamente a 10 mil migrantes, para quienes la Casa del Migrante busca implementar un proyecto de apoyo integral.”

Root Causes 

Inside the So-Called “Safe Third”—and Trump’s Latest Attack on Asylum-Seekers
Karen Musalo, Ms Magazine, December 4, 2019

“The same is not true for the northern triangle countries, which cannot seriously be considered to be safe. Widespread violence and instability have caused their own inhabitants to flee in large numbers, seeking protection outside their borders, and none of these countries have asylum systems capable of processing the claims of the hundreds or thousands of asylum seekers the U.S. could send their way.  Yet El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are now to serve as safe havens for those who flee persecution, giving the U.S. yet another way to flout its legal and moral obligations”

Under the volcano
Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post, November 27, 2019

“More than 250,000 Guatemalans — at least 2 percent of the country’s population — have migrated to the United States in the past two years. Of those migrants, analysts say, a disproportionate number are indigenous. More than two decades since this country’s civil war, which pitted Guatemala’s military against its native communities, the exodus points to one of Latin America’s starkest inequalities. It points to places like La Trinidad.”

Honduran Journalist Killed Leaving Station
The Associated Press, November 26, 2019

“The initial investigation suggests that four men were waiting for Arita outside and began shooting at close range.”

OV-UNAH: “55% de muertes violentas en Honduras son de niños y jóvenes”
Eduin Funez, Tiempo Digital, 1 de diciembre de 2019

“Más de tres mil homicidios se han registrado en el país este 2019, según un recuento del Observatorio de la Violencia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (OV-UNAH) realizado a la fecha, lo que señala que Honduras se ha visto golpeada por una ola de violencia imparable.”

Explotación infantil va en aumento en Honduras
Redaccion, Criterio, 30 de noviembre de 2019
“De acuerdo con cifras de estas organizaciones al menos un 80% de infantes sufren de distintos tipos de explotación. Los niños hondureños viven expuestos a múltiples tipos de abuso, desde la explotación laboral hasta la sexual.”

Guatemala to try more former top military officials for Maya genocide
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, November 29, 2019

“Guatemala’s human rights prosecutor on Friday indicted another former top military official for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the bloodiest phase of the Central American country’s 36-year civil war.”

Procuradora General de la República de El Salvador Visita Pop No’J
Unidad de Comunicación, 4 de diciembre de 2019

“El personal de Pop No’j expuso que el llamado Convenio de “Tercer País Seguro” que Guatemala firmó en julio pasado es ilegal, ilegítimo e inviable.  Es ilegal pues no fue aprobado por el Congreso de la República y contraviene el derecho a la protección internacional; además fue firmado bajo coacción, lo que lo invalida.  Es ilegítimo porque ha sido negociado a espaldas de los pueblos y en detrimento de los derechos de los ciudadanos de nuestros países. Es inviable pues el Estado de Guatemala es incapaz de garantizar los derechos y la seguridad de sus ciudadanos, mucho menos podrá hacerlo para personas originarias de otros países.”

Honduran president eyes debt renegotiation with multilateral lenders
Reuters, December 2, 2019

“Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Monday he would like to renegotiate the Central American country’s debt with multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.”

Berta Cáceres murder: seven convicted men sentenced to up to 50 years
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, December 2, 2019

“Cáceres’s murder triggered widespread condemnation but failed to stop the bloodshed: at least 24 environmental and land defenders have been murdered since March 2015, and Honduras remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world outside an official warzone”

At least 19 killed as Mexican cartel battles police and army south of U.S. border
Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post, December 1, 2019

“Dozens of cartel gunmen attacked a town hall in northern Mexico, triggering a running battle with security forces that left 19 dead by Sunday in a fresh sign of the deteriorating security around the country.”

Estrategia de seguridad y migración, puntos alarmantes en la política de seguridad de AMLO
Sistema Integral de Información en Derechos Humanos, 28 de noviembre de 2019

“En conferencia de prensa, Tania Reneaum, directora ejecutiva de Amnistía Internacional México, consideró que el gobierno de México ha demostrado voluntad para avanzar en esta materia, pero no se observan cambios sustanciales en la vida de millones de personas que enfrentan una gravísima crisis en materia de derechos humanos.”

El Salvador no usa dinero de México para replicar programs de AMLO
Sandra Romandia, La Silla Rota, 28 de noviembre 2019

“La intención: que ambos programas, vigentes en México, se repliquen en ese país para evitar las oleadas de migración de los jóvenes. Sin embargo, a más de cinco meses de esa fotografía los salvadoreños no han recibido ni un dólar de la donación.”

Actions, Alerts, Resources 

Human Rights Fiasco: The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Asylum Returns Continue
Human Rights First, December 2019

“This report is based on interviews with asylum seekers stranded in Mexico, attorneys, court monitors, academic researchers, and Mexican government officials; field research in October and November in Ciudad Juárez, Nuevo Laredo, and Tijuana; observation of MPP immigration court hearings in November and December; and reports from human rights organizations, legal monitors, and the media. Human Rights First observed proceedings at the Laredo MPP tent court remotely from the San Antonio immigration court because CBP denied Human Rights First’s requests for access to the facility, just as it denied us access to the Brownsville tent court in September.”

Federal Court’s Preliminary Injunction Restores Asylum Eligibility for Asylum Seekers Turned Back at Ports of Entry Before July 16, 2019: Frequently Asked Questions
American Immigration Council, December 5, 2019

“On December 4, 2019, the government appealed the district court’s order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The government also filed a motion seeking a stay of the court’s order pending appeal with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Unless the government obtains a stay of the preliminary injunction, the district court’s order will remain in effect.”

New Report Based on 3,000 Legal Screenings of Undocumented Immigrants
Immigrants Rising, December 5, 2019

“Immigrants Rising analyzed ten years of online legal intakes for close to 3,000 undocumented immigrants to identify trends and develop recommendations in the areas of education, immigration relief, criminal justice, and more. As the report details, Immigrants Rising outlined new best practices for immigration legal service providers; exciting new demographic trends and data for advocates and researchers; and key opportunities for policy makers at all levels of government.”

“Everyday Life is Fear”: Violence Against Children and Youth in Honduras”
Kids In Need of Defense, November 26, 2019

“This report outlines our principal findings and recommendations for the U.S. and Honduran governments.”

DHS Lacked Technology Needed to Successfully Account for Separated Migrant Families
Office of Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, November 25, 2019

“DHS did not have the information technology (IT) system functionality needed to track separated migrant families during the execution of the Zero Tolerance Policy. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) adopted various ad hoc methods to record and track family separations, but these methods led to widespread errors. CBP officials have been aware of these IT deficiencies since at least November 2017 when U.S. Border Patrol conducted an initiative that mirrored the Zero Tolerance Policy. These conditions persisted because CBP did not address its known IT deficiencies adequately before implementing Zero Tolerance in May 2018. DHS also did not provide adequate guidance to personnel responsible for executing the Zero Tolerance Policy”
*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.