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Migration News Brief 2.21.20

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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.

US Enforcement

Kushner Seeks Investors to Help Curb Central America Migration 
Justin Sink, Eric Martin, and Saleha Mohsin, Bloomberg, February 19, 2020
“The White House’s hope is that fresh investment and aid to the three countries would serve as both reward for their government’s cooperation with Trump’s push to stem the flow of migrants and incentive for citizens of the region to stay in their home countries. It’s also an attempt to reframe the provision of U.S. foreign aid, an expenditure Trump has dismissed as wasteful.”

Federal judge sides with migrants in lawsuit over conditions in border facilities 
J. Edward Moreno, The Hill, February 19, 2020
“U.S. District Judge David C. Bury ordered CBP to provide a bed, blanket, shower, potable food and water, and medical assessment for every migrant held more than 48 hours. The ruling would also make permanent a preliminary injunction Bury issued in 2016 that requires CBP to provide clean mats and thin blankets to migrants held for longer than 12 hours to allow access to body wipes.”

Judge: Border Patrol’s Detention in AZ ‘Violate the Constitution’ 
Paul Ingram, Tucson Sentinel, February 19, 2020
“‘CBP has not changed the way it treats people in confinement, unless a court orders it,’ he said, adding that the case was ‘incredibly important’ because it will ‘improve drastically’ conditions at Border Patrol’s facilities.”

US border clampdown forces Venezuelan teen into Mexico alone
Nomaan Merchant, AP News, February 18, 2020
“A Venezuelan teenager has been forced back to Mexico by U.S. government authorities who denied her claims that she was fleeing political repression and violence, even after they accepted the same claims from her father.”

They were one of the first families separated at the border. Two and a half years later, they’re still apart. 
Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, February 17, 2020
“She tries to avoid the word. What she says is that her mom is in Guatemala. Or that her mom has been deported and will try to come back soon. But when her teacher, or her social worker, or her best friend Ashley asks, Aleida sounds it out — one of the first words she learned in English. ‘They separated us’.”

Second round of migrant aid reimbursements hopes to broaden eligibility 
Michael McDevitt, El Paso Times, February 16, 2020
“Local organizations that pitched to temporarily house, feed and care for migrants released into Las Cruces and other Borderland communities can soon apply for a second round of reimbursement from the federal government.”

Trust and Consequences
Hannah Dreier, Washington Post, February 15, 2020
“And in front of them all…was an old report from a shelter for immigrant children that was the reason the long-running matter of Kevin Euceda existed at all: ‘Youth reports history of physical abuse, neglect, and gang affiliation in country of origin. Unaccompanied child self-disclosed selling drugs. Unaccompanied child reports being part of witnessing torturing and killing, including dismemberment of body parts,’ the report said. The person who had signed it: A therapist at a government shelter for immigrant children who had assured Kevin that their sessions would be confidential.”

Border Patrol Will Deploy Elite Tactical Agents to Sanctuary Cities 
Caitlin Dickerson and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, February 14, 2020
“Among the agents being deployed to sanctuary cities are members of the elite tactical unit known as BORTAC, which acts essentially as the SWAT team of the Border Patrol. With additional gear such as stun grenades and enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.”

SWAT-Like Immigration Officers Are in Boston, Ready to Cooperate with ICE Arrests
Shannon Dooling, WBUR, February 14, 2020
“In a news release Friday, the acting ICE Director Matthew AAlbence said the agency is utilizing the additional specially trained CBP officials in cities throughout the country to mitigate ‘resource challenges stemming from sanctuary city policies’.”

Customs and Border Protection Officials are Allowed Full Anonymity Under FOIA—and That’s a Blow to Government Transparency 
Emily Creighton, Immigration Impact, February 14, 2020
“Abuses perpetrated by CBP officials against adults and children have included the withholding of food and water as well as physical abuse. Vulnerable victims such as children face significant challenges in reporting abuses. Even when a complaint is made, a confusing and labyrinthine complaint system prevents transparency regarding investigations into allegations of abuse. The public has learned through reporting and FOIA requests that investigations generally are not conducted or are incomplete and, in many cases, no action is taken against individual officials.”

White House targets pet weapons projects to pay for border wall 
John Donnelly, Roll Call, February 13, 2020
“Pentagon officials have targeted weapons programs cherished by senior members of both parties in a Thursday request to shift $3.8 billion in Defense Department money to build more barriers on America’s border with Mexico.”

In the Midst of a Border Crisis, Cooking is About More Than Survival
Michelle García, Bon Appétit, February 13, 2020
“At the largest tent camp along the U.S.-Mexico border, cooking is a means of survival—not just for the body, but for the mind and soul. Cooking is caring for families, a means to earn money by selling meals to other migrants, an expression of human dignity to sustain spirits while living through a brutal humanitarian crisis that worsens by the day.”

Kushner Seeks to Revive Trump’s Overhaul for Immigration System 
Franco Ordoñez, NPR, February 12, 2020
“The new plan would boost the number of legal immigrants by increasing visas for high-skilled works — something Trump has argued is needed for the tech industry and manufacturers to expand in America. It would recognize the Department of Homeland Security to streamline the leadership of its three immigration-related agencies, creating a new director position, or immigration czar who would be in charge of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

The Border’s After School Program
Slate, February 11, 2020
“Where teens on the border learn how to be CBP agents. In border towns across the country, high school students are participating in an after school program run by the U.S. Border Patrol. When journalist Morley Musick first encountered the Border Patrol Explorers, he saw it as another example of the contradictions of life on the border.”

This is how deportation fractures American families
Clarissa Donnelly-DeRoven, Chicago Reader, February 5, 2020
“Where are you taking them? They’ll be transferred between immigration detention centers, then deported to Mexico. Will they have a lawyer? Your parents will be allowed to fight their case, but they will not be provided with a public defender. Your parents will be given a list of low-cost attorneys but you must contact them on their own. Can I visit them? Yes during visiting hours.”

Mexican Enforcement

Ampliará EU y México puntos de revisión fronteriza
Gustavo Castillo Garcia, Frontera, 21 de febrero de 2020
“Los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos ampliaron de cinco a 20 los puntos de revisión para evitar el contrabando de droga, dinero y principalmente armas de fuego entre ambas naciones”.

México se olvida de la crisis migrante en la frontera con Estados Unidos 
Nadia Sanders, The Washington Post, February 11, 2020
“La protección de los migrantes que esperan en las ciudades fronterizas está en manos de la sociedad civil, que ya no se da abasto para contener la crisis, mientras el gobierno de México recorta sus recursos y su política pública consiste en desplegar a la Guardia Nacional en la frontera sur para intentar frenar el éxodo migrante. El gobierno de México también debe hacer de su frontera norte, y de quienes están hacinados en ella, una prioridad”.

Root Causes 

Mexican lawmakers toughen penalties for femicide, abuse of minors after murders 
Reuters, February 18, 2020
“Lawmakers voted to increase the sentence for femicide to 45 to 65 years in prison, up from a range of 40 to 60 years. They also sought to toughen penalties for sexual abuse of minors to 10 to 18 years, up from six to 13 years.”

Killing of 7-year-old adds to anger in Mexico over femicides 
Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2020
“Her body was found wrapped in a bag and abandoned in a rural area on Saturday and was identified by genetic testing. The cause of death has not yet been released. Five people have been questioned in the case, and there is video footage of her abduction.”

La nota roja y la violencia de género tienen una historia complicada
Pablo Piccato, Washington Post, February 17, 2020
“Y consumir o circular esas imágenes significa aceptar las explicaciones implícitas que la nota roja nos vendio como de sentido común cuando dejo de hacer investigación periodística y empezó a solo publicar imágenes sangrientas, en las cuales la culpa es de la víctima y el uso de la fuerza es un privilegio masculino”.

Sistema de justicia de Honduras no penalizo como un crimen de odio el asesinato de Bessy Ferrera de la comunidad LGTBI 
Bersely García, Pasos de Animal Grande, 17 de febrero de 2020
“Las muertes contra la comunidad LGTBI se continúan tratando como un delito común y corriente, sin analizar el hecho en el cual influye el odio, por ser integrantes de un grupo discriminado donde el Estado de Honduras pretende soslayar esta responsabilidad”.

Banco Mundial: Hondureños migran a EEUU por frustración ante falta de oportunidades 
La Prensa, 17 de febrero de 2020
“De acuerdo con el estudio, muchos jóvenes, a menudo los más dinámicos, han optado por migrar. En 2016 alrededor del 7.5% de los hondureños vivía en Estados Unidos, comparado al 5.5% en el 2006”.

Salvadoran president sends more soldiers to fight crime after standoff with lawmakers
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, February 18, 2020
“‘Lawmakers are scandalized when they see a soldier, but they were not scandalized when gang members entered the Legislative Assembly to negotiate the lives of Salvadorans,’ Bukele said.”

As El Salvador’s president, I respect the separation of powers 
Letters to the Editor, The Washington Post, February 16, 2020
“Our security plan enjoys more than 90 percent support from the people, crime is down, and forced migration is at a historic low. Separation of powers is not at risk in my country. The lives of hard-working Salvadoran families and our national security are.”

President Bukele, Brute Force Is Not the Way Forward for El Salvador
José Miguel Vivanco, New York Times, February 14, 2020
“It has been disappointing to see only mumbled remonstrance from foreign powers and international institutions that could curb Mr. Bukele’s authoritarian plunge. The delegation of the European Union to El Salvador, expressing ‘great concern’ rightly invoked the importance of the rule of law, respect for political pluralism and separation of powers in its response, but then posited a false equivalency, calling on both the president and the Legislative Assembly to respect institutional independence.”

‘It fills us with rage’: Mexican activists protest femicide at presidential palace 
The Guardian, February 14, 2020
‘I’m not burying my head in the sand… The government I represent will always take care of ensuring the safety of women,’ he said, without detailing new plans. But early this week, he showed little patience for those who questioned him about the government’s commitment to fighting violence against women.”

Impunity Persists in Murder Cases of Mexico’s Indigenous Leaders
Parker Asmann, InSight Crime, February 14, 2020
“Despite increasingly coming under fire, authorities in Mexico are failing to hold those accountable for targeting Indigenous human rights leaders from armed groups and exploitation, underscoring the depth of impunity in such cases.”

Actions, Alerts, Resources 

CIDH presenta caso sobre México a la Corte IDH 
CIDH, 18 de febrero de 2020
“El caso se relaciona con la responsabilidad del Estado Mexicano por la falta de debida diligencia en la investigación seguida por la muerte de la defensora de derechos humanos Digna Ochoa y Plácida”.

Organizaciones de derechos humanos respaldan informe de la OACNUDH sobre graves violaciones a derechos humanos en Honduras 
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de mujeres Defensoras de DDHH, 14 de febrero de 2020
“De acuerdo con su mandato, en este informe de seguimiento, la OACNUDH reitera que el Estado de Honduras respondió de forma desproporcionada a las protestas que se desataron después de las elecciones, lo cual resultó en la comisión de graves violaciones de los derechos humanos, que hasta la fecha, siguen en la impunidad”.


*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.