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Migration News Brief 2.28.20

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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

DHS expands programs that fast-track asylum process 
Tanvi Misra and Camila DeChalus, Roll Call, February 26, 2020
“But the newly disclosed court documents show that if migrants express fear of return, Border Patrol agents have wide berth to place them directly into the PACR program, where they are rushed through the initial stages of the asylum process. It’s also where they would remain in CBP custody, with severe time restrictions for calling family or finding an attorney, instead of being placed with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Supreme court blocks Mexican family’s legal bid over teen killed by border agent
Reuters in Washington, The Guardian, February 25, 2020
“The court, with the five conservative justices in the majority, refused to allow people who are not in the United States at the time of a cross-border incident to file civil rights lawsuits in federal court.”

The Supreme Court just held that a border guard who shot a child will face no consequences
Ian Millhiser, Vox, February 25, 2020
“Similarly, ‘the conduct of agents positioned at the border has a clear and strong connection to national security.’ These agents ‘detect, respond to, and interdict terrorists, drug smugglers and traffickers, human smugglers and traffickers, and other persons who may undermine the security of the United States.’ Allowing suits against these agents risks ‘undermining border security.’”

Justices find that parents of Mexican teen slain by Border Patrol agent cannot sue in U.S. courts
Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, February 25, 2020
“‘The gravity of this ruling could not be clearer given the Trump administration’s militarized rhetoric and policies targeting people at the border,’ Gelernt said in a statement. ‘Border agents should not have immunity to fatally shoot Mexican teenagers on the other side of the border fence. The Constitution does not stop at the border.’”

EEUU busca aumentar capacidades de asilo en países del Triángulo Norte de CA
Proceso Honduras, 25 de febrero de 2020
“El funcionario estadounidense especificó que en Guatemala trabajan con organizaciones internacionales para aumentar en ese país la capacidad de ofrecer asilo. ‘Estamos trabajando con Guatemala para que Guatemala les pueda ofrecer asilo ahí’, destacó Rodríguez”.

Ex-Guatemala Prosecutor Granted Asylum in U.S.
The Associated Press, New York Times, February 24, 2020
“Guatemala’s former chief prosecutor said Monday she has been granted asylum in the United States, in the face of charges filed in her home country that she claims are retaliation for her anti-corruption campaign.”

As Trump Barricades the Border, Legal Immigration Is Starting to Plunge
Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, February 24, 2020
“The expansion of Mr. Trump’s travel ban to six additional countries, including Africa’s most populous, Nigeria, began on Friday, and the wealth test, which effectively sets a wealth floor for would-be immigrants, started on Monday. Those will reshape immigration in the years to come, according to experts.”

Protecting the most vulnerable: What it takes to make a case under the US asylum system
Kate Morrissey, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 24, 2020
“At the port of entry in San Diego, she asked for asylum. She was handcuffed for the first time in her life. While in custody, she had an anxiety attack, a symptom of the lasting effects of what happened to her back home. She did not realize that she had been selected for Migrant Protection Protocols, a program known widely as ‘Remain in Mexico,’ until officials walked her back to Tijuana. She would have to wait across the border for her asylum case.”

‘Deportation With a Layover:’ US Sends Migrants to Guatemala
The Associated Press, New York Times, February 24, 2020
“About half of the people she spoke with had not known they were going to Guatemala when they were put on the plane in the U.S. Some thought they were being transferred to detention centers elsewhere in the United States. Only one of those she spoke with had decided to seek asylum in Guatemala, Schacher said.”

‘He Turned Purple’: U.S. Overlooks Ill Asylum Seekers
Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, February 22, 2020
“But before Remain in Mexico went into force, immigration officials were required to provide care for sick asylum seekers in their custody. That changed when the administration began returning migrants, many of them already ill, to areas with little access to treatment.”

How Steven Miller Manipulates Donald Trump to Further His Immigration Obsession
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, February 21, 2020
“‘The massive changes Miller engineered in border and immigration policy required that the policymaking process at D.H.S. be ignored,’ Alan Bersin, a former senior department official, told me. ‘Who do you think has filled the vacuum?’ Miller has cultivated lower-level officials in the department who answer directly to him, providing information, policy updates, and data, often behind the backs of their bosses.”

Honduras y EEUU reafirman compromisos de acuerdos migratorios
Proceso Honduras, 20 de febrero de 2020
“El grupo de planificación busca reafirmar los compromisos de los tratados que se firmaron en 2019 y pondrán a consideración iniciativas con un enfoque hacia crear un ambiente que conlleve a que las personas encuentren mayores oportunidades y prosperidad más cerca de sus hogares, en lugar de emprender un viaje largo, peligroso y costoso hacia los Estados Unidos, se informó”.

Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program dwindles as more immigrants are flown to Guatemala or are quickly deported
Arelis R. Hernández and Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, February 20, 2020
“Another administration program, the Asylum Cooperation Agreement, sends flights full of shackled Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers to Guatemala daily. So far, more than 600 people have been sent to the Central American country to seek asylum there under the agreement, but the vast majority end up abandoning their claims and going home to their countries of origin, according to Guatemalan immigration officials.”

Civil rights organizations file requests to preserve ICE records
Christina Carrega, ABC News, February 19, 2020
“According to the organizations, allowing ICE to discard complaints about civil rights violations and inadequate medical care after three years — unless pending litigation or a FOIA request — is against the law.”

‘What Part of Illegal Don’t You Understand?’
Sonia Nazario, New York Times, February 19, 2020
“Then, as now, many on both the right and the left have argued that the choice Americans face on immigration and asylum is between zero tolerance and opening the floodgates. But this is a false choice. We can have an immigration policy that is sane and humane.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico worried by US ruling over boy’s border killing
BBC News, February 26, 2020
“Mexico said it was worried the ruling would set a precedent for other incidents in which its nationals had been killed. The government expressed ‘deep concerns about the effects this decision will have on other similar cases, in which Mexican citizens have died from gunshots fired by US agents towards the Mexican side.’”

Root Causes 

Feminist Collective Pushes Back Against Violence in Honduras
Vienna Herrera, El Faro, February 27, 2020
“Their work is directly linked to gender roles, given that they are conditioned to utilize their bodies in certain ways in order to ensure that the production and accumulation of narco activities continues to function. In more conservative terms: the narco uses women’s bodies to accumulate capital.”

Groping little girls is (not) a crime (in El Salvador)
Valeria Guzmán, El Faro, February 27, 2020
“Escalantte was then accused of sexually assaulting a minor, a crime that is punishable with eight to 12 years in jail. Nevertheless, the judicial court that handled the case, composed of two magistrates, concluded in November that the accused magistrate’s conduct was, at most, an offense that may be punished with a fine equal to the ten to thirty days worth of salary.”

Guatemala approves civil society restrictions despite U.S. pressure 
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, February 27, 2020
“Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Thursday signed into law new rules that increase government oversight of non-profit groups operating in the Central American Country despite international pressure that he veto the bill.”

El Salvador aprueba una ley de reconciliación rechazada por las víctimas de la guerra civil 
Carlos Salinas Maldonado, El Pais, 27 de febrero de 2020
“Organismos internacionales han rechazado la nueva ley, que, dicen, es un retroceso importante en el camino de este país centroamericano para lograr justicia para las víctimas de una sangria que dejó más de 70.000 muertos según organizaciones de derechos humanos”.

Blind Spots in Central American Coverage
Melissa Vida, El Faro, February 20, 2020
“These regions—from Nicaragua’s jungle to Costa Rica’s roads and Belize’s shores, just to name a few—are less discussed in the English-speaking world. They don’t dominate foreign coverage of Central America news the same way that El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras do. Yet, coverage, and ultimately, what Carlos Alvarado calls ‘narrative,’ will help shine a light on Central America’s silent struggles and overshadowed successes.”

Incontrolable epidemia del dengue en Honduras
CABP, El Pulso, 24 de febrero de 2020
“Cosenza hizo un llamado a la población a tomar las medidas necesarias ya que han catalogado al dengue como una epidemia que podría llegar a ser incontrolable, como hasta el momento y en vez de disminuir los casos estos van en aumento.”

El Bukelazo: Shades of Dictatorship in El Salvador
Hillary Goodfriend, NACLA, February 19, 2020
“Bukele appears to have overplayed his hand, alarming human rights defenders and oligarchic elites alike. The administration hastened to minimize the offense, but Bukele’s dictatorial disposition has been laid bare.”

El norte militar del triángulo centroamericano
Otto Argueta y Knut Walter, Contra Corriente, 13 de febrero de 2020
“La afrenta de Bukele a la independencia de los órganos del Estado -pilar fundamental del orden democrático- en El Salvador, despierta una preocupación histórica en los tres países y que parece ser el despertar centroamericano del dragón dormido: la participación de los militares en la política”.

Unos 542.7 dólares mensuales envían al país hondureños residentes en EEUU
Confidencial Honduras, 24 de febrero de 2020
“Del total de encuestados, el 69.5 por ciento, que equivale a 647 personas, suelen realizar envíos de remesas desde el país de residencia hacia Honduras, con un monto promedio mensual de 542.7 dólares, valor que superó al reportado en la encuesta aplicada en enero de 2018, 486.6, dólares”.

Bukele se rodea de militares y vuelve a criminalizar a los diputados
Jaime Quintanilla, El Faro, 21 de febrero de 2020
“El presidente de El Salvador no cesa la confrontación contra los diputados de oposición en la Asamblea Legislativa, y 12 días después de haberse tomado el congreso con apoyo de militares y policías armados, ha pronunciado tres discursos en los que mantiene la amenaza contra el legislativo”.

Periodistas hondureños huyen para proteger sus vidas
Gissel Grandez, Conexihon, 20 de febrero de 2020
“‘Cuando hablamos de 20 periodistas, hablamos de 20 medios de comunicación, esto es apología de agresiones a la libertad de expresión, porque justamente la percepción que existe cuando sale un periodista del país es que pierde sus fuentes informativas, empleo, posibilidad de ingresos y genera a sus compañeros de trabajo un tema de autocensura’, explicó, la directora de C-Libre, Amada Ponce”.

Women in Mexico Are Urged to Disappear for a Day in Protest
Paulina Villegas and Kurt Semple, New York Times, February 26, 2020
“Instead of occupying public spaces, the traditional approach to protest, they decided to stage an action that symbolized women’s disappearance from them — ‘in order to send a message of anger and rejection of violence against women,’ she said.”

Un grupo de expertos de la ONU pide a El Salvador que libere a tres mujeres presas por abortar
Carlos Salinas Maldonado, El País, 26 de febrero de 2020
“‘Estas recomendaciones [de los expertos de la ONU] ponen en evidencia que la penalización absoluta del aborto en El Salvador tiene implicaciones graves para los derechos humanos de las mujeres’, ha afirmado Herrera”.

Costa Rican indigenous land activist killed by armed mob
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, February 25, 2020
“Costa Rica, an eco-tourism hub with five million inhabitants, is widely considered the region’s most equitable and law abiding country. But in recent years, the Bribri and Brörán people have been subject to a string of violent attacks, racist harassment and trumped-up retaliatory lawsuits with almost total impunity.

¿Cómo frenar la violencia contra las mujeres en México?
Mónica Meltis, New York Times, 24 de febrero de 2020
“Sin datos precisos y completos, ¿cómo vamos a poner un alto a tantas muertes? ¿Cómo podemos diseñar políticas públicas a ciegas? Es imposible diseñar una estrategia exitosa que combata la violencia contra las mujeres sin información concreta”.

Impunity Reigns In The Murder Of Indigenous Activist Samir Flores
Jose Benjamin Montaño, Latin America News Dispatch, February 21, 2020
“Samir’s death follows a disturbing trend of unsolved murders of environmental and human rights defenders, a majority of them Indigenous. A Global Witness report documents that in 2018, 14 land and environmental defenders were killed in Mexico. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his administration have vowed to address the problem. But one year after Samir’s murder, patience is running out.”

Mujeres hondureñas piden al Congreso de EE.UU de dejarlas fuera de plan migratorio
Redacción Criterio, 20 de febrero de 2020
“‘Por estas razones, la solicitamos a usted y el Congreso que preside… [que] incluya los derechos de las mujeres como eje central de los planes de desarrollo que se implementen en el Honduras y que son apoyados por los Estados Unidos de América’”.

Actions, Alerts, Resources 

Americas Annual Report
Amnesty International, February 27, 2020
“Inequality, corruption, violence, environmental degradation, impunity and the weakening of institutions continued to be a common reality across the Americas, resulting in daily human rights violations for millions of people… Instead of establishing mechanisms to promote dialogue and address people´s concerns, the authorities resorted to violence in the policing of demonstrations and, in some instances, increased militarization of public order operations.”

“You Will Never See Your Child Again”: The Persistent Psychological Effects of Family Separation
Hajar Habbach, MA, Kathryn Hampton, MSt, and Ranit Mishori, MD, MHS, Physicians for Human Rights, February 25, 2020
“According to PHR’s clinicians, most individuals (both adults and children) met diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.”

Política migratoria en Estados Unidos: un boletín para organizaciones mesoamericanas – Enero 2020
CEJIL, 24 de febrero de 2020
“En este documento, presentamos un resumen mensual de algunas iniciativas ejecutivas, decisiones judiciales y debates legislativos de Estados Unidos, con el fin de identificar nuevos espacios para las estrategias de promoción y protección de los derechos humanos de las personas migrantes en Centroamérica y México”.

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Honduras
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, February 14, 2020
“It highlights key human rights advances and challenges related to poverty and economic and social issues, corruption, business and human rights, migration, health, violence and insecurity, judicial independence, democratic space, with a focus on the situation of human rights defenders, journalists, individuals deprived of their liberty, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, persons with disabilities, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.”

Informe anual del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos y los informes de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado y el Secretario General
Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos en Honduras, 14 de febrero de 2020
“Destaca los principales avances y retos de derechos humanos relacionados con la pobreza y las cuestiones económicas y sociales, la corrupción, las empresas y los derechos humanos, la migración, la salud, la violencia y la inseguridad, la independencia judicial y el espacio democrático; centrándose en la situación de las y los defensores de los derechos humanos, los periodistas, las personas privadas de libertad, los pueblos indígenas y los afrodescendientes, las personas con discapacidad, las mujeres y las personas lesbianas, gais, bisexuales, transgénero e intersexuales”.


*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.