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Migration News Brief 7.31.19

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Date: Jul 31, 2019

Migration News Brief for July 31, 2019

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.

U.S. Enforcement

Immigration lawyers say Justice Dept. ruling could undercut thousands of asylum cases
Maria Sachetti, Washington Post, July 29, 2019 

“Barr wrote ‘genetic ties’ alone are insufficient to establish that a migrant is a member of a particular social group. He wrote that to qualify for protection, families should also be ‘socially distinct’ in some way, such as the ‘large and prominent’ clans that have been persecuted in some countries. Such families, Barr wrote, ‘stand on a very different footing from an alien’s immediate family, which generally will not be distinct on a societal scale, whether it attracts the attention of criminals who seek to exploit that family relationship in the service of their crimes.’”

Trump administration enacts another obstacle to asylum cases
Daniel Trotta, Reuters, July 29, 2019 

“U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration imposed another obstacle for asylum-seekers on Monday, finding that being persecuted on the basis of threats against a family member is usually not enough to be granted asylum in the United States.”

Senator intervenes at border to help Mexican family apply for asylum
Robert Moore, Washington Post, July 27, 2019 

“These policies that I’ve seen are not what America is about. And in fact, what we saw with respect to the woman who is here today is just a blatant violation of U.S. law,’ Wyden said, referring to the pregnant woman. He said he believed the CBP agents would have turned away the family if he had not intervened, a sentiment echoed by Taylor Levy, an El Paso immigration attorney who took Wyden and his staff to Juarez.”

Fear, confusion, despair: the everyday cruelty of a border immigration court
Adam Gabbat, The Guardian, July 26, 2019 

“Under Remain in Mexico, the judge told her: ‘Unfortunately that is not possible.’ Both women were told they could have ‘credible fear’ interviews – essentially where a government official gauges how much danger they would be in if they returned to Mexico – but there were no guarantees. The interviews are not open to the press.”

Pay or Die 
Sonia Nazario, New York Times, July 26, 2019 

“Since 2010, more than 1,500 Hondurans working in transportation have been murdered — shot, strangled, cuffed to the steering wheel and burned alive while their buses are torched. If anyone on a bus route stops paying, gangs kill a driver — any driver — to send a message.”

Supreme Court says Trump can proceed with plan to spend military funds for border wall construction
Robert Barnes, Washington Post, July 26, 2019 

“The appeals court said the public interest was best served by respecting the Constitution’s assignment of the power of the purse to Congress, and by deferring to Congress’s understanding of the public interest as reflected in its repeated denial of more funding for border barrier construction.”

Trump Administration Considering ‘Travel Ban’ On Guatemalans After Asylum Snub
Franco Ordonez, NPR, July 25, 2019 

“One of Trump’s strategies for reducing the number of people crossing the border is to get them to go through the asylum process outside of the United States. Guatemala was particularly important for that strategy; the deal would have obligated migrants who traveled through Guatemala to seek protection there instead of traveling to the U.S.”

Judge blocks Trump asylum restrictions at US-Mexico border
Amy Taxin & Ashraf Khalil, AP, July 25, 2019

“The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco on Wednesday came hours after another federal judge in Washington, D.C., let the 9-day-old policy stand. The California judge’s preliminary injunction halts the policy while the lawsuit plays out in court. The new policy denies asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there. Most crossing the Mexican border are from Central America, but it would apply to all nationalities except countries that border the U.S.”

Migrants risk it all seeking asylum. The answer in court is almost always ‘no.
Manuel Roig- Franzia, Washington Post, July 24, 2019 

“Asylum claims along the border have nearly quadrupled from 43,000 in 2013 to 162,000 in 2018. Only a fraction of the migrants apprehended at the border make asylum claims, but they can still clog the courts with lengthy and complex legal showdowns. Trump administration officials have said less than 20 percent of asylum requests by migrants from the Northern Triangle nations of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are granted by the courts, and have suggested that the low rate is evidence that most of the claims are meritless.”

Judge Once Again Expresses Skepticism Toward Trump Asylum Moves
Ross Todd, LAW.com, July 24, 2019 

“DOJ lawyer Scott Stewart found himself in a familiar, uncomfortable position Wednesday—fielding skeptical questions on Trump administration changes to asylum rules from U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of the Northern District of California.”

Trump’s Latest Attempt to Bar Asylum Seekers Is Blocked After a Day of Dueling Rulings
Miriam Jordan & Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times, July 24, 2019 

“The government, which is expected to appeal the decision, has said that the rule intends to prevent exploitation of the asylum system by those who unlawfully immigrate to the United States. By clogging the immigration courts with meritless claims, the government argues, these applicants harm asylum seekers with legitimate cases who must wait longer to secure the protection they deserve.”

“A mi hija me la querían comprar en México. A mi hijo me lo quitaron en EE.UU.”
Lioman Lima, BBC News, 23 de julio 2019

“Me dijeron que como ya tenía esa edad, no podía estar con nosotros como familia. No nos explicaron qué pasaría con él, solo se lo llevaron. Me llevaron a mi niño”.

Trump threatens tariffs on Guatemala over failed asylum deal
Nicholas Sakelaris, UPI, July 23, 2019 

“Guatemala, which has been forming Caravans and sending large numbers of people, some with criminal records, to the United States, has decided to break the deal they had with us on signing a necessary Safe Third Agreement,’ Trump tweeted Tuesday. ‘We were ready to go. Now we are looking at the ‘BAN,’ Tariffs, Remittance Fees or all of the above. Guatemala has not been good. Big U.S. taxpayer dollars going to them was cut off by me 9 months ago.”

Tents for processing center going up
KGNS, July 22, 2019 

“Officials say this is the first tent facility that will be specifically used for asylum hearings that are going up in the country, something that Laredo officials are not happy with. Mayor Pete Saenz and city staff have been working for weeks to make a deal with the federal government to abandon the tent idea and move into a city-owned property, specifically El Portal. City officials went to Washington D.C. last week to negotiate the proposal but instead ended up disappointed when the Department of Homeland Security said there was too much in motion to stop.”

Mexican Enforcement

AMLO Draws the Line at Trump’s Push for Asylum Deal on Migrants
Nacha Cattan & Eric Martin, Bloomberg, July 29, 2019 

“In his first interview with international media since taking office last year, Lopez Obrador said he wouldn’t agree to a so-called safe-third-country accord like the one Guatemala reached with the Trump administration last week. Such a deal would mean that Central American migrants claiming refugee status would be required to apply for asylum in Mexico, rather than wait until they reach the U.S.”

Photo Of Mother Pleading With Mexican Soldier Draws Attention To Migrant Patrol
Carrie Khan, NPR, July 24, 2019 

“Let me pass, I beg of you,’ the woman, identified as Lety Pérez of Guatemala, repeatedly sobs. ‘Don’t let them send me back. I just want to give my son a better life,’ she says.”

AMLO’s Crumbling Promise to Migrants
Annette Lin, nacla, July 24, 2019

“The new head of Mexico’s INM, Francisco Garduño, has vowed to cut border crossings. The Guardia Nacional has set up immigration checkpoints along a limited number of highways heading north from the border with Guatemala to apprehend, detain, and deport migrants. They also reportedly have raided hotels in Chiapas and Quintana Roo and used X-rays to detect migrants traveling in trailers. What’s more, AMLO has named General Vicente Antonio Hernández Sánchez, currently commander of the Tapachula military zone, to lead the force’s southern border efforts—a deepening of the militarization of Mexican immigration enforcement.”

Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho interpone amparo contra acuerdo migratorio

Gloria Leticia Diaz, Proceso, 23 de julio 2019 
Por considerar que el acuerdo migratorio entre Estados Unidos y México forma parte de ‘una política que es abiertamente ilegal, inconstitucional y desconocedora del derecho internacional’, además de que desconoce abiertamente los derechos humanos, la Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho interpuso un amparo en contra de la medida, sometida a revisión por el gobierno de Donald Trump cada 45 días”.

Root Causes

Living without water: the crisis pushing people out of El Salvador
Lina Nakhani, Guardian, July 30, 2019 

“My husband’s job is to fetch the water so I can do the housework. It’s like this every day, all day,’ said Bianca Lopez, 46. ‘We can live without electricity – we have candles and lamps – but water, that’s essential.”

Forcing Guatemala into a ‘safe third country’ agreement is jaw-droppingly insane
Elizabeth Oglesby, The Hill, July 29, 2019 

“Under U.S. and international law, the United States is obligated to hear asylum requests unless an alternative “safe third country” is stipulated through a bilateral agreement. Such a “safe third country” must provide security and due process for asylum seekers. Trump officials tried initially to pressure Mexico to sign a safe third country agreement, but the Mexican government balked, even as it capitulated to Trump’s tariff threats and stepped up efforts to interdict Central American migrants.”

Guatemala official seeks to nullify asylum deal with US
Sonny Figueroa, AP, July 29, 2019 

“But Guatemala is a sending country for migration and home to the same push factors driving people to flee Honduras and El Salvador: poverty, gang violence, joblessness and a prolonged drought that has devastated farmers. It has scant resources to provide housing, education and opportunity for potential asylum-seekers, and homicide rates are only marginally better than in the other two countries.”

Degenhart: Guatemala dará refugio a salvadoreños y hondureños para frenar viajes a EE. UU.
Urias Gamaro, Prensa Libre, 28 de julio 2019

“Ni el Gobierno de Guatemala ni el de EE. UU. van a comprometer fondos específicos para este programa… fue una de las bases de las negociaciones iniciales. Eso convierte el acuerdo en simple y bilateral, que no implica erogación de gastos que es una de las características legales particulares.”

The ‘vicious cycle’ driving teen pregnancy in El Salvador
Rhodri Davis, Al Jazeera ,July 22, 2019 

“Many teenage mothers who have dropped out of school are typically expected to work in the home of their partner’s or father of their child’s family or the informal sector to generate some income. A “vicious cycle” develops, whereby their daughters are raised in poverty and become teenage mothers themselves, according to health clinic practitioners and officials with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).”

Bukele recicla la apuesta del FMLN de usar al Ejército para combatir el crimen
Gabriel Labrador, elfaro, 18 de julio 2019 

“El presidente Bukele ha anunciado un nuevo reclutamiento de soldados para labores de seguridad, y la ha vendido como una apuesta novedosa. Omite decir que el uso de militares es una herencia de los gobiernos de Mauricio Funes y Sanchez Cerén que se le termina el 31 de diciembre. ONU y diversas organizaciones han recomendado al gobierno salvadoreño eliminar el uso del Ejército para labores de seguridad que le competen a la PNC”.

Tercer pais seguro, noveno más violento del mundo
Paolina Albani, Plaza Publica, 17 de julio 2019 

“Jimmy Morales cedió a las amenazas de Donald Trump y abandonó a quienes buscan refugio. El viernes firmó un acuerdo para que miles de migrantes que buscan asilo en Estados Unidos terminen esperándolo en el territorio nacional. Mientras el gobierno de Jimmy Morales niega que se trate de un acuerdo de tercer país seguro, el de Donald Trump menciona esa expresión en la mayoría de sus comunicaciones.”

 

Actions, Reports, and Resources

The Invisible Wall: Obstacles to Protection for Unaccompanied Migrant Children along Mexico’s Southern Border
KIND, July 26, 2019

“Children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are arriving at Mexico’s southern border fleeing high levels of violence, including gang violence and forced recruitment, sexual and gender-based violence, and child abuse. They cannot access justice or protection in their countries due to weak rule of law and widespread corruption and impunity. While some children plan to continue their journeys to other countries to seek protection, many others decide to seek protection in Mexico… Rather than provide the protection and services migrant and refugee children need, Mexico holds these children in detention and in most cases rapidly deports them to their country of origin.

IACHR Expresses Deep Concern about the Situation of Migrants and Refugees in the United States, Mexico, and Central America
OAS, July 23, 2019 

“In this regard, following the implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” program, the United States has returned more than 10,000 people to Mexico to wait while their immigration and asylum procedures are realized. Likewise, both countries have collaborated by coordinating appointments to initiate asylum proceedings, resulting in more than 18,778 people waiting at a border entry port in Mexico at the beginning of June to present their asylum application to the United States.”

FAQ about New Interim Asylum Rule
HOPE Border Institute, July 22, 2019

“A new interim rule regarding asylum was issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice on July 16, 2019. The rule bars migrants arriving at the southern border from seeking asylum if they have already passed through a “third country” – another country where they can potentially seek asylum. This rule represents yet another illegal attempt to end asylum by the Trump administration and an additional effort to close the door to asylum seekers fleeing persecution and return them to danger.”

*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.

P.S. Do you know of someone who might be interested in receiving the Migrant News Brief? Tell them to email lalvarez@lawg.org