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Migration News Brief 8.14.19

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Date: Aug 14, 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.


Infographic: Remain in Mexico Impacts
Latin America Working Group

An infographic on the impacts of Remain in Mexico at seven months of its implementation, which includes the human rights violations that migrants are subjected to and the locations they are returned to.

U.S. Enforcement

Bad Information: Border Patrol Arrest Reports Are Full of Lies that Can Sabotage Asylum Claims 
John Washington, The Intercept, August 11, 2019 
“More than one attorney told The Intercept they’ve seen I-213s for infants as young as a few months old who, according to Border Patrol, claim that they came to the United States to work.”

ICE Air: Shackled deportees, air freshener and cheers. America’s one-way trip out.
Nick Miroff, Washington Post, August 10, 2019

“You see? They’re smiling!’ said Matt Albence, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who spends a great deal of time defending his agency’s core functions, including this: a one-way trip out of the United States on ICE Air. ‘This is probably better than some of the commercial flights I fly on’.”

Border chief credits Trump policies for July drop in migrants caught crossing
Ted Hesson, Politico, August 8, 2019 

“‘It’s unequivocally not the result of seasonal trends,’ Morgan told reporters during a briefing at CBP headquarters. ‘It’s a direct result of the negotiations of this president and this administration specifically with our international partners.”

Families “Are Scared to Death” After A Massive ICE Operation Swept Up Hundreds of People
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, August 8, 2019 

“You see these kids hurting and crying, knowing their parents aren’t coming home soon. I’ve seen that all day. People are freaking out.”

Trump’s Asylum Policies—and the Troops Who Enforce Them—Are Breaking the Law
Charli Carpenter, Foreign Policy, August 7, 2019 

“The U.S. Constitution guarantees due process, equal treatment, and humane treatment for all people in the country, not just U.S. citizens. Beyond that, these agents are being asked to commit crimes that violate international human rights law. If they follow these orders, they are vulnerable to persecution.”

First ‘Remain in Mexico’ Refugee Granted Asylum, Yet Government Threatens to Return Him to Danger
Alliance San Diego, August 7, 2019 

“Alec spent the night he was granted asylum in a cell and the government is threatening to send him back to violent circumstances in Mexico simply to gratify the political whims of a morally bankrupt administration.”

US Releases Refugee After Judge Grants Asylum 
Bianca Bruno, Courthouse News Service, August 7, 2019 

“But despite the grant of asylum, Alec remained detained at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego by immigration officials who threatened to return him to Mexico until they decided whether to appeal the immigration judge’s ruling.”

Trump administration freezes foreign aid funds pending review
Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood and Nicole Gaouette, CNN, August 7,2019

“This Administration’s contempt for Congress is astounding. When Congress decides how much we spend on foreign assistance, it isn’t a suggestion. It is the law, backed up by the constitution.”

Pelosi Leads Delegation to the Northern Triangle Countries in Central America and the U.S. Southwest Border at McAllen, Texas
Nancy Pelosi Newsroom, August 8,2019 

“We look forward to strengthening our partnership to enhance regional security and stability, create greater economic opportunity, combat corruption and advance human rights to make it safer for people to thrive in their communities.”

Reaching Agreement with Mexico 
John Negroponte, James Jones, Jeffrey Davidow, Antonio Garza, Carlos Pascual, Earl Anthony Wayne, Roberta Jacobson, Mexico Institute, June 5, 2019 

“Mexico’s government must resolve how best to protect the human rights of migrants, as it has committed to do, in a situation where Mexico’s immigration and refugee agencies are poorly staffed and funded and lack the capacity to handle the numbers heading north.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexican Authorities Must End Intimidation and Harassment of Migrant Rights Defenders
Joint NGO Statement, August 13, 2019

“The multiple aggressions and acts of harassment faced by the Casa del Migrante de Saltillo are not isolated events but reflect an increasing adverse climate in Mexico for the defense of the human rights of migrants, refugees, and others subject to international protection.”

Nuevo Laredo Shelter Director Reportedly Kidnapped After Protecting Cuban Migrants
Gus Bova, Texas Observer, August 11, 2019 

“Criminals arrived at the shelter to kidnap some Cuban migrants and demand ransom from their families; Méndez was taken after refusing to hand the Cubans over”.

Exigen resolver secuestro de director de Casa AMAR de Nuevo Laredo 
La Jornada/Redacción, 10 de agosto 2019 

“Hay versiones de que el personal de Casa AMAR recibió amenazas después del secuestro de su director. ‘Hemos intentado comunicarnos, pero ya no contestan’ alertó”.

In Mexico, thousands more names added to border wait lists 
Elliot Spagat, The Columbian, August 10, 2019 

“English-speaking Cameroonians fleeing atrocities of their French-speaking government helped push Tijuana’s asylum wait list to 10,000 on Sunday, up from 4,800 just three months earlier.”

Muere migrante haitiano en celda de estación Siglo XXI 
Emir Olivares y Fabiola Martinez, La Jornada, 7 de agosto de 2019 

“El hombre identificado como M.A., llevaba varias horas quejándose de fuertes dolores de cabeza y pecho, y sin embargo no fue atendido por el personal de la Estación, dependiente del INM.”

Root Causes

The Other Americans: In Guatemala, Indigenous Residents Appeal to the President Over Stolen Land 
Jeff Abbott, The Progressive, August 13, 2019

“Many youth graduate, thanks to the strength of their parents, but find there is no employment so they migrate…This is the only way they can develop. They are obliged to migrate.”

Guatemala’s next president has few plans for fixing rampant corruption, crime and injustice
Naomi Roht-Arriaza, The Conversation, August 12, 2019 

“Guatemalans expressed fear that no matter who won the runoff, this election would mark the end of  Guatemala’s decade-long fight to root out massive government corruption”.

Alejandro Giammattei wins Guatemala’s presidential race 
Jeff Abbott, Al Jazeera, August 12, 2019

“His discourse is extremist. Giammattei has shown he is capable of violating human rights in the name of peace.”

In Guatemala, Out with the Old, In with the Older/En Guatemala, Los Dinosaurios Siguen Vivos 
Vaclav Masek, NACLA, August 12, 2019 

“An anti-establishment administration in Guatemala, powered by nationalist sentiments…exacerbated the exodus among rural populations by repeatedly failing to address the systemic causes of inequality and poverty.”

Guatemala elects hardline president who opposes Trump immigration deal 
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, August 12, 2019 

“Giammattei says he will seek to modify the controversial pact, which was signed last month amid threats by Trump’s administration to block Guatemalan exports and impose tariffs on billions of dollars in remittances.”

UN food agency to boost aid for 4 Central American countries
AP News, August 9, 2019 

“Five years of drought have affected more than 2 million people and increased food insecurity of subsistence farmers and their families”.

El Salvador to launch commission to investigate corruption
Nelson Renteria, Reuters, August 9, 2019

“The CICIES will be a reality in our country. Those who stole and obstructed the development of El Salvador will be held accountable,’ Ulloa wrote on Twitter.”

US Intervention helped Destabilize Central America — Now, We Have A Moral Obligation to Help. 
Rep. Jim McGovern, Medium, August 8, 2019 

“I have learned that we are more generous with our purse strings in times of war than in times of peace…In backing governments that we saw as ideologically friendly, we have helped crush legitimate dissent and the need for radical change, supporting economic interests and institutions hostile to the rule of law and indifferent to the suffering of their own people.”

LGBT+ murders at ‘alarming’ levels in Latin America – study
Anastasia Moloney, Al Jazeera, August 8, 2019

“At least 1,300 LGBT+ people have been murdered in the region in the past five years, with Colombia, Mexico and Honduras accounting for nearly 90 percent of all deaths.”

To Flee or Not to Flee? In Honduras, A Child Braves Tear Gas to Sell Vinegar Bags
Adrienne Pine, Mint Press News, August 8, 2019 

“In a country so wracked by violence and impunity from the top all the way down, one feels paradoxically safe during an uprising, as opposed to the panic one feels in their bones on any street…The safety-in-numbers strategy is similarly used by the migrant caravans.”

After immigration agreement with Guatemala, U.S. provides conflicting information on whether it seeks deal with Costa Rica
AFP & Tico Times, The Tico Times, August 7, 2019

“McAleenan said U.S. President Donald Trump also ‘invited Costa Rica and Panama, because we see this as a regional responsibility’ But after a Tuesday meeting.. U.S Ambassador Sharon Day, clarified ‘that the [U.S.] government has not requested to unite Costa Rica in these agreements.”

Thousands protest against Honduran president after drug link surfaces
Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, August 6, 2019 

“Hernandez rejected the allegations, casting himself as the victim of a smear campaign by drug gangs he had targeted, and accusing political opponents, such as ex-president Manuel Zelaya, of colluding with gangsters to discredit him.”

Running dry: the water crisis driving migration to the US
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, August 1, 2019

“Rising sea levels are destroying coastal towns in Honduras and drought and famine have prompted a mass exodus from Guatemala. In El Salvador, meanwhile, corporate interests, corruption and gangs worsen the problems caused by the lack of clean water.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

WOLA Report: The Future of Mexico’s National Anti-Corruption System 
Gina Hinojosa and Maureen Meyer, Washington Office on Latin America, August 7, 2019 

“The absence of these magistrates, who are supposed to have exclusive jurisdiction over grave administrative offenses such as embezzlement and money laundering, is delaying the sanction of dozens of serious corruption crimes.”

Report: Unionists face death, attacks in Central America 
Tula Connell, Solidarity Center, August 7, 2019 

“In Guatemala, union leaders and members reported 882 crimes to the Office of Crimes Against Trade Unionists, including coercion, kidnapping and murder. Yet there were only two convictions, according to the Annual Report on Anti-Union Violence in Guatemala.”

Groups Sue Trump Administration Over Fast-Track Deportations
American Immigration Council, August 6, 2019

“The administration is well aware of the serious flaws that long have existed in the expedited removal process. This rule exacerbates those problems and places U.S. residents—including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and asylum-seekers — at serious risk of wrongful deportation.”

Delivered to Danger: Illegal Remain in Mexico Policy Imperils Asylum Seekers’ Lives and Denies Due Process 
Human Rights First, August 2019 

“There are more than one hundred and ten publicly reported cases of rape, kidnappng, sexual exploitation, assault, and other violent crimes against asylum seekers returned to Mexico under MPP—likely the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of returned asylum seekers haven’t been interviewed.”

Chaos, Confusion, and Danger: Remain in Mexico Program in El Paso 
Women’s Refugee Commission, May 2019 

“CBP is returning migrants to Mexico under RIM without their passports, birth certificates or other identity documents. This dangerous practice puts migrants at risk of exploitation and abuse.”

*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