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Migration News Brief 8.7.19

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Date: Aug 07, 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.


To U.S. Presidential Candidates: How to Address the Plight of Children, Women, and Men Fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America
Lisa Haugaard & Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Latin America Working Group

A brief denoting the Do’s and Don’ts the current U.S. Presidential candidates should follow with regard to addressing the current migrant crisis for asylum seekers leaving the Northern Triangle of Central America.

U.S. Enforcement

Why I resigned as an immigration judge

Ilyce Shugall, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2019 
“This meant that the judges were forced to schedule at least two cases in one time slot (there being two slots a day) — regardless of whether it was possible to hear two cases in such a short time frame or whether this would allow a judge to consider fully the merits of each case, which often involved determining life or death issues.  This was the way to push us to complete 700 cases a year. Failure to hit the quota would also result in failing to meet other performance metrics. In August 2018, Sessions also issued a decision limiting continuances of cases in immigration court.”

In Court Without a Lawyer: The Consequences of Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Plan
Miriam Jordan, New York Times, August 3, 2019 

“I am afraid the Barrio 18 gang will beat me, rape my daughter to hurt me, cut us in pieces and kill us,’ a Baptist preacher from El Salvador, who identified himself only as Carlos, wrote in his petition to the court. ‘I am a pastor of a church who preaches that youth should follow God instead of gangs.”

All children have been moved from Homestead detention center. They’re not coming back
Monique Madan, Miami Herald, August 3, 2019 

“Today we are announcing that all [children] sheltered in the Homestead facility have either been reunified with an appropriate sponsor or transferred to a state-licensed facility within the [Office of Refugee Resettlement] network of care providers as of August 3, 2019.,’ the agency said in a statement Saturday afternoon, a few hours after this story was posted. ‘Since activation in March 2018, approximately 14,300 UAC have been sheltered at the Homestead site.”

Senate GOP pushes immigration bill out of committee
Miranda Faulkner, Cronkite News, August 2, 2019 

“One key to the bill is its reform of the Flores decision, a court settlement that says immigrant children can be held for no more than 20 days. Graham’s bill would allow minors traveling with their families to be held for up to 100 days, and expedite removal proceedings of families with a goal of settling their cases within those 100 days.”

Escalation of ICE Detention Hunger Strikes
AVID, August 2, 2019 

“All the men currently on hunger strike have been detained for over a year, with violation of their due process. They are demanding their freedom. Instead, ICE chooses to subject them to more suffering.’ Forced hydration is carried out by a team of 5-6 people who hold the person down while an IV is administered against the person’s wishes.”

Cuban Migrants Are Thwarted in Mexico by New Asylum Rules
Santiago Perez, Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2019 

“A surge of Cuban asylum seekers, long accustomed to preferential treatment under U.S. migration policies, are being stopped by U.S. government efforts to contain a tide of Central Americans migrating north.”

Estados Unidos busca que los centroamericanos pidan asilo en la región de la que huyen
Nelson Rauda Zablah, El Faro, 2 de agosto, 2019 

“Estados Unidos busca convertir, por decreto, en países seguros para refugiar a sus vecinos a los tres países centroamericanos que más migrantes expulsan hacia Estados Unidos. En 2018, la patrulla fronteriza realizó una cantidad de arrestos de guatemaltecos, hondureños y salvadoreños combinados que superó la de ciudadanos de México. Los países del Triángulo Norte son, además, los países que han registrado más violencia en los últimos años”.

Salvadoran migrant dies in Border Patrol custody
Daniella Silva, NBC News, August 1, 2019 

“The man, who was not identified in the statement, had been taken into custody around 9 p.m. Wednesday by El Paso Station Border Patrol agents and was being processed at the station in Lordsburg ‘when he fell into medical distress,’ CBP said.”

After Guatemala, U.S. seeks migration deals with Honduras, El Salvador
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, August 1, 2019

“Mexico has so far refused. Guatemala agreed after Trump threatened to impose what President Jimmy Morales described on Facebook as ‘drastic’ economic sanctions against the country, which is heavily dependent on billions of dollars in remittances sent home by Guatemalans in the United States.”

Trump’s Bad Immigration Math
Aaron Reichlin- Melnick, Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2019

“Trump administration officials have repeatedly argued against releasing adult asylum seekers from detention on the ground that they’re unlikely to show up in court. “The absentia rates in immigration court are sky high,” Thomas Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told a House hearing July 12.”

Stephen Miller wants Border Patrol, not asylum officers, to determine migrant asylum claims
Julia Ainsley, NBC News, July 29, 2019 

“In the same email, the National Security Council official said, ‘My mantra has persistently been presenting aliens with multiple unsolvable dilemmas to impact their calculus for choosing to make the arduous journey to begin with.”

Migrants sent back by US dumped in Mexico’s Monterrey
Maria Verza, AP, July 25, 2019 

“It’s clearly important to move people out of very dangerous Mexican border towns,’ said Maureen Meyer, an immigration expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, which advocates for human rights in the region. ‘But simply busing them somewhere else without any guidance on what’s awaiting them and without having the services available to house asylum seekers and support them, the Mexican government’s really exposing them to further risk.”

Trump Plans to Deport Thousands of New Migrants Without Due Process
Gaby de Valle, Vice, July 22, 2019 

“This is a massive shift from the current policy, under which anyone caught by immigration authorities within two weeks of their arrival in the U.S. can be quickly deported this way, provided they were found within 100 miles of the border and aren’t claiming asylum. The so-called ‘100-mile border zone’ includes New York City, Los Angeles, and the entire state of Florida. More than 65% of the total U.S. population — and around 75% of the total Hispanic population — lives within this zone…”

Salvadoran migrant dies in Border Patrol custody
Daniella Silva, NBC News, August 1, 2019 

“The man, who was not identified in the statement, had been taken into custody around 9 p.m. Wednesday by El Paso Station Border Patrol agents and was being processed at the station in Lordsburg ‘when he fell into medical distress,’ CBP said.”

After Guatemala, U.S. seeks migration deals with Honduras, El Salvador
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, August 1, 2019

“Mexico has so far refused. Guatemala agreed after Trump threatened to impose what President Jimmy Morales described on Facebook as ‘drastic’ economic sanctions against the country, which is heavily dependent on billions of dollars in remittances sent home by Guatemalans in the United States.”

Mexican Enforcement

Overflowing Toilets, Bedbugs and High Heat: Inside Mexico’s Migrant Detention Centers
Kirk Semple, New York Times, August 3, 2019 

“People slept on thin mattresses wherever they could find space. Others didn’t even have that, and stretched out on the ground. They spoke of poor-quality food — and not enough of it. And some said that even the drinking water would frequently run out. One Cuban migrant said that right before he was detained, he had been mugged and injured in southern Mexico.”

La policía mexicana mata a un migrante hondureño en un control cerca de la frontera con EE UU
Georgina Zerega, El Pais, 3 de agosto, 2019 

“La versión policial apunta que el fallecido disparó un arma de fuego que llevaba ‘entre su ropa’ y la muerte se dio como resultado de la respuesta de los agentes a la agresión. Sin embargo, Alberto Xicoténcatl, director de la Casa del Migrante de Saltillo, ha asegurado que testigos que presenciaron los hechos indicaron que los oficiales llegaron al lugar y comenzaron a ‘disparar a matar’”.

Repatria INM a 106 migrantes salvadoreños
La Jornada, 2 de agosto, 2019 

“El INM da cuenta de que con apoyo de la Policía Federal ha realizado 27 vuelos a San Pedro Sula, Honduras, en los cuales han sido trasladas 2 mil 826 personas, asimismo se han concretado 14 conducciones aéreas a Cuba, retornando 967 personas y cuatro traslados a Puerto Príncipe, Haití, con 330 personas de esa nacionalidad.”

Mexico opens first government shelter for asylum seekers
AP, August 1, 2019 

“Government officials said the shelter at a former assembly plant in the city across from El Paso, Texas, can house 3,500 migrants. The U.S. government has returned more than 20,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico since the program began in January.”

Casa del Migrante Saltillo | Jamás una migración en cautiverio
RedTDT, 25 de julio, 2019 

“El camino del Migrante está lleno de terrores, de sufrimientos: la violencia, los miedos de riesgo de muerte, el abandono social y la pobreza, los expulsaron de su Patria les destrozaron la existencia.”

Inaceptable el acoso a defensores de migrantes por parte de Guardia Nacional
RedTDT, 24 de julio, 2019 

“Ayer 23 de julio, un operativo conjunto de la Guardia Nacional y la Policía de Saltillo hicieron nuevamente verificación migratoria a las puertas de la CDM Saltillo. El personal les reiteró la ilegalidad de esta acción y las autoridades respondieron tomando fotografías y videos de las y los defensores. Cabe destacar que la CDM Saltillo cuenta con medidas cautelares de parte de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos y con medidas de protección del Mecanismo de Protección a personas defensoras y periodistas de la Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB).”

Root Causes

Why I’m fleeing Honduras to seek asylum in the US
Wendy Garcia, The Guardian, July 29, 2019 

“It was awful, the lights never went out. My son was ill – he was so cold, I was terrified that he’d get pneumonia. Then we spent 13 days in detention in San Antonio, and a month in a shelter in San Benito, before Raices [a Texas-based group that provides legal services to immigrant and refugee families] helped us find a family to stay with in Portland, Oregon.”

Land, environmental activist killings surge in Guatemala: report
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, July 29, 2019 

“Guatemala is now among the most dangerous countries in the world for land and environmental activists, Global Witness said in a new report, released on Monday.  According to the UK-based group, the country experienced a fivefold increase in the number of murders of land defenders between 2017 and last year, with 16 deaths, making it one of the bloodiest countries per capita. Meanwhile, 30 land and environmental defenders were killed in the Philippines, 24 in Colombia, 23 in India and 20 in Brazil.”

Why Guatemala’s president inked an impossible asylum deal with Trump 
Emily Green, Vice, July 29, 2019 

“The president has lost legitimacy. We don’t think he is negotiating this in the name of Guatemala. We think he is negotiating impunity for him and his family,’ Guatemalan Congresswoman Sandra Durán told VICE News.”

Nayib Bukele: El Salvador doesn’t want to lose more people to the U.S.
Nayib Bukele, Washington Post, July 23, 2019

“Developing a safe El Salvador is a first step toward ending the exodus of Salvadorans to the United States. The main reason cited by our compatriots who flee our country is the lack of safety and security they face in their own neighborhoods. Our plan is already producing positive results. We are seeing a decline in homicides and have arrested more than 2,000 people suspected of crimes; we also overhauled our prisons, where we have conducted thorough searches to confiscate telephones and weapons — and even routers and laptops — used by gang bosses to conduct criminal activity.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

El Salvador’s Peaceful Month Not Due to Bukele Security Plan
Alex Papadovassilakis, InSight Crime, August 5, 2019 

“Although Bukele is claiming responsibility for the drop-off in killings, it is far too early to credit his recently implemented security plan for this success. His new strategy came into force on June 20 and this latest drop in El Salvador’s homicide rate marks the continuation of a downward trend lasting several years. On the contrary, Bukele’s apparent penchant for hardline security policies, known locally as ‘mano dura,’ could undo El Salvador’s recent progress in lowering its homicide count.”

Mexican media call for more protection after three killings in a week
David Agren, The Guardian, August 4, 2019 

“There’s an impunity rate of 99% and no political will to clear up these crimes. There’s only rhetoric on [the issue] from the state government,’ said Miguel Ángel Díaz, the publisher of Plumas Libres, a Veracruz news outlet.”

US prosecutors accuse Honduran president of drug conspiracy
Amy Guthrie, AP, August 3, 2019

“A 49-page document filed in New York’s southern district on Friday refers to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as a co-conspirator who worked with his brother, Juan Antonio Hernández, and former President Porfirio Lobo ‘to use drug trafficking to help assert power and control in Honduras.’ It says that the president and his predecessor ‘relied on drug proceeds’ to fund political campaigns and cites ‘evidence of high-level political corruption.”

Two Guerrero state journalists killed in one week in Mexico
CPJ, August 2, 2019 

“Mexican authorities must carry out an immediate and credible investigation into the murders of Guerrero state journalists Rogelio Barragán Pérez and Edgar Alberto Nava López,’ said CPJ Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. ‘These two brutal killings within days of each other are the tragic consequence of Mexico’s failure to seriously address impunity in attacks on the press.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Situation in Honduras
Patrick Leahy Press Release, August 1, 2019 

“While the White House justifies its mistreatment of Central American migrants by falsely labeling them all as criminals who have engaged in asylum fraud, it has rightly asked Congress for millions of dollars to help care for refugees from Venezuela who are fleeing economic collapse, violence, and political chaos in that country.  The similarities of the factors that are motivating the exodus of Hondurans and Venezuelans are far greater than their differences, which illustrates the blatant hypocrisy and unfairness of the Administration’s incoherent policies.”

INEGI data: 35,964 homicides in 2018…nearly 300,000 victims since 2007
Frontera List, July 31, 2019 

“In addition to the raw numbers, the INEGI report shows the murder rate (# of homicides per 100,000 people) for the nation and for each state in Mexico.  Between 2017 and 2018, the murder rate jumped from 26 to 29. It is significant to note that in 2011–the most violent year of the so-called ‘war on drugs’–the murder rate in Mexico was 24.”

Immigrants and Families Appear in Court
American Immigration Council, July 30, 2019

“Even a person who misses a hearing by accident can be ordered removed “in absentia.” A judge may only overturn this “in absentia removal order” if the government failed to notify the immigrant of the hearing, or if the immigrant shows that “exceptional circumstances” led to the failure to appear.”

Global Witness, July 30, 2019

“Mining was the deadliest sector, causing 43 confirmed deaths. 2018 also saw a spike in killings linked to the defence of water sources globally, rising from four in 2017 to 17 in 2018. Among the suspected perpetrators were companies’ private security, state forces and contract killers, sometimes working in coalition.”

*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