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Migration News Brief 9.30.19

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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

U.S announces asylum deal with Honduras, could send migrants to one of the world’s most violent nations
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, September 25, 2019 
“McAleenan and other U.S. officials said asylum seekers should try to find refuge “as close to home” as possible, rather than embarking on the long and often dangerous trip to the United States.”

Tercer pais seguro: Honduras acogerá a los niños migrantes que devuelva EE.UU
Dagoberto Rodriguez, La Prensa, 27 de septiembre  

“El Acuerdo entre el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos y la República de Honduras para la Cooperación en el Examen de Reclamaciones de Protección está diseñado para crear oportunidades de trabajo económicas y formales”.

What Trump’s asylum ban will mean for the thousands waiting at the US-Mexico border
Veronica G. Cardenas, The Conversation, September 24, 2019

“Under the asylum ban, individuals like my client are less likely to survive.”

Sweeping Language in Asylum Agreement Foists U.S. Responsibilities Onto El Salvador
John Washington, The Intercept, September 23, 2019 

“El Salvador is not a country that is known for having any kind of protection for its own citizens’ human rights,” Musalo added. “If they can’t protect their own citizens, it’s absolutely absurd to think that they can protect people that are not their citizens.”

Don’t Let Them Take Me Away Again.’ Mothers and Children Sue Trump for Harm Inflicted by Zero Tolerance Policy” 
American Immigration Council Legal Staff, Immigration Impact, September 20, 2019

“Five mothers and their children sued the U.S. government on Thursday for forcibly separating them in 2018. The five families are among the thousands of parents and young children who were split apart for months under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. The lawsuit demands accountability and compensation for the families’ significant and long-lasting trauma.”

Trump administration reaches deal to send asylum seekers to El Salvador in an effort to deter migrants from entering the United States
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, September 20, 2019

“The accord shows a willingness by the Trump administration to send people to places that are known to be dangerous — and from which people have been fleeing extreme poverty, violence and corruption — to dissuade them from attempting a journey to the U.S. border in the first place.”

Border Patrol agents, rather than asylum officers, interviewing families for ‘credible fear’
Molly O’Toole, Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2019 

“Law enforcement personnel who detain migrant families at the border — will also have authority to decide whether those families have a “credible fear” of being persecuted in their home countries.”

Tent Courts For Migrant Asylum-Seekers Described As Disorganized
Rachel Martin, NPR, September 18, 2019

“You know, in Nuevo Laredo, we’re not able to see our clients. It’s not safe for them. It’s not safe for us to travel over and see them. So we see our clients moments before they step into court and make decisions that are going to impact the rest of their lives. So our ability to counsel them is very limited.”

Trump immigration officials defend tent courts, saying they’ll speed up the process
Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2019 

“Asylum cases can take years, but the tent courts that recently opened here and in Brownsville, Texas, were designed to reduce that to as little as 40 days, the average time it takes for migrants in detention, according to Acting Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan, who toured the tent with other Homeland Security officials Tuesday.”

Migrant mothers and children sue U.S. over asylum ban
Daniel Trotta, Reuters, September 17, 2019

“More than 125 migrant mothers and children have sued the U.S. government, claiming the Trump administration has violated the rights of asylum-seekers through the arbitrary and capricious implementation of a virtual asylum ban at the southern border.”

Tratado bilateral EU-Guatemala: Una advertencia para México
Evy Peña, Proceso, 17 de septiembre 2019

“Al rechazar la propuesta como “inequitativa”, Ebrard se desvía del punto fundamental: acercarse a las fronteras para pedir asilo es un derecho bajo las leyes estadounidenses e internacionales, representando el consenso sobre la importancia de proteger a las personas de las peores atrocidades.”

U.S. seeking to make Cubans seek asylum in Honduras: minister
Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, September 17, 2019

“The United States has persuaded Guatemala to become a safe third country that would accept U.S.-bound asylum seekers, although the deal has yet to be ratified by Guatemala’s government.”

Migrants at Laredo Tent Court Tell Stories of Kidnappings and Violence While Pleading Not to Be Returned to Mexico 
Gus Bova, Texas Observer, September 16, 2019 

“At times, the judge seemed ill-informed about how MPP works. At one point, she turned to the government prosecutors in the room and asked whether the Mexican government was providing the migrants housing. One of the attorneys said he did not know. (The answer, generally, is no). She also advised the woman who said she had no money or housing to call a list of pro bono attorneys for help with that. But the U.S.-based nonprofits on that list, which the government provides to all migrants in MPP, don’t and can’t handle transportation and housing logistics in Mexico.”

New US asylum ban forces people back into danger
Doctors Without Borders, statement by Avril Benoît, September 13, 2019

“This policy is massive in scope and not limited to asylum seekers from Central America. People from any country except Mexico are now ineligible to apply for asylum at the US southern border. This means that people forced to flee from Venezuela, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, or anyone who must transit through another country before reaching the US will no longer be eligible. This is effectively an asylum ban.”

The Trump White House Wants “Safe Third Country” Deals With Central American Countries By October
Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, September 9, 2019 

“The White House has directed DHS officials to secure the agreements with Honduras and El Salvador by Oct. 1, the documents state.”

Mexican Enforcement

Gobierno mexicano: menos palabras, y más dinero para las familias refugiados Centroamericanas
Grupo de Trabajo sobre Política Migratoria, 23 de septiembre 2019 

“El propio Titular de la COMAR, Andrés Ramírez, ha manifestado en diversos espacios la necesidad de al menos 100 millones de pesos para poder contar con un equipo humano y recursos suficientes para cumplir debidamente con su mandato”.

How Mexico Is Doing America’s Deportation Work for Us 
Marcia Brown, The American Prospect, September 20, 2019 

“The buses represent a larger issue with Mexico’s struggles to deal with Northern Triangle migration. Mexico’s government is desperately trying to prevent migrant asylum seekers from reaching the U.S.—and to some extent they are succeeding. But American policies and an influx of people seeking refuge have strained their systems, leading to measures that may violate international law.”

“‘Everybody dies here’: Hope and despair in Mexican shelter”
Cedar Attanasio and Tim Sullivan, Associated Press, September 19, 2019 

“This is the cobbled-together community of El Buen Pastor — The Good Shepherd — 130 or so migrants from around the world locked into a shelter every evening at 5:30 p.m., trapped in an immigration purgatory. They are barely three miles from the Paso del Norte Bridge and their goal: the United States.”

Mexican families camped near El Paso port of entry will get help, officials say
Julian Resendiz, Kxan, September 18, 2019 

“Juarez Mayor Armando Cabada said free rides to and from migrant shelters would be offered to the Mexican families fleeing criminal gangs in West-Central Mexico. In addition, the city’s Human Rights Office will work with federal agencies on both sides of the border to ensure the migrants get the asylum interviews they seek.”

Intentan 200 mexicanos pedir asilo político en el puente Zaragoza
El Diario de Juárez, 18 de septiembre 2019 

“Los que durmieron hoy en Zaragoza aseguraron que la mayoría no pudieron dormir esta madrugada porque había muchos alacranes”

Trump asylum lockdown turns up heat on tiny Mexican migrant agency
Julia Love, Reuters, September 16, 2019 

“Sitting at a desk stacked high with manila case folders, Claudia Briseno said COMAR employees like her have been working at a grueling pace. The office’s 63 employees are processing 16,350 applications – or about 260 per person. Days stretching 10, 12 or even 15 hours are the norm, Briseno said, her voice cracking.”

Root Causes 

Agresiones a defensores de migrantes suben tras acuerdo EUA 
Efe, La Prensa Grafica, 30 de septiembre 2019 

“Se tienen registros de detenciones y arrestos en 16 estados de México, así como en El Salvador, Honduras, Estados Unidos o Guatemala. Asimismo, hubo deportaciones y amenazas de deportación en cinco lugares como Ciudad de México, Guadalajara, Tapachula, Tijuana o Esquipulas (Guatemala)”.

El Salvador Ramps Up Security to Stop Migrants 
Emily Green, NPR News, September 29, 2019 

“Along the dusty border, three trucks drive slowly through back roads. The vehicles are staffed with Salvadoran immigration officials, along with heavily armed soldiers and police officers, all looking for migrants trying to leave the country.”

Sociedad Civil Rechaza Iniciativa 5537 que Criminaliza la Migración 
Asociación Pop No’j, 26 de septiembre 2019 

“El Grupo Articulador señala que esta iniciativa de ley criminaliza las unidades familiares y crea delitos de orden penal ante faltas administrativas que se comente en otro país. Es contrario a la Constitución Política de la República y al Código de Migración que reconoce el derecho a migrar; se aparta de los convenios internacionales suscritos por el Estado de Guatemala. Además destaca que existen otros mecanismos legales para la protección de la infancia.”

Matan a recién deportado de EEUU y hieren de bala a su amigo en Pimienta
La Prensa, 23 de septiembre 2019

“El fallecido no estuvo mucho tiempo en Estados Unidos pues al entrar al territorio estadounidense fue arrestado por las autoridades de migración. Al momento del reconocimiento forense, este aún portaba las zapatillas que da el Servicio de Inmigración de EEUU.”

Trump admin ignored its own evidence of climate change’s impact on migration from Central America
Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, NBC News, September 21, 2019

“Research compiled one year ago by Customs and Border Protection pointed to an overwhelming factor driving record-setting migration to the U.S. from Guatemala: Crop shortages were leaving rural Guatemalans, especially in the country’s western highlands, in extreme poverty and starving.”

Guatemala joins ranks of cocaine producers as plantations and labs emerge
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, 19 de septiembre 2019 

“The discoveries of coca plantations and laboratories in different locations prompted Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart to admit Guatemala was now a cocaine-producing nation.”

InSight Crime Series – The Downfall of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández 
InSight Crime, September 18, 2019 

“A major US drug case against the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has ensnared the president, who prosecutors say took part in a conspiracy when millions in drug proceeds went to fund his campaigns in exchange for protecting traffickers.”

Licencia para matar
Gissel Grandez, Conexihon, 18 de septiembre 2019 

“La historia de los problemas del agua en Honduras (ya sea por abundancia, inundaciones,tormentas tropicales y huracanes,), por sequías y por desertificación , ha estado vinculado históricamente a la explotación de monocultivos (Bananeros, caña de azúcar, palma africana) al extractivismo minero, a la construcción de represas, a los megaproyectos turísticos que han afectado profundamente la vida de las comunidades en sus territorios y las fuentes de agua para consumo humano, alimentación marítima y producción agrícola.”

Obstrucción al libre ejercicio de defensa de DDHH, intimidación, detención arbitraria y agresiones contra las defensoras Elizabeth Medina y Katherin Cruz
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos  18 de septiembre 2019 

“La policía usó armas de fuego y gases lacrimógenos de manera indiscriminada y excesiva, con el resultado de dos personas heridas de bala y decenas afectadas por los gases, incluyendo mujeres, personas de la tercera edad, niñas y niños”.

“‘They burned everything’”: Guatemalan women press Hudbay on human rights claims in closely watched case
Gabriel Friedman, Financial Post, September 17, 2019 

“Several of the plaintiffs in the case, including one present Monday, in documents filed in the case, describe the trauma — being tied, beaten and gang-raped in front of their children — in excruciating detail while under examination by Hudbay’s lawyers at Fasken, Tracy Pratt and Robert Harrison.”

Trump Froze Aid To Guatemala. Now Programs Are Shutting Down
Tim Mcdonnell, NPR, September 17, 2019

“The $60 became $40, which became $18. Then he learned that in the last week of August, the program would come to an end, at least a year earlier than its organizers had hoped. The reason: a decision in April by President Trump to freeze $540 million in U.S. foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — what’s known as the Northern Triangle — over what he described as their failure to stem the outflow of northbound migrants.

Police repress Independence Day demonstrations in Honduras
AFP and The Tico Times, September 16, 2019 

“Hundreds of Honduran police officers attacked with tear gas more than 1,000 people marching in parallel to Sunday’s parade organized by the government to commemorate the 198th anniversary of the Independence of Central America.”

Actions, Alerts, Resources 

Torres Statement on Efforts to Retaliate against Former CICIG Personnel 
Congresswoman Norma Torres, September 25, 2019 

“Instead of pursuing those who helped CICIG investigate and prosecute corruption, Guatemala’s Congress and government should be focused on preserving and building on their successes.”

More Than A Wall: Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of US borders
Transnational Institute, September 16, 2019 

“The report begins by tracing the history of border control and militarization. It shows how US budgets for border and immigration control massively increased from the mid-1980s, a trend that has been accelerating ever since. These budgets rose from $350m in 1980 (then run by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)) to $1.2 billion in 1990; $10.2 billion in 2005 and $23.7 billion in 2018 (under two agencies, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”

IACHR conducted visit to the United States’ Southern Border
OAS, September 16, 2019 

“The delegation also visited immigration courts and the Otay Mesa detention center, where it was granted broad access to the facilities and was able to interview detainees. Similarly, the IACHR met with civil society organizations, academics, migrant persons and asylum-seekers, and victims of human rights violations.”

Defenders Beyond Borders: Migrant Rights Defenders Under Attack in Central America, Mexico, and the United States
Front Line Defenders, September 2019

“The research found that Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) working with migrants are being criminalized, assaulted, arrested, deported, detained, interrogated, intimidated, digitally surveilled and harassed for carrying out legitimate and peaceful work. These attacks are part of a broader transnational governmental effort to stop the migration of people fleeing violence and persecution.”

Investing in the Neighborhood: Changing Mexico-U.S Migration Patterns and Opportunities for Sustainable Cooperation 
Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguili-Saucedo, Ariel Ruiz Soto and Claudia Masferrer, Migration Policy Institute, September 2019 

“The migration challenges these two countries face are increasingly similar. Both are contending with large-scale mixed flows of humanitarian and other migrants from Central America, including many families and children travelling alone, and both have asylum systems struggling to keep up with a surge in requests for protection.”

Expanding Eligibility for Professional and Occupational Licensing for Immigrants 
The Presidents’ Alliance, FWD.us, Niskanen Center, TheDream.US and United We Dream, September 2019 

“This report provides an overview of the need to expand professional, business, and commercial licenses to various work-authorized immigrants. The report provides an overview of occupational licensing generally; the federal and state government’s prohibitions on licensing for certain noncitizens; the growing demand for licensure among worth authorized-immigrants; and recommendations for Congress and state legislatures.

*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.