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Migration News Brief for April 15, 2019

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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: lfolkerts@lawg.org.


Source: The Conversation

Spotlight: NGO Statement

Trump Administration’s Latest Actions on Central America Will Fuel Migration, Not Address It
Latin American Working Group, April 4, 2019 

“It does not reflect the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the ground and will further increase forced migration. The aid that would be cut off includes violence prevention and response, poverty alleviation, and programs to address corruption, strengthen human rights, and promote the rule of law.”

U.S. Enforcement

Kirstjen Nielsen Resigns as Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary
Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, April 7, 2019 

“While Mr. Trump often blamed Ms. Nielsen for the surge in migrant crossings, she will be remembered for leading the department during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy along the southwestern border, which initially resulted in the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families.”

DHS lawyers signal agency will not send migrants back to Mexico, abiding by court ruling
Robert Moore, The Washington Post, April 10, 2019 

“A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the program Monday, ordering the administration to stop returning asylum seekers to Mexico and forcing the government to allow plaintiffs to cross into the United States for their claims to be heard.”

If Congress wants to keep America safe, funding CBP is the last thing it should be doing 
Pedro Rios, Newsweek, April 9, 2019

“Giving CBP more money will simply mean that they can expand their capacity to detain migrants and militarize border communities. Instead of expanding funding to detain individuals, children, and families, the focus should be on processing and releasing people as quickly and humanely as possible.”

After U.S. court strikes down policy, what happens to migrants Trump sent back to Mexico
Andrew Hay, Jose Gallego Espina, Reuters, April 10, 2019 

“Neither the U.S. government nor the more than 1,000 people awaiting asylum hearings in Tijuana and other border cities know what will happen next to families already returned to Mexico by the Trump administration.”

Democrats look to vote on Dreamers and TPS legislation before August 
Gabriella Munoz and Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, April 9, 2019 

“The legislation would apply to illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” some of whom are already here under the Obama-era administrative deportation amnesty program known as DACA. The legislation would also apply to hundreds of thousands of migrants who are here under Temporary Protected Status, humanitarian protections because their home countries are suffering from natural or man-made disasters.”

Federal judge blocks Trump from forcing asylum seekers to wain in Mexico 
Stef W. Kight, Axios, April 8, 2019 

“A federal judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction on Monday afternoon blocking the Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their cases have been finalized starting this weekend.”

Trump’s hardline new border plan 
Jonathan Swan and Stef W. Kight, Axios, April 9, 2019 

“The new policies, which the administration wants to impose using executive authority following the ouster of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, would be even more restrictive than those of his first two years.”

Threats and extortion: Migrants come face to face with cartels near Arizona-Mexico border
Rafael Carranza, Arizona Republic, April 1, 2019 

“Families are required to pay anywhere between $400-$500 as a “fee” before they’re even allowed to leave the bus station, according to migrant advocates and reports from several families.”

ICE arrests more than 280 at Texas business, biggest workplace immigration raid in a decade 
Phil Helsel, NBC News, April 3, 2019 

“The raid was part of an ongoing investigation into complaints that the company may have knowingly hired people who are in the U.S. without authorization and that many of those workers were using fraudulent identification documents, the agency said.”

Border Patrol’s largest holding area – known to migrants as ‘the kennel’ – is overwhelmed
Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2019 

“El Paso’s holding facilities were 280% over capacity this week, with more than 3,400 people in custody, some held under a bridge and in tents.”

Chasing Danger: How border patrol chases have spun out of control, with deadly consequences 
Kavitha Surana, Brittny Mejia, and James Queally, Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2019 

“In the last four years alone, along the U.S. side of the border, at least 250 people were injured and 22 died after a Border Patrol pursuit.”

Trump’s cycle of self-sabotage at the U.S. border
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, April 1, 2019 

“The real question raised by the President’s decision to end aid to the region isn’t whether it will work—it won’t—but how badly it will fail to address the asylum crisis at the U.S. border.”

Border Patrol agents to double as asylum officers for ‘credible fear’ cases
Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, April 1, 2019 

“The move is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s push to deploy as many resources as possible to try to stem the flow of migrants that is overwhelming the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Ruben Garcia has sheltered migrants in El Paso for over four decades. With a crush at the border, he now needs a warehouse. 
Nick Miroff, The Washington Post, April 1, 2019 

“Garcia has sen. the largest migration wave in more than a decade building for months, the daily total of parents and children that the U.S. government sends his way rising from a few dozen a year ago to several hundred.”

Spring brings surge of migrants, stretching border facilities far beyond capacity
Miriam Jordan
 and Simon Romero, The New York Times, March 30, 2019 
“The makeshift encampment under the bridge, where immigration officials are detaining hundreds of migrants in a military tent with little hot food, was set up last week after the main border processing center in El Paso reached up to 400 percent of its capacity in the largest influx of migrants to the United States in years.”

Why current U.S. immigration challenge reflects ‘complete political failure’
PBS, March 28, 2019 

“With the flows at these levels and increasing, combined with the lack of bed space for our partners, it means that we will be continued to be challenged to provide humane care for those in our custody.”

DHS’s Own Statistics Show That It Is Lying About a Border-Security Crisis
ACLU, March 14, 2019 

“Those crossing the border are increasingly families and unaccompanied children — they make up 61 percent in the new data. The number of apprehensions of individuals who are not juveniles continues to fall.  This new reality makes Border Patrol agents’ mission different from what it had been because the majority of apprehensions now are not people evading detection. Instead, they are vulnerable families and children turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents so that they can seek asylum protection.”

“They treated us like we are animals”: Holding Pen for migrant families in El Paso
Robert Moore, Texas Monthly, March 31, 2019 

“Unlike Mexican migrants who cross the border illegally, Central American families seeking asylum can’t be quickly deported. That has led to families being detained in cramped facilities that CBP has acknowledged were never intended to house them.”

Migrants Moved Out of Hold Pen Under El Paso Bridge 
Simon Romero, The New York Times, March 31, 2019  

“The border agency contended last week that it had no choice but to hold the migrants in the outdoor location, surrounded by fencing and razor wire, because of overcrowding at processing facilities in El Paso brought on by a surge in Central American migrants applying for asylum.”

Suman más de 15 mil Hondureños retornados en 2019 
Proceso Digital, March 24, 2019

“Aunque estudios académicos establecen que a diario unos 200 hondureños emigran en busca de una mejor vida, en la actualidad esta cifra se acrecentará hasta por miles ya que los hondureños desde octubre de 2017 han optado por iniciar la travesía en caravana”.

Invisible Walls: From Guatemala, Mexico and California come the stories of lives altered by Trump’s crackdown on immigration
Zoeann Murphy, Jon Gerberg, Jorge Ribas, Jesse Mesner-Hage, The Washington Post, March 26, 2019 

“They are undeterred by a president who has resorted to extraordinary measures to keep migrants out and make those already in the country feel unwelcome. Two years of President Trump’s policies have upended lives and changed the immigrant experience.”

Threatened with death, a gay immigrant seeks protection in the U.S.
Liz Vinson, Southern Poverty Law Center, January 18, 2019 

“Back in Honduras, Alberto had been living in a country where the gay community is rejected. He could not disclose his sexual orientation to anyone. He was even afraid to tell his own mother. But when he met someone and began a relationship, he no longer wanted to hide who he was.”

What I Saw at the Dilley, Texas, Immigrants Detention Center 
Martin Garbus, The Nation, March 26, 2019 

“The prison-like detention was an attempt to persuade these immigrants to turn back before they even reached a credible-fear interview with an asylum officer. It was also a message to those who were still trying to cross the border.”

Remain in Mexico Plan Echoes Earlier U.S. Policy to Deter Haitian Migration 
Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter, Migration Policy Institute, March 28, 2019 

“Remain in Mexico has strong similarities to the policies three successive U.S. administrations employed to deal with thousands of Haitian migrants who took to the sea during the 1980s and 1990s to flee their country due to economic and political instability caused by the rise and fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and subsequent coups d’etat.”

Mexican Enforcement

Advierte el INM de un gran crecimiento del flujo migratorio
Fabiola Martinez, La Jornada, April 4, 2019 

“Tonatiuh Guillén, advirtió de un crecimiento muy grande en el flujo migratorio en el país, con un cambio en la composición: ahora predominan las familias enteras, mujeres y niños procedentes de Centroamérica que transitan por México para llegar a Estados Unidos y solicitar asilo, así como el paso atípico de mayor número de asiáticos y africanos”.

Usually outspoken, Mexican president sidesteps questions on Trump’s border threat 
Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2019 

“Lopez Obrador has endeavored to cooperate with U.S. officials on an array of fronts. His administration agreed to a controversial plan whereby some Central American asylum seekers have to wait in Mexico for their cases to be heard in U.S. immigration courts.”

Mexico to set up CentAm migrant ‘containment’ belt in south  
The Associated Press, March 28, 2019 

“A new migrant caravan of about 2,500 people, mainly from Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, was making its way through southern Mexico this week, headed for the U.S. border. But the migrants were not receiving the same warm welcome as previous caravans.”

Mexico to issue limited humanitarian visas to migrants 
Amy Guthrie, AP News, March 31, 2019 

“The National Migration Institute said Sunday it will give priority to women, children and those over the age of 65 “whose situation merits” such visas. The authority said it would also provide bus transportation back to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras for citizens of those countries, and air transport home to migrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua.”

Mexican Official Extort Asylum Seekers on Way to USA 
Ariane Francisco and Josefina Salomon, InSight Crime, March 25, 2019 

“Mexican immigration officials demanded as much as $3,500 to allow migrants to stay at the border and wait for a chance to seek asylum in the USA.”

Rescatan a 13 migrantes Hondureños secuestrados en México 
La Prensa, April 9, 2019 

“El lugar donde fueron secuestrados es cercano Coatzacoalcos, una de las ciudades con mayores índices de violencia por la presencia de bandas narcotraficantes y ladrones de combustible”.

SG: la frontera sur, “desbordada”; la del norte “casi en colapso”
Fabiola Martinez, La Jornada, March 28, 2019 

“La cooperación de Washington para esta contención, precisó, será con tecnología e información de inteligencia para ubicar a los cabecillas de los grupos delincuenciales vinculados al fenómeno migratorio que significa, precisó Sánchez Cordero, no sólo un negocio billonario, al cobrar entre 2 mil y 6 mil dólares por persona, sino incluso tráfico de menores y de órganos”.

Ataques contra migrantes se disparan en Tabasco: 292 caos en 2 meses 
Manu Ureste, Animal Politico, March 26, 2019 

“Una denuncia, que se suma a las documentadas por La 72 en su reporte estadístico, el cual, desde la llegada del nuevo Gobierno Federal, ha experimentado un aumento notable: solo entre enero y febrero pasado, contabilizaron 292 agresiones contra migrantes, un promedio de cinco por día, y 72 agresiones más que en el mismo periodo de 2018”.

Asylum-seekers forced to wait in Tijuana fear for their lives
Daniella Silva, NBC News, March 27, 2019 

“migrants … who say they fear for their safety in Mexico must meet a higher burden of proof to remain in the U.S. than they would in other types of asylum cases, said Mariel Villarreal, an immigration lawyer… The migrants must show that it’s “more likely than not” that they will face persecution or torture in Mexico, a standard that lawyers say means nearly everyone will be sent back.”

Root Causes

Migrants’ stories: Why they flee 
Anthony W. Fontes, The Conversation April 9, 2019 

“The region’s extreme poverty and violent impunity are central factors driving this migration.”

‘Someone Is Always Trying to Kill You’ 
Sonia Nazario, The New York Times, April 5, 2019 

“It’s wrong to turn our backs on vulnerable women under any circumstances, but especially when they are coming from countries like Honduras, where the government is doing virtually nothing to protect them and is sometimes itself the predator.”

Pobreza e inseguridad: principales factores que obligan a hondureños a migrar, revela sondeo 
Radio Progreso, April 5, 2019 

“Además, detalló que la gente se va por tanta impunidad, corrupción, inseguridad y violencia que sufre la mayoría de jóvenes, y el poco interés del gobierno en resolver estos problemas.”

How climate change is fuelling the U.S. border crisis
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, April 3, 2019 

“this migration has come from the western highlands, which receives not only some of the highest rates of remittances per capita but also the greatest number of deportees. Of the ninety-four thousand immigrants deported to Guatemala from the U.S. and Mexico last year, about half came from this region.”

The Epidemic of Debt Plaguing Central American Migrants
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, April 4, 2019 

“Migrants typically pay smugglers in two parts—the first, amounting to roughly half of the overall sum, is a down payment known as the enganche. The rest is owed when the migrant reaches the U.S. In theory, these payments buy migrants three chances to cross the border, but, in actuality, one failed attempt can undermine the whole scheme.”

The Dream Homes of Guatemalan Migrants 
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, April 5, 2019 

“With increasing numbers of people leaving, it’s become harder for others to justify staying behind …The casas de remesa dotting the landscape in the western highlands are a daily reminder to the residents who remain that opportunity lies elsewhere.”

Climate Change is killing crops in Honduras – and driving farmers north 
Marcia Biggs, Julia Galiano-Rios, PBS, April 2, 2019 

“The kids need to study. Families need to eat. If they can’t sell this, the only option is to immigrate. If this continues, there will be more violence, more poverty, more hunger, more illegal immigration. It’s not a problem in Honduras. It’s a global problem.”

Trump’s decision to cut off aid to 3 Central American countries, explained
Dara Lind, Vox, April 1, 2019 

“What makes the aid funding important, though, is that — unlike the border wall — a lot of people in both parties agree that it’s needed to reduce migration to the US in the long term, by getting at the “root causes” of why people leave.”

Slashing Central American aid could drive more migrants to the U.S.
Suzanne Gamboa and Carmen Sesin, NBC News, April 1, 2019 

“Much of the aid goes directly to nongovernmental organizations, such as Mercy Corps, and local nonprofits to run programs aimed at curbing violence, job training, keeping young people out of gangs, reducing poverty and many other development areas.”

Aid cuts will negatively impact social and environmental progress in Central America 
Ecoviva, April 5, 2019 

“Withholding aid will not help the crisis that is driving migrants from these countries, and it will roll back several measures of progress, including youth programs and environmental protections that were hard fought by the people of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.”

Where Does Aid to Central America Go? Police Officers, Farmers and NGOs 
Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, April 1, 2019 

“If the aid withdrawal does go ahead, aid advocates say, it would probably affect  the region’s most vulnerable people, including small farmers struggling to adapt to climate change and teenagers pressured to join gangs in a region that is a major drug transit route, according to State Department estimates.”

What Trump Gets Wrong About Central American Aid 
Anita Isaacs and Anne Preston, The New York Times, April 1, 2019 

“Cutting off foreign assistance is unlikely to persuade Central American governments to take actions that reduce the migratory flow. The amount of aid provided pales in comparison with revenue accrued through migrant remittances: The $500 million sent to these countries in 2017 was less than 3 percent of the money received as remittance each year.”

US Corruption Omits Key Central American Officials 
Alex Papadovassilakis, InSight Crime, April 9, 2019 

“By naming only officials already convicted of their crimes, the State Department’s report lets Northern Triangle governments off the hook at a time when all three have current administration’s linked to alleged corruption and drug trafficking.”

Global civil society condemns the criminalization of human rights defenders in Guatemala 
Civicus, April 2, 2019 

“The criminalization of both defenders is yet another example of the targeted reprisals leveled against civil society organizations and human rights defenders that have mobilized against a series of attacks on Guatemala’s democratic institutional framework.”

Nobel laureates warn democracy, rights-eroding in Guatemala
ABC News, April 4, 2019 

“Forty-four Nobel Prize laureates in various disciplines have signed a letter expressing concern over what they call deteriorating conditions for democracy and human rights in Guatemala.”

Guatemala’s top presidential contenders face expulsion from race 
Sandra Cuffe, Aljazeera, April 2, 2019 

“The three individuals expected to lead the presidential race are the runner-up from the previous election, a former attorney general, and the daughter of an ex-dictator who stood trial for genocide.”

Guatemalan anti-corruption prosecutor fears for his life
Sonia Perez D., AP News, April 3, 2019 

“There are 18 legal actions against him that seek his imprisonment or firing. Usually accompanied by bodyguards, Sandoval said he fears for his safety and that of his family, but plans to continue working.”

Thousands protest against Honduras president 
France 24, April 7, 2019 

“Hernandez admitted his conservative ruling National Party had accepted $94,000 that had been misappropriated from social security funds but said the funds had been used without his knowledge.”

Jóvenes garífunas hondureños abogaran ante congresistas de EE.UU. por mejores políticas migratorias
Criterio.hn, April 10, 2019 

“Según Naciones Unidas, entre 2008 y 2016 al menos un menor de edad fue víctima de homicidio en Honduras. El mismo organismo consigna que el 74% de los niños y jóvenes hondureños viven en hogares pobres”.

Newsom seeks to counter Trump as he makes world stage debut in El Salvador 
Taryn Luna, Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2019 

“The governor chose the smallest country in Central America as the backdrop for his debut on the world’s stage to observe its socio-economic conditions, which send tens of thousands of Salvadorans fleeing for the U.S. each year.”

The booming business for smuggling people to the US: ‘Everyone wins’
Sarah Kinosian, The Guardian, April 8, 2019 

“Migration to the US from Guatemala and neighboring Honduras has risen to its highest level in a decade: if current rates continue, about 1% of the two countries’ populations will have reached the US by the end of the year.”

Mexican President says state was main violator of human rights 
Reuters, March 24, 2019 

“Lopez Obrador said the government would spare no expense in its efforts to find the missing, and to put names on some 26,000 unidentified bodies currently in storage.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Negative consequences of ending temporary protected status (TPS) for U.S. investment in El Salvador and Honduras 
Latin America Working Group, March 29, 2019

“Failure to pass a permanent solution through legislation would put Salvadoran and Honduran TPS beneficiare.s at risk of return to their home countries as well as have profound negative impacts and undermine the stated U.S. government’s goals of improving security, prosperity, and governance in the region.”

The Waitlist 
Doha Debates, April 9, 2019 

“At this waitlist location in Tijuana, refugees enroll on a waitlist run by refugees and wait to be processed by American immigration agents. This story is told by five refugees from Cameroon, Haiti, and Honduras.”

Stopping U.S. Assistance to Central America is Counterproductive and Misinformed 
The Washington Office on Latin America, April 9, 2019 

“While much more long-term investment is needed to increase the impact of prevention programs, they have been successful in increasing citizens’ sense of security, while also contributing to a decrease in gang presence and a reduction in crime.”

U.S. – Mexico Asylum Policies: The Denial of Rights and The Externalization of Borders 
Laura Carlsen and Aude Blenet, Center for International Policy, March 2019 

“Mexico cannot be considered as a safe third country today since refugees and asylum seekers face massive violations of their rights in transit through Mexico, its asylum system exhibits chronic systemic failures, and Mexico frequently violates the principle of non-refoulement by returning Central American migrants to home countries without adequate individualized assessment.”

Five Investments in Our Immigration System to Address the “Crisis” at the Border 
Immigration Hub 

“Rather than blocking asylum seekers through the “Remain in Mexico” program, our government should work to strengthen the existing Mexican asylum system and invest in regional refugee processing in neighboring countries such as Belize, Costa Rica and Panama.”

The President’s Budget Request: Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 
National Immigration Forum, March 26, 2019

We Must Preserve the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 for Unaccompanied Children 
Leah Chavla, Women’s Refugee 
Commission, April 3, 2019 
“Reducing existing protections for immigrant children from Central America, so they are treated in the same way as children from contiguous countries, will not do anything to deter children from seeking protection in the United States. It will, however, put vulnerable children in danger of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, or even death.”

How the El Paso Immigration Court Fails to Uphold Due Process
American Immigration Council, April 3, 2019 

“The complaint draws from court observations of hundreds of immigration hearings, several sworn statements from legal practitioners appearing before the El Paso SPC Immigration Court, standing orders used by the Immigration Judges, and more.”

We Cannot Let DHS Secretary End Critical Protections for Immigrant Children
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, April 2, 2019 

“Immigrant children are uniquely vulnerable and at high risk for trauma, trafficking, and abuse. These laws provide critical protections designed especially for children in deportation proceedings, but they have been attacked as “loopholes” that are exploited by smugglers, parents and even children.”

The Dream and Promise Act Could Put 2.2 Million Dreamers on Pathway to Citizenship 
Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, Center for American Progress, March 26, 2019 

“More than 5 million individuals live in a household that includes a Dreamer. Indeed, as years pass and Dreamers grow up, they are beginning families of their own: 795,000 U.S.-born children have Dreamer parents who are eligible for protection under the Dream and Promise Act.”
*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.

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