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Migration News Brief for February 22, 2019

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Date: Feb 22, 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: lfolkerts@lawg.org.

Credit: USA Today


Recess Action: Meet Your Legislators & Urge Them to STAND UP for Just Policies!
Latin America Working Group, February 19, 2019

“This week, elected officials are back in their hometowns reconnecting with the communities they’ve sworn to faithfully represent on the national stage. This is the perfect opportunity to bring attention to the issues we deeply care about.”

U.S. Enforcement

Judge may force Trump administration to reunite thousands more separated families
Alan Gomez, USA Today, February 21, 2019

“But the ACLU is now asking the judge to expand his order to include families that were separated during the previous year, following media reports and an inspector general report that revealed the administration had an unofficial family separation policy in place as far back as July 2017.”

Hundreds of families are still being separated at the border
Dara Lind, Vox, February 21, 2019

“Newly released government data shows nearly 250 parents have been separated from their children since June 26. Meanwhile, a report released Thursday from the advocacy group Texas Civil Rights Project suggests that those separations might be dwarfed by the number of other relatives — siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins — who bring a child to the US without her parents and are then separated from her by immigration agents.”

Immigrants At A Detention Center Were Fed Slimy Meat And Lived In “Inhumane” Conditions. Now There’s A Special Hearing
Brianna Sacks, BuzzFeed News, February 21, 2019

“In July, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, visited the detention center unannounced and witnessed an array of “unsanitary and unsafe conditions,” unreported security incidents, and other serious violations, according to the report.”

CBP installing barbed wire at El Paso ports of entry after Juarez experiences migrant influx
KVIA, February 21, 2019

“‘To ensure the ports of entry are not overrun by a large number of people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, CBP has taken steps to harden its ports,.. Hardening materials are being deployed to the POEs to act as impediments to illegal crossers.’”

Third migrant dies in Border Patrol custody in as many months
Alan Gomez, USA Today, February 19, 2019

“The following day, after receiving a welfare check by CBP officials, the immigrant again requested medical attention and was taken to the McAllen Medical Center, where the immigrant was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure, CBP said. The immigrant remained at the hospital before dying on Monday morning.”

‘The US Government Has Scarred My Daughter and Me for Life’: Families Sue Trump Over Deliberate and ‘Inexplicable Cruelty’
Julia Conley, Common Dreams, February 12, 2019

“In the filing, six mothers described having their children torn away from them, with officials giving them little to no information about where their children were, if they were safe, and when they would be reunited—treatment that the lawyers involved in the suit argue fit the legal definition of intentionally inflicting emotional distress.”

Tricked, abducted and killed: the last day of two child migrants in Mexico
Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian, February 16, 2019

“According to González, the woman lured them to a white-gated house near the city centre with the promise of sex and money. Eventually, ‘she took them to a house and they were not allowed to leave. That’s when they realised they’d been kidnapped.’”

‘You want a cookie?’: As families arrive en masse, border agents offer snacks and medical checks
Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, February 19, 2019

“The deaths of two Guatemalan children in December and the massive groups of Central American families crossing the border are increasingly transforming the Border Patrol’s role from national security to humanitarian relief, even as President Trump declares the situation a national emergency.”

The Trump Administration Has Sent The First Asylum-Seeking Families Back To Mexico
Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed News, February 14, 2019

“The five families sent back to Tijuana, Mexico, were made up of four women, one couple, and 10 children, said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the press about the returned families. The families were returned to Mexico at the El Chaparral pedestrian border crossing.”

Groups seek restraining order to block Trump asylum policy
Catherine E. Shoichet and Geneva Sands, CNN, February 21, 2019

“In a motion filed Wednesday, advocates argued that the administration’s new policy — which officials started rolling out in Tijuana last month — causes irreparable harm and places vulnerable asylum seekers’ lives at risk.”

ACLU sues Homeland Security over plan to keep asylum seekers in Mexico
Edvard Pettersson, Boston Globe, February 14, 2019

“The complaint was filed at the same time as the White House said Trump will sign compromise spending legislation that would avert another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to get more money for a border wall from other parts of the federal budget.”

Lawsuits challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration use his words against him
Tucker Higgins, CNBC News, February 19, 2019

“In suits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Citizen and 16 U.S. states, the challengers have argued that the president’s comments show that his national emergency declaration is a matter of personal preference or a negotiating tactic — not a true emergency requiring the use of American armed forces, as the White House has claimed.”

Poll: Majority opposes Trump emergency declaration for building border wall
Steven Shepard, Politico, February 20, 2019

“Fewer than 4 in 10 voters support Trump’s declaration, the poll shows — less than the 51 percent who oppose it. In fact, the percentage of poll respondents who ‘strongly oppose’ Trump’s decision, 41 percent, is greater than the combined share of those who ‘strongly support’ — 26 percent — or ‘somewhat support’ — 13 percent — the national emergency declaration.”

Human Smugglers Are Thriving Under Trump
Sebastian Rotella, Tim Golden, and Propublica, The Atlantic, February 20, 2019

“After Trump ordered the hiring of 15,000 new Border Patrol agents and immigration officers, the DHS inspector general warned that such surges weaken the screening of new personnel and exacerbate corruption and misconduct.”

Alianza Americas Members Advocate in DC for Protections for TPS, DED, and DACA Holders
Alianza Americas, February 20, 2019
“Alianza Americas member organizations took part in a coordinated advocacy delegation urging Members of Congress to protect people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  The educational visits with legislators took place between the 12th and 14th of February in Washington, DC.”

Mexican Enforcement

Thousands of Central American Migrants Are Reportedly Being Held in Abandoned Army Body Bag Factory Due to Asylum-Policy Changes
Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, February 19, 2019
“The factory is being used to house migrants in compliance with the Trump administration’s new ‘Remain in Mexico’… [This] policy… is a reversal of the old policy that allowed asylum-seekers to wait for their cases to be adjudicated in the United States.”

Mexico closes temporary migrant shelter near US border
AP News, February 19, 2019
“The migrants arrived at the border hoping to request asylum in the United States but Mexican authorities corralled them in the shelter and only about a dozen were allowed to request asylum at the Eagle Pass crossing each day.”

Al Otro Lado asks the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Issue Precautionary Measures Against Mexico Urging All Actions Necessary to Protect its Human Rights Defenders Working to Protect the Rights of Asylum Seekers in Tijuana
Press Release from Al Otro Lado, February 12, 2019

“The request for precautionary measures seeks Mexico’s protection from ongoing and imminent threats to the safety and security experienced by Al Otro Lado and its staff, which in recent months have escalated to include death threats by suspected criminal organizations.”

México detiene a 200 migrantes centroamericanos que cruzaron por su frontera sur
Univision, 17 de febrero de 2019
“Autoridades informaron que los migrantes no opusieron resistencia, porque funcionarios les habían prometido que les brindarían facilidades para obtener la “tarjeta humanitaria”, que permite ingresar legalmente, tener empleo, educación y servicios de salud básicos en territorio mexicano”.

¿Para que tantas juntas?: Director de Casa del Migrante a Corral
Herika Martinez Prado y Javier Olmos, El Diario de Juárez, 19 de febrero de 2019
“Advirtió que el problema migratorio que actualmente cice la frontera va a permanecer durante todo el año y pidió al gobierno del Estado asumir la responsabilidad ante ese reto”.

Root Causes

You want to see a real emergency, Mr. President? Visit me in Honduras.
Amelia Frank-Vitale, Washington Post, February 16, 2019

“Honduran migration isn’t new; what is new is that they are doing it publicly, in large groups, and asking, collectively, for protection. The real humanitarian crisis is that, mostly, Hondurans are denied this protection and deported. So many young Hondurans — especially the urban poor — feel like they have no future here. Eight out of 10 violent deaths here are of young people.”

Trans Woman From El Salvador Murdered After Being Deported From the United States
Yara Simon, Remezcla, February 18, 2019
“Camila is the second trans woman killed in the country in February, but officials have not labeled it a hate crime partially because she died in a public hospital and the reports made did not mention she was a victim of violence.”

Her Family Survived the El Mozote Massacre. Now She’s Fleeing El Salvador’s Gangs
Nelson Rauda, Daily Beast, February 15, 2019
“That title, Rufina’s daughter, has accompanied Marta her whole life. Her mother, Rufina Amaya, survived the military operation at El Mozote and was a main witness to the carnage, which had twice as many victims as the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam war.”

AMLO Promised a New Approach to Mexico’s Security Crisis. Is He Delivering?
The Editors, World Politics Review, February 15, 2019
“… one of the lasting criticisms of the military’s involvement in public security is that it is rarely accountable to civilian judicial institutions. Over the past 10 years, Mexico’s Supreme Court has established a precedent for military accountability in civilian courts for human rights abuses, but this has rarely been put into practice.”

Guatemala war crime survivors challenge amnesty bill
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, February 13, 2019
“The reforms would grant a blanket amnesty, ordering the release within 24 hours of the more than 30 men convicted of conflict-era atrocities, as well as those in pre-trial detention, and shutting down current and future court cases.”

Guatemalan Congress Delays Vote on Amnesty Bill
Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada, International Justice Monitor, February 14, 2019
“The proposal, which was approved in the first of three required congressional debates in January, would result in the immediate release of more than 30 military officials convicted of grave crimes and would cease all ongoing and future investigations and prosecutions into such crimes.

IACHR Urges Honduras and Guatemala to Guarantee the Rights of People in the Migrant and Refugee Caravan
Organization of American States, February 19, 2019
“According to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of asylum-seekers from these three countries has risen significantly over the past five years: there has been a 439% increase in the number of people with pending applications for asylum and a 150% increase in the number of people who have already been granted asylum.”

CIDH insta a garantizar derechos de personas que integran la caravana de migrantes y refugiados en Honduras y Guatemala
Organización de los Estados Americanos, 19 de febrero de 2019
“De acuerdo con cifras del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), el número de solicitantes de asilo procedentes de estos tres países aumentó en forma significativa en los últimos cinco años: 439% aumentó el número de personas que tienen solicitudes de asilo pendientes de resolución, y 150% el número de personas a las que ya les fue otorgado”.

Nuevo récord de violencia en enero: 2 mil 928 homicidios y 164 víctimas de secuestro
Arturo Angel, Animal Politico, 20 de febrero de 2019
“… durante el mes de enero fueron asesinadas en promedio 94 personas al día, entre mujeres y hombres. O lo que es lo mismo: casi cuatro personas asesinadas por hora”.

Actions, Reports, and Resources

The Real National Emergency: Zero Tolerance and the Continuing Horrors of Family Separation at the Border
Laura Pena, Texas Civil Rights Project, February 14, 2019
“The government’s ‘normal’ practice under zero tolerance in the late spring and early summer of 2018 was to separate mothers and fathers from their children, regardless of age, regardless of any criminal record or finding of unfitness, and incarcerate them. This policy tortured thousands of families.”

Immigration Court Workload in the Aftermath of the Shutdown
TRACImmigration, February 19, 2019
“Unless there was a dramatic drop in arrests and removal actions initiated by immigration authorities during the shutdown period, there appears to be a sizable number of new fillings yet to be recorded and reflected in the court’s workload.”

Language Access Has Life-or-Death Consequences for Migrants
Tom Jawetz and Scott Shuchart, Center for American Progress, February 20, 2019
“The Border Patrol and CBP unquestionably face real challenges in providing real-time interpretation services for speakers of some languages. But the deaths of Jakelin and Felipe underscore the need for these agencies to be far more proactive in using interpreter services and providing prompt medical screening and assistance that is not dependent on a person’s ability to advocate for their own needs in English.”

Desplazamiento interno forzado en México
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)
“Actualmente México carece incluso de un diagnóstico oficial sobre la situación de las personas internamente desplazadas. Esto significa que se desconoce la real magnitud del fenómeno, y sus víctimas permanecen invisibilizadas y desatendidas”.

*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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