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Migration News Brief for January 31, 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.


U.S. Enforcement

Why Trump’s Plan to Make Asylum-Seekers Wait in Dangerous Mexican Border Cities May Be Illegal
Noah Lanard, Mother Jones, January 28, 2019

“The administration planned to start sending asylum-seekers coming through Tijuana back to Mexico on Friday, but according to Al Otro Lado, a Tijuana legal services organization, that didn’t happen. Still, the returns could start any day, and as with so many of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdowns, the new policy raises a basic question: Is it legal?”

There is a crisis at the border. It’s just not what Trump says it is.
Dara Lind, Vox, January 29, 2019

“The immigration enforcement system, not particularly well-equipped to handle vulnerable migrants without papers at all, is cracking under the strain. The gap between what’s happening and the government’s ability to deal with it is, by most definitions, a policy crisis.”

Trump ordered 15,000 new border and immigration officers — but got thousands of vacancies instead
Molly O’Toole, Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2019

“In a sign of the difficulties, Customs and Border Protection allocated $60.7 million to Accenture Federal Services, a management consulting firm, as part of a $297-million contract to recruit, vet and hire 7,500 border officers over five years, but the company has produced only 33 new hires so far.”

Trump’s Border Wall for Asylum Seekers
Stephanie Leutert and Shaw Drake, New York Times, January, 28, 2019

“For the past two years, as the number of asylum-seeking families and children has increased, the administration has ushered in a range of additional restrictive border policies. United States government officials have told migrants to go to ports of entry rather than crossing the border without authorization. However, simultaneously, they have imposed other policies that reject asylum seekers trying to do just that.”

Trump claimed women were gagged with tape. Then Border Patrol tried to find some evidence.
Dara Lind, Vox, January 27, 2019

“It’s not clear where Trump is getting his information — but it doesn’t appear to be through official intelligence. Donald Trump’s rhetoric about the border is built on a lie: the idea that the US-Mexico border is a lawless place where American citizens are constantly in grave danger, and where criminals are able to smuggle drugs and people without any risk of apprehension.”

Why a Border Wall Could Mean Trouble for Wildlife
John Schwartz, New York Times, January 24, 2019

“About 650 miles of border wall already exist along the 2,000-mile boundary between the two countries. Most of it has been built on federal land where the terrain provides no natural barrier. Mr. Trump has called for a 1,000-mile wall, which would extend farther across land that includes important habitats for wildlife.”

Trump proposes tiny steps to address big problems he created. Migrant leaders demand more
Óscar Chacón, ElFaro, January 26, 2019

“In what the Trump administration has characterized as a balanced effort to overcome the budget impasse -which has kept several branches of the federal government closed since the end of December- the government offers help to those it said it would expel.”

Migrant parents still separated from children at border after government claims gang ties or crime
Lomi Kriel, Houston Chronicle, December 11, 2018

“When the threats escalated, he [Carlos Arias] fled with his children to the Texas border, where he hoped last month to ask for asylum. Instead Border Patrol agents accused the 35-year-old of belonging to a gang and imprisoned him, placing his children in a San Antonio federal shelter.”

‘I Came Because Of A Dream’: Honduran Father And Son Meet For The First Time In The U.S.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro, NPR, January, 27, 2019

“The son has claimed asylum in the U.S. The father has Temporary Protected Status, which is set to end.”

The choices they made: Hondurans at the US-Mexico border
Tomás Ayuso, IRIN, January 28, 2019

“As another ‘caravan’ of Central Americans, mainly from Honduras and 12,000 strong, enters Mexico, several thousand members of the group that travelled in October are still waiting on the US-Mexico border. Photographer Tomás Ayuso spent a week speaking with some of them recently in a ramshackle tent city in Tijuana.”

Mexican Enforcement

Concluye el programa de recepción de migrantes centroamericanos: INM
Isaín Mandujano, Proceso, 28 de enero de 2019

“Guillén López aseguró que concluye esta primera parte del programa, pero ‘tiene el propósito de tener una continuidad con nuevas modalidades y procedimientos’, luego de que hasta las 3 de la tarde del día de hoy, el gobierno de México extendió casi cuatro mil tarjetas de visitante por razones humanitarias”.

Will AMLO Respond to the Central American Exodus With Compassion—Or Militarization?
Heather Gies, In These Times, January 29, 2019

“Endorsing the agreement between Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean says the plan has the potential to ‘change the paradigm of migration, development and cooperation’ in the region.
But critics argue… the plan will likely follow in the footsteps of other regional U.S.-backed initiatives that have failed to effectively tackle the underlying causes of migration and—instead—prioritized militarization and private profits.”

Mexico Moves to Encourage Caravan Migrants to Stay and Work
Jeff Ernst and Kirk Semple, New York Times, January 25, 2019

“The new Mexican president’s generosity toward immigrants, officials say, dovetails with his broader commitment to protect human rights, reduce inequality and prioritize the poor.”

Mexico promises to take care of asylum seekers sent back by the United States
Kate Morrissey and Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019

“Mexico, whose new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has called for more humane treatments of migrants, believes that the key to reducing migration is improving the conditions of migrants’ home countries.”

The US is sending some legal asylum seekers back to Mexico
Dara Lind, Vox, January 25, 2019

“The policy change means that people who are trying to exercise their legal right to seek asylum will be barred from the US for as much as a year while they wait for their claim to come before a judge. It is the most sweeping development in Trump’s ongoing crackdown on asylum seekers, who are largely from Central America, and disproportionately children and families.”

Thousands of migrants at Mexico’s southern border seeking new humanitarian visas
Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2019

“Word that Mexico was offering caravan participants the new humanitarian visas traveled quickly through Central America and prompted others to make their way to the Mexican border bridge here [in Ciudad Hidalgo], applicants said in interviews.”

Root Causes

Meth and murder: A new kind of drug war has made Tijuana one of the deadliest cities on Earth
Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2019

“Tijuana, a city of 1.8 million that not long ago was celebrating a major reduction in violence, is in the grip of an unprecedented homicide crisis. A record 2,518 people were killed here in 2018 — nearly seven times the total in 2012. With 140 killings per 100,000 people, Tijuana is now one of the deadliest cities in the world.”

Murders in Mexico rise by a third in 2018 to new record
Delphine Schrank, Reuters, January 21, 2019

“The complexity of fighting criminal groups is a major test for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who assumed office in December, vowing to try a different approach to his predecessor. Former President Enrique Pena Nieto presided over a 40 percent rise in murder investigations across his six-year mandate from his first full year in office in 2013.”

Guatemala’s ‘Slow-Motion Coup’ Rolls Onward
Lauren Carasik, Foreign Policy, January 26, 2019

“Until this month, the Constitutional Court had been able to protect the commission’s [International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)] work. By turning to the court, Morales’s crackdown is not only worrying for those who hoped to address endemic corruption, but it also bodes ill for the independence of Guatemala’s judiciary and the rule of law.”

Guatemala Poised to Adopt Blanket Amnesty for Grave Crimes Cases
Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada, International Justice Monitor, January 22, 2019

“Under the terms of the proposed legislation, all of those convicted would go free within 24 hours of the law’s promulgation. Several others who are in prison awaiting trial would also be freed. One former guerrilla leader has been convicted of human rights crimes and would also presumably be freed if the legislation were to be adopted.”

Washington Trained Guatemala’s Killers for Decades
Greg Grandin and Elizabeth Oglesby, The Nation, January 25, 2019

“Longan… moved on to work for the CIA, providing security assistance—under the cover of the State Department—to allied anticommunist nations… Longan taught local intelligence and police agencies how to create death squads to target political activists, deploying tactics that he’d used earlier to capture migrants on the border.”

Honduras police clash with students demanding president’s ouster
Agence France-Presse, Manila Bulletin News, January 29, 2019

“The demonstrations in violence-wracked Honduras came one day after opposition leftists took to the streets, answering a protest call by ex-president Manuel Zelaya to urge the conservative Hernandez to step down.”

Protests in Honduras against president heat up
Yahoo News, January 27, 2019

“Police used tear gas against protesters rallying against conservative President Juan Orlando Hernandez as marchers set tires on fire and blocked two key highways heading north and south of the capital.”

CARECEN DC and Alianza Americas Coordinate International Delegation to Observe the Salvadoran Elections
Press Release by Alianza Americas, January 28, 2019

“In light of presidential elections that could have far-reaching implications for El Salvador and the region, CARECEN-DC has convened a diverse group of its own board and staff leadership, as well as leaders of other humanitarian and academic institutions interested in migrants rights,  and leaders in the Salvadoran community in the United States.”

Making Visible the Weapons of Empire
John Lindsay-Poland, NACLA, January 4, 2019

“How early research on the shadowy machinations of U.S. security aid and arms sales shaped NACLA’s solidarity with Latin America.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

AILA Analysis Reveals Crisis-Level Delays in USCIS Case Processing
Jason Boyd, American Immigration Lawyers Association, January 30, 2019

“Other data examined by AILA lays bare a USCIS ‘net backlog’ exceeding 2.3 million delayed cases at the end of FY 2017. This total amounts to more than a 100 percent increase over a one-year span despite just a four percent rise in case receipts during that same period.”

FACT CHECK: Asylum Seekers Regularly Attend Immigration Court Hearings
Human Rights First, January 25, 2019

“Despite statistics showing that asylum seekers appear in immigration court at high rates, President Trump Administration has repeatedly falsely claimed that only 3 percent of asylum seekers and 2 percent of immigrants attend immigration court. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen stated that asylum seekers ‘more than not’ fail to appear in immigration court.”

VIDEO: The Truth of LGBTQ Asylum Seekers at the Border
Human Rights Campaign, January 25, 2019

“The Trump-Pence administration’s newest immigration policy begins today, forcing asylum seekers like Cristal, Lorena & Cesar to remain in Mexico as they await their U.S. court dates.”

Atrapados en la Movilidad: Nuevas dinámicas de la migración y el refugio en México
FM4 Paso Libre (Dignidad y Justicia en el camino A.C.), diciembre de 2018
“En este texto vamos a reflexionar sobre las consecuencias de estas políticas migratorias de deportación…Cerramos nuestro análisis con breves reflexiones que nos invitan a seguir repensando la caracterización de los flujos migratorios y con recomendaciones que consideramos pertinentes para su abordaje”.

Resource Website: Arizona OpenGIS Deceased Migrants
“This web site is the result of ongoing partnership between the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, or Pima County OME, and Humane Borders, Inc […] committed to the common vision of raising awareness about migrant deaths and lessening the suffering of families by helping to provide closure through the identification of the deceased and the return of remains.”


*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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