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Migration News Brief for June 17, 2019

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Date: Jun 17, 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.

Source: Nichole Sobecki/ Politico


What Migrants Face at Mexico’s Southern Border and How it Could Get Worse – A Report From Tapachula
Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Latin America Working Group, June 12, 2019

“Checkpoints. Capture. Collapsed institutions. Confusion. This is what migrants currently face at Mexico’s southern border. There doesn’t seem to be a longer-term plan or effort to dialogue with civil society organizations to develop one. The only plan seems to be the one that the Mexican government conceded to in negotiations with the United States.”

U.S. Enforcement

US-Guatemala Talks on Central American Asylum Seekers Hit Impasse
Ramon Taylor, Voice of America, June 14, 2019

“The pending agreement with Guatemala, if signed, would be the first such agreement between the U.S. and a Latin American country in U.S. history. But the State Department readout on the first day of talks suggested that there had been a ‘complete misinterpretation’ by the Guatemalans regarding the draft agreement. According to the readout, Guatemalan ministers reiterated ‘political will to reach an asylum burden-sharing agreement,’ but raised ‘legal and constitutional issues’ that would make a safe third country agreement ‘a challenging lift.’”

The Youngest Child Separated From His Family at the Border Was 4 Months Old
Caitlin Dickerson, New York Times, June 16, 2019 

“Constantine was ultimately the youngest of thousands of children taken from their parents under a policy that was meant to deter families hoping to immigrate to the United States. It began nearly a year before the administration would acknowledge it publicly in May 2018, and the total number of those affected is still unknown.”

US-Guatemala Talks on Central American Asylum Seekers Hit Impasse
Ramon Taylor, Voice of America, June 14, 2019

“The pending agreement with Guatemala, if signed, would be the first such agreement between the U.S. and a Latin American country in U.S. history. But the State Department readout on the first day of talks suggested that there had been a ‘complete misinterpretation’ by the Guatemalans regarding the draft agreement. According to the readout, Guatemalan ministers reiterated ‘political will to reach an asylum burden-sharing agreement,’ but raised ‘legal and constitutional issues’ that would make a safe third country agreement ‘a challenging lift.’”

US, Guatemala Close to Deal to Block Central American Asylum Seekers
Ramon Taylor, Voice of America, June 13, 2019

“The pending agreement with Guatemala, if signed, would be the first such agreement with a Latin American country in U.S. history. In response to written questions about the draft agreement, a State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs told VOA Thursday that ‘The U.S. team currently in Guatemala is working with Guatemalan counterparts to explore a full range of initiatives to advance this agenda, including capacity building, strengthening of local institutions, and improved asylum processing,’ adding, ‘We will not disclose further details of ongoing, private diplomatic conversations.’”

US Should No Longer Need Tariff Threat with Mexico, Trump Says
Latin American Herald Tribune, June 13, 2019 

“For many years, Mexico was not being cooperative on the Border in things we had, or didn’t have, and now I have full confidence, especially after speaking to their President yesterday, that they will be very cooperative and want to get the job properly done,’ Trump said.”

Exclusive: Asylum seekers returned to Mexico rarely win bids to wait in U.S.
Reade Levinson, Mica Rosenberg, & Kristina Cook, Reuters, June 12, 2019 

“Immigration authorities had allowed her mother and younger sisters into the United States two months earlier to pursue claims for asylum in U.S. immigration court. But they sent Tania back to Tijuana on her own, with no money and no place to stay. After the interview, meant to assess her fear of return to Mexico… she was sent back to Mexico under a Trump administration policy called the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (MPP), which has forced more than 11,000 asylum seekers to wait on the Mexican side of the border for their U.S. court cases to be completed.”

Medical Care For Immigrants Is Only Getting Worse At An ICE Detention Center, Advocates Say
Adolfo Flores, BuzzFeed News, June 11, 2019 

“Katie Sheppard, a counselor with the Immigration Justice Counsel reported, ‘The government has failed to provide adequate medical care, and the result is the suffering and death that occurs inside ICE detention centers. If they’re going to keep tens of thousands of people in their custody at any one time, then they need to humanely and responsibly provide the services necessary for those in their care.”

Mexico is sending its new national guard to the Guatemala border. The mission is unclear.
Kevin Sieff & Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, June 10, 2019 

“Members of Mexico’s newly created national guard are to be deployed this week to the country’s southern border, forming a force that will eventually reach 6,000 as part of the agreement with the United States that helped to stave off President Trump’s threat of tariffs.  But the national guard was never presented to Mexicans as a tool of border security or migration enforcement. It was intended instead to fill the security void left by Mexico’s ineffective and often corrupt local law enforcement agencies as violence here continues to climb.”

No Secret Immigration Deal Exists With U.S., Mexico’s Foreign Minister Says
Michael D. Shear & Maggie Haberman, New York Times, June 10, 2019

“Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s top diplomat, said at a news conference in Mexico City that there was an understanding that both sides would evaluate the flow of migrants in the coming months. ‘If the number of migrants crossing the United States border is not significantly reduced, both sides have agreed to renew discussions about more aggressive changes to regional asylum rules that could have a bigger effect,’ stated Ebrard.”

An expanded ‘remain in Mexico’ policy may cause more suffering, not curb migration
Tanvi Misra, Roll Call, June 10, 2019

“The meat of the U.S.-Mexico deal announced Friday by President Donald Trump lies in its provision massively expanding the administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy… Experts say the program’s expansion is unlikely to curb migration, but it could expand the magnitude of suffering at the southern border by separating even more families, restricting due process rights, and putting a growing number of vulnerable people — pregnant women, LGBT populations, and children — in harm’s way.”

Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months Before Trump Announced Tariff Deal
Michael Shear & Maggie Haberman, New York Times, June 8, 2019 

“The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged.”

US agents’ deployment to stem Guatemalan migration raises alarm
Sandra Cuffe, Aljazeera, June 6, 2019

“Actions will include ‘law enforcement training and training to improve criminal investigations’, according to a May 28 DHS statement. The initiatives will help ‘limit push factors that encourage dangerous irregular migration to the US,’ according to the statement. The initiative will also enhance ‘improvements in the identification, administration, and detention of illegal immigrants.”

Overlooked in U.S.-Mexico talks: Guns illegally crossing the border
Megan Cerullo, CBS News, June 7, 2019 

“The issue of gun trafficking has long been a point of contention for Mexico. A 2018 analysis from the Center for American Progress found that from 2011 to 2016, 70% of the 106,000 guns used in violent crimes in Mexico and recovered by law enforcement had come from the U.S.  A separate study found that between 2010 and 2012, nearly 213,000 firearms of all legal arms sales in the U.S. were smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border.”

What is a safe third country agreement?
Rafael Bernal, The Hill, June 6, 2019

If Mexico signed a safe third country agreement, Central American migrants would no longer be able to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to surrender to U.S. authorities and stay in the country while they await asylum proceedings. The United States only has one safe third country agreement. It was signed with Canada in 2004.

ICE Agents Left 5-Year-Old Children in a Parked Van for 39 Hours
Luke Darby, GQ, June 5, 2019 

“In July of 2018, 37 detained migrant children boarded vans in Texas so they could be reunited with their parents at the Port Isabel Detention Center. But when they reached the Immigration and Customs Enforcement–run detention facility, they had to wait. And wait. It took 39 hours and two nights spent sleeping in vans for the last child to be processed and reunited with their family, with most of the 5- to 12-year-olds waiting at least 23 hours in the center’s parking lot.”

Tariffs Are a Bad Response to an Imaginary Border Crisis
Mark Weisbrot, The New Republic, June 5, 2019

“The migrants that do arrive in the U.S. are fleeing situations exacerbated by decades of bad American foreign policy. Tariffs on Mexico would continue that pattern.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico Made Refugee Concessions Months Before Trump Tariff Threats, DHS Documents Say
John Washington and Danielle Mackey, The Intercept, June 14, 2019

“Last year, Mexico reluctantly agreed to a new series of measures, including the Migrant Protection Protocols. Mexico only agreed to the MPP ‘for humanitarian reasons,’ the official told The Intercept. Expanding the program was part of the announced ‘agreement’ made before the June 10 tariff deadline, along with Mexico’s deployment of troops to its border.”

Todos alerta: Migrantes eluden retenes en la carretera y corren en un intento de abordar el tren
Alberto Pradilla, Animal Politico, 17 de junio de 2019

“Pasan algunos minutos de las 8 de la mañana. Es una de las salidas de Huixtla, Chiapas, junto a la vía del tren. Un grupito desayuna antes de iniciar la marcha. Es el Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica alrededor de unos aguacates con sal, unas tortillas y una botella de Coca-Cola”.

Detenidos en el sur de México cerca de 800 migrantes que viajaban en la zona de carga de cuatro camiones
Víctor Usón, El País, 16 de junio de 2019

“Esta operación se produce ocho días después de que México se comprometiera con Washington a endurecer su política migratoria para contener así la mayor crisis diplomática que ha tenido López Obrador con su vecino del norte”.

Mexico is Overwhelmed by Asylum Claims as it Ramps up Immigration Enforcement 
National Public Radio, June 14, 2019

“Mexico has already reported a 196% increase in asylum applications this year, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. The U.N. agency recently announced it will fund new offices and staff for the Mexican refugee commission in addition to providing ongoing operational support.”

Mexico Arrested Two Caravan Organizers Amid Pressure From the Trump Administration to Stop Immigrants
Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed News, June 6, 2019

“In a statement, several human rights organizations denounced the arrests and said it criminalized immigrant rights defenders. The groups said the arrests have taken place under political and economic pressure from the US government against Mexico in order to stop Central American migration.”

¿Qué son 6 mil guardias nacionales?
Alejandro Hope, El Universal, 6 de junio de 2019

“Tal vez valga la pena hacer el gasto para aplacar al monstruo que habita en la Casa Blanca: dejo eso juicio a otros más conocedores de la materia”.

AMLO defiende a migrantes frente a Trump, pero las detenciones en México se disparan 100%
Alberto Pradilla & Manu Ureste, Animal Politico, 1 de junio de 2019

“La carta enviada a Trump por López Obrador contrasta con lo que sucede en la frontera sur de México, donde ONG denuncian hostigamiento de las autoridades migratorias para detener y deportar personas sin documentos”.

Sufren extranjeros por falta de información al cruzar la frontera sur
Emir Olivares Alonso, La Jornada, 3 de junio de 2019

“El gran número de extranjeros que cada día ingresa de manera irregular por la frontera sur de México y la diversad de sus orígenes generan que ningún esfuerzo institucional o de la sociedad civil alcance. Prácticamente nadie atina a explicarles cuáles son los pasos a seguir para conseguir una regularización para su permanencia, asilo, refugio o tránsito por el país. Viven en una constante incertidumbre”.

Misión de Observación denuncia “estrategia de desgaste y contención” hacia migrantes en Chiapas.
Isaín Mandujano, Proceso, 4 de junio de 2019  

“Luego de tres días de recorrer la frontera sur mexicana, la Misión de Observación de la Crisis Humanitaria de Personas Migrantes y Refugiados en el Sureste Mexicano documentó una flagrante violación sistemática desde las instituciones oficiales en contra de las personas de diversos países que entran a México y que buscan llegar a Estados Unidos”.

Mexico avoids tariffs in exchange for increasing migration control and accepting the USA to continue returning asylum seekers
Alianza Americas, June 11, 2019

“The northern border of Mexico, in practice, is and will continue to be a ‘third safe country’, with a deficient local infrastructure and precarious humanitarian assistance to assist thousands of people that await in Mexico, for a resolution to their asylum requests in the United States under the “Remain in Mexico” policy.”

Tribunal Federal ordena la implementación urgente de un plan para asegurar alternativas a la detención de niñas, niños adolescentes privados de su libertad en la estación migratoria de la Ciudad de México 
Pamela Torres, Sin Fronteras, 10 de junio de 2019

“Lo anterior, con el fin de determinar el tiempo que lleven en ella y si han tenido acceso a asesoría y representación legal. Asimismo, las autoridades referidas deberán contactar a sus consulados y embajadas –salvo que tengan necesidad de protección internacional–, verificar su estatus legal, estado de salud, si se encuentran o no acompañados, y generar de forma urgente un plan que les permita salir del centro de detención y ubicarse en espacios abiertos”.

At Mexico’s southern border, migrants feel the pinch of a crackdown spurred by U.S.
Patrick J. McDonnell, LA Times, June 13, 2019

“‘There is nothing we can do but wait,’ said Amador, 36, a Honduran national seeking refugee status in Mexico along with her husband and four children, ages 5 to 14, though the family hopes to make it to the United States. ‘We can’t move forward without papers.’”

Root Causes

Democracy in Crisis in Guatemala
Jeff Abbott, NACLA, June 11, 2019 

“Violence and political maneuvering have marred the lead up to Guatemala’s elections as some candidates attempt to delegitimize the electoral process. Amid the chaos, left-wing parties may have most to lose.”

The Roots of the National Strike in Honduras: An Interview with Bayron Rodríguez Pineda
Beth Geglia, NACLA, June 10, 2019

As Honduran teachers and doctors resist the neoliberal restructuring of health and education services, educator and organizer Bayron Rodríguez Pineda explains the roots of the mobilizations and the growing people power in the streets.

Guatemala’s election may hold the answer to solving the migration crisis
Mark Schneider, Washington Post,  June 14, 2019

“In what may be the CICIG’s final year since Morales announced his intent not to renew the current mandate ending in September, the issues of citizen security and corruption are high on the list of voter concerns. Those issues are paralleled by deep unhappiness with the low level of job creation.”

‘I Can No Longer Continue to Live Here’: What’s driving so many Honduran women to the U.S. border? The reality is worse than you’ve heard.
Jill Filipovic, Politico, June 7, 2019

“There are a lot of things she shouldn’t be thinking. She is 12 years old and just weeks away from giving birth to a baby. Sofia was raped by a family member of her mom’s boyfriend. She still doesn’t totally understand what pregnancy means or what childbirth entails, but she knows the delivery is looming, and that scares her.”

Corruption in the Guatemalan Political System and the 2019 Elections
Adriana Beltrán & Adeline Hite, WOLA, June 12, 2019 

“Guatemala has made important, hard fought gains for judicial independence and the rule of law. But in an attempt to hold onto power and avoid prosecution, corrupt alliances are whittling away at this progress. New electoral reforms are proving difficult to enforce in a tense political climate and uncertainty looms as candidates with dubious records are printed on ballots. While newcomers fight for a more inclusive Guatemala, violence is a constant threat.”

Former first lady leads in Guatemala election
Jeff Abbott, Aljazeera, June 17, 2019  

“While the election produced a few surprises on Sunday, the favoured frontrunner, Sandra Torres – a businesswoman, former first lady, and candidate for the centrist National Unity of Hope party – led after the first round of voting. Since no candidate received a majority, the top two candidates will face a runoff scheduled for August 11.”

Policía de Honduras debe respetar estándares sobre uso de la fuerza contra manifestantes
Criterio, 14 de junio de 2019

“Cuando los policías y militares actúan sistemáticamente al margen de dichos estándares, y no son investigados ni sancionados, es evidente que los altos mandos civiles, policiales y militares dieron la orden o consienten las acciones delictivas de sus subordinados”.

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Q&A: Implications of the Recent U.S.-Mexico Agreement to Address Regional Migration Flows
Maureen Meyer & Gina Hinojosa, WOLA, June 14, 2019 

“The agreement came after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released its May apprehension numbers showing a 337 percent year-on-year increase in arrivals of Central American children and families at the border. Despite avoiding tariffs, the June 7 agreement has significant economic and humanitarian implications for Mexico. Based on the agreement, Mexico will detain and deport more migrants and must provide support for the tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexican border cities while their cases are being resolved in U.S. immigration courts.”

Forced Displacement System in the Northern Triangle of Central America
Sistema de Monitoreo

“The observatory documents and disseminates information on the scope and causes of internal displacement due to violence in the NTCA. Emphasizes the importance of data collection and has demographic information and access to rights of the population internally displaced by violence for the design of proposals about policies and programs that effectively address the needs of the displaced and protect their rights within the frameworks applicable legal.”

UNHCR appeals for regional talks on Central America displacement
Chris McGrath, UNHCR, June 12, 2019

“So far this year 593,507 asylum-seekers and migrants have arrived at the southern U.S. border from Mexico. In view of this, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for an urgent meeting of States in the region to map out coordinated action to address this growing displacement challenge effectively and sustainably, in ways that prioritise protection of lives and well-managed borders.”

Remain in Mexico Updates
Hope Border Institute, June 13, 2019 

“The US will expand the Remain in Mexico program across its entire southern border and will accelerate the adjudication of asylum claims and Mexico will allow asylum seekers in this program to stay in Mexico while also offering jobs, healthcare, and education according to its principles.”

Caja de herramientas para difundir video explicativo para beneficiarios de TPS: demanda “Ramos vs Nielsen”
Alianza Americas, 11 de junio de 2019

“Este video es una herramienta de la campaña “Casa por Casa por la Residencia Permanente”, que impulsa Alianza Americas para animar a que las personas recipientes de TPS y sus seres queridos se involucren en procesos organizativos para la defensa del programa, identificar mecanismos de protección para las personas con TPS, y ampliar los círculos de apoyo”.

Protest Against Caging Migrant Children and Separating Families 
Students from International School Geneva, June 17, 2019

“The UNHRC has been quietly investigating the situation on the border, and a committee will be discussing this complaint against the Trump administration in Geneva, Switzerland, the week of June 17.”

UNHCR Guatemala Factsheet
UNHCR, April 2019 

“110,600 people on the move with possible protection needs transited through Guatemala during 2018. The National Safe Spaces Network assisted 41,000 of them in 2018.”

*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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