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Migration News Brief for June 24, 2019

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Date: Jun 24, 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.

 

U.S. Enforcement

Inside a Texas Building Where the Government Is Holding Immigrant Children
Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker, June 22, 2019
“When we arrived, on Monday, there were approximately three hundred and fifty children there. They were constantly receiving children, and they’re constantly picking up children and transferring them over to an O.R.R. [Office of Refugee Resettlement] site. So the number is fluid. We were so shocked by the number of children who were there, because it’s a facility that only has capacity for a hundred and four. And we were told that they had recently expanded the facility, but they did not give us a tour of it, and we legally don’t have the right to tour the facility.”

Trump administration still separating hundreds of migrant children at the border through often questionable claims of danger
Lomi Kriel & Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle, June 22, 2019
“Father and daughter had not seen each other since March, when federal immigration agents took Briana after detaining them together for about eight days in an overcrowded Border Patrol processing center in McAllen. The agents told 23-year-old Wilber Castillo that his child would go to a cousin in California, but when he desperately called the relative, Briana wasn’t there. No one could tell him where she was. It wasn’t until weeks later that Castillo discovered his daughter was with foster parents in Michigan — a state he had never heard of — and could arrange to speak to her by phone.”

A Top Immigration Official Appears To Be Warning Asylum Officers About Border Screenings
Hamed Aleziz, Buzzfeed News, June 18, 2019
“Cuccinelli then told staffers, in an apparent warning, that the gulf between the number of individuals granted passage under the screening and those who are granted asylum by an immigration judge was wider than the ‘two legal standards would suggest.”

U.S. cuts millions in aid to Central America, fulfilling Trump’s vow
Camilo Montoya- Galvez, CBS, June 18, 2019
“A State Department official said $432 million in aid allocated in fiscal year 2017 will continue, while $185 million would be withheld until the U.S. determines that Central American governments have taken sufficient steps to reduce migration. The approximately $370 million allocated for fiscal year 2018, meanwhile, will be suspended entirely.”

Trump promises mass deportations of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ next week
Ted Hesson & Quint Forgey, Politico, June 18, 2019
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in,’ Trump wrote on Twitter.”

Guatemala negocia con Washington convertirse en tercer país seguro
Jose Elias, El Pais, 19 de junio 2019
“El Gobierno de Morales cree que el acuerdo, que implicaría que los migrantes salvadoreños y hondureños permanecerían en el país centroamericano mientras EE UU decide si les da asilo, sería ‘positivo’”.

Attorneys: Texas border facility is neglecting migrant kids
Cedar Attanasio, Garance Burke, & Martha Mendoza, AP News, June 21, 2019
“Three girls told attorneys they were trying to take care of the 2-year-old boy, who had wet his pants and had no diaper and was wearing a mucus-smeared shirt when the legal team encountered him. Government rules call for the children to be held by the Border Patrol for no longer than 72 hours before they are transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services, which houses migrant youth in facilities around the country.”

‘There Is a Stench’: Soiled Clothes and No Baths for Migrant Children at a Texas Center
Caitlin Dickerson, New York Times, June 21, 2019 
“There is a stench,’ said Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, one of the lawyers who visited the facility. ‘The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border.”

 

Mexican Enforcement

Instala INM 12 puntos en frontera sur, preve deportar dos mil 500 al dia
Beatriz Cuevas, Notimex, June 16, 2019
“Vamos a establecer una migracion regular, ordenar, y segura con derechos humanos y con un proteccion humana… El programa considera la participacion de seis mil 500 elementos de la Guardia Nacional.”

Overcrowding and abuse witnessed at Mexico migrant detention center
Maria Verza, PBS, June 17, 2019
“Many migrants who cross into southern Mexico end up in Siglo XXI, Spanish for ‘21st century,’ said to be the largest immigration detention center in Latin America. Located in the city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, it’s a secretive place off-limits to public scrutiny where cellphones are confiscated and journalists aren’t allowed inside.”

Mexico Steps Up Enforcement, Arrests Nearly 800 Illegal Immigrants In One Day
Jason Hopkins, Daily Caller, June 17, 2019
“Mexican authorities nabbed 791 illegal migrants, according to the National Migration Institute, a department within the Mexican government that tracks and manages migration through the country. The foreign nationals were found among four different tractor-trailer trucks stopped in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.”

Acción legal en caso de migrantes rescatados en Veracruz: Ebrard
Alonso Urrutia, La Jornada, 17 de junio 2019
“Ebrard subrayó que con la detención de los cuatro conductores se iniciará la indagatoria también de los propietarios de las unidades. Advirtió que en un caso similar puede llegarse a la extinción de dominio y recordó que la ley hace responsables a los dueños de la licitud de la carga.Ebrard dijo que mediante labores de inteligencia se están detectando esquemas de tráfico y trata de personas, que en su momento, cuando los avances lo permitan, se darán a conocer”.

Secuestraron federales a migrante hondureña
El Diario de Juarez, 18 de junio 2019
“Una mujer migrante de Honduras fue víctima de secuestro y violación luego de que agentes de la Policía Federal presuntamente la ‘levantaron para entregarla a un grupo de criminales’, de acuerdo con la información que se ventiló ayer en una audiencia judicial instruida en contra de tres presuntos implicados”.

Funcionarios del “triángulo norte” de Centroamérica recorren Tapachula
Emir Olivares Alonso, La Jornada, 18 de junio 2019
“Aunque la cancillería no profundizó, dio a conocer que los funcionarios establecieron un mecanismo ‘para mejorar la coordinación local entre las autoridades mexicanas y las representaciones consulares de estos países en Chiapas, para la atención a sus connacionales’”.

Migrants say police in Mexico opened fire on their truck, killing a 19-year-old woman
Kevin Sieff & Gabriela Martinez, Washington Post, June 19, 2019
“The accounts provided by Durazo and Winckler Ortiz were at odds. Durazo didn’t explain why police who fired in self-defense would have fled the scene after killing the migrant. And it would be unusual in Mexico for a truck full of migrants to attack security officials while passing a checkpoint.”

Migrantes en Tapachula esperan hablar con AMLO
Hermann Bellinghausen, La Jornada, 19 de junio 2019
“No queremos llegar a Estados Unidos, decían hondureños, salvadoreños, cubanos, haitianos y ‘africanos’, blandiendo copias de documentos de la Secretaria de Gobernación (Segob) que confirman sus trámites”.

Mexico Police Collude With Criminals to Kidnap, Extort Migrant
Parker Asmann, Insight Crime, June 20, 2019
“A migrant woman from Honduras was kidnapped and sexually assaulted after federal police agents in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez abducted her and handed her over to a criminal group in the early morning hours of June 10, El Diario de Juárez reported.The latest violent kidnapping, extortion and assault along the US-Mexico border is further proof that Mexico is a dangerous place for vulnerable migrants to wait out the US immigration system, which is overloaded, extremely backlogged and runs at a snail’s pace.”

INM alarga espera de solicitantes de refugio centroamericanos
Arturo Contreras, En el camino, 20 de junio 2019
“Por la promesa de que migrantes centroamericanos pudieran esperar sus trámites de refugio en libertad, el Instituto Nacional de Migración podría hacerlos repetir el trámite en detención y los pondría al alcance de bandas que trafican con personas”.

Policía federales que no pasen examen de peso irán a Instituto de Migración
Animal Politico, 20 de junio 2019
“Es una opción bastante buena ir al Instituto Nacional de Migración, dijo a sus elementos el encargado de despacho de la Policía Federal. ¿Cuál es el requisito? ‘El requisito es muy sencillo. El personal que no logró pasar el índice de masa corporal, en el examen de la Guardia Nacional, se va a ir para allá, los que quieran, no es forzoso’, dijo Valencia Rodríguez en una reunión la semana pasada, según su escucha en un audio que se filtró del encuentro”.

 

Root Causes

Pentagon resumes training ‘Northern Triangle’ militaries, despite Trump’s promise to cut aid
Ashley Roque, Jane’s 360, June 11, 2019
“The Defense Department initially curtailed security co-operation programmes with the three nations, but on 3 May, it resumed efforts and “restored” them to the previous programmed levels, Department of Defense spokesperson Major Chris Mitchell told Jane’s on 11 June.”

What Are Guatemala Presidential Candidates Planning on Security?
Héctor Silva Ávalos and Parker Asmann, Insight Crime, June 14, 2019
“In April, US prosecutors charged presidential candidate Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana with soliciting Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel for campaign funds and their services in assassinating his political rivals. Then, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court barred the two candidates widely believed to be the top contenders in the race from running for president.”

Guatemala’s Presidential Election May Be a Blow to Anti-Corruption Effort
Elisabeth Malkin, New York Times, June 17, 2019
“Polls show that as many as 70 percent of Guatemalans approve of the commission, which, working together with the attorney general’s office, has prosecuted more than 100 cases, bringing charges against some 700 people involved in more than 60 criminal networks. But neither of the candidates in the runoff has declared support for the commission, widely known as Cicig.”

US restores some aid to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala
Matthew Lee, AP News, June 18, 2019
“The State Department said that after a review of more than $615 million in assistance that President Donald Trump ordered in March to be cut entirely, it would go ahead with $432 million in projects and grants that had been previously approved. The remaining amount will be held in escrow pending consultations with Congress, it said.”

Migration to US is a family ‘duty’ for many Guatemalans
Emily Green, PRI, June 18, 2019
“Today, around one in four Guatemalan families receive remittances — mostly from the US — and those remittances account for roughly 50% of their income. The reliance on family remittances in Guatemala started around 15 years ago, said Manuel Orozco, director of the Migration, Remittances and Development program at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, DC-based think tank. The average remittance is around $300 per month, he said.”

Guatemala Impunity Report Shows Limits of Anti-Graft Body
Parker Asmann, Insight Crime, June 18, 2019
“The rate of crimes that go unpunished in Guatemala averaged 94 percent over the past decade, but jumped to 97.6 percent in 2018, according to a June report by a United Nations-backed judicial appendage known as the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala — CICIG).”

Trump Enabled an ‘Act of Organized Crime’ in Guatemala
Francisco Goldman, New York Times, June 18, 2019
“Guatemala held national elections on Sunday, and the first-round results are in. The center-left presidential candidate Sandra Torres, of the UNE party, is leading with about 25 percent of the vote. She has been accused of having accepted $2.5 million in unreported illicit campaign funds…In some ways, this election says more about the United States today than it does even about Guatemala. The Trump administration was its active enabler, and that’s an observation widely shared in Guatemala.”

Migrants Keep Streaming Into U.S. – and That’s Exactly Central America’s Plan
Ben Bartenstein & Michael McDonald, Bloomberg, June 19, 2019
“[These Central American countries] earmark precious little money to basic social programs. Not only does this save them cash, allowing them to hold down their budget deficits, but it has the effect of encouraging the poor — those who would benefit the most from greater outlays for healthcare or housing — to emigrate.”

Aldo Dávila set to be Guatemala’s 1st openly gay congressman
Sonia Perez, AP News, June 20, 2019
“Proudly gay and living with HIV, the 41-year-old activist says the rainbow flag will not be his only cause. He intends to begin his congressional career with three main agenda points: Fighting endemic corruption, ensuring Guatemalans’ right to health care and defending human rights, with a focus on the LGBTQ community.”

Mexico, El Salvador to cooperate on reducing migration
Maria Verza, AP News, June 20, 2019
“Mexico and El Salvador signed a cooperation agreement Thursday that includes a $30 million Mexican donation for reforestation in the Central American nation… The project to reforest some 124,000 acres (50,000 hectares), with the expected creation of 20,000 jobs, was presented as Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele met his counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador in southern Mexico, where tens of thousands of mostly Central American migrants have crossed into the country this year fleeing poverty and violence.”

Honduras protests: Military deployed after violence
BBC, June 21, 2019
“Anger has been building in recent weeks over proposals to restructure the ministries of education and health. Opponents say that the changes are the first step towards the privatisation of education and health services.”

El Salvador Flirts with ‘Mano Dura’ Security Policies Again
Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, June 21, 2019
“In April, then president-elect Bukele promised that on his first day in office his government would present an integrated plan to combat delinquency. Bukele, however, ultimately outlined a series of broad security policies during a short press conference on June 18. One priority was to send police and army into the streets to regain control of territories dominated by the MS13 and Barrio 18.”

Corruption triumphs in Guatemala’s presidential election
The Conversation, June 21, 2019
“Both Torres, who won 25.7% of a vote split between 19 candidates, and Giammattei, who trailed 11 points behind her, have both been accused of corrupt practices. Both are also alleged to have links to powerful Guatemalan organized crime groups involved in drug and human trafficking. Early in the campaign the anti-corruption crusader Thelma Aldana was favored to win. But in May she was barred from the race for alleged financial mismanagement while she was Guatemala’s attorney general.”

 

Actions, Reports, and Resources

The Family Case Management Program: Why Case Management Can and Must Be Part of the US Approach to Immigration
Women’s Refugee Commission, June 14, 2019
“As an alternative to family detention or release with electronic monitoring, some families were enrolled into the Family Case Management program (FCMP). Although planned as a five-year program in five cities across the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) terminated the program in June 2017, only 1.5 years into its implementation. FCMP was intended to demonstrate to government officials, Congress, and the public how a program focused on case management support to immigrants in proceedings could best function.”

An Overview of U.S. Refugee Law and Policy
American Immigration Council, June 18, 2019
“The President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions each year. The State Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are the primary agencies that assess the viability of different refugee populations for admission, as well as the capacity of U.S. government officials to process them. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, the ceiling was set at an all-time low of 30,000, down from the previous all-time low of 45,000 set in FY 2018  — although the number of refugees admitted in 2018 was only half of that number (22,415).”

Mexico speeds up implementation of security measures that threaten the lives and dignity of migrants and refugees
Alianza Americas, June 18, 2019
“Mexico will deploy its National Guard in the South and formalize its role in the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, which will allow the United States to continue returning asylum seekers to México to await hearings on their asylum requests.  Mexico also announced it will increase migration enforcement coordination among Mexican states along the migration route, as well as participating in a regional cooperation table with Central America.   The stated purpose of these actions is to ‘provide an effective and humane approach” to migration while also addressing the root causes.’”

There’s No Excuse for Mistreating Children at the Border. Here’s What To Do About It.
New York Times, June 24, 2019 
“Speak up. Protest marches and other civic actions to end detention camps and squalid conditions for children and families, are expected across the country in the coming weeks.”

*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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