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Migration News Brief for June 6, 2019

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Date: Jun 06, 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: Adrees Latif/Reuters from Yahoo!

U.S. Enforcement

Two more migrants die in US custody after crossing Mexico border
Rick Jervis, USA Today, June 4, 2019

“Two more migrants, a Salvadoran man and a woman from Honduras, died recently while in federal immigration custody, marking at least seven migrant deaths since October and raising concerns of how federal agents care for those in their custody.”

Border Patrol is confiscating migrant kids’ medicine, U.S. doctors say
Caitlin Dickson, Yahoo News, June 4, 2019

“I had a few adults that came who had high blood pressure, who had their blood pressure medications taken from them and, not surprisingly, their blood pressure was elevated,’… The reporting doctor notes, the patient who stood out the most during the visit was a boy of 8 or 9 with a history of seizures. According to his mother, the child had been on a long-term seizure medicine in their home country, but the medication had been taken from him upon entering the Border Patrol custody in McAllen and never returned.”

Trump administration nixes educational, recreational activities for migrant children in U.S. custody
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, June 5, 2019

“Citing a ‘tremendous strain’ on the agency fueled by the unprecedented flow of migrants from Central America heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) charged with taking care of migrant minors, said it was winding down programs ‘not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety’ of unaccompanied children in its custody. Connecticut Rep. Rosa Delauro notes ‘Basic educational, recreational, and legal services for unaccompanied children are imperative for their physical and mental well-being…”

Botched family reunifications left migrant children waiting in vans overnight
Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, NBC News, June 3, 2019

“Not until 39 hours later — after two nights in a van — did the last child step out of a van to be reunited. Most spent at least 23 hours in the vehicles.”

Customs and Border Protection is buying 2.2 million baby diapers for its new migrant tent city
Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, May 31, 2019

“That’s according to a new solicitation issues May 30 by the agency, which says it also needs 144,000 pairs of shower shoes, of which 36,00 will be size extra-small.”

El Paso Immigration Center is Dangerously Overcrowded, Inspector General Warns
Mihir Zaveri, The New York Times, May 31, 2019

“Investigators found 155 people in a cell that was supposed to hold 35, and 41 people in a cell that was supposed to hold eight. Nine hundred people were being held at the center on one day in May — far exceeding its capacity of 125.”

Exclusive: Watchdog finds detainees ‘standing on toilets’ for breathing room at border facility holding 900 people in space meant for 125
Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, May 31, 2019

“‘We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets,’ the report states… A cell with a maximum capacity of 12 held 76 detainees, another with a maximum capacity of eight held 41, and another with a maximum capacity of 35 held 155, according to the report.”

Trump administration to send DHS agents, investigators to Guatemala-Mexico border
Nick Miroff & Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, May 31st, 2019

“The Department of Homeland Security personnel will work as advisers to Guatemala’s national police and migration authorities,’ the report notes. ‘The U.S. and Guatemala are formalizing a number of initiatives to improve the lives and security of our respective citizens by combating human trafficking and the smuggling of illegal goods, helping to limit ‘push’ factors that encourage dangerous irregular migration to the U.S., perpetuating the ongoing crisis at our border,’ [DHS Secretary] McAleenan said in a statement, after signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with Guatemalan officials.”

Guatemala says it’s working with the United States to tighten borders, break up migrant caravans
Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, June 5, 2019

“Guatemala is working with the United States to reduce the flow of migrants through the country, with plans to renegotiate a regional open-borders agreement, break up migrant caravans and subject families to DNA testing. ‘For us, caravans are a criminal way of moving or trafficking or smuggling people through our territory,’ notes Guatemalan Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart. Degenhart said he was working with Homeland Security, which is dispatching dozens of agents to Guatemala, ‘to eventually confront those caravans.”

Transgender asylum-seeker dies after six weeks in ICE custody
Ben Kesslen, NBC, June 3, 2019

“Leon, who was known to friends as Joa, had been detained in the U.S. since mid-April. On May 18, she received a positive credible fear finding, [and] she was seeking asylum in the U.S. as a transgender woman. In a letter sent to ICE, the groups said ‘ICE’s practices at Otero have created an unsafe environment’ for the LGBTQ detainees there.”

Trump administration takes unprecedented step to process border-crossers
Anita Kumar, Politico, May 27, 2019

“The United States is for the first time sending illegal border-crossers to other cities for processing transporting more than 3,000 each week from southern Texas and Arizona to other locations as the government struggles to deal with surging numbers of nearly 100,000 migrants a month crossing the southern border,” the report states. “There’s no room at facilities for them. It’s getting so backlogged,” notes the former director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs.

Arizona tent facility eyed to cope with U.S.-Mexico border surge
Andrew Hay, Reuters, May 24, 2019

“Due to the sustained influx of migrants being apprehended in the Yuma sector, in excess of current capacity, the United States Border Patrol is exploring constructing a temporary soft-sided facility in Yuma, Arizona,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.

Trump Is Considering Denying Asylum To Immigrants Who Travel Through A Third Country
Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News, May 30, 2019

“Those seeking asylum will be found ineligible if they have entered or attempted to enter the US after failing to apply for asylum or other protections in any country that is not the country of origin for the immigrant and that they went through to get to the US.” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute notes “The administration’s pattern of enacting harsh border policies that are quickly walked back or enjoined is contributing to the urgency asylum seekers feel to get to the U.S. border as quickly as possible. There is no doubt that this new plan would follow suit.”

Hundreds of minors held at U.S. border facilities are there beyond legal time limits
Abigail Hauslohner & Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, May 30, 2019

“One government official said about half of the children in custody — 1,000 — have been with the Border Patrol for longer than 72 hours, and another official said that more than 250 children 12 or younger have been in custody for an average of six days.” One CBP official said of the agency’s facilities here in the Rio Grande Valley, “I don’t have any beds, because we’re meant to be short-term processing — not even holding… some children are sleeping on mats on the floor.”

Trump announces tariffs on Mexico over immigration
Anita Kumar & Ian Kullgren, Politico, May 30, 2019

“On June 10th, the United States will impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied … at which time the Tariffs will be removed. The tariff will increase to 10 percent on July 1; 15 percent on Aug. 1; 20 percent on Sept. 1; and 25 percent on Oct. 1.”

LAWG Applauds Passage of Dream and Promise Act, Calls for Swift Action to Grant Members of our Communities Overdue Permanent Protections
Latin America Working Group, June 5, 2019

“We continue to stand with the Dreamers, TPS and DED beneficiaries and will work hard to ensure a path forward. We urge the Senate to take swift action and move the bill forward into law.”

Mexican Enforcement

Militares y policías detienen a caravana de mil migrantes centroamericanos en Chiapas
Sin Embargo, June 5, 2019

“Unos 200 elementos de la policía militar y federal, así como de las agencias de migración, impidieron el avance de unos mil migrantes centroamericanos que el miércoles caminaban por el sur de México con destino a Estados Unidos. El grupo de migrantes, que incluye a muchas mujeres y niños, partió temprano de Ciudad Hidalgo en la frontera entre México y Guatemala y se dirigió a Tapachula.”

Comunicado de prensa: Mision de Observacion de la Crisis Humanitaria de Personas Migrantes y Refugiadas en el Sureste de México
Misión de Observación de la Crisis Humanitaria de Personas Migrantes y Refugiados en el Sureste Mexicano, May 31, 2019

“El objetivo fundamental de la Misión se ha enfocado a fortalecer la documentación y acompañamiento que han realizado las organizaciones locales en defensa de la vida, la libertad y la dignidad humana”.
In English: The Southern Border is a Silent Torture: Observation Mission Conclusions http://bit.ly/2wHuEVz

3 myths about Mexico and migration, debunked
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, June 5, 2019

“Deportations from Mexico have been on the rise in recent months, and the country has launched several new efforts in response to the situation. Central American families make up the largest numbers of people apprehended after illegally crossing the US border. Public opinion about immigration is divided in Mexico.”

Protección migratoria no puede subordinarse a relación México-EU: ONG
Emir Olivares Alonso, La Jornada, May 31, 2019

“El respeto y protección a los derechos humanos de los migrantes que transitan por territorio mexicano no pueden subordinarse a los intereses económicos y comerciales en el marco de las relaciones internacionales entre México y Estados Unidos”…

Misión de Observación denuncia “estrategia de desgaste y contención” hacia migrantes en Chiapas
Isain Mandujano, Proceso, June 4, 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.”

Discurso oficial sobre migrantes difiere de la realidad, afirman ONG
Emir Olivares Alonso, La Jornada, June 1, 2019

“Durante sus trabajos documentaron una práctica sistemática e intencional de violaciones a las garantías de las personas en movilidad, que es incongruente con el discurso oficial de una política respetuosa de los derechos humanos.’ ‘Documentamos que la detención migratoria funge como estrategia de represión y castigo. Se han intensificado las redadas y los operativos de control migratorio a lo largo de toda la costa, y las condiciones de la detención llegan a constituir formas de tortura física y sicológica y otros tratos crueles, inhumanos y degradantes.”

‘En el sur, aumenta violencia contra migrantes por autoridades’
El Universal, May 31, 2019

“Las actitudes misóginas y racistas, así como el aumento de las detenciones violentas y la separación de niños y sus padres, son algunas de las acciones que más enfrentan los migrantes en la frontera sur de México.”

In Mexico, New Groups Offer Aid To A Young Generation Of Deported DREAMers
Lulu Garcia-Navarro & Peter Breslow, WAMU, May 26, 2019

“A new generation of migrants is arriving in Mexico: young adults who were born in Mexico, raised in the United States and are now returning, dubbed ‘Generation 1.5.’ Torres says her start-up, [Hola Code in Mexico City], is meant to help anchor new arrivals. These binational migrants, she points out, often describe themselves as de aquí y allá — ‘from here and there,’ the U.S. and Mexico. But, she adds, they can also feel like they are neither from here nor from there.”

Migrants brave the ‘Beast’ as Mexico cracks down under US pressure
David Agren, The Guardian, June 5, 2019

“Migrants heading north are once again taking their chances on the freight train known as La Bestia – so named for the way it maims unlucky riders who fall beneath its wheels as it grinds across the isthmus of Tehuantepec. Mexico has started issuing ‘regional visas’ which allow migrants to freely visit several southern states – far from the US border. But migrants have shown little interest in the poverty-ridden region where wages are little higher than in Central America.”

Mexico has tried to keep Trump happy to stop migrants, it hasn’t worked
Alan Gomez, USA Today, June 5, 2019

“The White House has yet to release the metrics that would be used to gauge whether Mexico is complying with the president’s demands. Under new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who assumed office in December, immigration officials and federal law enforcement officers have increased arrests and deportations of Central Americans. From December to May, the Mexican government arrested more than 80,000 people on immigration violations, compared with 61,000 over the same period a year before, a 32% increase, according to Mexico’s Office of Domestic Affairs.”

Mexico Cracks Down on Migrants, After Pressure From Trump to Act
Kirk Semple, New York Times, June 3, 2019

“A phalanx of military and police personnel swarmed a small hotel in the center of Tapachula, this scrappy city near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. Their target: undocumented migrants. The Mexican government has been under intense pressure from President Trump to block the tens of thousands of undocumented migrants trudging north each month. Last week, Mr. Trump stunned officials and business leaders on both sides of the American border by promising tariffs on all Mexican imports unless Mexico stopped undocumented migrants from crossing into the United States.”

U.S. and Mexico fail to reach deal on immigration as tariff deadline nears
Kathryn Watson, CBS News, June 5, 2019 

“Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top administration officials concluded a meeting at the White House with Mexican officials without reaching a deal to avoid tariffs on Mexican goods that President Trump has threatened to impose if the country doesn’t block the flow of migrants illegally entering the U.S,’… President Trump later tweeted ‘Immigration discussions at the White House with representatives of Mexico have ended for the day. Progress is being made, but not nearly enough!”

Trump Says No Deal With Mexico Is Reached as Border Arrests Surge
Michael D. Shear, et. al, New York Times, June 5, 2019 

“Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican foreign minister, met Wednesday afternoon for two hours with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, hoping to convince Mr. Trump’s top advisers that Mexico is working aggressively to protect the border. Mexican officials described for their counterparts the steps they have already taken to reduce the flow of migration, ‘including deploying additional troops to the border with Guatemala and beefing up the fight against organized crime,’ according to a senior Trump administration official.”

Root Causes

Honduras deploys security forces as doctors and teachers demand president’s resignation
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, June 5, 2019

“Juan Orlando Hernández, the US government’s top ally in Central America, is under increasing pressure amid public anger over crumbling public services, dismal approval ratings – and explosive revelations that he was the subject of a US Drug Enforcement Administration trafficking investigation during his first term in office. The current wave of social unrest was triggered by privatization reforms that critics warned would kill off public education and health services.”

Letter from Austra Bertha Flores: Justice for My Daughter Berta Isabel
Karen Arita, OXFAM International, June 4, 2019

“In November 2018, a Honduran court convicted seven people for the murder of indigenous leader and human rights defender Berta Cáceres. ‘As the mother of Bertha Isabel Cáceres, I ask you to maintain the international observation of this case, as a guarantee of due process and application of justice both for the material authors of my daughter’s murder and for those who ordered and paid for her to be killed,’ Austra Flores writes in her letter.”

Central America | Food Insecurity in the Dry Corridor – Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) – DG ECHO Daily Map | 03/06/2019
Emergency Response Coordination Center, June 3, 2019

“396,300 refugees and asylum seekers (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua) by the end of 2018.”

Guns from the United States are Flooding Latin America 
The Economist, May 23, 2019

“A study of weapons found at crime scenes suggests that 70% of gun crimes in Mexico involve American-bought weapons. The share of homicides in Mexico involving a firearm grew from 16% in 1997 to 66% in 2017. That suggests around half of Mexico’s 33,000 murder victims last year were killed by a gun manufactured in the United States, which had 14,542 gun homicides in 2017. An American-made gun is more likely to be used in a murder in Mexico than at home.”

Protesters return to streets in Honduras, despite President’s concessions
Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, June 3, 2019

“Public hospitals and schools have been crippled by strikes. Classes in public primary and secondary schools have been suspended for about three weeks, and consultations in public health centers have also been suspended for about a month.”

Protesters Set Fire Outside of U.S. Embassy in Honduras
Democracy Now, June 3, 2019

“The fire came amid massive protests against plans by President Juan Orlando Hernández to privatize healthcare, pensions and education.”

Narco-Politics Cast Shadow on Honduran Presidents: Court Documents
Héctor Silva Ávalos, InSight Crime, June 1, 2019

“Honduras’ most powerful drug trafficking organization, Los Cachiros, bribed the country’s former president and opened a line of communication to current President Juan Orlando Hernández.” The report notes, “when taken together, [the documents] paint a damning picture of drug traffickers co-opting one presidency and trying to influence another.”

Falta de acceso a la tierra, salarios precarios, y violencia de género: receta para la migración forzada de las mujeres en Honduras
Alianza Americas, May 29, 2019

“Se calcula que el 80% de las personas que trabajan en la informalidad son mujeres. Muchas de estas personas son las que se están yendo del país, por el tema de violencia, por los impuestos del gobierno y de la extorsión de las pandillas … El 63% de la población desempleada es femenina. Honduras no solo es el peor país para vivir para las mujeres, es el país más desigual.”

The Trump Administration’s Self-Defeating Policy Toward the Guatemalan Elections
Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, May 30, 2019

“By the time the Presidential campaign began in full, earlier this year, seventy percent of Guatemalans supported the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), and one of the leading candidates for President was Thelma Aldana, who had worked closely with the group for the four years that she was Attorney General. Among the front-runners for President, Aldana was the only one to vow to support the CICIG and continue its mission. In late February, 2017, President Morales and a group of political aides and influential businessmen met at a condominium in Guatemala City to devise a strategy to sully the CICIG’s reputation in the United States.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Fact Sheet on U.S. Weapons Sales to Honduras
John Lindsay Poland, Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico, June 4, 2019

“Nearly half of illegal guns in Honduras – or more than half, according to Honduran investigators – came from the United States.”

AILA Sends Letter to DHS Acting Secretary Detailing MPP’s Barriers to Counsel
American Immigration Lawyers Association, June 3, 2019

“The American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) Asylum and Refugee Liaison Committee is writing to express our grave concerns about the implementation and subsequent expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a policy that requires individuals seeking asylum at our southern border to remain in Mexico while their U.S. removal proceedings are pending. While there are many troubling pieces of the policy, we are particularly concerned that MPP effectively denies asylum seekers’ right to be represented by counsel.”

Deaths by Border Patrol
Southern Border Communities Coalition, Updated May 20, 2019

“Border Patrol’s lack of accountability and oversight paired with its culture of violence has resulted in the loss of lives of both migrants and American citizens. Since January 2010, at least 83 people have died as the result of an encounter with U.S. border agents. Many more have been brutalized, in some cases causing life-altering injuries.”

80 Homeland Security Agents to Guatemala? We’ve Seen This Before. It Doesn’t Work. 
Adam Isaacson, The Washington Office on Latin America, June 5, 2019

“These deployments and operations, obviously, failed to achieve their stated goal of slowing migration. They failed because Guatemala’s 600-mile border with Mexico is easily crossed at dozens of formal and informal sites. They failed because Guatemala—unlike, say, East Germany—doesn’t prevent citizens from leaving its territory.”
*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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