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Migration News Brief for May 21, 2019

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Date: May 21, 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: La Jornada

U.S. Enforcement

Trump Expected to Pick Ken Cuccinelli for Immigration Policy Role
Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, The New York Times, May 21, 2019
“President Trump is expected to name Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a former attorney general of Virginia and an immigration hard-liner, as his choice to coordinate the administration’s immigration policies, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday.”

No, the border isn’t breaking
Elizabeth Oglesby, The Hill, May 18, 2019

“In March and April, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol apprehended more than 100,000 people per month along the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of these were families from Central America. Migration across the southern border is changing. But these changes in migration patterns, from mostly young, single men to family units, are not the result of a breaking border. They are, instead, produced in large part by decades of ever-harsher border enforcement.”

San Antonio doesn’t have time to wait for Washington to pass an immigration plan
Robert Rivard, Washington Post, May 16, 2019

“As Central American asylum seekers flood across the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas, overwhelming federal law enforcement agencies and facilities, Washington remains in gridlock. There is no time for such standoffs in San Antonio, where asylum seekers released by federal authorities along the border arrive in daily waves at the downtown Greyhound station. San Antonio has never declared itself a sanctuary city, but it is a city that has always offered it: A city with a majority-Mexican American population has a culture and history rooted in migration. The harshness of our national politics cannot change that.”

More than 5,000 asylum seekers have been returned under “Remain in Mexico” policy
Camilo Montoya-Galvez, and Angel Canales, CBS News, May 13, 2019
“More than 5,000 Central American asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico under the Trump administration’s controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy, a Mexican government official told CBS News on Monday. The policy is aimed at deterring an unprecedented flow of migrant families heading to the southwestern border.”

House Democrats want to stop Trump from returning asylum seekers to Mexico to wait
Dara Lind, Vox, May 10, 2019

“A group of House Democrats are trying to step in and block the policy instead, introducing a bill on Friday afternoon to prevent any federal funds from being used to return asylum seekers to Mexico under the program. The bill is written by Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) — who represents El Paso, an epicenter for asylum seekers. Between Escobar and the bill’s 21 co-sponsors (all Democrats), five of the nine members of Congress representing US-Mexico border districts have signed on to end the policy.”

Trump administration’s controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy will be allowed to continue for now
Kate Smith, CBS News, May 8, 2019

“A panel of federal judges decided Tuesday to allow the government to continue the controversial Trump administration policy that requires immigrants to stay in Mexico while they await immigration court hearings. The government will be allowed to continue the practice until the court has made a final ruling.”

Pregnant women, other vulnerable asylum seekers are returned to Mexico to await hearings
Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2019

Molly Hennessy-Fiske
“But the guidelines do not make provisions for all pregnant women, new mothers, parents with disabled children or transgender migrants — all of whom have been returned to Juarez in recent weeks.”

Border Patrol to Fly Migrants from Texas to California for Processing
Elliot Spagat and Colleen Long, TIME, May 18, 2019
“The U.S. Border Patrol said Friday that it would fly hundreds of migrant families from south Texas to San Diego for processing and that it was considering flights to Detroit, Miami and Buffalo, New York.”

Authorities using aircraft to relocate migrants due to overcrowding at US-Mexico border: report
John Bowden, The Hill, May 11, 2019

“Trump administration officials have begun organizing flights of detained migrants as a means of relocating them to detention facilities for processing as the number of people detained at the border continues to rise.”

Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests
Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, May 13, 2019 

“In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.”

Another $1.5B in military funds to be diverted to border, top Democrat says
Connor O’Brien, Politico, May 10, 2019

“‘Today, the Defense Department will divert another $1.5 billion from our military to the ‘big & beautiful’ border wall,’ Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, tweeted. ‘The Pentagon has now reprogrammed 12 times more money to the wall than for repairs at Tyndall AFB, destroyed by Hurricane Michael. We should put troops first!’”

U.S. military to build 6 tent cities near border for migrants
Courtney Kube, NBC News, May 15, 2019

“The U.S. military is going to provide and build tents to house 7,500 migrants at six locations near the border. The tents will probably not be on military bases, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — not the military — will be responsible for migrant detention and custodial support.”

CBP Cannot Act as Both Captor and Confidant
Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos, The Center for Victims and Torture, May 9, 2019
“According to recent reports, the administration is seeking to turn Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents into asylum officers, a move that could make it nearly impossible for deeply-traumatized torture survivors to successfully pass the first stage needed to then file a claim for asylum.”

“The Fourth Amendment Doesn’t Apply Here” — U.S. Border Guards Arrest Arizona Immigrant Rights Volunteer
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, May 9, 2019
“An immigrant rights advocate on the U.S.-Mexico border was arrested and accused of ‘illegal alien smuggling’ as she accompanied an asylum-seeker to a port of entry in southern Arizona. Ana Adlerstein, a volunteer at Casa del Migrantes, a migrant shelter in the Mexican town of Sonoyta, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials told her that ‘the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply here’ and ‘the border’s different,’ as she was taken into custody Sunday.”

HUD immigrant plan could displace 55K children
Katy O’Donnell, Politico, May 10, 2019
“A plan by HUD to end housing assistance for undocumented immigrants would displace more than 55,000 children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, according to a staff analysis of the proposed rule.”

Burgeoning numbers of Cubans trying to enter US via Mexico
Cedar Attanasio Elliot Spagat, Michael Weissenstein, AP News, May 10, 2019

“CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico (AP) — Burgeoning numbers of Cubans are trying to get into the U.S. by way of the Mexican border, creating a big backlog of people waiting on the Mexican side for months for their chance to apply for asylum. The surge over the past several months has been propelled in part by loosened travel restrictions in Central America and deteriorating living conditions in Cuba.”

A Border Crisis of Our Own Making
Jean Stokan, Other Words, April 30, 2019
“The discrepancy between what’s portrayed in the media and what our delegation witnessed is stark. I worry for my country as fear-mongering politicians spread disinformation, instead of the truth: What we’re seeing at the border is a crisis of our own making.”

Mexican Enforcement

Muere niña guatemalteca bajo custodia de autoridades migratorias en CDMX
Redacción Animal Político, 16 de mayo de 2019
“Una niña de 10 años de nacionalidad guatemalteca, que se encontraba bajo custodia de autoridades migratorias de la Ciudad de México murió la noche de este miércoles 15 de mayo, informó el Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM)”.

Mexican Government Helped Surveillance Effort On Journalists, Attorneys, and Others at U.S.-Mexico Border
Tom Jones and Paul Krueger, NBC San Diego, May, 17, 2019
“A government review of how journalists, attorneys, immigration advocates, and activists were monitored and tracked by U.S. border agencies confirms the Mexican government had a major role in the controversial tracking program.”

Mexico Detained 79% More Migrants in April Amid Trump Threats
Nacha Cattan, Bloomberg, May 10, 2019
“Mexico detained thousands more migrants in April than a year ago after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to close the border, representing a shift in focus for the nation’s leftist president away from granting humanitarian visas.”

Mexico calls for regional development to address immigration
Christopher Sherman, Associated Press, May 20, 2019
“A U.N. commission on Monday presented a roadmap to boost economic development in three Central American nations whose poverty and violence now pushes desperate migrants to travel across Mexico to the United States. The plan calls for hefty increases in social spending, tackling corruption and improving security — as well as a hefty dose of financial support and investment, possibly from the United States. Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the plan laid out by the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) was the United States’ best option for stemming the flow of immigrants.”

Guardia Nacional vigilará Estación Migratoria Siglo XXI en Chiapas
Fabiola Martínez, La Jornada, 18 de mayo de 2019
“El Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) informó que a partir de este sábado “y de manera temporal”, la Guardia Nacional apoyará en la “vigilancia perimetral” de las instalaciones de la Estación Migratoria Siglo XXI, en Tapachula, Chiapas”.

Por qué México ha deportado a más cubanos en 5 meses que en todo 2018
Lioman Lima, BBC News, 10 de mayo de 2019
“Más de 500 cubanos han sido deportados de México en lo que va del año. El cubano Raudel González llegó a México en marzo pasado y, dos meses después, teme que la odisea que lo llevó a cruzar siete países pueda terminar donde mismo comenzó: en un avión en La Habana”.

900 Migrants Flee From Mexican Detention Center
Jorge Valencia, Fronteras, May 14. 2019
“‘Hundreds of migrants have fled from detention in southern Mexico over the past month, as advocates say migrants are being held in overcrowded facilities with limited access to food and medical care. More than 900 migrants have fled in five mass escapes from a detention center in the city of Tapachula since late April, according to statements from the National Migration Institute. Virtually everyone who has fled is a native of Cuba, most likely trying to reach the U.S. border by land.”

Drug Cartels Are Preying on Migrants Stuck in Mexico
Emily Green, VICE News, May 16, 2019
“CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico: From 2017 to 2018, the number of homicides here tripled, rising to a level not seen in nearly a decade. In the middle of this new surge of violence is a crush of vulnerable migrants and deportees who city officials and experts say are at risk of being targeted as victims and recruits.”

Lo que tienes que saber sobre la migración en Juárez
Hérika Martínez Prado, El Diario México, 13 de mayo de 2019
“Durante los últimos siete meses, el éxodo migrante que ha atravesado México para llegar a Estados Unidos ha generado una crisis sin precedentes en ambos países, y las fronteras entre Ciudad Juárez-El Paso y Ciudad Juárez y Nuevo México, siguen siendo de las más elegidas para cruzar”.

Root Causes

Trump will not cut police aid to Central America, Barr says
Nelson Rentaria, Reuters, May 16, 2019
“U.S. President Donald Trump will not cut aid to police forces in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, his attorney general said on Thursday, softening a previous order to cut foreign assistance to the so-called Northern Triangle nations.”

El Salvador gang violence stifles progress on gender killings: top prosecutor
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, May 8, 2019
“A year after El Salvador created a special unit to tackle the country’s high rates of killings of women, gang violence stands in the way of getting convictions, a top prosecutor said. El Salvador, a country of 6 million people, has one of the world’s highest rates of femicide – the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender – according to the United Nations.”

 Violence Against Women in El Salvador Is Driving Them to Suicide — Or to the U.S. Border
Ciara Nugent, TIME Magazine, May 14, 2019
“Sixty-seven percent of Salvadoran women have suffered some form of violence in their lifetime, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence and abuse by family members, a 2017 national survey found. But only 6% of victims had reported abuse to authorities. (In the U.S., more than half of domestic violence incidents are believed to be reported to police, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.) Advocates say many fear repercussions for speaking out, aren’t able to access public services to report, or simply don’t consider violent treatment unusual.”

‘I Knew I Had to Get Out to Survive’—Violence Drives LGBT Central Americans North
Linda Farthing, World Politics Review, May 13, 2019
“The desperation of daily life in Honduras is driving thousands of people to join other Central American migrants in their long march northward toward what they hope is asylum and safety in the United States. Yet the situation is especially grave for those who are LGBT, in particular gender non-conforming men and minors. Perhaps that was why the first people to reach the U.S. border in the widely publicized migrant caravan last November were 85 LGBT people.”

Mass Protests Derail ‘Tone-Deaf’ Privatization Proposals in Honduras
World Politics Review, May 7, 2019
“Honduras was rocked by mass protests last week against proposed reforms of the health and education sectors that demonstrators feared would lead to mass layoffs of teachers and health professionals. The rallies were mostly peaceful but turned violent in some places after demonstrators clashed with riot police. The Honduran government responded by putting the proposed reforms on ice and calling for dialogue with labor union leaders.”

Testimony Brings Honduras President Closer to Brother’s Drug Trade Ties
Parker Asmann, InSightCrime, May 15, 2019
“Newly unveiled testimony from the brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández about his links to the drug trade is making it harder for the Central American head of state to deny his knowledge of such criminal activity, but it remains to be seen if this will have any real impact.”

Honduran President’s Brother Admits to Knowing Drug Lords
The Associated Press, May 16, 2019
“A brother of the president of Honduras admitted to U.S. federal agents that he’d accepted presents from violent drug traffickers he’d known for years and once asked Honduran officials about money the government allegedly owed the traffickers.”

Violence, poverty reign in Honduran city where caravans form
Sonia Pérez D., AP News, May 13, 2019
“Honduras’ second biggest city is where caravan after caravan of migrants have formed in recent months to head north to Mexico and on toward the United States, fleeing violence, poverty, corruption and chaos. All of those are palpable on the city’s sweltering streets, a reminder of why thousands continue to flee despite the dangers and uncertain prospects for being able to stay even if they make it to the U.S.”

‘No other option’: Climate change driving many to flee Guatemala
Jeff Abbott, Al Jazeera, May 13, 2019
“Juan de Leon Gutierrez, 16, left his eastern Guatemala home due to years of drought. He died in US custody weeks later.Eastern Guatemala and western Honduras are part of a region known as the dry corridor. Over the last two years, farmers have seen near-complete losses during harvests as the effects of climate change take hold in the region, with 2018 being among the worst years in recent memory.”

Court ruling puts Guatemala vote, anti-graft fight in doubt
Sonia Pérez D, Peter Orsi, The Associated Press, May 16, 2019
“A high court ruling barring a crusading former prosecutor’s candidacy has turned Guatemala’s presidential election on its ear less than a month before the vote, and raised concerns about what will happen to years of efforts to fight endemic corruption. The rejection of Thelma Aldana’s appeal means at least two of the top three candidates according to polls will not appear on the June 16 ballot, and analysts said Thursday the Aldana decision in particular appeared to spring from fears over her zealous prosecutions of corruption in politics and business.”

Guatemala’s Anti-Corruption Fight Inspired Latin America. It May Be Shut Down.
Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, May 18, 2019
“Working alongside Guatemalan prosecutors, the panel has worked to strengthen institutions in the fragile democracy that emerged after decades of military rule and Guatemala’s 36-year civil war… Now, with a presidential election in June, the prisoners and their allies on the outside are conspiring to turn the vote their way and ensure that Cicig is shut down for good.”

Press Freedom Remains Elusive for Haiti’s Journalists
Sandra Lemaire, Renan Toussaint, Matiado Vilme, VOA News, May 6, 2019
“Haiti’s social and economic crisis has taken a toll on the country’s journalists. Senator Youri Latortue, a member of the Senate Ethics Committee of Parliament who represents the Artibonite agricultural region, says privately-owned media and the government should work together to allow the press to fulfill its mission without constraints.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Resources on HR 6: American Dream and Promise Act of 2019
Immigrant Legal Resource Center, April 29, 2019
“The ILRC is pleased that Congress is engaging in a serious conversation about immigration policy and how to protect DACA recipients, TPS holders and those with DED – who are among the many groups of people of color and immigrants targeted by the Trump Administration’s racist policies and discriminatory practices.”

AILA Policy Brief: Facts About the State of Our Nation’s Immigration Courts
Laura Lynch and Kate Voigt, American Immigration Lawyers Association, May 14, 2019
“AILA issued a policy brief in response to EOIR’s Myths vs. Fact memo that was disseminated on May 8, 2019. AILA explains that EOIR’s skewed portrayal only demonstrates the urgent need for Congress to create an independent court, separate from DOJ.”

“Central American Exodus” will continue as long as underlying causes remain unaddressed
Alianza Americas, May 13, 2019
“The United States government continues to restrict and erode our asylum system, while ignoring the underlying causes of the Central American exodus.  Independent researchers and journalists continue to document human rights violations and other factors driving forced migration in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Until these causes are addressed with concrete solutions for the short, medium, and long-term, the migrant exodus will continue.”

Violence has pushed thousands of children in Honduras and El Salvador out of school
Norwegian Refugee Council, May 16, 2019
“In neighbourhoods affected by violence in Honduras and El Salvador, almost half of all children do not have access to education, according to new research by the Norwegian Refugee Council. Extreme violence in the North of Central America has a profound and devastating effect on education.”

Chaos, Confusion, and Danger: The Remain in Mexico Program in El Paso
Women’s Refugee Commission, May 16, 2019
“The RIM program is endangering the lives of migrants. The WRC observed or documented due process violations, the separation of families, and the return of vulnerable individuals into extreme danger. The policy is a violation of human rights law and due process. RIM is exacerbating backlogs and workloads of border official and ports of entry and causing chaos and suffering along the border.”

Remain in Mexico
Frontera Facts, Hope Border Institute, May 8, 2019
“On January 24th, 2019 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would begin forcing some asylum seekers arriving at our southern border to remain in Mexico while they apply for asylum, a policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or “Remain in Mexico”. Remain in Mexico was rolled out in the Tijuana/San Diego area, expanding to Mexicali/Calexico and then Ciudad Juárez/El Paso by mid-March. As of early May 2019, over 3,000 migrants have been targeted under this program and returned to Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez alone.”

A New Border Vision
Southern Border Communities Coalition, May 2019
“A New Border Vision is intended to set a new tone for dialogue about the border, to offer a template for new policy development, and to encourage us to turn the page to move forward together with common purpose and shared humanity. Let this vision be a guide to fulfill our nation’s moral and legal obligations.”

Border Observatory 2019: Hope and Resistance at the Border
Hope Border Institute, 2019

“This report relates the impacts of the actions of the Trump administration in 2018 on the Paso del Norte border community, the binational community that straddles El Paso, Ciudad Juárez, and southern New Mexico.”

*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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