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Migration News Brief July 17, 2019

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Date: Jul 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: lalvarez@lawg.org

Source: Oliver de Ros / AP Image

U.S. Enforcement

Press Release: LAWG Strongly Condemns Administration’s Latest Asylum Ban, Another Abdication of U.S. Responsibility to Families & Children Fleeing Violence 
LAWG, Latin America Working Group, July 16, 2019 

“This new asylum ban is yet another attack by the Trump Administration against the right of families and children to seek international protection at our borders.The United States is once again abdicating its responsibility to asylum seekers…The courts must act swiftly to make sure this illegal ban is struck down immediately and ensure asylum seekers receive due process,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG senior associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights and Border Issues.

Trump’s New Restrictions on Asylum Seekers Violate U.S. and International Law, Experts Say
Jasmine Aguilera, Time, July 16, 2019 

“In the Immigrant Nationality Act, Congress established that the U.S. can enter into ‘safe third country’ agreements with other nations. The agreement would make it so that the third country would process asylum claims instead of the U.S. Though Trump has discussed establishing third country agreements with Guatemala and Mexico, only one agreement currently exists and it’s with Canada.”

As a Guatemala Asylum Agreement Fades, a New Trump Rule Threatens Migrants
Marcia Brown, The American Prospect, July 15, 2019 

“The effect of this agreement on asylum seekers being turned back at the border and asylum seekers currently held in detention is unclear… Any delay from the courts on this rule could really mean death for asylum seekers. This rule forces people to wait in Mexico or Guatemala, in places where it’s not safe for asylum seekers to be in the first place,’ says Daniella Burgi-Palomino, senior associate with the Latin America Working Group.”

Central Americans Who Travel Through Mexico To The US Will No Longer Qualify For Asylum
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, July 15, 2019 

“The new move, which bars asylum for any individual who crosses through a third country but does not apply there for protection before reaching the US southern border, takes effect Tuesday in the form of a regulatory change.”

U.S. launches small-scale immigration raids as families hide
Andrew Hay, Reuters, July 14, 2019 

“Immigrants and immigrant communities all over the country are in hiding and people are living in these terrified, terrorized ways, because that is the point of this whole action, whether enforcement actions take place or not,’ said Bauer, the SPLC’s deputy legal director.”

Guatemala postpones Trump summit, says will not sign ‘safe third country’ deal
Julia Love & Mike Stone, Reuters, July 14, 2019

“In a statement, Guatemala said the planned meeting between Morales and U.S. President Donald Trump this week had been postponed until the Guatemalan Constitutional Court had ruled on legal challenges. Last week, five former senior officials appealed to the court to block any agreement with the United States that would declare Guatemala a ‘safe third country.’”

Trump’s mass arrests are set to begin. Here’s the Democratic answer.
Greg Sargent, Washington Post, July 11, 2019 
“Still, Trump could restart it at any time. And family separations might resume in a different way: The Times reports that Trump’s own acting Homeland Security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, privately opposed the new mass detentions, because U.S. citizen children (who can’t be arrested) will get separated from undocumented parents who are detained.”

In El Paso court, migrants no longer get legal advocates or pre-hearing briefings on their rights
Julian Aguilar, Texas Tribune, July 11, 2019 

“More than three months after the MPP program was expanded to include the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez border, confusion about the program still dominates the proceedings in federal immigration court. And attorneys and advocates said the confusion has become worse this week after the government ended the main tools it had used to help migrants navigate a complex judicial system.”

How a private wall rose on the border using millions in donations — and deception and threats
Caitlin Dickson, Yahoo News, July 10, 2019

“Now, at the center of all these artifacts from Sunland Park’s history, stands the first-ever privately funded border wall. Erected quickly and quietly on private property over Memorial Day weekend, the 18-foot-high barrier weathered steel bollards climbs approximately half a mile up the side of Mount Cristo Rey. Beside it, a freshly paved road seems to glow like a concrete waterfall under the reflection of the mind-bending desert sun.”

U.S begins returning asylum seekers to one of Mexico’s most dangerous states
Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, July 10, 2019 

“For months the city’s shelters had been overflowing. Some migrants who left to work or buy food were seized by armed groups. Aaron Mendez Ruiz, who runs a shelter called Amar, said 15 migrants from the facility have been kidnapped this year. One was a Cuban man, Carlos Cordero Roque, 31, who was released Sunday night with bruises lining his back.”

US returns first asylum seekers to violent Nuevo Laredo
Juan Antonio Calderon & Christopher Sherman, AP, July 9, 2019 

“Lucía Ascencio of Venezuela had waited for three months in Nuevo Laredo with her husband and two young sons just for the chance to make her asylum petition in Laredo, Texas. She was stunned by her return to Mexico as they walked from the bridge carrying plastic bags containing a bottle of water, a bottle of juice and an orange. ‘We hadn’t thought that they were going to send us back,” she said. Her family was given a date in September to return for the next step in their process.’”

Immigrant Asylum-Seekers May Get Less Time To Prepare Their Cases Under A New Trump Administration Rule
Hamed Aleaziz, Buzzfeed News, July 9, 2019

“Asylum officers have had to wait at least 48 hours after an immigrant has been detained for crossing into the US to interview them and hear their case. However, under a new directive implemented by US Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, that window has been reduced to one calendar day, according to a policy change released to staffers on Monday.”

U.N. Rights Head ‘Shocked’ by Treatment of Migrant Children at U.S. Border
Nick Cumming-Bruce, New York Times, July 8, 2019 

“The United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, condemned on Monday how the United States is treating migrant children arriving from Mexico, saying she was ‘shocked’ at the conditions they faced in detention centers when they crossed the border.”

Supreme Court to hear arguments in legal battle over DACA in November
Camilo Montoya- Galvez, CBS News, July 8, 2019 

“The high court is slated to hear the arguments on Nov. 12, as the 2020 presidential campaign is well underway and when immigration will continue to be an issue of great contention between President Trump and his Democratic challengers. Since the fall of 2017, the White House has sought to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which covers approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.”

Top immigration official says ICE is ready to deport 1 million undocumented immigrants
Camilo Montoya- Galvez, CBS News, July 7, 2019 

“Last month, the president claimed that “millions” would be deported under a new wave of operations — something likely to be logistically impossible given the resources and manpower ICE has at its disposal. Last year, ICE removed more than 250,000 people. The highest number of yearly deportations came during the Obama administration in 2012, when the agency removed approximately 410,000 undocumented immigrants.”

Deaths, Detention, and Suffering: The results of immigration policies that deny migrants the right to seek asylum
Alianza Americas, July 2, 2019 

“The government of El Salvador failed Oscar and Valeria by not providing them with the opportunity of a life of dignity in their country.  Six Salvadoran administrations over the last three decades failed them by not creating conditions would make it unnecessary for people like Oscar and Valeria to seek protection and hope for a better future elsewhere.  The current government, which has been in power for only one month, failed them by taking a feeble posture against the abuses inflicted on migrants and asylum seekers by the Trump administration and for the shameful retraumatization the family endured after this tragedy.”

La Receta con la que Trump busca la reelección 
Oscar Chacon, El Faro, 2 de julio, 2019 

“Un segundo punto que hay que destacar es que el anuncio de las redadas es absolutamente Trumpista, lleno de exageraciones, por lo que es necesario ponerlo a la luz de la evidencia. Según una reciente investigación de Vice News, en 2017, el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE, por sus siglas en inglés) arrestó a 40,066 personas sin autorización migratoria; la cifra asciende a 143 470 cuando se suman los arrestos realizados por los 80 cuerpos de Policía locales con quienes tienen acuerdos de colaboración”.

Mexican Enforcement

How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement to Meet Trump’s Terms 
James Frederick, NPR, July 13, 2019

“Mexico detained more than 29,000 migrants that month, up 200% compared with June 2018. Deportations totaled nearly 22,000 in June 2019, up 180% from June 2018. Both are Mexico’s highest monthly totals in more than a decade.”

Border arrests drop as Mexico’s migration crackdown appears to cut crossings
Nick Miroff, Washington Post, July 9, 2019 

“Mexico’s goal was to ‘take the tension out of the relationship’ and placate Trump,” he said. “Mexico has thrown every resource they could at immigration enforcement, and it’s been chaotic and not entirely coherent, but in a way, it’s worked to accomplish what they want it to.”

Negocian México y EU “Plan Marshall” para las fronteras
Misael Zavala & Alberto Morales, El Universal, 9 de julio, 2019 

“El encargado de llevar el plan a la iniciativa privada es el jefe de la Oficina de la Presidencia, Alfonso Romo Garza, quien en conversaciones privadas con empresarios ofrece certeza y confianza para convertir a México en un paraiso de inversion, a traves de la creacion de empresas para hacer crecer las exportaciones…”

Mexico launches ‘permanent deployment’ on Guatemala border
France 24, July 4, 2019

“The Mexican government on Wednesday began a ‘permanent deployment’ of federal forces along the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala to prevent the entry of migrants, a senior officer said. General Vicente Antonio Hernandez told reporters that in addition to the Suchiate River deployment, members of the country’s National Guard were also deployed at 61 migrant crossings in the southern state of Chiapas.”

Mexico buses home migrants who gave up on U.S. asylum claims
Jose Luiz Gonzalez, Reuters, July 2, 2019 

“The people want to go back to their places of origin, and want to leave this dream behind and go back to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador,’ said Javier Calvillo, director of Casa del Migrante, a local advocacy group assisting the return effort.”

Mexico offers to send asylum seekers turned away by U.S. back to home countries
Camilo Montoya- Galvez & Angel Canales, CBS News, July 2, 2019

“With its new program, known as the ‘Temporary Program of Voluntary Returns,’ the Mexican government is offering to help these migrants — most who have been stranded in Mexico’s border cities — go back to their native countries if they choose to do so.”

Root Causes

How the Climate Crisis Is Pushing Central Americans Out of Their Homes Toward the U.S.
Democracy Now, July 10, 2019 

“If this drought continues, we’re looking at all-out famine from Central America. That’s one of the major reasons why they’re coming. The government doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that there is a climate crisis in Central America.”

El Salvador set to reopen abortion trial of teen rape victim
Anastasia Moloney, Reuters, July 10, 2019 

“A teenage rape victim in El Salvador who was convicted for murdering her child and jailed for nearly three years after a stillbirth will face a retrial next week, her lawyers said on Wednesday.
Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez was handed a 30-year prison sentence in 2017 for aggravated murder by a female judge who ruled the teenager had induced an abortion, which is a crime under any circumstance in the Central American nation.”

Climate Change is Devastating Central America, Driving Migrants to the U.S. Border
Georgia Gustin & Mariana Henninger, NBC News, July 9, 2019

“Migration to the United States from Honduras and its neighboring ‘northern triangle’ countries — El Salvador and Guatemala — has climbed in recent years. The reasons are complex, including poverty, unemployment and violence. But the increase in migration also coincides with the drought, which began in 2014, and those living in Central America’s so-called dry corridor, which is adjacent to El Rosario, say lack of food is the primary reason people leave, according to a United Nations report.”

Guatemala: Red alert for threats to justice and human rights
Amnesty International, July 9, 2019

Access to justice is receiving heavy blows from which Guatemala will not be able to recover unless measures are taken now. The actions being taken by the nation’s highest authorities must be stopped immediately and they must ensure justice for every case of human rights violations.”

El Salvador police officers charged with murder of transgender woman deported from US
Ernesto Valle, Washington Blade, July 9, 2019 

“The three police officers — Carlos Valentín Rosales, Jaime Giovanni Mendoza and Luis Alfredo — with El Salvador’s National Civil Police’s 911 System in San Salvador face charges of deprivation of liberty by an agent of authority and aggravated homicide as a hate crime in connection with Camila Díaz Cordova’s death earlier this year. The three men made their initial court appearance on July 5.”

Two Guatemalan Indigenous Leaders Killed
teleSUR, July 7, 2019

“The organization reported the crimes occurred during a peaceful action in defense of the Right of the Land, demanding that those responsible ‘be captured and receive an exemplary sentence’ for the killings, teleSUR’s correspondent reported.”

Honduran women demand protocol for survivors of sex abuse
Anna-Cat Brigida, Al Jazeera, July 7, 2019 

Honduras has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in Latin America. A woman in the country raped every three hours. And for those who report the assault, they’re only ‘revictimized’, advocates say.”

El Salvador’s Tough Policing Isn’t What It Looks Like
Anna-Catherine Brigida, Foreign Policy, July 6, 2019 

“In the original Spanish, the encounter is described as an enfrentamiento, meaning a confrontation or a clash. A literal reading of the word indicates an exchange between the two parties on equal footing. But in El Salvador, decades of tough police measures against gangs have led to a pattern of extrajudicial killings, sometimes even against civilians with no gang ties, according to a 2018 United Nations report. These killings are typically blandly reported as enfrentamientos, when in reality they often represent police overreach and subsequent cover-ups.”

Why Hondurans are taking to the streets or leaving the country
Jack Guy, CNN, July 6, 2019

“Protests over the last two months have left at least three people dead and are contributing to a growing political crisis for President Juan Orlando Hernandez. The recent 10-year anniversary of the coup that deposed President Jose Manuel Zelaya in 2009 provided a focal point for protesters, who are angry about many of the same issues — such as insecurity, poverty and a crisis of governance — that are also a factor in driving growing migration to the United States.”

Guatemala rounds up dozens of immigrants to send back to their home countries
Abel Alvarado & Michelle Mendoza, CNN, July 4, 2019 

“Guatemala authorities rounded up 96 people as part of an operation to identify unqualified migrants trying to go to the United States and return them to their countries of origin.
The operation targeted towns, villages and bus stations nationwide, and was aimed at those who are ineligible for the immigration process, the government said. It said those taken into custody include Hondurans, Salvadorans, Haitians, Brazilians and one person of African origin.”

How Trump’s aid cuts are already affecting the lives of people in Guatemala 
Marcelo Viscara, Washington Post, July 2, 2019 

“We’ve canceled the opening of a women’s shelter that would have helped 2,850 survivors of violence. The U.N. has said rampant domestic violence is forcing women to flee their homes in Central America, and the Global Burden of Armed Violence report found that between 2007 and 2012, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala had some of the highest average female homicide rates in the world.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Recommendations to Combat Abuse and Harm of Children in CBP 
KIND, July 11, 2019 

“Children’s reports of sexual assault, verbal and emotional abuse, threats, and retaliation by agents during their time in CBP custody are horrific. The accounts of prolonged detention of children in inhumane, unsanitary, and unsafe conditions at CBP facilities in Clint, Texas, and elsewhere are unacceptable.  KIND has long advocated for reform and accountability to ensure the safety and well-being of children in our government’s custody.”

Bachelet appalled by conditions of migrants and refugees in detention in the US
United Nations Human Rights, July 8, 2019 

“As a paediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of State, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,’ High Commissioner Bachelet said.”

USA: Authorities are misusing justice system to harass migrant human rights defenders
Amnesty International, July 2, 2019

“The Trump administration’s targeting of human rights defenders through discriminatory misuse of the criminal justice system sets it on a slippery slope toward authoritarianism. The US government is disgracing itself by threatening and even prosecuting its own citizens for their vital work to save the lives of people in a desperate situation at the border…”

“We Can’t Help You Here”
Human Rights Watch, July 2, 2019 

“Human Rights Watch found that the program, named the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (MPP) by the US government but known colloquially as ‘Remain in Mexico,’ has thus far had serious rights consequences for returned asylum seekers. We found that the returns program is expelling asylum seekers to ill-prepared, dangerous Mexican border cities where they face high if not insurmountable barriers to receiving due process on their asylum claims.”

DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, July 2, 2019 

“For your action is our final management alert, Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley, the purpose of which is to notify you of urgent issues that require immediate attention and action. Specifically, we encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Letter to Acting Legal Adviser String
Eric Schwartz, Refugees International, June 29, 2019 

“I write today to respectfully request that you instruct officials in the Office of the Legal Adviser to cease their involvement in efforts to secure such an agreement, due to the fact that the arrangement would be in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act—not to mention in conflict with principles to guide such safe third country agreements articulated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian experts.”

*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.

P.S. Do you know of someone who might be interested in receiving the Migrant News Brief? Tell them to email lalvarez@lawg.org