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Migration News Brief July 3, 2019

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Date: Jul 03, 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: Pedro Pardo / AFP / Getty

U.S. Enforcement

The Daily 202: Racist Facebook posts point to cultural problems inside the Border Patrol that money alone cannot fix
James Hohmann, Washington Post, July 2, 2019

“…it’s still troubling if it turns out that many current Border Patrol members and supervisors belong to the group and have tolerated the rhetoric on display there, even if they never posted anything themselves.”

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

“The US government has inappropriately investigated human rights defenders for alleged crimes including human smuggling, based on their humanitarian and human rights-related activities, and their expression of political or other opinions.”

DHS warned in May of border station conditions so bad agents feared riots
Julia Ainsley & Jacob Soboroff, NBC News, July 1, 2019 

“A cell meant for a maximum of 35 held 155 adult males with only one toilet and sink. The cell was so crowded the men could not lie down to sleep. Temperatures in the cells reached over 80 degrees… Border agents remained armed in holding areas because they were worried about the potential for unrest, the report said.”

McAleenan Says Arrests of Migrants on Border Expected to Decline by 25 Percent in June
Zolan Kanno- Youngs, New York Times, June 28, 2019

“Mr. McAleenan said the decrease from May, when 144,200 migrants were taken into custody — the highest monthly total in 13 years — showed the deployment of the security forces and the policy known as ‘Remain in Mexico’ are successfully deterring migration.”

Funding the Administration’s Hateful Border Policies Will Increase Abuse and Inflict More Harm on Migrants
Jesse Franzblau, National Immigrant Justice Center, June 28, 2019

“Turning people away who are trying to enter lawfully is a violation of U.S. and international asylum law. Nonetheless, the administration is doubling down on policies blocking asylum seekers from entering the United States, such as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and ‘metering’ (limiting the number of people given a chance to claim asylum) – policies that inflict serious violence against migrants and fuel organized crime.”

US had open beds as migrant kids languished at Texas station
Nomaan Merchant, Chron, June 26, 2019

“As more than 200 children languished in troubling conditions in a remote Border Patrol station, the government’s system of child detention facilities had at least 500 beds available, according to records provided to The Associated Press. In total, the network on June 17 had 512 open beds in shelters. A few days later, it had 402 shelter beds.”

More than 15,000 asylum seekers sent back to Mexico as U.S. ramps up policy
Camilo Montoya- Galvez & Angel Canales, CBS News, June 25, 2019

“Under the policy — known as “Remain in Mexico” but officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — 15,079 Central American migrants who claimed asylum at U.S. ports of entry along the southwestern border have been turned back to Mexican border cities as their petitions are processed in the U.S. immigration court system… about 5,000 of those migrants have been sent back over the past two weeks.”

‘We’re in a Dark Place’: Children Returned to Troubled Texas Border Facility
Arturo Rubio & Caitlin Dickerson, New York Times, June 25, 2019

“In Clint, a farm town about 20 miles southeast of El Paso with fewer than 1,000 residents, there was consternation and dismay among residents at reports from lawyers who visited the border station recently, who said they found that children as young as 5 months old had been housed with filthy clothes, dirty diapers and inadequate food.”

We went to a border detention center for children. What we saw was awful
Clara Long & Nicole Austin-Hillery, CNN, June 25, 2019

“We spoke with an 11-year-old caring for his toddler brother. Both were fending for themselves in a cell with dozens of other children. The little one was quiet with matted hair, a hacking cough, muddy pants and eyes that fluttered closed with fatigue. As we interviewed the two brothers, he fell asleep on two office chairs drawn together, probably the most comfortable bed he had used in weeks. They had been separated from an 18-year-old uncle and sent to the Clint Border Patrol Station.”

U.S. to deploy up to 89 DHS agents to Guatemala
Sofia Menchu, Reuters, June 25, 2019

“According to the document, DHS would deploy up to 65 agents from Customs and Border Protection, and up to 24 agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A DHS spokesperson cited a press call earlier this month in which a department official said it was too early to say how many agents would be deployed, but estimated ‘between dozens and 100.’”

Border patrol finds bodies of woman and three children in south Texas
Associated Press, The Guardian, June 24, 2019

“The Rio Grande Valley sector of the border patrol, which includes the area where the four bodies were found Sunday, has experienced an unprecedented number of apprehensions involving people entering the country illegally. Over a seven-month period ending in April, border patrol agents had apprehended more than 164,000 people, a number surpassing the total number of apprehensions in all of fiscal year 2018.”

Two more border cities added to U.S.-Mexico asylum program
Lizbeth Diez, Reuters, June 23, 2019 

“The policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or Remain in Mexico, will be implemented later this week in Nuevo Laredo in the northern state of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, said two Mexican officials with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified.”

Children at Risk in US Border Jails
Clara Long, Human Rights Watch, June 20, 2019

“While we were denied access to speak with children quarantined in special cells for those with flu at Clint, several infants held in South Texas facilities were admitted recently to a hospital, after the intervention of doctors and lawyers. Children at Clint told us they don’t have regular access to showers or clean clothes, with some saying they hadn’t been allowed to bathe over periods of weeks and don’t have regular access to soap. The US government argued in court on Tuesday that its obligation to provide ‘safe and sanitary’ conditions does not require it to provide kids with hygiene items such as soap or toothbrushes.”

Years Ago, the Border Patrol’s Discipline System Was Denounced as “Broken.” It’s Still Not Fixed.
A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, June 20, 2019 

“A closer look, however, indicates that CBP has moved slowly on several central reform proposals. To cite one: The panel encouraged CBP to create a discipline czar, a high-level official who could track all the misconduct and corruption cases and keep the agency’s commissioner informed about them.The panel [also] recommended that CBP hire 350 internal affairs investigators over a three-year period and task them with looking into misconduct and corruption. So far, the agency has brought on only about 50 investigators.”

Mexican Enforcement

Mexico’s migration crackdown overwhelms its shelters, antagonizes its neighbors
Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, July 1, 2019

“Detention centers at five times capacity. Migrants held on sports fields. Not enough medicine or health-care workers to go around.”

Mexico Returns 81 Migrants to Haiti Amid US Pressure
VOA, June 30, 2019

“Mexican immigration officials say they have returned 81 migrants to Haiti after attending to “technical” considerations and seeing to the security of the captain of the plane taking them to the Caribbean nation.”

Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Seems to Be Working- In Mexico 
Alfredo Corchado, Dallas News, June 30, 2019 

“Stories like this are playing out all along the banks of the Rio Grande. North of the Texas border, the crush of migrants turning themselves in to U.S. authorities to seek asylum has begun to slow —apprehensions for the month of June are poised to fall by at least 25 percent, down from 144,000 in May. That’s due in part to annual summer heat, but a bigger factor this year is the Mexican national guard. In Mexico, they have formed a human shield along both the U.S. border and this nation’s southern border with Guatemala. The Mexican government says it has deployed 15,000 guardsmen in the north and 6,000 in the south.”

Mexico Detains Dozens of Migrants in Raid on Freight Train
Epoch Times, June 28, 2019

“At least some of the troops wore armbands of Mexico’s newly formed National Guard. The government says it has deployed thousands of Guard agents across the country with supporting immigration enforcement. Throngs of migrants sought to flee by running along the tops of freight cars, while others clambered down to the ground and headed into the brush.”

Mexico says ‘maquila’ plants to offer migrants 40,000 jobs
Associated Press, Washington Post, June 28, 2019

“Lopez Obrador said Friday ‘we prefer to keep them (migrants) in the south of Mexico’ because ‘we have more ability to care for them there.’ But many are in northern Mexico and need work.”

Mexico Bolsters Borders as US Talks with Northern Triangle Continue
Victoria Macchi, VOA, June 28, 2019 

“All of that lack of clarity around their role is extremely concerning. It seems to be that Mexico already agreed to certain things with the U.S. and … is going out of its way, really wanting to show that they really want to show results within these 45 days,’ states Latin America Working Group Senior Associate, Daniella Burgi- Palomino.”

U.S. NGOs Denounce National Guard Actions in Migration Enforcement at U.S.-Mexico Border
LAWG, June 27, 2019

“We urge the Mexican government to clarify the role of the National Guard with respect to migration enforcement activities and to not condone any activity that serves to criminalize human rights defenders.”

Mexico says immigration efforts focused on southern border
AP News, June 25, 2019

“Mexico has deployed 6,500 National Guard members in the southern part of the country, plus another 15,000 soldiers along its northern border in a bid to reduce the number of migrants traveling through its territory to reach the U.S.”

Mexico national guard shows lighter touch with migrants after president’s warning
Anthony Esposito, Reuters, June 25, 2019

“Mexico’s National Guard, accused of being heavy-handed in its efforts to curb migrant flows, employed a lighter touch on the U.S. border on Tuesday after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said they did not have orders to detain migrants.”

Mexico immigration chief vows to cut number of people migrating by 60%
Tom Phillips, The Guardian, June 21, 2019

“Trump has given Mexico a 45-day deadline – which ends on 22 July – to reduce the flow of undocumented Central American migrants to the United States’ southern border, leaving the Mexican government racing to meet those demands and avert the threat of tariffs. The influx of so many migrants from Central America, Asia and Africa was ‘no longer a normal phenomenon’ and had to be reduced, Garduño said.”

Root Causes

In El Salvador, I saw hope
Carolyn Barker-Villena, Baltimore Sun, July 2, 2019

“This is not an easy task and not one that can be done alone. Over several years, U.S nongovernmental organizations like the one I work for, Lutheran World Relief, have partnered with the U.S. government, the Salvadoran government, international and local organizations, foundations, U.S. churches and Salvadorans themselves to invest in this future. Through these partnerships, as well as many more like them across El Salvador, we have seen the social fabric of communities strengthened and thousands more Salvadorans earning enough income to support their families.”

Por Orden de Trump, USAID suspendera ayuda económica a ONG’s hondureñas
Eduin Funez, Tiempo Digital, 1 de julio 2019

“Eso implica que las organizaciones tengamos menos fondos disponibles para generar proyectos beligerantes o de alta envergadura para el bienestar del país”.

‘It Is Our Fault’: El Salvador’s President Takes Blame for Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande
Kirk Semple, New York Times, July 1, 2019

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to,’ President Nayib Bukele said Sunday at a news conference in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. ‘They flee their homes because they feel they have to. They fled El Salvador, they fled our country, it is our fault.”

Ten years after coup, Hondurans flee amid violence and repression
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, June 28, 2019

“Friday marks the anniversary of the June 28, 2009 coup d’etat that set in motion a decade of political crises, violence, mass protests, militarisation and repression. Ten years later, the government of President Juan Orlando Hernandez has instituted a crackdown on protesters, and Hondurans continue to flee by the thousands every month.”

International Civil Society Organizations Call on Honduran Government to End Abuses against Protesters and on the U.S. Government to Denounce Security Force Abuses in Honduras
LAWG, June 27, 2019 

“We urge the Honduran government to: order all security forces to end immediately excessive use of force against protesters; withdraw military and Military Police from responding to any protests…”

Policía Militar ataca con bala viva a estudiantes y viola autonomía de la UNAH
El Heraldo, June 24, 2019

“Los estudiantes que protestaban salieron en veloz carrera y otros que asistían a clases, buscaban un lugar donde protegerse”…

Honduras protest crackdown: Five things to know
Sandra Cuffe, Al Jazeera, June 22, 2019

Teachers and health workers began the protests, but rural communities, social movements, indigenous organisations, neighbourhood collectives, and diverse sectors around the country soon joined, according to Yessica Trinidad, coordinator of the Honduran Network of Women Human Rights Defenders. In the streets, people are shouting ‘Out With [el presidente] JOH,’ Trinidad told Al Jazeera.”

Actions, Reports, and Resources

Señales de Una Crisis
Desplazamiento Forzado Interno por Violencia en El Salvador, Guatemala, y Honduras, 2018

Signs of a Crisis
Forced Internal Displacement Due to Widespread Violence: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, 2018

Changing Patterns of Interior Immigration Enforcement in the United States, 2016 -2018
Guillermo Cantor, Emily Ryo, & Reed Humphrey, American Immigration Council, July 1, 2019

“According to publicly-available government statistics, over a three-year period—from Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 through FY 2018— the total number of arrests conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in FY 2018 was 44 percent higher than in FY 2016. Additionally, the number of at-large arrests—those that ICE conducted in the community as opposed to a custodial setting such as a prison or jail—increased from 30,348 in FY 2016 to 40,066 in FY 2017.”

*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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