Monday, July 3, 2017

Trump's chilling effect on migration (July 3, 2017)

U.S. President Donald Trump's hardline discourse against undocumented migrants has had a chilling effect on migration, reports the New York Times. Many would be migrants are choosing to endure violence and poverty, or are seeking sanctuary elsewhere in the region or world rather than the U.S. 

Experts warn this could put increasing pressure on already scarce job markets, and push more people into the criminal gangs causing the violence spurring migration in the first place. This comes as Trump is also seeking to reduce development aid.

The NYT piece notes a difference in the response of people fleeing violence -- who are increasingly applying for asylum in the U.S. and Mexico -- and those who seek to escape poverty, who are staying put in their home countries for now.

But though the numbers of detained would-be migrants from Central America dropped notably this year, few expect that trend to continue. 

In fact a WOLA report last week warned that the low level of apprehensions is unsustainable. Over the past few months apprehensions have increased already, by 31 percent over April, with apprehensions of unaccompanied minors jumping 50 percent. Significant migration is likely to continue, given ongoing violence and insecurity in Central America. "The Trump administration’s hard line inspired a wave of Central American migration before the inauguration, and a sharp drop afterward. But these decreased migration flows are not likely to last," said Adam Isacson, WOLA Senior Associate for Defense Oversight. "The violence and misery in Central America that cause people to migrate—and often flee for their lives—have not changed," he said.

News Briefs
  • U.S. funding for Central America might become even more militarized and less transparent under the current administration -- potentially exacerbating already problematic trends of rights violations and loss of life in relation to anti-drug and security operations. "Though there is little evidence that the current focus has stopped the flow of drugs and reduced the violence and other factors pushing Central American migration to the United States, there is no doubt tha they have contributed in large measure to the tremendous suffering of the region's inhabitants," write Annie Bird and Alexander Main in a New York Times Español op-ed. Their research was key in uncovering a DEA coverup about an operation in Honduras that killed four civilians (see May 25's post) and they also reference a recent Pro Publica report on how DEA information helped lead to a massacre in Allende Mexico (see June 13's post).
  • Mexican authorities said 17 gunmen were killed in a clash with security forces on Saturday in Sinaloa state. Five local police officers were wounded in the gunfight. Episodes with similarly lopsided casualty lists have been questioned in the past by rights groups, who point to potential summary executions by armed forces, reports the New York Times. Only municipal police were involved in this weekend's shootout, reports Aristegui Noticias. The BBC reports 19 deaths and notes that violence in the region has increased by 76 percent so far this year.
  • "The problem of forced disappearances and mass graves in Mexico is greater than what the state claims. Reports regarding the location of clandestine graves are increasingly common, yet they aren't adequately reflected in official statistics or statements. InSight Crime spoke with relatives of the disappeared, activists and experts -- all of them point to the same problem: Until now, the true magnitude of the situation is unknown and the political will to face up to it is lacking."
  • In the midst of a growing scandal over government owned spyware that was used to hack activists, journalists and opposition leaders, the government has sought to cause confusion and sow doubts regarding its responsibility in the case, according to Proceso. A group of rights organizations -- including Artículo 19, el Centro de Derechos Humanos Pro Juárez, la Red para la Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D) and Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad (MCCI) -- continue to insist on investigation by an international group of independent experts, reports Proceso separately. A report by Aristegui Noticias found that at least six different officials in the Prosecutor General's office had responsibility for the Israeli developed spyware used to illegally obtain information from victims. 
  • And somewhat separately, in recent years the government has doubled its requests for data on users to Facebook, Twitter and Google, reports Animal Político. In 2013, Facebook received 573 requests for information on 986 users, a number which grew to 1,162 requests last year involving 1,922 users.
  • Mexican business experts are urging the country's negotiators to "think big" ahead of NAFTA renegotiation talks, reports the Financial Times. Instead of defensive mode to defend the current status-quo, talks should focus on how to fully modernize the two decade old agreement say advocates.
  • FARC top commander Rodrigo Londoño was hospitalized this weekend following a stroke, though doctors say he is largely recovered and will soon be released, reports the Associated Press. The episode comes just days after the demobilized guerrilla force handed over the last of its weapons to U.N. monitors. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)
  • Gender roles tend to skew towards traditional in Colombia, a fact some demobilized FARC fighters plan to challenge now that they are entering politics. So-called "insurgent feminism," "may turn out to be one of the Colombian peace process’ most enduring – and least expected – political contributions," writes Camille Boutron in the Conversation. "Insurgent feminism draws on the FARC’s anti-capitalist ideology, linking women’s emancipation to the class struggle. For these Leninist-inspired fighters, Colombia’s political and economic system can never fundamentally change if patriarchal culture continues to be reproduced in everyday life. Insurgent feminism exhorts all people, including men, to seek a transformation of gender relations among people of all identities and sexual orientations, and promotes a non-hegemonic concept of masculinity that breaks with traditional Colombian machismo."
  • A legal union between three men in Colombia is not technically a marriage -- which is between two people in that country -- but recognition that they form a familial unit, reports the Guardian. The move highlights the growing divide in Colombia between legal advances allowing same-sex marriage and adoption, and conservative backlash.
  • Six months ago the U.S. suddenly terminated the "wet foot, dry foot" immigration policy that allowed Cubans to rapidly obtain legal permission to stay. The decision "created a migration and humanitarian crisis in Central and South America. More than 2,000 Cubans who were en route to the United States got stranded in various countries, including Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico," reports the Miami Herald, part of a series looking at a new era in Cuban migration. The project is part of a collaboration with 14ymedio and Radio Ambulante, funded in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. 
  • Council on Hemispheric Affairs report ahead of Chile's November presidential elections reviews the country's electoral politics since democracy and notes the impact of Chile's system for assigning legislative seats as a reason for the sustained impact of the largest minority -- in this case the right-wing coalition. Many Chileans remain undecided, and the left could make a comeback if it unites around one candidate, writes Alexia Rauen. "The left needs to appeal to independent voters, emphasizing Piñera’s track record of private interests over the interests of the public. It should also stress how the left’s electoral reforms will create more opportunities for independents and smaller parties in the future. If the left holds onto the presidency, then it can further develop this electoral reform, benefiting individual parties and decreasing the prominence of the coalition structure."
  • Mining companies are exploring restarting projects in Chile's copper sector, but are waiting till after November's election to make final decisions, reports Reuters.
  • Brazil's Supreme Court permitted Senator Aécio Neves to resume legislative work, a month after he was suspended in relation to corruption allegations, reports the Wall Street Journal. Justice Marco Aurélio Mello ruled that Neves' suspension was unconstitutional, a respite for the Temer ally.
  • Brazilian police captured Luiz Carlos da Rocha - nicknamed "White Head" - a notorious drug kingpin who used plastic surgery to evade capture for almost 30 years, reports the BBC.
  • More than 650 skulls found in a Mexico City archeological dig are shedding light on Aztec sacrifices, reports Reuters.

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