Tuesday, May 1, 2018

U.S. blocking migrants for seeking asylum (May 1, 2018)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection started processing a small trickle of the 200 asylum seekers from Central America camped out at the San Ysidro border crossing. A group of eight, including four children and their three mothers, were admitted yesterday evening, after a standoff in which U.S. authorities said they lacked the capacity to process asylum seekers, reports the New York Times. Advocates say the White House is using the migrants politically.

They are part of the migrant caravan that made headlines when U.S. President Donald Trump singled it out as a national security threat. Yesterday he continued to single out the group, saying on Twitter that: "The migrant ‘caravan’ that is openly defying our border shows how weak & ineffective U.S. immigration laws are."

But though they will likely eventually be processed, they have slim chance of gaining legal refuge in the U.S., reports the Guardian. More than three-quarters of asylum-seekers from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala between 2011 and 2016 lost their cases, according to data from Syracuse University. And the migrants will now likely face difficult circumstances in the U.S., including separation of families. (See yesterday's briefs.)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Justice Department has filed criminal charges against 11 suspected members of the caravan for illegally entering the country, including one who has been deported previously, reports the Washington Post.

The Conversation explains some of the underlying issues, such as who has a right to request asylum, whether the people should be considered migrants or refugees, and the violence at home the group is fleeing.

News Briefs

  • The Interpol-coordinated Operation Libertad rescued 350 victims of human trafficking in 13 Caribbean and Latin American countries, reports the BBC.
  • The Costa-Rica based Inter-American Court of Human Rights is examining the case of three civilians abducted by men in military uniforms in 2009 -- and never seen again. The enforced disappearance of Nitza Paola Alvarado Espinoza, José Ángel Alvarado Herrera and Rocío Irene Alvarado Reyes sheds light on the widespread accusations of human rights violations in relation to the militarization of public security that forms a central pillar of the country's war on drugs. The court's ruling could influence a Supreme Court case evaluating challenges to a new internal security law that formalizing the military's policing role, reports the New York Times.
  • In Nómada, Carlos Fernando Chamorro denounces the lack of information regarding people killed in violently repressed protests in Nicaragua in the end of April. Human rights organizations estimate 38, but Chamorro points to state secrecy aimed at defusing the gravity of the situation. He joins calls for an independent Truth Commission led by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in order to investigate the repression and bring perpetrators to justice.
  • The embattled Ortega administration led a show of power yesterday with a pro-government march in response to anti-government demonstrations calling for his resignation. Though the crowd likely included many government employees required to be there, "the overwhelming majority seemed sincere in their devotion to Ortega," according to the Miami Herald. New York Times correspondent Frances Robles noted on Twitter that it was hard to get people to speak on the record. Like Saturday's anti-government protest, yesterday's march was peaceful. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Anonymous, the international hacktivist group, shut down Nicaraguan government news sites yesterday in support of anti-government protesters, reports El País.
  • Guatemala City Mayor Álvaro Arzú died on Friday from a heart attack. The former president who signed the final 1996 peace accord that ended Guatemala's civil war, was accused of violating campaign finance regulations by the U.N. backed anti-corruption commission. But he was immune from prosecution while holding elected office as mayor, reports the New York Times. The case involved use of city-funds to pay a prison cooperative to produce election material. The cooperative was run by Byron Lima, the so-called "king" of the country's prison system until he was killed in 2016. Arzú was also investigated for providing support to Lima, a one-time member of his personal security team, imprisoned for the killing of Monsignor Juan Jose Gerardi in 1998 while Arzú was president.
  • Investigations into potential drug trafficking by former FARC leaders could further debilitate the faltering peace deal, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • President Michel Temer said corruption accusations against him are "criminal persecution," after a news report suggested he hid bribe proceeds by buying property in the name of his wife and young child, reports the Associated Press.
  • At least one person was killed in fire that ravaged an illegally occupied high-rise in São Paulo this morning, reports the New York Times.
  • The U.S. will delay imposing new steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico for another 30 days, as the U.S. attempts to renegotiate trade rules with key allies, reports the New York Times. Argentina and Brazil are among other countries that have negotiated temporary agreements to avoid the new tariffs.
  • Paraguay has become the latest Latin American country to announce the relocation of its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, following the U.S. lead, reports TeleSUR.
  • Former Bolivian military dictator Luis Garcia Meza, who was serving a 30-year prison sentence, died Sunday, reports the Associated Press

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