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Mexico: News & Updates

Mexico shares a 2,000-mile border with its neighbor to the north. The US has played a significant role in militarizing the nation in misguided and ineffective policies to stop the flow of drugs and immigrants.  Human rights abuses are prevalent throughout Mexico but especially in the southern, mostly indigenous states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.  Human rights defenders and indigenous community leaders—working to protect their ancestral lands and heritage—are targeted with threats, assaults, abductions and assassinations. Their struggles for peace and liberation are linked with those of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples throughout the hemisphere. 

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Study finds 42.5% interviewees leaving Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador reported the violent death of a relative “We’re speaking of human beings, not numbers,” Sergio Martín, MSF general coordinator in Mexico, said at the study’s presentation on Tuesday. “In many cases, it’s clear that migration is the only possible way out. Staying put is not an option.” A 2019 survey from Creative Associates International found violence was the main driver of migration for 38% of Salvadorans, 18% of Hondurans and 14% of Guatemalans. In Guatemala – the main source of migrants detained at the US border with Mexico – 71% of respondents cited “economic concerns” as their main motive.
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Authorities are expanding the Remain in Mexico program, which critics say puts migrants into dangerous border towns A Human Rights First report released in December documented at least 636 public reports of violence against asylum seekers returned to Mexico including rape, kidnapping and torture. Human Rights First said that was a steep increase over October, when the group had identified 343 attacks, and noted the latest figure is surely an under-count because most crime victims don’t report.
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The Cleveland Immigration Working Group is engaged in a number of immigrant defense and support activities. We need more volunteer help. Please read below and consider helping with some of these needs: A. Safe Hotels Campaign B. Rapid Response Team C. Bond Packets for Release from Detention D. Court Monitoring E. Bus Reception F. Public Actions G. Sponsor Families H. Help for ICE Raid Victims and those in detention I. Prayer Support . If you would like to learn more about any of these initiatives, please email irtf@irtfcleveland.org or call (216) 961 0003.
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The US government has started sending asylum seekers back to Nogales, Mexico, to await court hearings that will be scheduled roughly 350 miles (563km) away in Ciudad Juárez. Authorities are expanding a program known as Remain in Mexico that requires tens of thousands of asylum seekers to wait out their immigration court hearings in Mexico. Until this week, the government was driving some asylum seekers from Nogales, Arizona, to El Paso, Texas, so they could be returned to Juárez. Critics say the program, one of several Trump administration policies that have all but ended asylum in the US, puts migrants who fled their home countries back into dangerous Mexican border towns where they are often kidnapped, robbed or extorted.
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An officer tasked with separating migrant children from their parents under that pilot program speaks out — offering a rare public criticism of the initiative from within Border Patrol’s own ranks. “That was the most horrible thing I’ve ever done,” Wesley Farris, a high-ranking officer with El Paso’s Border Patrol Union, tells FRONTLINE’s Martin Smith in the above excerpt. “You can’t help but see your own kids.” “It was a young boy. I think he was about two. The world was upside down to that kid,” Farris says. “So when the contractor tried to take him away, he reached for me and he climbed up on me again, and he was holding on to me. So that that one got me a little bit.”
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The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an “organizational transformation” in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully. ICE quickly redirected McKinsey toward helping the agency figure out how to execute the White House’s clampdown on illegal immigration. McKinsey, the firm’s presentations show, pursued “detention savings opportunities” in blunt ways. The consultants encouraged ICE to adopt a “longer-term strategy” with “operational decisions to fill low cost beds before expensive beds.” In practice, that meant shunting detainees to less expensive — and sometimes less safe — facilities, often rural county jails. “There’s a concerted effort to try to ship folks ICE sees as long-term detainees to these low-cost facilities run by local sheriffs’ offices where conditions are abysmal,” said Eunice Cho, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who focuses on issues involving the detention of immigrants. McKinsey also looked to cut costs by lowering standards at ICE detention facilities, according to an internal ICE email and two former agency officials.
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Michael Joseph is the UCC Global Ministries Mission Co-Worker in Colombia.The violence related to Colombia’s war was on the rise in the early 2000s when church and human rights partners in Colombia became concerned about a huge increase in U.S. military aid that they feared would add more fuel to the fire. They decided to document, as best they could, the impact of this war on the Protestant church in Colombia. Michael joined this documentation program after going to Colombia with Global Ministries in 2007. Today, twelve years later, this human rights documentation program has recorded over 10,000 human rights violations. In 2020 he will transition to working at the Nojolo'on Peace Center in Mexico as a Global Ministries Global Associate.
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A video obtained by ProPublica shows the Border Patrol held a sick teen in a concrete cell without proper medical attention and did not discover his body until his cellmate alerted guards. The video doesn’t match the Border Patrol's account of his death. Customs and Border Protectionsaid that an agent had found Carlos “unresponsive” after checking in on him. ProPublica has obtained video that documents the 16-year-old’s last hours, and it shows that Border Patrol agents and health care workers at the Weslaco holding facility missed increasingly obvious signs that his condition was perilous. “Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal,” said Dr. Judy Melinek, a San Francisco-based forensic pathologist who reviewed records of Carlos’ death at the request of ProPublica. Interviews and documents illustrate how immigration and child welfare agencies, while grappling with surging migrant numbers, were unable to meet their own guidelines for processing and caring for children. With holding tanks that were never equipped to house migrants for more than a few hours, the Border Patrol was inundated with families and children. Shelters for children, offering beds and medical care, were already packed. Migrants were supposed to be held in CBP centers for no more than three days before being deported, moved to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers or released pending a hearing. But Carlos had arrived at the peak of the surge, with 144,000 migrants apprehended in May alone. With the overflow crowds, nothing was working as it should have been. HHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were backlogged in transferring children out of CBP custody. In a spot check soon after Carlos died, the DHS inspector general reported that a third of the 2,800 unaccompanied minors in CBP custody in the Rio Grande Valley had been there longer than 72 hours.

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