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This story is a follow-up to a December 2018 report by Yahoo News (photojournalist Fabio Bucciarelli and videographer Francesca Tosarelli) of a family’s quest to seek asylum in the U.S. after fleeing violence in Honduras. Mirna Hernandez Mendez didn’t have much of a plan for what she would do once she got to the United States when she decided to make the treacherous journey to the US/Mexico border last fall. She just knew she couldn’t stay in Honduras. Rampant gang violence and corruption had made life in her home state of Colon unlivable for Mirna, a mother of six whose own mom and teenage son were both murdered by members of MS-13 (a gang that originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s and then, along with Central American refugees and immigrants, deported back to Central America by Reagan and subsequent administrations). She tried moving away from La Ceiba, the coastal city where she’d spent her whole life, to a more rural part of the state, but violence and threats only followed.
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Combat drug trafficking and climate change simultaneously: Drug trafficking and organized crime are fuelling deforestation in protected tropical forests and national parks across Central America, causing substantial economic losses. Traffickers are cutting down trees to build roads and airstrips to transport cocaine and are encroaching ever further into more remote forest areas to evade anti-narcotics operations, according to two separate studies on the problem. Environmental degradation caused by drug trafficking leads to losses of about $215 million annually in natural and cultural resources across Central America’s protected forest areas, showed estimates by report co-author Bernardo Aguilar-Gonzalez. Areas that are managed by communities record “very low forest losses”, they added. “Investing in community land rights and participatory governance in protected areas is a key strategy to combat drug trafficking and climate change simultaneously,” Aguilar-Gonzalez said in a statement.
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The government of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, declared in 2018 a “zero tolerance” policy on the border with Mexico before the growing arrival of undocumented immigrants, most of them from Central America. In July, the United States signed an immigration agreement with Guatemala and subsequently inked agreements with El Salvador and Honduras. US authorities said they also sought an understanding with Panama. Although the three governments reject that they are “safe third country” pacts — which would allow asylum seekers to be sent to another country to wait while their status is being processed — human rights associations claim the agreements do fall under that category.
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Presidential candidate Julián Castro on Monday escorted a group of asylum seekers across the border bridge to his native Texas from Mexico, where they had been sent under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. Walking across the bridge with Castro were eight gay and lesbian asylum seekers from Cuba, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a deaf Salvadoran woman and her three relatives. All had earlier tried to cross here with a lawyer after being returned to Mexico to await court hearings, and all had been sent back by U.S. Customs officers. Some had already waited four months. More than 50,000 asylum seekers have been sent to Mexico to await the outcome of their U.S. immigration court cases since the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as Remain in Mexico, began in January. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials initially said “vulnerable” migrants would be exempted from the program. But scores of LGBTQ, disabled and pregnant asylum seekers have still been returned to Mexico. Late last month, the Department of Homeland Security set up courts in large white tents next to the border bridges to Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo to hear Remain in Mexico cases. The department barred public access and has required migrants to show up before dawn for hearings. Some migrants said they were kidnapped while traveling in the dark to court last month. Others have left Mexico before their court hearings, returning home on free flights and buses south provided by the Mexican government and the United Nations-affiliated International Organization for Migration.
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Jesus Abad wins Latin America's top journalism prize after spending years documenting violence in his homeland. For a quarter of a century he has tried to show the consequences of the criminal acts of rebel fighters, the paramilitaries and the Colombian army that have left 220,000 people dead. His portraits perhaps best capture the pain of a war that despite its duration has very few defining images.
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We’ve been engaged in a number of immigrant defense and support activities. We need more volunteer help. VOLUNTEER NEEDS: A. Safe Hotels Campaign, B. Rapid Response Team, C. Bond Packets-Release from Detention, D. Court Monitoring, E. Bus Reception, F. Public Actions, G. Sponsor Families, H. Help for ICE Raid Victims, I. Prayer Support. If you can help, please email irtf@irtfcleveland.org .
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Prosecutors in New York have alleged that the convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán personally gave $1m in bribes to the brother of Honduras’s president to pass on to the Central American leader...
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That Donald Trump has a disturbed relationship to reality is well known, but what emerges in a recently published book is a new climax of Donald Trump's fantasies of violence ...

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