A long article in El Diario on the problems confronting asylum seekers from Mexico in the US. “They flee violence and in the US they live in migration limbo.” The article includes data on asylum cases–#filed, #granted, #denied. This document from the US Dept of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review provides some data: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/statspub/fy13syb.pdf
The articles below are sent by Taylor Levy, Certified Representative for Immigration Cases with Las Americas in El Paso. Please consider a donation to Las Americas to provide legal representation for asylum seekers detained in Artesia… (information provided below). THANKS Taylor and keep up the great work! -molly
Donations can be made via check marked “Artesia Project” to 1500 E Yandell, El Paso, TX 79902 or online at www.las-americas.org.
Courthouse News reports on the Artesia lawsuit filed [August 22nd]. The editor at Courthouse News, Robert Kahn, worked with asylum seekers at the Oakdale Detention Center in the 1980s. His book, Other People’s Blood: U.S. Immigration Prisons in the Reagan Decade (Westview, 1996) is required reading on the shameful history of that period.
What are the current stats and how do they compare to previous years?
There are two main sources of official Mexican government statistics on homicides. INEGI, Mexico’s National Statistics Institute, tallies numbers of murder victims based on data from medical examiners in morgues across the country. A death is counted as a homicide when a legal medical specialist determines that homicide was the cause of death. These statistics are cumulated and generally reported in July or August for the previous year. The INEGI report for 2013 came out in late July and provided the figure of 22,732 intentional homicides—an average of 1,894 homicides each month. This figure is down from the figure of 25,967 in 2013 and from the highest number of 27,213 in 2012—an average of more than 2,200 murders per month.
The national murder rate in Mexico in 2013 was 19 per 100,000, down from the highest point of about 24 in 2012. When evaluating murder rates, we also have to consider that many cities, states or regions in Mexico have much higher rates than the national average. The state of Guerrero has a murder rate of 63—the highest in the country—and the city of Acapulco is at the top of the list of violent cities. Chihuahua state had a murder rate in 2013 of 59, about the same as the murder rate in Ciudad Juarez. This is a dramatic decrease from the highest murder rate in the world in 2010 (approaching 300 per 100,000) but still the second highest state murder rate in the country.
The other major source of crime statistics is the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), part of the Secretariat of Government (SEGOB). SESNSP provides data on homicides from crime scenes as reported on a monthly basis by the Fiscalias (the Attorneys General) in each state. These numbers are generally lower than the cumulative figures reported by INEGI and can probably be explained by the fact that those injured in violent crimes may die later and eventually be categorized as homicides. Also, SESNSP data reports a separate category of homicidios culposos (negligent or unintentional homicides) in an initial crime scene investigation, but some of these may also be determined to be intentional at a later stage of investigation. A total of 9,303 homicidios dolosos (intentional homicides) are reported for January-July 2014, an average of about 1,300 homicides each month. In comparison, there were a total of 18,388 intentional homicides in 2013—an average of about 1,500 per month—somewhat lower than the cumulative INEGI total. For more on the SESNSP data, see: http://www.secretariadoejecutivosnsp.gob.mx/es/SecretariadoEjecutivo/Incidencia_Delictiva_Nacional_fuero_comun
Adding the INEGI numbers for 2007-2013, and the SESNSP numbers for January-July 2014, there were a total of 153,648 murder victims in Mexico during the past 7.5 years. That averages to 1,688 homicides per month since the hyper-violence began in Mexico.
And, these numbers do not include the estimated 30,000 people who have been officially reported missing or disappeared. Mexican government spokespeople have addressed the issue of the disappeared, most recently in a press conference yesterday resulting in a flurry of media coverage trying to explain the “disappearing disappeared.” See: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/08/22/politica/005n1pol
The reality is that there are no accurate or reliable numbers on people who have disappeared. The government never says how many were found alive and how many are confirmed dead. And it is certain than many of the dead are never found. One recent report by Michelle Garcia and Ignacio Alvarado Alvarez for Al Jazeera America concludes:
“People began to disappear in Mexico in large numbers after President Felipe Calderón launched his war against drug traffickers in 2006. By 2013, the Mexican government, under a new administration, pegged the number of disappeared at 26,121, adding that not all were criminally related.
Experts and several human rights groups, however, estimate that reported cases represent roughly 10 percent of the total, as most people are reluctant to appeal to authorities who were either involved in or suspected of having ties to organized crime groups. Based on their calculations, the actual number could be closer to 200,000 people.”
What is the most informative literary work to come out in the last year regarding the violence in Mexico? Why?
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail, by Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez.
Amnesty International estimates that as many as 70,000 Central American migrants have disappeared in Mexico in the past 10 years. Published in Spanish as Los migrantes que no importan…The Migrants who Don’t Matter, The Beast is by far the best account I have read of how criminal/government networks actually work and how and why the massive death toll in Mexico and in Central America keeps rising. The book not only helps us to understand Mexico, but it also is the skeleton key to understanding the recent crisis in child migration from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. At least 60,000 unaccompanied minors have made it to the United States border in the past year and we do not begin to know how many have been lost on the journey—not to mention the numbers of adult men and women who die in the migration. Here is one paragraph from Oscar Martinez’ interview below with the Texas Observer:
“TO: What do you hope Americans will learn from your book?
OM: I believe the worst tragedies along the path—the rapes, the mass kidnappings, the torturing done by Los Zetas, the fee to cross the border—are things that the migrants who have suffered them, in my experience, don’t even tell their own families. I’m convinced that it’s something they don’t tell their employers or their friends if they have any friends in the United States. I think people in the U.S. know that migrants have a long and hard journey. But I’m convinced that the country in which they work—where they cut tomatoes and clean houses—has no idea at all that what the migrants are going through is actually a humanitarian crisis. In other words, it’s a humanitarian crisis where organized crime takes care of extracting the very last drop it can from people who are already leaving their country with practically nothing.”
What has been one of the most surprising news story you’ve read this year? why?
The rise of ISIS, or the Islamic State terrorist military force and its lightning take-over of much of Iraq and Syria. I know, it has nothing to do with Latin America. Or does it? I think of the several trillion dollars and thousands of U.S. lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost since our invasion of that country in 2003 and even more deaths caused by massive destabilization in the region, in part sparked by our interventions. And for what? The result seems to be the creation of one of the most violent and dangerous threats the U.S. has faced, ever.
Then I look at the media storm in response to the massive numbers of children fleeing from intolerable violence in the small Central American countries. And I think about the illegal U.S. proxy wars against “the Communist threat” in those countries resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans in the 1970s and 1980s. Our policies and actions 30+ years ago sowed the seeds for the destruction of these societies and now we are reaping the crops.
What do you see happening with immigration in the U.S. and how will it affect Latin America?
I am appalled by the inhumane reaction of our government to the recent Central American migration. Instead of seeing the migration as a human rights crisis, our government is determined to detain and deport people as quickly as possible with not even lip-service to human rights, international law, or due process in our own courts.
The American immigration gulag is expanding and becoming more repressive at every turn. And the loudest protests call for more repression, not less.
While the administration and activists continue to talk about the president bypassing the stonewalled Congress to mandate immigration reform through executive action, I fear such action will result in more draconian border security measures and provide little if any benefit to the immigrants most in need of relief.
I hope my sad predictions are all wrong.
NPR did post a bit of a correction in the online transcript (posted below) concerning the fact that the police had arrested 11 people accused of the attack on July 19 that killed 5. But they were presented in court and charged–no one has been disappeared. I would recommend reading comments from people who seem much more knowledgeable about Nicaragua than the NPR reporter. See comments at this link… The posting below comes from an email bulletin from the Nicaragua Network.
On a personal note, I lived in Nicaragua during the height of the contra war in the mid-1980s. People suffered terribly from the US-sponsored violence. Every family I knew had someone serving in volunteer militias or police or other self-defense forces and I knew many families who lost people to the contra violence–imposed by illegal US arms-trafficking, much of it funded by drug trafficking.
I visited in 2013 and while joblessness and poverty are an issue, there is not the kind of criminal violence and police and military oppression that exist in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The Nicaraguan people made real changes to their government and security forces during the revolution (it took more than 20 years and a lot of people died). And in the years since, Nicaragua has had several substantive regime changes brought about by democratic elections. I recommend reading the comments posted to NPR. Others with more recent experience provide some excellent corrections to the NPR story. -molly
August 14, 2014
“This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part. Please credit the Nicaragua Network.
National Public Radio ran an interview this morning, Aug. 14, 2014, entitled “Nicaragua Seems To Escape Problems Suffered By Its Neighbors,” with reporter Carrie Kahn which contains a few good factoids such as “Nicaragua is unique in Central America for its low crime rate,” has an economic growth rate unrivaled in the region, and its police have not adopted strong arm tactics.
However, it also contained many untruths and mistaken analyses…”
Absent States, Stolen Lives: Forced Migration in the Americas
The Spanish Cultural Center in Mexico City is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Childhood” and put together by UNICEF in collaboration with the renowned Spanish photographer Isabel Muñoz. The display, organized on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, comprises 20 photos of children from five continents. The simple yet beautiful images are meant to convey situations of abuse that youth around the world continue to endure, including violence, malnutrition, sexual exploitation, and slave labor.
The children are portrayed with their most cherished belongings; sometimes these are a collection of stuffed animals, at other times music instruments. Featuring in the show is Belize, a country on the northeastern coast of Central America with a 340,000-strong population that boasts lush scenery, yet has dramatic human development needs and is wrecked by drug and gang violence. One of the photos shows Tyrel Arzu, a 13-year-old Garifuna who stands barefoot on a pier, dressed in knee-long denim shorts, a pair of sandals in his left hand, and a white tank top lying to his right on the ground. With a serious look on his face, the youth had stated for the record that he dreams of one day going to the place “called California.”
The recently publicized exodus of undocumented migrant children from Central America –mostly the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras– to the U.S.-Mexico border, has triggered all kinds of reactions. Expressions of solidarity aside, their arrival prompted a deplorable outburst of hate messages, the launch of futile government campaigns warning of the dangers of undocumented migration, and renewed calls within the United States for greater border security. Sorely missing, however, are signs of rational policy debates about the factors for the current migration dynamics and how to tackle them.
One of the factors that have for years been driving people out of their communities of origin is that of poverty and social exclusion, affecting both rural and urban residents. In Honduras, for example, where the 2009 coup that unseated President Manuel Zelaya ushered in a steady decline of the social and human rights situation, UNDP data indicate that 66.5 percent of the population lives in poverty. Unemployment, affecting –along with underemployment– particularly younger sectors of society, stands at whopping 54.1 percent. Experts often counsel those who stay behind to create micro-enterprises for a living. Pervasive extortion, however, stifles most business activity and requires those unable to meet the demands to run for their life.
Generalized violence, another driver of irregular migration, has been raging especially in the countries of the Northern Triangle. In 2013, the per capita murder rate reached 34/100,000 in Guatemala, 43/100,000 in El Salvador and a staggering 79/100,000 in Honduras. Much of the social and criminal violence is perpetrated by members of Barrio Dieciocho and Mara Salvatrucha. These Los Angeles-born street gangs were formed by Latino youth, including many civil war refugees who banded together in the face of discrimination and exclusion in their new homeland. Mass deportations imported both groups into Central America where repressive gang policies helped make them increasingly sophisticated and brutal. Today, they are associated chiefly with homicides, extortion and drug sales. Youth who prefer to stay out of gangs often have no choice but to flee abroad in order to escape forced recruitment or rape. A similar fate has befallen entire families who, intimidated by gangs, had to abandon their homes. More recently, members of the LGBTI community have been forced to escape threats to their life because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
People are at the mercy of violent non-state actors, because those who are meant to protect them fail to do so or prey on the vulnerable. After years of U.S.-sponsored civil wars and repression in the region, police and justice reforms stalled as stronger institutions were not in the interest of the governing elites. Today, these institutions remain weakened by corruption, politicized, and infiltrated by organized crime and street gangs. U.S. security assistance has responded to that situation, but has done so mostly by stepping up law enforcement cooperation in the hope of preventing perceived security threats from reaching the United States. Largely absent are efforts to root out sleaze, address the structural factors of crime and violence or improve prison management and offender rehabilitation.
In the “Childhood” exhibition, 17-year-old Marie Claire from Rwanda pleads: “You, as members of mankind, why have you allowed this to happen?” Her remarks, recalling the atrocities that her country experienced 20 years ago, are apt also in the context of the contemporary exodus from Central America. Calls encouraging people to refrain from making a perilous journey will fall on deaf ears, because “home” offers neither security nor opportunities for a bright and rewarding future. It is time for governments in the region to muster the political will and pool resources in order to genuinely address a shared problem, instead of continuing to shun their responsibility. Too many lives are at stake.
This is what I guess we have come to expect from Breitbart and other politically-motivated media. It is interesting how much of a non-story this is… Some minors are “of shaving age…” some have “lawyered up…” etc. Or the fact that the children in the courtroom have on clean clothes somehow makes them less in need of justice? Or more to be ridiculed? Imagine what the tone would be if they came to court in anything other than clean clothes? Also, though EOIR does not provide the information to reporters, it is possible to get some data on individual immigration judges through http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/judgereports/
In any case, despite the Breitbart reporting, it is somewhat encouraging to know that at least some of these children are receiving representation in their immigration proceedings. -Molly
Information below in Spanish…
Caravan meets in Roswell at 11:30 am to drive to Artesia; Rally begins in Artesia at 1:00
For more information on this event, call Somos Un Pueblo Unido at 575-622-4486
PRAYER RALLY & MARCH NO MORE DEPORTATIONS
Join us for a Prayer Rally in Artesia in support of Central American children & women and all immigrant families
We will meet at Executive West Office Plaza (1717 W. 2nd St. Roswell, NM) to drive in caravan to Artesia
When: Sunday August 17th
Time: 11:30 a.m.
We will arrive at Artesia at the Martin Luther King Park–
Sponsored by Somos Un Pueblo Unido, St. Johns The Baptist Catholic Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church from Dexter, Apostolic Church from Artesia and Hobbs, Baptist Church from Artesia and Clovis
For more information call Somos Un Pueblo Unido at 575-622-4486
ORACIÓN Y MARCHA NI UNA MÁS DEPORTACIÓN
Acompañanos a una manifestación y oración en Artesia en apoyo a los niños, niñas y mujeres Centro Americanos y por todas las familias inmigrantes
Nos juntaremos en el edificio Executive West Office (1717 W. 2nd St. Roswell, NM) para manejar en caravana hacia Artesia
¿Cuándo? Domingo 17 de agosto
Hora: 11:30 a.m.
Llegaremos en Artesia al parque Martin Luther King
Patrocinado por Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Iglesia Católica San Juan, Iglesia Católica Inmaculada Concepcion de Dexter, Iglesia Apostolica de Artesia y Hobbs, Iglesia Bautista de Artesia y Clovis
Para más información llama a Somos Un Pueblo Unido al 575-622-4486
I worked for a non-profit legal services organization in 1986-87 in Oakdale, Louisiana that was providing representation to Central American refugees imprisoned at the detention center in that small Louisiana town. At that time, there were practically no lawyers in Louisiana who had immigration law experience and almost none who spoke Spanish. Even the court interpreters at the immigration court inside the prison in Oakdale were deficient in Spanish. I listened to several hours of one recorded court hearing and wrote an affidavit noting the mistakes made by the court appointed translator for one of our clients from El Salvador. His asylum claim had been denied and the bad translation was one of factors used in his appeal.
Now it seems that Oakdale is the main source of immigration judges and lawyers in the state of Louisiana. The lack of due process for refugee children is one of the most disturbing aspects of the recent crisis. -Molly
At the links are two articles on the efforts of different churches in El Paso joining their efforts to help the refugee families from Central America… Now most of these people–mostly women with young children–are being held in detention centers set up at the Border Patrol Training facility in Artesia, NM and at several military bases in Texas, Arizona and California… By imprisoning these people, they will have practically NO access to attorneys who can advise them of their rights to apply for asylum or other relief from quick deportation…