Adam Isacson

Still trying to understand Latin America, my own country, and why so few consequences are intended. These views are not necessarily my employer’s.

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New brief: Capacity, Security, and Accountability at the U.S.-Mexico Border’s Western Edge

During the first week of May 2022 in San Diego and Tijuana, WOLA staff held 16 meetings and interviews with advocates, shelters, officials, and experts working on border and migration. We talked about the 300,000+ migrants in transit each year, post-Title 42 challenges, and the U.S. border law enforcement accountability issues covered on this site. On May 18, we published notes about what we learned.

We found:

  • In Tijuana, Mexico’s largest border city, the U.S.-Mexico border’s largest and best-established system of humanitarian shelters is holding up, though strained by a large population of migrants in transit, deported, or blocked from seeking asylum in the United States. The city’s security situation is worsening.
  • Advocates generally believe that this part of the border can manage a potential post-“Title 42” increase in migration. CBP’s smooth recent processing of 20,000 Ukrainian migrants showed that capacity to manage large flows of asylum seekers exists, when the will exists.
  • The termination of Border Patrol’s “Critical Incident Teams,” a product of advocacy that began in San Diego, is a step forward for border-wide human rights accountability. However, citizen monitors in San Diego have other human rights concerns regarding U.S. border law enforcement: misuse of force, dangerous vehicle pursuits, threats to civil liberties from surveillance technologies, deliberate misinformation to asylum seekers, and a steep increase in border wall injuries.

Read the whole thing here.

Latin America Security-Related News: May 18, 2022

(Even more here)

May 18, 2022

Colombia

El Estado colombiano comparece ante la CIDH por 30 años de persecución, bajo cinco presidentes, del colectivo de abogados CAJAR

La oficial adelantaba una investigación contra el general Eduardo Zapateiro, comandante del Ejército, en un expediente que vincula manejo irregular de dineros públicos con empresas privadas

La última guerrilla activa en Colombia ha decretado un cese al fuego unilateral para allanar el terreno para un nuevo proceso de negociación

Relato de un defensor de derechos que tuvo que desplazarse y abandonar su cargo en una organización social

Cuba

The Cuban people are confronting an unprecedented humanitarian crisis — and our policy will continue to focus on empowering the Cuban people to help them create a future free from repression and economic suffering

El Salvador

In the audios, Marroquín also admits to having led negotiations for “almost two and a half years” and confesses to escorting a gang member whom he calls “El Viejo” out of prison and to Guatemala

Guatemala

El presidente de Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, informó el martes que no asistirá a la Cumbre de las Américas en respuesta a las críticas que Estados Unidos ha realizado sobre su decisión de reelegir a la fiscal general, Consuelo Porras

Guatemala, Mexico

Guatemala prosecutors believe the cartel is operating discreetly and has no plans to replicate the barbaric incursions of the Zetas

Honduras

The jungle region known as La Mosquitia in northeast Honduras has been an ideal corridor for international drug trafficking. However, another criminal economy has emerged at the same time: illegal cattle ranching

Mexico

El IPM, indica que, en 2021, se redujo el gasto en seguridad pública en 9%, y en el sistema judicial bajó 3%. En contraste, el gasto militar aumentó 15%, llegando a 167 mil millones de pesos, lo que refleja la creciente dependencia de las fuerzas armadas para combatir la delincuencia, señala

Entiendo que en el Colegio Militar y en la Escuela Superior de Guerra se estudia el dilema planteado ayer aquí sobre si la lealtad de las Fuerzas Armadas a su comandante en jefe va primero que su lealtad a la Constitución, o viceversa

López Obrador destacó que en su Gobierno no han habido hechos de represión, aunque "sí han habido algunas cosas que lamentamos, pero se han corregido"

La crisis migratoria que enfrenta México sigue reflejándose en el número de solicitantes de refugio, de acuerdo con Andrés Ramírez, titular de la Comisión Mexicana de Atención a Refugiados

Panama

Ayer, la Estación de Recepción Migratoria (ERM) en San Vicente, Panamá, recibió 746 #migrantes en un solo día

U.S.-Mexico Border

There were 201,800 encounters by U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southwest land border in April, a 4 percent decrease compared to March

Mayorkas said, “We’re seeing about a seven-day average of over 7,500 people, so we have not seen a significant decrease in the flows”

There’s no indication the national baby formula shortage is connected to the distribution of formula to migrant babies in U.S. border custody

Advocates generally believe that this part of the border can manage a potential post-“Title 42” increase in migration

Venezuela

The move, which will allow Chevron to begin negotiating with the government of Nicolás Maduro, is aimed at promoting talks between the Venezuelan government and the U.S.-backed opposition

Latin America Security-Related News: May 17, 2022

(Even more here)

May 17, 2022

Colombia

La última guerrilla activa del país se muestra dispuesta a “reanudar los diálogos” con el Gobierno del presidente que resulte electo

Costa Rica

Perhaps seizing on the fact that President Rodrigo Chaves had only been in office for a week, the Russian-speaking Conti gang tried to increase the pressure to pay a ransom by raising its demand to $20 million

Cuba

The administration will also allow group travel for educational or professional exchanges and lift caps on money sent to families on the island

The administration has been under pressure to ease the numbers of migrants crossing the southern U.S. border, where tens of thousands of Cubans have become the second-largest group of those seeking unauthorized entry

El Salvador

Severe prison overcrowding in the late 2000s and the mid-2010s proved a catalyst for gang consolidation and growth in El Salvador

Guatemala

The military logbook records the abduction, secret detention, and deaths of scores of people

During her term, more than 20 prosecutors, judges and magistrates have gone into exile, fearful they will be prosecuted in retaliation for their work on corruption cases

Honduras

Trojes, frontera con Nicaragua, se ha convertido en un paso de migrantes cubanos, haitianos, africanos y venezolanos. Los que pretenden cruzar deben pagar una multa de 210 dólares o esperar dos o tres días

Mexico

The impunity that exists in the overwhelming majority of cases contributes to more disappearances

Pedro Vaca, relator para la libertad de expresión en América, pide al presidente López Obrador que suspenda las críticas al periodismo en sus conferencias de prensa y observa “soberbia” en las respuestas de México por los homicidios de reporteros

Los estados de Guanajuato, Michoacán y Estado de México son los que acumulan las mayores tasas de asesinatos, en un mes que se perfila como uno de los más violentos de la administración de López Obrador

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Albergues para migrantes en la frontera de Reynosa se enfrenta una crisis humanitaria ante la falta de espacios

Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

Mexico’s president has threatened to skip next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles if nations are excluded

U.S.-Mexico Border

The number of asylum-seekers processed at ports of entry increased sharply, driven in part by Ukrainian refugees arriving at the Tijuana-San Diego border

A total of 2,005 noncitizens were enrolled in MPP in April, up from 1,444 in March

Numbers for May are so far consistent with those in April

Latin America Security-Related News: May 16, 2022

(Even more here)

May 16, 2022

Brazil

First Capital Command seems to run a shadow state in parts of the country

Chile, Western Hemisphere Regional

La canciller revela las gestiones que está realizando el gobierno para posibilitar la participación de esos países en la próxima Cumbre de las Américas, pese a las reticencias del anfitrión -EE.UU.

Colombia

EL PAÍS y la ONG Indepaz presentan una gráfica de la evolución del número de crímenes, un mapa con la ubicación de las muertes y una amplia base de datos con las identidades de todos los fallecidos

Luis Antonio Tombé fue alguacil de su resguardo, presidente de junta de su vereda y tenía seis hijos miembros de la Guardia Indígena. El 1° de mayo murió baleado por policías que buscaban contener una protesta indígena

‘Cambio’ viajó hasta San Pablo, sur de Bolívar, para conocer de cerca cómo se había vivido el paro armado decretado por el Clan del Golfo. El paro terminó, pero el miedo permanece

Víctor Barrera, investigador del Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CINEP), analiza a profundidad la situación actual del grupo armado que paralizó al país durante cuatro días

Colombia, Venezuela

La Universidad del Rosario y la Fundación Konrad, a través del Observatorio de Venezuela, consideran que el nuevo gobierno -sin importar su orientación política- debe asumir 10 retos

Dominican Republic, Haiti

La construcción es un nuevo episodio en la conflictiva relación histórica que mantienen los dos países

Honduras, Nicaragua

Expediente Público viajó a Trojes, El Paraíso, al oriente de Honduras, en la frontera con Nicaragua, y constató las vicisitudes que sufren los migrantes cubanos, venezolanos, haitianos y personas de otras nacionalidades

Mexico

De acuerdo a especialistas, esta droga no solo genera problemas de adicciones en la comunidad, sino también de violencia

El caso del joven universitario recientemente ultimado por la Guardia Nacional en Guanajuato no es único: en abril del año pasado, Jorge Alberto Rivera Cardoza murió en la frontera tamaulipeca en circunstancias muy similares

Mexico

57 elementos de la Armada de México participaron en el ejercicio junto con la Guardia Costera de los Estados Unidos y la Real Marina Canadiense

Mexico, U.S.-Mexico Border

Indocumentados cambian de estrategia ante el endurecimiento de la vigilancia de fronteras en México; arriban por costas de Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Baja California y Veracruz

Más de 150 migrantes, una gran mayoría originarios de Haití, algunos centroamericanos y mexicanos, llegaron hoy al sitio, ubicado al sur de la ciudad de Matamoros

U.S.-Mexico Border

"While attempting to inspect a vehicle, a driver made an abrupt movement, at which point the officers perceived a threat to themselves and fired at the driver who fled from the inspection area at a high rate of speed and crossed into Mexico"

Sunday was the first large release of migrants to the streets of El Paso since Christmas week 2018 when hundreds of people were dropped off at the Greyhound bus station Downtown

Weekly Border Update: May 13, 2022

With this series of weekly updates, WOLA seeks to cover the most important developments at the U.S.-Mexico border. See past weekly updates here.

This week:

  • Facing Republican-led litigation and a mostly Republican-led legislative push, the Title 42 pandemic policy, which denies the right to seek asylum, is unlikely to be lifted by its expected May 23 date. CBP granted an increased number of exceptions to Title 42 for the most vulnerable migrants waiting in Mexico, allowing 1,006 to present themselves at U.S. ports of entry during the week of May 3-9.
  • While CBP has yet to report April data, bits of information point to migration at the border increasing over already high March levels during the first half of April, then declining somewhat. Arrivals per day in early May could be fewer than they were in March.
  • Six migrants died over the May 7-8 weekend in Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, while a government watchdog finds that the agency has been under-reporting migrant deaths.
  • CBP is terminating ​​Border Patrol’s secretive Critical Incident Teams, which stand accused of interfering in investigations of Border Patrol agents’ use of force or other wrongdoing. One of these teams was present after the February 19 Border Patrol shooting of a Mexican man in Arizona, which local authorities just declined to prosecute. Some details of this case are troubling.

Title 42 is likely to remain in place

It now appears certain that the Title 42 pandemic order will remain in place after May 23, the date that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had announced that it would end.

“Title 42” refers to the March 2020 restriction at U.S. borders, continued by the Biden administration, enabling the quick expulsion of all undocumented migrants, even those seeking asylum, for ostensible public health reasons. Mexico agreed to take back citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras expelled by land, and more recently some Cuban and Nicaraguan citizens as well. U.S. authorities have used Title 42 to expel migrants at the border more than 1.8 million times.

Title 42 had to be renewed every 60 days, and the CDC announced on April 1 that the COVID-19 pandemic’s reduced severity warranted its termination on May 23. That decision—essentially, to return to regular immigration law and restore the right to seek asylum—has met stiff resistance. Opposition has come from immigration hardliners who seek to limit access to asylum, and from moderate Democrats worried that lifting Title 42 could cause a jump in already-high levels of migration at the border during a difficult legislative election campaign.

Officials from 21 Republican state governments filed suit in federal court in April to block Title 42’s lifting; the venue they chose is the Lafayette, Louisiana courtroom of District Judge Robert Summerhays, a Trump appointee. Summerhays has already issued and extended a temporary restraining order pausing the Biden administration’s efforts to terminate Title 42. Justice Department lawyers are to present arguments before Summerhays on May 13, after which he is expected to delay the CDC’s April 1 decision and keep Title 42 in place. It is not clear whether his decision will apply border-wide or just to Texas and Arizona, the two border states among the lawsuit’s plaintiffs.

Moves to prevent Title 42’s termination are also afoot in the U.S. Congress. Legislation introduced by Sens. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) would keep Title 42 in place until after the government’s COVID emergency declaration is terminated—potentially suspending the right to seek asylum at the border for years.

Republicans are demanding that the Senate consider this legislation as an amendment to a $10 billion COVID aid bill, as a condition to allow that stalled legislation to move forward. The Democratic majority’s number two and three leaders, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Patty Murray (D-Washington), say they are inclined to allow a vote on the Lankford-Sinema amendment; Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) says he will await the House of Representatives’ passage of a COVID aid bill and decide then. Talking to Politico, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), who supports ending Title 42, “ predicted Democrats would likely lose an immigration vote on the Senate floor.”

“That’s right,” wrote Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent at the Washington Post on May 10. “To deal with an ongoing pandemic that has killed around 1 million Americans, Democrats must deal a blow to the asylum system, keeping the United States’ doors closed to those fleeing oppression and violence.”

While the political wrangling continues, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been gradually expanding exceptions to Title 42, allowing migrants deemed most vulnerable (with input from non-governmental organizations) to approach six ports of entry to seek protection. A May 11 U.S. government filing for the Louisiana litigation reports that CBP processed 1,006 migrants under Title 42 exceptions in the 7 days between May 3 and May 9. These included 487 at the San Ysidro, California port of entry; 220 at El Paso, Texas’s Paso del Norte bridge; 124 in Hidalgo, Texas, across from Reynosa, Mexico; 91 in Nogales, Arizona; 83 in Eagle Pass, Texas; and 1 in Laredo, Texas.

In other Title 42 news:

  • In a May 11 hearing before the House Appropriations Committee, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus told Republican backers of making Title 42 permanent that the policy has complicated border security efforts, easing repeat attempts to cross the border. “The problem with Title 42 is,” he said, “over and over again, those individuals who get walked back across the line come right back, and we see them over and over again.”
  • “We have always been against Title 42. We have always encouraged the government to eliminate it,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told TV journalist Jorge Ramos.
  • “I would caution people not to assume that there will suddenly be an overwhelming rush at the border” after Title 42, Alex Mensing of Innovation Law Lab told Mother Jones. “It can be a lot more orderly,” he added, noting that CBP demonstrated the capacity to process up to 1,000 Ukrainian citizens per day in San Diego in April.
  • Title 42 continues to be applied aggressively to citizens of Haiti. As of May 12, Tom Cartwright of Witness at the Border had counted 235 expulsion or deportation flights to Haiti since the Biden administration began, 198 of them since the September 2021 arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas. Nicole Phillips of the Haitian Bridge Alliance was on hand for a flight’s arrival in Port-au-Prince on May 10: “Approx 100 ppl, mostly moms & young kids,” she tweeted. “Lots of complaints of ‘abuses’ by ICE. None were screened for asylum or told they were being deported. Chained by their wrists, waist & feet. Not able to shower or brush their teeth for days.”
  • The American Prospect reported that White House Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice remains a full-throated proponent of keeping Title 42 in place: “After learning that expulsion flights of migrants were not always full, Rice developed a daily fixation with ensuring full capacity on flights operating under Title 42.”

Migration has dropped slightly since March

While CBP has yet to share data from April, bits of information point to migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border first increasing over the high levels reported in March, then, during the second half of April, declining to below those levels. Some of the indicators include:

  • A May 4 Washington Post citation of “preliminary figures” from CBP indicated that in April, “the number of migrants taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection rose to about 234,000, up from 221,000 in March.” (Two days earlier, Breitbart News, which has many sources within U.S. border agencies, reported much different numbers: a decline from 221,000 in March to “more than 201,000” in April.)
  • Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council, who has seen recent CBP preliminary weekly data, tweeted: “April will set new records for southwest border encounters, in part because of the 13-14,000 Ukrainians processed in at the San Ysidro port of entry, but by mid-April encounters appear to have temporarily peaked and then by last week fallen back to mid-March levels.”
  • According to data accompanying a May 11 U.S. government filing for the Louisiana Title 42 litigation, there is a modest decline in single adult migration as of early May. That document reports 37,021 encounters with single adult migrants in the seven days from May 3 to May 9, 2022. That rate—5,289 single adults per day—is 3 percent fewer than the 5,454 per day CBP reported in March.

The May 3-9 data pointed to decreases in encounters per day, compared to March, with single adult migrants from Colombia (-17%), Guatemala (-12%), Mexico (-10%), Honduras (-4%), and Cuba (-3%). Countries that measured increases in single adult encounters per day, compared to March, included Haiti (+410%), Venezuela (+17%), and Nicaragua (+5%).

Peru appears in the filing as the tenth-largest nation of origin of single adult migrants encountered between May 3 and 9, with 677 encounters in those 7 days. CBP’s monthly public reporting does not even specify migration from Peru, lumping it in an “other countries” category. Like citizens of Colombia, Peruvians may enter Mexico without first obtaining a visa, as part of the Chile-Colombia-Mexico-Peru “Pacific Alliance” arrangement.

Preliminary data indicate that Mexico’s migration agency (INM) apprehended 38,677 migrants in April. That is Mexico’s largest monthly migration total this year, but fewer than levels measured in August through October of 2021; Mexico set its record of 46,370 apprehensions last September. In a single day—May 7—INM reported apprehending 1,608 migrants from 38 countries, a pace that would break the agency’s monthly record if sustained.

As noted in the court filing above, there appears to be a springtime increase in arrivals of Haitian migrants at the border. Many of them are arriving in Mexico’s violence-plagued border state of Tamaulipas, a part of the border that Haitian migrants had avoided until recently. Border Report reported that 3,500 Haitians have arrived since late April in Nuevo Laredo, a city that has seen few asylum-seeking migrants in recent years because of tight control exercised by organized crime. 1,400 of them, mostly men, may have already departed Nuevo Laredo for the city of Monterrey, a few hours to the south. The same article notes, as we have heard elsewhere, that Haitians are also arriving in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, “hoping to migrate should Title 42 be lifted.” Hundreds of miles west of Tamaulipas, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Verdad reported on a church-run program that has given Spanish lessons to 70 Haitian migrants since January.

Migrant deaths continue unabated

Jason Owens, the chief of Border Patrol’s Del Rio, Texas sector, tweeted that his agents had encountered “12 rescues” and “6 deceased persons” over the May 7-8 weekend alone. Six migrant deaths in two days in a single sector is an extreme amount. In all of 2020—the last year for which the agency has publicly reported migrant deaths by sector—Border Patrol reported finding 34 migrants’ remains in Del Rio.

Some, if not all, of the dead found in Del Rio appear to be drownings in the Rio Grande. They included an adult man, and a child from Angola whose sibling is still missing. On May 2, a Nicaraguan man drowned in the swiftly flowing river between Piedras Negras, Coahuila and Eagle Pass, Texas. Texas National Guardsmen told Fox News reporter Bryan Llenas, whose film crew captured the broad-daylight drowning, that they are prohibited from attempting rescues after 22-year-old Guardsman Bishop Evans died while trying to rescue a migrant in Eagle Pass on April 25.

Border Patrol, meanwhile, stands accused of under-reporting migrant deaths border-wide. The agency has counted over 8,600 migrant remains on U.S. soil, mostly of dehydration, exposure, and drowning, since 1998. The actual number is almost certainly greater, though, since over the past 10 years or so Border Patrol has been reporting fewer deaths than do local humanitarian groups or medical examiners, leaving out of its count the remains of migrants found by other entities.

This is the subject of an April 20 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), covered by the Intercept, which found that Border Patrol has been undercounting the actual number of migrant deaths in the U.S.-Mexico border region. For example, GAO found that Border Patrol in Arizona routinely reports finding roughly half as many remains as does the Arizona OpenGIS Initiative for Deceased Migrants.

Border Patrol has yet to share public reporting of migrant deaths in fiscal year 2021, though CNN reported last October that the agency had counted a record 557 remains that year, more than double the 247 found in 2020.

CBP to terminate Border Patrol’s controversial “Critical Incident Teams”

A May 3, 2022 memorandum from CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, revealed on May 6, terminated Border Patrol’s Critical Incident Teams (CITs), secretive units that often arrive at the scene when agents may have misused force or otherwise behaved in a way that might involve local law enforcement. While Critical Incident Teams may have other roles, they stood accused of altering crime scenes, interfering with law enforcement investigations, and coming up with exculpatory evidence to protect agents. (See the “Critical Incident Teams” tag at WOLA’s new Border Oversight database of border law enforcement conduct.)

No other law enforcement agency has a similar internal exoneration capability, and the CITs’ existence is not specifically authorized by law, according to the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), a non-governmental organization that revealed the units’ extent in October and has led efforts to abolish them. CITs have existed in some form since 1987, and include 12 agents per Border Patrol sector, according to a CBP PowerPoint presentation obtained by the SBCC.

“By the end of FY [Fiscal Year] 22,” Magnus’s memorandum reads, “USBP [U.S. Border Patrol] will eliminate all Critical Incident Teams and personnel assigned to USBP will no longer respond to critical incidents for scene processing or evidence collection.” CBP’s internal affairs body, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), will take “full responsibility for responding to critical incidents” by October 1, 2022. OPR will require “substantial resources” to take on this mission, the memo reads; Magnus’s May 11 testimony to the House Appropriations Committee notes that the 2022 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget “included $74 million for 350 new Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Special Agents.”

The CITs’ termination comes just over six months after the SBCC alerted Congress to their existence. SBCC member Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, had learned of the teams’ interference with the investigation of migrant Anastasio Hernández’s 2010 beating death in San Diego. Guerrero and colleagues at SBCC laid out their case in an October 27, 2021 letter to congressional oversight committee chairpeople asking them to investigate the CITs.

In a statement from SBCC, María Puga, Anastasio Hernández’s widow, called the CITs’ termination “an important first step towards addressing the longstanding problem of Border Patrol impunity.” SBCC “commends CBP for taking this action and acknowledges the leadership of Commissioner Magnus,” reads the statement, which calls on Magnus to ensure that all CIT-related records be preserved so that those who “have engaged in criminal acts of obstruction of justice” in the past may be held accountable.

Also present at an SBCC press conference was Marisol García Alcántara, a 37-year-old undocumented Mexican mother of three whom a Border Patrol agent shot in the head in June 2021 while she sat in the backseat of a vehicle in Nogales, Arizona. A CIT was at the scene in the case of García, who was deported to Mexico without ever being questioned about the incident by any U.S. authorities. The BBC published a May 11 profile of Ms. García, who continues to suffer memory loss as a result of her injury, which includes bullet fragments lodged in her brain.

In southeast Arizona, a police report, shared by the Intercept, confirmed that a CIT was involved in the aftermath of the February 19, 2022 shooting death of Carmelo Cruz-Marcos, a 32-year-old migrant from Puebla, Mexico.

Agent Kendrek Bybee Staheli claimed that he shot Cruz-Marcos, who died of four bullet wounds to his head and chest, out of fear for his life when the migrant moved to throw a rock at him at close range. Cruz-Marcos was with several other migrants whom Staheli and Agent Tristan Tang were chasing late at night in the desert; none witnessed the interaction that led to Cruz-Marcos’s death.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s report cites migrant witness Carlos Torres Peralta, who had learned some English while living in Wisconsin for three years:

He said the agent told his companion [Cruz-Marcos], “Stop or I’m going to shoot you. ” He said his companion ran off and when he tried to run he stumbled on rock and the agent caught him. He said the agent told him, “This is America motherf—.” He referred to the agent as Agent Stain. I believe he was referring to Agent Staheli. He said the second agent yelled at Agent Staheli if he was ok and Agent Staheli said he was ok.

…Carlos further added information concerning Agent’s Staheli and Tang. He states to SA Chiriguayo that he believed the agents had moved the decedent’s body, repositioned the body, and he heard them discussing how they should follow up with statements and not say anything to anyone, and that Agent Tang had told Agent Staheli “it would all be ok and that he had his back.” Carlos further said he heard Agent Tang tell Agent Staheli that he should say he was attacked with a rock. Carlos statements would suggest the agents had covered up evidence and would not be truthful with any after action interviews they would have.

In a May 6 letter to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, County Attorney Brian McIntyre reported finding insufficient evidence to contradict Agent Staheli’s self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt, and declined to prosecute.

Links

  • At the Border Chronicle and the Guardian, Melissa del Bosque reports on Border Patrol’s practice of discarding migrants’ possessions after apprehending them. “Agents in Yuma, according to Customs and Border Protection, require they leave everything behind, except for what they can fit into a small plastic Department of Homeland Security-issued bag.” Discarded items include passports, birth certificates, police reports (evidence for asylum cases), and x-rays.
  • A report from the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, based on numerous documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, finds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “now operates as a domestic surveillance agency.” The agency has built up a capacity to pull up information on even most U.S. citizens “by reaching into the digital records of state and local governments and buying databases with billions of data points from private companies.” The report calls it a “dragnet.”
  • Of the 15 years (2007-2021) in which it has worked on disappeared-migrant cases in Mexico, the Jesuit Refugee Service-Mexico’s Disappeared Migrant Search Program took on 53 percent of its 1,280 cases in just three recent years: 2018, 2019, and 2021.
  • With a large migrant encampment cleared on May 2 and existing shelters nearly full, expelled migrants are beginning to gather immediately outside the offices of Mexico’s Migration Institute (INM), at the port of entry in the violent crime-plagued city of Reynosa. Many are Cuban and Nicaraguan.
  • “Say No to the Coyote” is the name of a new digital ad campaign that CBP has launched in Guatemala and Honduras in an attempt to dissuade migration.
  • “There are now at least 22 pending lawsuits in federal courts across the U.S. on behalf of more than 80 parents and children seeking financial compensation for the trauma they endured” after being separated during the Trump administration, CBS News reports. The Biden administration had been negotiating compensation settlements, but pulled out after news of the negotiations generated Republican backlash late last year. Biden administration lawyers now argue that the families are not eligible to sue the federal government.
  • Tamaulipas and Texas state police, along with Texas National Guardsmen, carried out “a binational drill for the detection and containment of migrants” on May 7 at two border bridges between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.
  • A brief May 9 statement from CBP notes the arrest of a Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agent “on a warrant stemming from an indictment on a charge of Official Oppression in connection with the alleged assault and mistreatment of a juvenile in custody.” No further details appear.

Latin America Security-Related News: May 12, 2022

(Even more here)

May 12, 2022

Western Hemisphere Regional

In a potential embarrassment for his administration, a growing number of hemispheric leaders have said they will not attend an Americas summit, to be hosted by President Biden next month in Los Angeles, if the meeting excludes Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua

Colombia

Este ejercicio de cuatro años de monitoreo da cuenta de las políticas impulsadas durante la administración del presidente Iván Duque y los efectos de las mismas, los debates al interior del Congreso y la construcción de estándares desde las altas cortes del poder judicial

More than 3,000 members of Colombia’s security forces have cases pending before the country’s special peace jurisdiction. They face significant barriers to speaking openly about their crimes — and the roles played by their superiors

Guatemala

El Ministerio Público no ha iniciado ninguna investigación de oficio y el Organismo Judicial (OJ) sin pronunciarse y accionar ante las amenazas contra el juez Miguel Ángel Gálvez

Mexico

En los últimos cuatro años, las desapariciones de migrantes se cuadruplicaron, de acuerdo con el Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes en México

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has stopped stationing a plane in Mexico for anti-narcotics operations for the first time in decades after Mexican officials rescinded its parking spot

U.S.-Mexico Border

La pérdida de memoria es una de las “consecuencias de por vida” que asegura le dejó el impacto de la bala y el fragmento que aún alberga su cerebro

Haiti, U.S.-Mexico Border

Thousands of Haitian migrants recently trekked to the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo, hoping to claim asylum in the United States if Title 42 is lifted, although many have already given up and left

U.S.-Mexico Border

Local governments and non-governmental organizations in some major US border cities say they’re not only preparing to help more asylum seekers, they’ve been ready

Venezuela

El proyecto de Ley de Cooperación Internacional lo presentó el chavismo en el Parlamento que controlan desde enero de 2021

“Fearless”

When a message starts with “Women account for five percent of the United States Border Patrol Agents”…

You expect to read “but we plan to do better.” Not “rest assured they are fearless.”

I mean, General Custer was fearless, too, with similar asymmetry.

Well that sucks

Well, that’s it. I’m officially the first in my immediate family to get COVID. Though I was one of the 20% or so of passengers to keep his mask on, I blame my flights home from the San Diego border region last Friday.

Symptoms are very mild so far: no fever, some stuffy nose, infrequent cough. Like a moderate cold. I plan to continue much work remotely, but with more rest breaks, as long as it remains this mild.

Latin America Security-Related News: May 10, 2022

(Even more here)

May 10, 2022

Colombia

Growing number of death threats from paramilitary groups target environmental defenders who oppose fracking in Colombia

Aunque la justicia castrense había pedido quedarse con el expediente para investigar al mayor Carlos Javier Arenas, quien disparó un gas lacrimógeno e impactó en la cara de Niño, causándole la muerte, el alto tribunal explicó que existen dudas sobre si esa reacción respondió a las necesidades del servicio

The Clan del Golfo terrorized cities across more than 100 municipalities in 10 departments, confining residents in their homes, blocking roads and paralyzing businesses

Estos grupos, lejos de acabarse, se han adaptado en sus regiones de injerencia directa e indirecta a través de componentes militares, amplias redes sociales, de confianza, extorsión, sicariato y prestación de servicios

Todos critican al Gobierno y reiteran su llamado a buscar una salida negociada a conflicto armado

Guatemala

El juez Gálvez afirma que las amenazas de procesarlo y pedir que le retiren la inmunidad atentan contra la independencia judicial

Mexico

Aunque la reforma para pasar la GN a la Sedena ni siquiera se ha presentado, la secretaría ya tiene en marcha un plan por fases para sacar de la corporación a todos los civiles y que solo haya soldados

Just as Mexican journalists prepared to protest the killing of a journalist last week, word came Monday that two more were shot to death in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz

Mexico, Western Hemisphere Regional

El ejercicio naval multinacional Tradewinds 2022 en el que participan más de 20 armadas del continente americano y de otros países invitados, dio inicio

Venezuela

Durante el primer trimestre del año 2022, de acuerdo al análisis de estudio de la Curva de la Violencia de la organización no gubernamental FundaRedes, se registraron 229 homicidios y 70 presuntos enfrentamientos

Photo

Seagulls atop the border wall in Tijuana last Thursday.

The Duque Presidency Limps to the Finish Line

Left, October 23, 2021: Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, proclaims “the end of the Gulf Clan” neo-paramilitary group. (Also known as the “Úsuga Clan,” the “Urabeños,” and the “Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.”)

Right, May 7, 2022: the “Gulf Clan” neo-paramilitary group declares an “armed strike” upon its onetime leader’s extradition to the United States. With threats and over 100 acts of violence, the group stops economic activity in at least part of 11 of Colombia’s 32 departments.


Unsurprisingly, analysts of Colombia’s conflict—like Esteban Salazar of the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation on October 25, 2021—understood what was going on:

San Diego Yesterday

Had a good day of meetings in San Diego yesterday with border rights and migration advocates, none of whom I’d seen in person since before the pandemic, and some whom I was very happy to meet for the first time.

No interesting photos of me sitting in meetings, so here’s a photo of the Pacific Ocean instead. It was also my first glimpse of the Pacific since before the pandemic.

We’re spending today in Tijuana.

Makes sense

90% of everything is crap. If you think you don’t like opera, romance novels, TikTok, country music, vegan food, NFTs, keep trying to see if you can find the 10% that is not crap.

Kevin Kelly’s “103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known
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