migration

Increasing African Migration through CentAm Poses Challenges

Officials say Costa Rica is experiencing an increase in irregular migration from Africa, signaling the growth of new human smuggling networks and raising a number of questions for policymakers to consider when handling this complex issue…

Read this piece in its entirety at InSight Crime.

Criminal Violence Has Displaced Millions in Latin America: Report

A newly released report highlights the central role crime plays in driving displacement and migration in Latin America, estimating that violence linked to criminal groups has contributed to the dislocation of millions of people across the region in recent years…

Read this piece in its entirety at InSight Crime.

Panama’s Colombia Border Closure Could Fuel Human Trafficking

Panama has announced that it will temporarily close its border with Colombia in an attempt to halt irregular migration, a decision that could impact the dynamics of human smuggling in the region…

Read this piece in its entirety at InSight Crime.

They Survived the “Train of Death,” Only to Face Detention by US Immigration

Despite the failure of their previous attempts to reach the United States — not to mention the obvious dangers of the journey — on February 26, [José Luis] Hernández and 16 other AMIREDIS activists set out from Honduras in a caravan to Washington, DC, with the intention of raising awareness about the circumstances that force people to make such a dangerous trip…

Read this piece in its entirety at VICE News.

Episode 2 of Periphery: “The Overcriminalization of Immigrants” with Jose Magaña Salgado

In the second episode of Periphery, Angelika Albaladejo and I interviewed Jose Magaña-Salgado, an attorney and policy advocate at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) in Washington DC. We talked with Jose about the overcriminalization of immigrants in the United States.

I’ve written a fair amount about US immigration policies and practices on this blog in the past. Also, as Jose mentions in the episode, immigration issues are often related to foreign policy issues, some of which Angelika and I touched on in our conversation with Sarah Kinosian in our first episode on the humanitarian crisis brewing in Honduras.

Of course you should follow Periphery on Twitter (@Periphery_), like our Facebook page and subscribe on iTunes, but you should also check out our blog where we posted the episode along with links to the sources we used and more information on the topics we discussed.

Can Mexico Criticize Killings of Migrants in the U.S.?

Cross-posted with Public Diplomacy Musings

Two recent killings of Mexican immigrants by American police have sparked outrage in both the U.S. and Mexico. Antonio Zambrano-Montes, an undocumented agricultural worker, was allegedly throwing rocks at police before he was shot and killed last month in Pasco, Washington. Rubén García Villalpando, another unarmed, undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was shot and killed by police in Grapevine, Texas following a short car chase just weeks after Zambrano-Montes’ violent death.

In both cases, the Mexican government condemned the men’s killings, describing them as incidents of “disproportionate use of lethal force” by U.S. authorities. However, for many, the condemnations immediately raised the question of whether the Mexican government’s denunciations are hypocritical given the widespread criticism leveled against Mexico’s notoriously abusive security forces.

Last July, a group of Mexican soldiers were accused of assassinating innocent civilians in the town of Tlatlaya. Three of the soldiers have been charged with murder and several others were charged with abusing their authority as members of the armed forces. In September, local and federal security forces allegedly orchestrated an attack on a group of local students in the town of Iguala, which left several of the students dead and at least 43 missing, or “disappeared.” Although the government’s investigation of the incident has been roundly described as insufficient, some of the alleged participants have been arrested and charged.

Additionally, accusations of abuse of migrants in Mexico by criminals and security forces alike have been numerous and consistent for years. Last month, the Mexican news website Animal Politico investigated widespread abuses reported by civil society organizations, including physical harm and financial extortion, occurring at security checkpoints funded by U.S. taxpayer money provided to Mexico under the Merida Initiative.

This begs the question: How can a country like Mexico, whose security forces have such an atrocious human rights record, possibly criticize U.S. police with any semblance of credibility?

The answer is that Mexico does not fund, train and equip American police forces. Mexico does not pressure the U.S. to adopt policies that criminalize immigrants. In fact, Mexico has long been consistently critical of harsh U.S. immigration measures that have been used to disproportionately target Latino populations.

On the other hand, the U.S. has been providing Mexico with well over $100 million per year in military and police assistance, including world-class weapons, training and intelligence. The Obama administration has also ramped up pressure on the Mexican government to detain and deport record numbers of migrants and refugees before they even have the chance to reach the U.S. southern border.

This doesn’t mean that Mexico’s security forces are generally better-behaved than their U.S. counterparts, but despite superficial appearances to the contrary, it seems Mexico actually has more standing to criticize U.S. policing policies than vice versa.

If the U.S. wants to see changes in Mexico’s policing practices, it could withhold some of the massive amounts of funding it gives the country, or at the very least make further aid conditional upon improvements in Mexican security forces’ respect for citizen’s civil and human rights. If Mexico wants U.S. cops to stop shooting its citizens, its only real recourse is public diplomacy.