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Westlake Legal Group > Guatemala

Mexico thwarts a migrant caravan for us

Westlake Legal Group caravan-7 Mexico thwarts a migrant caravan for us The Blog migrant caravan Mexico Honduras Guatemala

With the hot months of summer coming to an end, it’s caravan season in Mexico again. And we’re not talking about people vacationing in recreational vehicles. Caravans of Central American migrants are forming up in Honduras and Guatemala to start their annual mass migrations north in hopes of breaching the border of the United States. But the first group of the season, more than 2,000 strong, didn’t make it very far. This time they were stopped by Mexican federal troops, with more than half of them being detained.

Mexican authorities on Saturday thwarted the latest caravan of migrants attempting to head north from southern Mexico with the hope of reaching the United States.

Some 2,000 migrants from various nations — including Central American and African countries, Haiti and Cuba — set off on foot in the predawn hours from the southern Mexican city of Tapachula…

On Saturday, the northbound caravan met a phalanx of Mexican authorities, including National Guard and federal police units along the highway at a point about 25 miles north of Tapachula. The enforcement presence prompted almost half the caravan members — including many women and children — to surrender to Mexican immigration authorities.

This is the result of the deal that the White House cut with Mexico. We remain happy to have productive trade deals with them and provide them with aid, but we require their cooperation in matters of immigration enforcement. This successful intervention can and should become the new normal.

The detained migrants will be offered the opportunity to apply for asylum in Mexico if they wish according to Mexican government officials. This plays into the idea of Mexico being an unofficial safe third country. Those who don’t qualify will be returned to their countries of origin.

As for the other half of the caravan that wasn’t detained, some scattered to look for other routes north and some turned back and headed south. This may be one of the more important aspects of the story if they go home and tell everyone else what happened. If the word gets out in Guatemala and Honduras that the caravans can no longer travel freely all the way to the American border, people will be far less likely to sign up for them. It won’t stop all efforts at illegal immigration, but if it significantly slows the flow we may gain the time we need to catch our breath and being clearing some of the backlog in our immigration courts.

Well done, AMLO. Keep up the good work.

The post Mexico thwarts a migrant caravan for us appeared first on Hot Air.

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Mexico now busing asylum seekers to their southern border

Westlake Legal Group caravan Mexico now busing asylum seekers to their southern border The Blog Southern border Mexico Illegal Immigration Guatemala Deportation asylum

Things seem to be heating up south of the border, and I’m not talking about a Taco Bell advertisement. The “Remain in Mexico” policy agreed to by the Mexican government is still in effect, but nobody really specified exactly where in Mexico asylum seekers were supposed to wait. This week the Mexican government took matters into their own hands, at least in some cases. They began packing up some of the migrants on buses and sending them down near the Guatemalan border. (NY Post)

Mexico is sending some of the 30,000 Central American migrants vying for asylum in the United States on 750-mile bus rides — all the way back to southern Mexico, officials said.

The “Remain in Mexico” program pushed by the Trump administration has forced thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait months to get their turn before a US immigration judge.

But the northern state of Tamaulipas, just across the Rio Grande from Texas, is one of Mexico’s most dangerous zones — and has little housing or services for the newcomers.

To be clear, Mexico isn’t deporting these migrants. They’re simply moving them out of what they admit is a very dangerous area with few services available to support them to a quieter region in the southern end of their nation. The fact that it’s so conveniently close to the border with Guatemala should, however, make it far easier for some of them to “self-deport” if they grow tired of waiting.

This situation does highlight one of the greatest challenges facing the United States and it may start impacting Mexico in the same fashion. With massive numbers of people arriving at the border in “caravans,” we have simply run out of places to keep them. Our immigration courts are tied up with massive backlogs and the detention centers are full. Migrants all too often arrive with what seem to be well-researched playbooks of how to cross illegally and then demand asylum when immigration officials detain them.

The Remain in Mexico policy was a good first step in relieving some of the stress, but all we’re really doing is shifting part of the problem to Mexico. And in many of their northern states, they are no more prepared to handle masses of migrants than we are. In some cases, particularly in the region across the border from El Paso, the cities there are overrun by drug cartels and filled with violence. That’s not a great spot to look for shelter while you await your court date.

Hopefully, the state of Chiapas (where the buses are heading) has more jobs and social service resources available. But even if they don’t, at least the violent crime rate should be a bit lower.

The post Mexico now busing asylum seekers to their southern border appeared first on Hot Air.

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Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out.

JALAPA, Guatemala — They climbed the terraced hillside in single file, their machetes tapping the stones along the darkened footpath.

Gehovany Ramirez, 17, led his brother and another accomplice to his ex-girlfriend’s home. He struck the wooden door with his machete, sending splinters into the air.

His girlfriend, Lubia Sasvin Pérez, had left him a month earlier, fleeing his violent temper for her parents’ home here in southeast Guatemala. Five months pregnant, her belly hanging from her tiny 16-year-old frame, she feared losing the child to his rage.

Lubia and her mother slipped outside and begged him to leave, she said. They could smell the sour tang of alcohol on his breath. Unmoved, he raised the blade and struck her mother in the head, killing her.

Hearing a stifled scream, her father rushed outside. Lubia recalled watching in horror as the other men set upon him, splitting his face and leaving her parents splayed on the concrete floor.

For prosecutors, judges and even defense lawyers in Guatemala, the case exemplifies the national scourge of domestic violence, motivated by a deep-seated sense of ownership over women and their place in relationships.

But instead of facing the harsher penalties meant to stop such crimes in Guatemala, Gehovany received only four years in prison, a short sentence even by the country’s lenient standard for minors. More than three years later, now 21, he will be released next spring, perhaps sooner.

And far from being kept from the family he tore apart, under Guatemalan law Gehovany has the right to visit his son upon release, according to legal officials in Guatemala.

The prospect of his return shook the family so thoroughly that Lubia’s father, who survived the attack, sold their home and used the money to pay a smuggler to reach the United States. Now living outside of San Francisco, he is pinning his hopes on winning asylum to safeguard his family. They all are.

But that seems more distant than ever. Two extraordinary legal decisions by the Trump administration have struck at the core of asylum claims rooted in domestic violence or threats against families like Lubia’s — not only casting doubt on their case, but almost certainly on thousands of others as well, immigration lawyers say.

“How can this be justice?” Lubia said before the family fled, sitting under the portico where her mother was killed. “All I did was leave him for beating me and he took my mother from us.”

“What kind of system protects him, and not me?” she said, gathering her son in her lap.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17guatemala98-articleLarge Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out. Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of
Lubia is hoping for asylum in the United States, but her case faces significant obstacles under the Trump administration.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

Their case offers a glimpse into the staggering number of Central Americans fleeing violence and dysfunction — and the dogged fight the Trump administration is waging to keep them out.

Across Latin America, a murder epidemic is underway. Most years, more than 100,000 people are killed, largely young men on the periphery of broken societies, where gangs and cartels sometimes take the place of the state.

The turmoil has forced millions to flee the region and seek refuge in the United States, where they confront a system strained by record demand and a bitter fight over whether to accept them.

But violence against women, and domestic violence in particular, is a powerful and often overlooked factor in the migration crisis. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 14 of the 25 deadliest nations in the world for women, according to available data collected by the Small Arms Survey, which tracks violence globally.

And Central America, the region where most of those seeking asylum in the United States are fleeing, is at the heart of the crisis.

Here in Guatemala, the homicide rate for women is more than three times the global average. In El Salvador, it is nearly six times. In Honduras, it is one of the highest in the world — almost 12 times the global average.

Image

Friends and family mourning during the funeral procession for Cristina Yulisa Godínez, 18, in Guatemala City. Ms. Godínez was murdered in her home in May, where she was found hanging by her neck from the ceiling, her hands bound with blue rope. CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
Image

Ms. Godínez was killed in front of her 3-year-old son and her daughter, who was a few months old. Her son told the police that a man came in, tied her up and hanged her from the ceiling.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

In the most violent pockets of Central America, the United Nations says, the danger is like living in a war zone.

“Despite the risk associated with migration, it is still lower than the risk of being killed at home,” said Angela Me, the chief of research and trend analysis at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The issue is so central to migration that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, eager to advance the Trump administration’s priority of closing the southern border to migrants, issued a decision last year to try to halt victims of domestic violence, among other crimes, from seeking asylum.

To win asylum in the United States, applicants must show specific grounds for their persecution back home, like their race, religion, political affiliation or membership in a particular social group. Lawyers have sometimes pushed successfully for women to qualify as a social group because of the overwhelming violence they face, citing a 2014 case in which a Guatemalan woman fleeing domestic violence was found to be eligible to apply for asylum in the United States.

But Mr. Sessions overruled that precedent, questioning whether women — in particular, women fleeing domestic violence — can be members of a social group. The decision challenged what had become common practice in asylum courts.

Then, last month, the new attorney general, William P. Barr, went further. Breaking with decades of precedent, he issued a decision making it harder for families, like Lubia’s, to qualify as social groups also.

Violence against women in the region is so prevalent that 18 countries have passed laws to protect them, creating a class of homicide known as femicide, which adds tougher penalties and greater law enforcement attention to the issue.

And yet, despite that broad effort, the new laws have failed to reduce the killings of girls and women in the region, the United Nations says.

That reflects how deep the gender gap runs. For the new laws to make a difference, experts say, they must go far beyond punishment to change education, political discourse, social norms and basic family dynamics.

Though gangs and cartels in the region play a role in the violence, most women are killed by lovers, family members, husbands or partners — men angered by women acting independently, enraged by jealousy or, like Gehovany, driven by a deeply ingrained sense of control over women’s lives.

“Men end up thinking they can dispose of women as they wish,” said Adriana Quiñones, the United Nations Women’s country representative in Guatemala.

A vast majority of female homicides in the region are never solved. In Guatemala, only about 6 percent result in convictions, researchers say. And in the rare occasions when they do, as in Lubia’s case, they are not always prosecuted vigorously.

Even defense attorneys believe Gehovany should have been charged with femicide, which would have put him in prison a couple of years longer. The fact that he was not, some Guatemalan officials acknowledge, underscores the many ways in which the nation’s legal system, even when set up to protect women, continues to fail them.

In the courtroom, Lubia’s father, Romeo de Jesus Sasvin Dominguez, spoke up just once.

It didn’t make sense, he told the judge, shaking his head. A long white scar ran over the bridge of his nose, a relic of the attack. How could the laws of Guatemala favor the man who killed his wife, who hurt his daughter?

“We had a life together,” he told the judge, nearly in tears. “And he came and took that away from us just because my daughter didn’t want to be in an abusive relationship.”

“I just don’t understand,” he said.

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Though Jalapa has a lower homicide rate than other areas of Guatemala, the region is still very dangerous for women.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

Lubia’s son crawled with purpose, clutching a toy truck he had just relieved of its back wheel.

The family watched in grateful distraction. Years after the murder, they still lived like prisoners, trapped between mourning and fear. A rust-colored stain blotted the floor where Lubia’s mother died. The dimpled doorjamb, hacked by the machete, had not been repaired. Lubia’s three younger sisters refused even to set foot in the bedroom where they hid during the attack.

Santiago Ramirez, Gehovany’s brother, never went to prison, spared because of a mental illness. Neighbors often saw him walking the village streets.

Soon, Gehovany would be, too. The family worried the men would come back, to finish what they started.

“There’s not much we can do,” said Mr. Sasvin Dominguez, sending Lubia’s son on his way with the toy truck. “We don’t have the law in our hands.”

He had no money to move and owned nothing but the house, which the family clung to but could hardly bear. His two sons lived in the United States and had families of their own to support. He hadn’t seen them in years.

“I’m raising my daughters on my own now, four of them,” he said.

He woke each morning at 3 a.m., hiking into the mountains to work as a farm hand. The girls, whose high cheekbones and raven-colored hair resembled their mother’s, no longer went to school. With the loss of her income from selling knickknacks on the street, they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

His youngest daughter especially loved classes: the routine, the books, the chance to escape her circumscribed world. But even she had resigned herself to voluntary confinement. The stares and whispers of classmates — and the teasing of especially cruel ones — had grown unbearable. In town, some residents openly blamed Lubia for what happened. Even her own aunts did.

“There’s no justice here,” said Lubia, who added that she wanted to share her story with the public for that very reason. Her father did, too.

In her area, Jalapa, a region of rippled hills, rutted roads and a cowboy culture, men go around on horseback with holstered pistols, their faces shaded by wide-brimmed hats. Though relatively peaceful for Guatemala, with a lower homicide rate than most areas, it is very dangerous for women.

Insulated from Guatemala’s larger cities, Jalapa is a concentrated version of the gender inequality that fuels the femicide crisis, experts say.

“It’s stark,” said Mynor Carrera, who served as dean of the Jalapa campus of the nation’s largest university for 25 years. “The woman is treated often like a child in the home. And violence against them is accepted.”

Domestic abuse is the most common crime here. Of the several dozen complaints the Jalapa authorities receive each week, about half involve violence against women.

“It’s like our daily bread,” said Dora Elizabeth Monson, the prosecutor for women’s issues in Jalapa. “Women receive it morning, afternoon and night.”

At the courthouse, Judge Eduardo Alfonso Campos Paz maintains a docket filled with such cases. The most striking part, he said, is that most men struggle to understand what they’ve done wrong.

The problem is not easily erased by legislation or enforcement, he said, because of a mind-set ingrained in boys early on and reinforced throughout their lives.

“When I was born, my mom or sister brought me food and drink,” the judge said. “My sister cleaned up after me and washed my clothes. If I wanted water, she would get up from wherever she was and get it for me.”

“We are molded to be served, and when that isn’t accomplished, the violence begins,” he said.

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A beauty pageant for girls in the Jalapa region. From an early age, officials say, girls are expected to be subservient. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times
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The police investigating the crime scene of a suspected killing of a woman in Guatemala City.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Across Guatemala, complaints of domestic violence have skyrocketed as more women come forward to report abuse. Every week, it seems, a new, gruesome case emerges in newspapers, of a woman tortured, mutilated or dehumanized. It is an echo of the systematic rape and torture women endured during the nation’s 36-year civil war, which left an indelible mark on Guatemalan society.

But today, the countries with the highest rates of femicide in the region, like Guatemala, also suffer the highest homicide rates overall — often leaving the killing of women overlooked or dismissed as private domestic matters, with few national implications.

The result is more disparity. While murders in Guatemala have dropped remarkably over the last decade, there is a notable difference by gender: Homicides of men have fallen by 57 percent, while killings of women have declined more slowly, by about 39 percent, according to government data.

“The policy is to investigate violence that has more political interest,” said Jorge Granados, the head of the science and technology department at Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences. “The public policy is simply not focused on the murder of women.”

The femicide law required every region in the nation to install a specialized court focused on violence against women. But more than a decade later, only 13 of 22 are in operation.

“The abuse usually happens in the home, in a private context,” said Evelyn Espinoza, the coordinator of the Observatory on Violence at Diálogos, a Guatemalan research group. “And the state doesn’t involve itself in the home.”

In Lubia’s case, she fell in love with Gehovany in the fast, unstoppable way that teenagers do. By the time they moved in together, she was already pregnant.

But Gehovany’s drinking, abuse and stultifying expectations quickly became clear. He wanted her home at all times, even when he was out, she said. He told her not to visit her family.

She knew Gehovany would consider her leaving a betrayal, especially being pregnant with his child. She knew society might, too. But she had to go, for the baby’s sake, and was relieved to be free of him.

Until the night of Nov. 1, 2015, at around 9 p.m., when he came to reclaim her.

The New York Times tried to reach Gehovany, who fled after the killing and later turned himself in. But because he was a minor at the time of the murder, officials said, they could not arrange an interview or comment on the case.

His oldest brother, Robert Ramirez, argued that Gehovany had acted in self-defense and killed Lubia’s mother accidentally.

Still, Mr. Ramirez defended his brother’s decision to confront Lubia’s family that night, citing a widely held view of a woman’s place in Jalapa.

“He was right to go back and try to claim her,” he said. “She shouldn’t have left him.”

He looked toward his own house, etched into a clay hillside, a thread of smoke from a small fire curling through the doorway.

“I’d never allow my wife to leave me,” he said.

Mr. Sasvin Dominguez woke suddenly, startled by an idea.

He rushed to town in the dark, insects thrumming, a dense fog filling the mountains. In a single day, it was all arranged. He would sell his home and use the proceeds to flee to the United States.

The $6,500 was enough to buy passage for him and his youngest daughter, then 12. Traveling with a young child was cheaper, and often meant better treatment by American officials. At least, that’s what the smuggler said.

He hoped to reach his sons in California. With luck, he could find work, support the girls back home — and get asylum for the entire family.

The Dominguez Family’s Journey





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Westlake Legal Group journey-Artboard_1 Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out. Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

San

Francisco

UNITED STATES

Weslaco, Texas

Reynosa, Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico

Mexico

Guatemala

Tapachula, Mexico

Ciudad Tecún Umán, Guatemala

Westlake Legal Group journey-Artboard_4 Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out. Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

San

Francisco

UNITED STATES

Weslaco, Texas

Reynosa, Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico

Mexico

Guatemala

Tapachula, Mexico

Ciudad Tecún Umán, Guatemala

Westlake Legal Group journey-Artboard_5 Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out. Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

San

Francisco

UNITED STATES

Weslaco, Texas

Reynosa, Mexico

Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico

Guatemala

Tapachula, Mexico

Ciudad Tecún Umán, Guatemala


Satellite imagery from NASA

By The New York Times

A week later, in October of last year, he left with his daughter. A guide crossed them into Mexico. Soon, they reached the side of a highway, where a container truck sat idling. Inside, men, women and children were packed tight, with hardly enough space to move.

A dense heat filled the space, the sun baking the metal box as bodies brushed against one another. They spent nearly three days in the container before the first stop, he said.

The days went by in a blur, a log of images snatched from the fog of exhaustion. An open hangar, grumbling with trucks. Rolling desert, dotted by cactus. Sunlight glaring off the metal siding of a safe house.

They rode in at least five container trucks, as best they can remember. Hunger chased them. Some days, they got half an apple. On others, they got rice and beans. Sometimes they got nothing.

One night, they saw a man beaten unconscious for talking after the smugglers told him to be quiet.

“I remember that moment,” said his daughter, whose name is being withheld because she is still a minor. Her hands twisted at the memory. “I felt terrified,” she said.

Days later, starved for food, water and fresh air, she passed out in a container crammed with more than 200 migrants, her father holding her, fanning her with whatever documents he had.

In early November, they arrived in the Mexican border town of Reynosa, and were spirited into a safe house. After weeks on the road, they were getting close.

That day, the smugglers called one of Mr. Sasvin Dominguez’s sons, demanding an extra $400 to ferry the two across the river to Texas. If not, they would be tossed out of the safe house, left to the seething violence of Reynosa.

Mr. Sasvin Dominguez’s son sent the money. Last-minute extortions have come to be expected. A day later, they boarded a raft and entered the United States.

They wandered the dense brush before they stumbled upon a border patrol truck and turned themselves in.

Mr. Sasvin Dominguez said he and his daughter spent four days in Texas, in a facility with no windows. The fluorescent glare of the overhead lights continued day and night, troubling their sleep. It was cold. The migrants called it the icebox.

When they were released in November, Mr. Sasvin Dominguez was fitted with an ankle bracelet and instructed to check in with the immigration authorities in San Francisco, where he could begin the long process of applying for asylum.

His son bought them bus tickets and met them at the station. It was the first time they had seen each other in seven years.

On a sunny day in June, Mr. Sasvin Dominguez shuffled to a park, his daughter riding in front, hunched over the bars of a pink bicycle meant for a girl half her age. Behind him, his son and grandson tottered along, hand in hand.

They traversed a quintessential American landscape — bungalows perched on tidy green yards, wide sidewalks shaded by soaring live oaks.

He and his daughter live in the family’s modest one-bedroom apartment, now bursting at the seams. The trappings of suburban life fill the backyard: toolboxes, wheelbarrows, recycling bins.

But Mr. Sasvin Dominguez remains suspended in the sadness and fear he left behind in Guatemala. His other daughters are still trapped, and there is no money to move them.

Besides, he says, the journey north, even if they could afford it, is far too dangerous for three young women and a toddler to take on their own. His only hope, he says, is asylum.

That could take years, he is told, if it happens at all. A heavy backlog of cases is gumming up the courts. He does not even have a date yet for his first hearing.

Image

Romeo de Jesus Sasvin Dominguez in the Bay Area, where he is seeking asylum for his family.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

In the meantime, he lives in self-imposed austerity, scared to embrace his new life, as if doing so might belittle the danger his daughters still face.

In the park, families cooked out and blasted reggaeton. His daughter play-fought with her nephew, who never tired, no matter how many handfuls of grass she stuffed down his shirt, or how many times he retreated in tears.

She has found a better rhythm in their new life. In June, she finished sixth grade at the local school, which she loves. Her older brother keeps the graduation certificate on the small dining table.

She has dyed the tips of her hair purple, a style she’s grown fond of. Her face often falls back into the wide smile of the past, when her mother enrolled her in local beauty contests.

But she grows stormy and unpredictable at times, refusing to speak. She misses her mother. Her sisters, too.

Stuck in Guatemala, Lubia and her two other sisters moved into a small apartment, where they share a single bed. A portrait of their mother hangs on the wall.

They all work now, making tortillas in town. But they go straight home after, to avoid being spotted. Not long ago, Lubia ran into Gehovany’s mother.

Life for the sisters is measured in micro-improvements, pockets of air in the stifling fear. They are scarcely more than children themselves, raising children alone. Lubia’s 18-year-old sister now has an infant of her own.

They sometimes visit their mother’s grave, a green concrete box surrounded by paddle-shaped cactus.

“We are left here with nothing,” Lubia said.

She still bears the stigma of what happened. Neighbors, men and women alike, continue to blame her for her mother’s death. It doesn’t surprise her anymore. Now 20, she says she understands that women almost always bear the blame for problems at home.

She worries about the world her son will grow up in, what she can teach him and what he will ultimately come to believe. One day, she will tell him about his father, she says, but not now, or anytime soon.

By then, she hopes to be in the United States, free of the poverty, violence and suffocating confines for women in Guatemala.

“Here in Guatemala,” she said, “justice only exists in the law. Not in reality.”

Meridith Kohut in Jalapa, Guatemala and Paulina Villegas in Mexico City contributed reporting.

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Her Ex-Boyfriend Killed Her Mother. Will the U.S. Offer a Refuge?

JALAPA, Guatemala — They climbed the terraced hillside in single file, their machetes tapping the stones along the darkened footpath.

Gehovany Ramirez, 17, led his brother and another accomplice to his ex-girlfriend’s home. He struck the wooden door with his machete, sending splinters into the air.

His girlfriend, Lubia Sasvin Pérez, had left him a month earlier, fleeing his violent temper for her parents’ home here in southeast Guatemala. Five months pregnant, her belly hanging from her tiny 16-year-old frame, she feared losing the child to his rage.

Lubia and her mother slipped outside and begged him to leave, she said. They could smell the sour tang of alcohol on his breath. Unmoved, he raised the blade and struck her mother in the head, killing her.

Hearing a stifled scream, her father rushed outside. Lubia recalled watching in horror as the other men set upon him, splitting his face and leaving her parents splayed on the concrete floor.

For prosecutors, judges and even defense lawyers in Guatemala, the case exemplifies the national scourge of domestic violence, motivated by a deep-seated sense of ownership over women and their place in relationships.

But instead of facing the harsher penalties meant to stop such crimes in Guatemala, Gehovany received only four years in prison, a short sentence even by the country’s lenient standard for minors. More than three years later, now 21, he will be released next spring, perhaps sooner.

And far from being kept from the family he tore apart, under Guatemalan law Gehovany has the right to visit his son upon release, according to legal officials in Guatemala.

The prospect of his return shook the family so thoroughly that Lubia’s father, who survived the attack, sold their home and used the money to pay a smuggler to reach the United States. Now living outside of San Francisco, he is pinning his hopes on winning asylum to safeguard his family. They all are.

But that seems more distant than ever. Two extraordinary legal decisions by the Trump administration have struck at the core of asylum claims rooted in domestic violence or threats against families like Lubia’s — not only casting doubt on their case, but almost certainly on thousands of others as well, immigration lawyers say.

“How can this be justice?” Lubia said before the family fled, sitting under the portico where her mother was killed. “All I did was leave him for beating me and he took my mother from us.”

“What kind of system protects him, and not me?” she said, gathering her son in her lap.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17guatemala98-articleLarge Her Ex-Boyfriend Killed Her Mother. Will the U.S. Offer a Refuge? Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

Lubia is hoping for asylum in the United States, but her case faces significant obstacles under the Trump administration.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

Their case offers a glimpse into the staggering number of Central Americans fleeing violence and dysfunction — and the dogged fight the Trump administration is waging to keep them out.

Across Latin America, a murder epidemic is underway. Most years, more than 100,000 people are killed, largely young men on the periphery of broken societies, where gangs and cartels sometimes take the place of the state.

The turmoil has forced millions to flee the region and seek refuge in the United States, where they confront a system strained by record demand and a bitter fight over whether to accept them.

But violence against women, and domestic violence in particular, is a powerful and often overlooked factor in the migration crisis. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 14 of the 25 deadliest nations in the world for women, according to available data collected by the Small Arms Survey, which tracks violence globally.

And Central America, the region where most of those seeking asylum in the United States are fleeing, is at the heart of the crisis.

Here in Guatemala, the homicide rate for women is more than three times the global average. In El Salvador, it is nearly six times. In Honduras, it is one of the highest in the world — almost 12 times the global average.

Friends and family mourning during the funeral procession for Cristina Yulisa Godínez, 18, in Guatemala City. Ms. Godínez was murdered in her home in May, where she was found hanging by her neck from the ceiling, her hands bound with blue rope. CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times
Ms. Godínez was killed in front of her 3-year-old son and her daughter, who was a few months old. Her son told the police that a man came in, tied her up and hanged her from the ceiling.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

In the most violent pockets of Central America, the United Nations says, the danger is like living in a war zone.

“Despite the risk associated with migration, it is still lower than the risk of being killed at home,” said Angela Me, the chief of research and trend analysis at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The issue is so central to migration that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, eager to advance the Trump administration’s priority of closing the southern border to migrants, issued a decision last year to try to halt victims of domestic violence, among other crimes, from seeking asylum.

To win asylum in the United States, applicants must show specific grounds for their persecution back home, like their race, religion, political affiliation or membership in a particular social group. Lawyers have sometimes pushed successfully for women to qualify as a social group because of the overwhelming violence they face, citing a 2014 case in which a Guatemalan woman fleeing domestic violence was found to be eligible to apply for asylum in the United States.

But Mr. Sessions overruled that precedent, questioning whether women — in particular, women fleeing domestic violence — can be members of a social group. The decision challenged what had become common practice in asylum courts.

Then, last month, the new attorney general, William P. Barr, went further. Breaking with decades of precedent, he issued a decision making it harder for families, like Lubia’s, to qualify as social groups also.

Violence against women in the region is so prevalent that 18 countries have passed laws to protect them, creating a class of homicide known as femicide, which adds tougher penalties and greater law enforcement attention to the issue.

And yet, despite that broad effort, the new laws have failed to reduce the killings of girls and women in the region, the United Nations says.

That reflects how deep the gender gap runs. For the new laws to make a difference, experts say, they must go far beyond punishment to change education, political discourse, social norms and basic family dynamics.

Though gangs and cartels in the region play a role in the violence, most women are killed by lovers, family members, husbands or partners — men angered by women acting independently, enraged by jealousy or, like Gehovany, driven by a deeply ingrained sense of control over women’s lives.

“Men end up thinking they can dispose of women as they wish,” said Adriana Quiñones, the United Nations Women’s country representative in Guatemala.

A vast majority of female homicides in the region are never solved. In Guatemala, only about 6 percent result in convictions, researchers say. And in the rare occasions when they do, as in Lubia’s case, they are not always prosecuted vigorously.

Even defense attorneys believe Gehovany should have been charged with femicide, which would have put him in prison a couple of years longer. The fact that he was not, some Guatemalan officials acknowledge, underscores the many ways in which the nation’s legal system, even when set up to protect women, continues to fail them.

In the courtroom, Lubia’s father, Romeo de Jesus Sasvin Dominguez, spoke up just once.

It didn’t make sense, he told the judge, shaking his head. A long white scar ran over the bridge of his nose, a relic of the attack. How could the laws of Guatemala favor the man who killed his wife, who hurt his daughter?

“We had a life together,” he told the judge, nearly in tears. “And he came and took that away from us just because my daughter didn’t want to be in an abusive relationship.”

“I just don’t understand,” he said.

Though Jalapa has a lower homicide rate than other areas of Guatemala, the region is still very dangerous for women.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

Lubia’s son crawled with purpose, clutching a toy truck he had just relieved of its back wheel.

The family watched in grateful distraction. Years after the murder, they still lived like prisoners, trapped between mourning and fear. A rust-colored stain blotted the floor where Lubia’s mother died. The dimpled doorjamb, hacked by the machete, had not been repaired. Lubia’s three younger sisters refused even to set foot in the bedroom where they hid during the attack.

Santiago Ramirez, Gehovany’s brother, never went to prison, spared because of a mental illness. Neighbors often saw him walking the village streets.

Soon, Gehovany would be, too. The family worried the men would come back, to finish what they started.

“There’s not much we can do,” said Mr. Sasvin Dominguez, sending Lubia’s son on his way with the toy truck. “We don’t have the law in our hands.”

He had no money to move and owned nothing but the house, which the family clung to but could hardly bear. His two sons lived in the United States and had families of their own to support. He hadn’t seen them in years.

“I’m raising my daughters on my own now, four of them,” he said.

He woke each morning at 3 a.m., hiking into the mountains to work as a farm hand. The girls, whose high cheekbones and raven-colored hair resembled their mother’s, no longer went to school. With the loss of her income from selling knickknacks on the street, they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

His youngest daughter especially loved classes: the routine, the books, the chance to escape her circumscribed world. But even she had resigned herself to voluntary confinement. The stares and whispers of classmates — and the teasing of especially cruel ones — had grown unbearable. In town, some residents openly blamed Lubia for what happened. Even her own aunts did.

“There’s no justice here,” said Lubia, who added that she wanted to share her story with the public for that very reason. Her father did, too.

In her area, Jalapa, a region of rippled hills, rutted roads and a cowboy culture, men go around on horseback with holstered pistols, their faces shaded by wide-brimmed hats. Though relatively peaceful for Guatemala, with a lower homicide rate than most areas, it is very dangerous for women.

Insulated from Guatemala’s larger cities, Jalapa is a concentrated version of the gender inequality that fuels the femicide crisis, experts say.

“It’s stark,” said Mynor Carrera, who served as dean of the Jalapa campus of the nation’s largest university for 25 years. “The woman is treated often like a child in the home. And violence against them is accepted.”

Domestic abuse is the most common crime here. Of the several dozen complaints the Jalapa authorities receive each week, about half involve violence against women.

“It’s like our daily bread,” said Dora Elizabeth Monson, the prosecutor for women’s issues in Jalapa. “Women receive it morning, afternoon and night.”

At the courthouse, Judge Eduardo Alfonso Campos Paz maintains a docket filled with such cases. The most striking part, he said, is that most men struggle to understand what they’ve done wrong.

The problem is not easily erased by legislation or enforcement, he said, because of a mind-set ingrained in boys early on and reinforced throughout their lives.

“When I was born, my mom or sister brought me food and drink,” the judge said. “My sister cleaned up after me and washed my clothes. If I wanted water, she would get up from wherever she was and get it for me.”

“We are molded to be served, and when that isn’t accomplished, the violence begins,” he said.

A beauty pageant for girls in the Jalapa region. From an early age, officials say, girls are expected to be subservient. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times
The police investigating the crime scene of a suspected killing of a woman in Guatemala City.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Across Guatemala, complaints of domestic violence have skyrocketed as more women come forward to report abuse. Every week, it seems, a new, gruesome case emerges in newspapers, of a woman tortured, mutilated or dehumanized. It is an echo of the systematic rape and torture women endured during the nation’s 36-year civil war, which left an indelible mark on Guatemalan society.

But today, the countries with the highest rates of femicide in the region, like Guatemala, also suffer the highest homicide rates overall — often leaving the killing of women overlooked or dismissed as private domestic matters, with few national implications.

The result is more disparity. While murders in Guatemala have dropped remarkably over the last decade, there is a notable difference by gender: Homicides of men have fallen by 57 percent, while killings of women have declined more slowly, by about 39 percent, according to government data.

“The policy is to investigate violence that has more political interest,” said Jorge Granados, the head of the science and technology department at Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences. “The public policy is simply not focused on the murder of women.”

The femicide law required every region in the nation to install a specialized court focused on violence against women. But more than a decade later, only 13 of 22 are in operation.

“The abuse usually happens in the home, in a private context,” said Evelyn Espinoza, the coordinator of the Observatory on Violence at Diálogos, a Guatemalan research group. “And the state doesn’t involve itself in the home.”

In Lubia’s case, she fell in love with Gehovany in the fast, unstoppable way that teenagers do. By the time they moved in together, she was already pregnant.

But Gehovany’s drinking, abuse and stultifying expectations quickly became clear. He wanted her home at all times, even when he was out, she said. He told her not to visit her family.

She knew Gehovany would consider her leaving a betrayal, especially being pregnant with his child. She knew society might, too. But she had to go, for the baby’s sake, and was relieved to be free of him.

Until the night of Nov. 1, 2015, at around 9 p.m., when he came to reclaim her.

The New York Times tried to reach Gehovany, who fled after the killing and later turned himself in. But because he was a minor at the time of the murder, officials said, they could not arrange an interview or comment on the case.

His oldest brother, Robert Ramirez, argued that Gehovany had acted in self-defense and killed Lubia’s mother accidentally.

Still, Mr. Ramirez defended his brother’s decision to confront Lubia’s family that night, citing a widely held view of a woman’s place in Jalapa.

“He was right to go back and try to claim her,” he said. “She shouldn’t have left him.”

He looked toward his own house, etched into a clay hillside, a thread of smoke from a small fire curling through the doorway.

“I’d never allow my wife to leave me,” he said.

Mr. Sasvin Dominguez woke suddenly, startled by an idea.

He rushed to town in the dark, insects thrumming, a dense fog filling the mountains. In a single day, it was all arranged. He would sell his home and use the proceeds to flee to the United States.

The $6,500 was enough to buy passage for him and his youngest daughter, then 12. Traveling with a young child was cheaper, and often meant better treatment by American officials. At least, that’s what the smuggler said.

He hoped to reach his sons in California. With luck, he could find work, support the girls back home — and get asylum for the entire family.

The Dominguez Family’s Journey

Westlake Legal Group journey-Artboard_1 Her Ex-Boyfriend Killed Her Mother. Will the U.S. Offer a Refuge? Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

San

Francisco

UNITED STATES

Weslaco, Texas

Reynosa, Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico

Tapachula, Mexico

Ciudad Tecún Umán, Guatemala

Westlake Legal Group journey-Artboard_4 Her Ex-Boyfriend Killed Her Mother. Will the U.S. Offer a Refuge? Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

San

Francisco

UNITED STATES

Weslaco, Texas

Reynosa, Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico

Tapachula, Mexico

Ciudad Tecún Umán, Guatemala

Westlake Legal Group journey-Artboard_5 Her Ex-Boyfriend Killed Her Mother. Will the U.S. Offer a Refuge? Women and Girls United States Politics and Government United States Politics and Government Murders, Attempted Murders and Homicides Latin America Immigration and Emigration Illegal Immigration Guatemala domestic violence Asylum, Right of

San

Francisco

UNITED STATES

Weslaco, Texas

Reynosa, Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico

Tapachula, Mexico

Ciudad Tecún Umán, Guatemala

Satellite imagery from NASA

By The New York Times

A week later, in October of last year, he left with his daughter. A guide crossed them into Mexico. Soon, they reached the side of a highway, where a container truck sat idling. Inside, men, women and children were packed tight, with hardly enough space to move.

A dense heat filled the space, the sun baking the metal box as bodies brushed against one another. They spent nearly three days in the container before the first stop, he said.

The days went by in a blur, a log of images snatched from the fog of exhaustion. An open hangar, grumbling with trucks. Rolling desert, dotted by cactus. Sunlight glaring off the metal siding of a safe house.

They rode in at least five container trucks, as best they can remember. Hunger chased them. Some days, they got half an apple. On others, they got rice and beans. Sometimes they got nothing.

One night, they saw a man beaten unconscious for talking after the smugglers told him to be quiet.

“I remember that moment,” said his daughter, whose name is being withheld because she is still a minor. Her hands twisted at the memory. “I felt terrified,” she said.

Days later, starved for food, water and fresh air, she passed out in a container crammed with more than 200 migrants, her father holding her, fanning her with whatever documents he had.

In early November, they arrived in the Mexican border town of Reynosa, and were spirited into a safe house. After weeks on the road, they were getting close.

That day, the smugglers called one of Mr. Sasvin Dominguez’s sons, demanding an extra $400 to ferry the two across the river to Texas. If not, they would be tossed out of the safe house, left to the seething violence of Reynosa.

Mr. Sasvin Dominguez’s son sent the money. Last-minute extortions have come to be expected. A day later, they boarded a raft and entered the United States.

They wandered the dense brush before they stumbled upon a border patrol truck and turned themselves in.

Mr. Sasvin Dominguez said he and his daughter spent four days in Texas, in a facility with no windows. The fluorescent glare of the overhead lights continued day and night, troubling their sleep. It was cold. The migrants called it the icebox.

When they were released in November, Mr. Sasvin Dominguez was fitted with an ankle bracelet and instructed to check in with the immigration authorities in San Francisco, where he could begin the long process of applying for asylum.

His son bought them bus tickets and met them at the station. It was the first time they had seen each other in seven years.

On a sunny day in June, Mr. Sasvin Dominguez shuffled to a park, his daughter riding in front, hunched over the bars of a pink bicycle meant for a girl half her age. Behind him, his son and grandson tottered along, hand in hand.

They traversed a quintessential American landscape — bungalows perched on tidy green yards, wide sidewalks shaded by soaring live oaks.

He and his daughter live in the family’s modest one-bedroom apartment, now bursting at the seams. The trappings of suburban life fill the backyard: toolboxes, wheelbarrows, recycling bins.

But Mr. Sasvin Dominguez remains suspended in the sadness and fear he left behind in Guatemala. His other daughters are still trapped, and there is no money to move them.

Besides, he says, the journey north, even if they could afford it, is far too dangerous for three young women and a toddler to take on their own. His only hope, he says, is asylum.

That could take years, he is told, if it happens at all. A heavy backlog of cases is gumming up the courts. He does not even have a date yet for his first hearing.

Romeo de Jesus Sasvin Dominguez in the Bay Area, where he is seeking asylum for his family.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

In the meantime, he lives in self-imposed austerity, scared to embrace his new life, as if doing so might belittle the danger his daughters still face.

In the park, families cooked out and blasted reggaeton. His daughter play-fought with her nephew, who never tired, no matter how many handfuls of grass she stuffed down his shirt, or how many times he retreated in tears.

She has found a better rhythm in their new life. In June, she finished sixth grade at the local school, which she loves. Her older brother keeps the graduation certificate on the small dining table.

She has dyed the tips of her hair purple, a style she’s grown fond of. Her face often falls back into the wide smile of the past, when her mother enrolled her in local beauty contests.

But she grows stormy and unpredictable at times, refusing to speak. She misses her mother. Her sisters, too.

Stuck in Guatemala, Lubia and her two other sisters moved into a small apartment, where they share a single bed. A portrait of their mother hangs on the wall.

They all work now, making tortillas in town. But they go straight home after, to avoid being spotted. Not long ago, Lubia ran into Gehovany’s mother.

Life for the sisters is measured in micro-improvements, pockets of air in the stifling fear. They are scarcely more than children themselves, raising children alone. Lubia’s 18-year-old sister now has an infant of her own.

They sometimes visit their mother’s grave, a green concrete box surrounded by paddle-shaped cactus.

“We are left here with nothing,” Lubia said.

She still bears the stigma of what happened. Neighbors, men and women alike, continue to blame her for her mother’s death. It doesn’t surprise her anymore. Now 20, she says she understands that women almost always bear the blame for problems at home.

She worries about the world her son will grow up in, what she can teach him and what he will ultimately come to believe. One day, she will tell him about his father, she says, but not now, or anytime soon.

By then, she hopes to be in the United States, free of the poverty, violence and suffocating confines for women in Guatemala.

“Here in Guatemala,” she said, “justice only exists in the law. Not in reality.”

Meridith Kohut in Jalapa, Guatemala and Paulina Villegas in Mexico City contributed reporting.

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US can reject asylum claims in some areas says… the Ninth Circuit?

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I had to read this story a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently followed a link to The Onion, but it’s apparently legitimate news. The report deals with the Trump administration’s order to deny some asylum claims from Central American migrants who illegally cross into the United States from Mexico without asking for asylum there first. That order was immediately challenged in court and placed under a temporary injunction by District Court Judge Jon Tigar last month.

Now, however, the government has appealed and won at least a partial (if temporary) victory. And the shocking part of this tale is that they achieved this via a three-person panel of the Ninth Circuit. (Associated Press)

A federal appeals court’s ruling Friday will allow the Trump administration to begin rejecting asylum at some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border for migrants who arrive after passing through a third country.

The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows President Donald Trump to enforce the policy in New Mexico and Texas, rejecting asylum seekers who cross from Mexico into either state. Under Friday’s ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar’s July 24 order stopping the policy would only apply in California and Arizona, which are covered by the 9th Circuit.

The two busiest areas for unauthorized border crossings are in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and the region around El Paso, Texas, which includes New Mexico. Nearly 50,000 people in July crossed the U.S. border without permission in those two regions, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

The two big questions to understand regarding this ruling involve the questions of how and who. As far as how this works, the decision wasn’t a complete reversal of Judge Tigar’s injunction. What the appeals panel actually said was that Tigar hadn’t met the burden of showing why the injunction should be applied nationally rather than only in his own district. So the injunction will remain in place for California and Arizona, both of which fall in Tigar’s district. The judge has been ordered to “further develop the record in support of a preliminary nationwide injunction,” so he could still prevail.

The injunction will not apply in New Mexico and Texas, where some of the busiest illegal crossing areas are found. (At least for now.)

Then comes the question of who the judges are who handed down this ruling. And this is where we may be seeing some of the early effects of President Trump and Cocaine Mitch advancing so many of Trump’s court nominees. This panel was composed of Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Clinton nominee, Judge Milan Smith, nominated by George W. Bush, and Judge Mark J. Bennett. The latter was a Trump appointee.

And for the benefit of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who recently said we “don’t have any” Obama nominees or Clinton nominees, the Clinton nominee voted in favor of the injunction while the two appointees of GOP presidents voted the other way. Of course, all of these immigration rules are immediately challenged before the ink on Trump’s signature is even dry and most will likely have to go all the way to the Supreme Court sooner or later. (Where the President has fared better than in the lower courts.)

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Guatemala safe third country agreement is pretty much dead

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Roughly one month ago, the White House announced that we were closing in on a safe third country agreement with Guatemala, scoring what was perceived as a major win on immigration for President Trump. At the time, we noted that there were several serious flaws in the plan which might prevent it from coming to fruition. One was the fact that the deal was being cut with a lame-duck president who was on his way out (Jimmy Morales) and we didn’t know who the next leader would be or what their view on the deal might look like. Also, constitutional questions were raised in that country because the legislature would need to approve any such agreement before it could be finalized.

Now the first question has at least been answered. The winner of the runoff election and incoming president (in January) is Alejandro Giammattei, and this week he declared that the safe third country agreement was not something he could support. Why? Because even he doesn’t believe that his own nation could be considered a safe third country. (Associated Press)

A Guatemalan immigration agreement signed with the Trump administration won’t work because the Central American nation does not have the resources, the country’s new president-elect says.

Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative who was chosen overwhelmingly by voters in a weekend runoff election, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that Guatemala is too poor to tend to its own people, let alone those from other countries…

“In order to be a safe country, one has to be certified as such by an international body, and I do not think Guatemala fulfills the requirements to be a third safe country. That definition doesn’t fit us,” said Giammattei, a 63-year-old doctor.

Just how bad off does a nation have to be for their own president-elect to say they don’t qualify as a “safe third country?” Not that I’m arguing with him, of course. Guatemala may not be quite as bad as Honduras, but they are still plagued with gang violence, corruption and a very low standard of living for most citizens. If you flee from Honduras or points further south and wind up living in Guatemala, I’m not sure how much your prospects have improved. Honesty, Mexico is probably safer and offers better opportunities, as hard as it is to say those words aloud.

In any event, this seems to be the final nail in the coffin for the safe third country agreement. The new president won’t support it. Polling shows most of their people are opposed, so the legislature would be unlikely to go along with it. And it’s unclear whether they could actually enforce it even if they signed on to the deal.

It was a good idea in principle because reducing migrant traffic coming into Mexico from the south would make it far easier to shut down (or at least seriously reduce) the massive migrant caravans that have been overwhelming our border resources. But the plan just doesn’t seem to be practical. What we should probably be focusing on is helping Mexico act as a safe third country and make sure they continue to allow migrants to wait on their side of the border while their applications are processed.

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Guatemala safe third country agreement is pretty much dead

Westlake Legal Group JimmyMorales Guatemala safe third country agreement is pretty much dead The Blog safe third country Jimmy Morales Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei agreement

Roughly one month ago, the White House announced that we were closing in on a safe third country agreement with Guatemala, scoring what was perceived as a major win on immigration for President Trump. At the time, we noted that there were several serious flaws in the plan which might prevent it from coming to fruition. One was the fact that the deal was being cut with a lame-duck president who was on his way out (Jimmy Morales) and we didn’t know who the next leader would be or what their view on the deal might look like. Also, constitutional questions were raised in that country because the legislature would need to approve any such agreement before it could be finalized.

Now the first question has at least been answered. The winner of the runoff election and incoming president (in January) is Alejandro Giammattei, and this week he declared that the safe third country agreement was not something he could support. Why? Because even he doesn’t believe that his own nation could be considered a safe third country. (Associated Press)

A Guatemalan immigration agreement signed with the Trump administration won’t work because the Central American nation does not have the resources, the country’s new president-elect says.

Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative who was chosen overwhelmingly by voters in a weekend runoff election, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that Guatemala is too poor to tend to its own people, let alone those from other countries…

“In order to be a safe country, one has to be certified as such by an international body, and I do not think Guatemala fulfills the requirements to be a third safe country. That definition doesn’t fit us,” said Giammattei, a 63-year-old doctor.

Just how bad off does a nation have to be for their own president-elect to say they don’t qualify as a “safe third country?” Not that I’m arguing with him, of course. Guatemala may not be quite as bad as Honduras, but they are still plagued with gang violence, corruption and a very low standard of living for most citizens. If you flee from Honduras or points further south and wind up living in Guatemala, I’m not sure how much your prospects have improved. Honesty, Mexico is probably safer and offers better opportunities, as hard as it is to say those words aloud.

In any event, this seems to be the final nail in the coffin for the safe third country agreement. The new president won’t support it. Polling shows most of their people are opposed, so the legislature would be unlikely to go along with it. And it’s unclear whether they could actually enforce it even if they signed on to the deal.

It was a good idea in principle because reducing migrant traffic coming into Mexico from the south would make it far easier to shut down (or at least seriously reduce) the massive migrant caravans that have been overwhelming our border resources. But the plan just doesn’t seem to be practical. What we should probably be focusing on is helping Mexico act as a safe third country and make sure they continue to allow migrants to wait on their side of the border while their applications are processed.

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CBS Baltimore: By golly, our murder rate actually IS higher than Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

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The ongoing social media battle between President Trump and Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland has drawn in all sorts of supporters on both sides and provided more than a few amusing moments. One of the most recent spun off from a claim that the President made about Baltimore (Cummings’ home town) having a higher murder rate than some of the most dangerous places in the western hemisphere. It actually came from the White House account, not Trump’s personal one.

As usual, this had heads exploding among democrats who rushed to defend Cummings and claim that the President was “lying” again. Unfortunately for them, at least a few media outlets did their homework and went to fact check the numbers. CBS in Baltimore did the required digging and was forced to concede the unpleasant truth. The President was right. (Emphasis added)

WJZ reviewed data from 2018, the last full year for which data is available. Data from the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council lists El Salvador’s murder rate at 50 per 100,000 residents in 2018.

The council’s report listed Guatemala’s 2018 murder rate at 22 per 100,000.

Honduras’ 2018 murder rate was not included in OSAC’s annual crime and safety report published in April, but a report from the Observatory of Violence at the National Autonomous University of Honduras gave a figure of 41.4 murders per 100,000 residents.

HOW DOES BALTIMORE COMPARE?

Charm City ended 2018 with a total of 309 murders, according to the Baltimore Police Department. So far in 2019, police report 196 homicides have occurred. Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 2018 population estimate for the city of 602,495, Baltimore’s 2018 murder rate is 51.3 murders per 100,000 residents.

The article ends with two simple words. CLAIM: TRUE.

This is yet another example of a phenomenon we’ve become accustomed to seeing. If the President goes after any individual, organization or even city or country, Democrats and their allies in the media will immediately leap to the defense of the perceived target. Sometimes that works out for them in the media wars because President Trump does say some odd things from time to time. But that knee-jerk reaction also gets them into trouble.

We recently saw that when cable news hosts, newspapers and even Democratic presidential candidates rushed to the defense of Al Sharpton after Trump called him a con man. Seriously? Have any of you actually followed Al Sharpton’s career? That would have been a good time to stay on the bench and hold your tongues. Eventually, both the Washington Post and the New York Times felt compelled to publish op-eds questioning why Democrats were rushing to Sharpton’s defense.

This phenomenon is what Seth Mandell recently referred to as the Trump “unendorsement.” When Trump attacks someone, others rush to their defense under the terrible theory that the enemy of my enemy must be my hero. This leads to many mouths gathering feet.

When it comes to defending Baltimore, I don’t know what most of these critics were thinking. Regular readers know that I’ve been covering Baltimore politics and culture here for years and the President’s claims about it being plagued by violence, crime, drugs, and even rats came as no surprise to me. These endemic problems have been in place for longer than many residents can remember. Trump is also correct that Baltimore has been completely under the control of one party (the Democrats) for a very long time. Three of their last four mayors have left office either facing criminal charges or under a cloud of controversy and failure. (As with Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her failure in handling the Freddie Gray riots.)

Attack Trump if you feel you must, but before you rush to proclaim Baltimore some sort of success story, get your facts in order. Parts of it are nice enough, but the rough areas on the east and west sides are pretty much war zones.

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Don’t Look Now But Ilhan Omar Just Called Guatemala a Sh** Hole

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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joined at right by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A few days ago, Guatemala signed a “safe third country” agreement with the United States. What that does is require anyone requesting asylum along our southern border to request asylum first from Mexico or Guatemala before being allowed to apply for asylum in the United States. As Guatemala sits astride the major route used by Central Americans trying to illegally immigrate to the United States, the practical effect would be that we could send anyone who was not Mexican to Guatemala to apply for asylum.

Well, some are not happy. And by “some” I mean the open borders crowd. Among them the jihadi from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar:

I think we all remember the anxiety that shot through our intelligensia in January of 2018 when President Trump dared to speak the truth:

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Good question. Many have long wondered why our immigration policy disadvantages people who are likely to assimilate and become patriotic Americans in favor of people who seem to have marginal affinity for anything but what federal largess they can wring out of a bloated benefits system.

The fact is that Guatemala is safer than quite a few American cities and while it might not by America…it is definitely safer that West Baltimore (see Violence In Elijah Cummings’s District Is So Bad His Constituents Can Qualify For Political Asylum At the Mexican Border).

One would think that Omar, of all people, could embrace multiculturalism and agree that just because a country is ruled by brown people that it can actually be a safe place and a good place to live. Perhaps if those immigrants who are so vital to America changed their plans and settled in Guatemala and provided the same lift to the Guatemalan economy that they provide to the US economy we could create an economic engine there that would lift Central America out of the sh** hole nation category and make it a garden spot. I think we should call upon Omar to apologize to the people of Guatemala for denigrating their country and implying that they are incapable of providing a safe environment for highly motivated refugees to live productive lives.

The post Don’t Look Now But Ilhan Omar Just Called Guatemala a Sh** Hole appeared first on RedState.

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Border victory: U.S. and Guatemala sign agreement on asylum-seekers

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President Trump’s very good week ended with a surprise announcement on an agreement with Guatemala on asylum-seekers. Late Friday afternoon, President Trump summoned the White House press pool to the Oval Office. He, along with Enrique Degenhart, the Guatemalan minister of government, and acting homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan announced that a deal has been reached for Guatemala to be a safe third country for migrants seeking asylum en route to the U.S. southern border.

The agreement offers a safe harbor in Guatemala for those who are determined to have legitimate asylum claims. Central Americans arriving in caravans at the U.S. southern border have overwhelmed the American system for those seeking asylum, most specifically Salvadorans and Hondurans. The new system should be in effect in August.

On a call with reporters Friday, McAleenan said the agreement with Guatemala would “be up and running in August,” after the two governments had completed several steps to ratify the deal. Under the agreement, Salvadorans and Hondurans would need to seek asylum in Guatemala, McAleenan said.

“If you have, say, a Honduran family coming across through Guatemala to the U.S. border, we want them to feel safe to make an asylum claim at the earliest possible point,” he said. “If they do instead, in the hands of smugglers, make the journey all the way to the U.S. border, [they would] be removable back to Guatemala.”

President Trump voiced support for such an agreement with Guatemala, as a previous attempt failed.

“We’ve long been working with Guatemala, and now we can do it the right way,” Trump said Friday. He claimed the agreement will put “coyotes and the smugglers out of business.”

He added: “These are bad people.”

This is a sensible move, especially in terms of trying to ease the burdens of overcrowding at the border. The Trump administration sees it as a way to shrink the number of migrants arriving and making asylum claims. It is a step in the right direction, especially given the non-stop complaints from President Trump’s opponents and social justice warriors about conditions at detention facilities. It just makes sense that migrants file a claim in the first country they come to once they are outside of their own.

Last week a deal fell through with Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales. He was to sign it but the country’s Constitutional Court is on summer recess, therefore unable to issue approval of such an agreement. President Trump, unhappy about the delay, threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala. And, just like that, there is now a deal. At least a tentative agreement, pending any legal challenges to the designation as a safe third country. If those traveling to the U.S. border don’t first apply for asylum in Guatemala, they will not be eligible for asylum in America. They will be sent back to Guatemala, though, not to their home country.

Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, described the document signed by the two countries as a “safe third” agreement that would make migrants ineligible for protection in the United States if they had traveled through Guatemala and did not first apply for asylum there.

Instead of being returned home, however, the migrants would be sent back to Guatemala, which under the agreement would be designated as a safe place for them to live.

“They would be removable, back to Guatemala, if they want to seek an asylum claim,” said Mr. McAleenan, who likened the agreement to similar arrangements in Europe.

The Spanish text of the deal was released late Friday, calling it a “cooperative agreement regarding the examination of protection claims”, instead of “a safe third country”. This appears to be a decision made by President Morales to get around a court ruling that blocks him from signing such an agreement with the United States without the approval of his country’s congress. Morales leaves office in January and some running to replace him grumble that the next president should be the one making an agreement, not Morales.

Critics point to the dangerous conditions in Guatemala and say that the country can’t provide safe conditions or a fair system of protection for the migrants.

But critics said that the law clearly requires the “safe third” country to be a truly safe place where migrants will not be in danger. And it requires that the country have the ability to provide a “full and fair” system of protections that can accommodate asylum seekers who are sent there. Critics insisted that Guatemala meets neither requirement.

They also noted that the State Department’s own country condition reports on Guatemala warn about rampant gang activity and say that murder is common in the country, which has a police force that is often ineffective at best.

Asked whether Guatemala is a safe country for refugees, Mr. McAleenan said it was unfair to tar an entire country, noting that there are also places in the United States that are not safe.

It may not be perfect but the agreement is a start. Anything, at this point, to ease the burdens and chaos on our southern border is a win.

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