Miami summit an opportunity to rethink Central America

6/13/2017 Miami Herald 

central america conference
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, at center, gathers with Central American leaders during Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America at Florida International University on Thursday, June 15, 2017. At left of VP Pence is U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at right of Pence.
AL DIAZ/ Miami Herald

This week’s Miami summit with the presidents of three of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest and most violent nations may not draw the kind of attention of the recent NATO or G-7 meetings attended by President Trump, but maybe it should.

The direct implications of the Miami meeting for the national security of the United States should not be ignored.

The irregular flow of migrants and the existence of illicit trafficking networks in Central America are symptomatic of the region’s greatest challenges: fragile governments infested with corruption that are unable to protect their own citizens, provide adequate economic opportunities or deliver basic services. Failure to address these challenges in a comprehensive and sustained way poses grave risks to the region, and ultimately the security of the United States.

Dubbed the “Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America,” the June 15 and 16 meeting is the brainchild of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. He, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, will co-host the meeting with their Mexican counterparts.

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Trump Will Allow ‘Dreamers’ to Stay in U.S., Reversing Campaign Promise

6/16/2017 The New York Times

trumpWASHINGTON — President Trump has officially reversed his campaign pledge to deport the so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as small children.

The Department of Homeland Security announced late Thursday night that it would continue the Obama-era program intended to protect those immigrants from deportation and provide them work permits so they can find legal employment.

A fact sheet posted on the department’s website says immigrants enrolled in the 2012 program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “will continue to be eligible” to renew every two years and notes that “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.”

Immigration rights activists, who have fiercely battled Mr. Trump’s travel ban and increased enforcement of other immigration laws, hailed the decision.

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Central American leaders facing U.S. aid cuts pledge to do more

6/15/2017 Reuters

tillerson-public-domainFacing deep cuts to foreign aid by the Trump administration, Central American leaders pledged on Thursday to take more responsibility to battle organized crime and curb illegal immigration from the region.

Washington is pushing the violent countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, known as the Northern Triangle, to enact economic reforms to lift private investment and stem the flow of migrants at a meeting of Latin American leaders in Miami.

The Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America began with the Inter-American Development Bank announcing $2.5 billion in funding for infrastructure projects in the nations which make up the bulk of migrants crossing the U.S. border.

Trump’s administration hopes tax and regulatory changes in the region will boost growth and encourage companies to invest, filling the gap left by less aid to the region. He sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to oversee talks in Miami.

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Exclusive: U.S., Mexico, Slim charity to work on Central America crime, migration

6/14/2017 Reuters

CarlosSlimThe United States, Mexico and three Central American nations will this week unveil plans to work with billionaire Carlos Slim’s charity to tackle crime in Central America and find new ways of slowing migration, according to a draft document.

Top U.S., Mexican and Central American officials meet in Miami on Thursday and Friday to discuss how to cut migration and improve conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, a cluster of poor, violent countries known as the Northern Triangle that most U.S.-bound migrants set out from.

The document, seen in Mexico, contains an agenda for the two-day meeting in Miami and lists several specific objectives it refers to as “deliverables.” It is a draft document, and could be subject to change.

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It Won’t Be From Sea-To-Sea; How Long Will Border Wall Be?

6/5/2017 New York Times

Us-mexico-borderThe White House insists that plans for President Donald Trump’s border wall are on track despite resistance from Congress. What it’s not saying is how it envisions the wall these days.

Trump’s promise to build a “big beautiful wall” and have Mexico pay for it was a campaign rallying cry. It conjured images of an imposing structure spanning the 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) of America’s southern border, too tall and strong for foreigners to dare cross illegally.

But since Trump took office, his top aides have made clear that’s not on their drawing boards. It won’t be “from sea to shining sea,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told lawmakers.

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How America’s immigrant workforce is changing

5/26/2017 CNN Money

170522175603-immigration-stats-workforce-780x439.jpgAmerica’s workforce is changing.

Baby Boomers are retiring and U.S. birth rates are falling. With fewer native born workers coming into the job market, the country is becoming more reliant on immigrants than ever before to keep its labor force growing, according to the Pew Research Center.

Today, immigrants make up about 17% of the U.S. labor force — and nearly one-quarter of those immigrants are undocumented.
Without the current rate of both legal and undocumented immigration, Pew found that the total U.S. workforce would shrink dramatically over the next 20 years.

Not only would that have an impact on overall economic growth, but it would hurt certain industries that rely heavily on immigrant labor, too.

After the housing market collapsed, the construction industry lost many of its foreign born workers — many of whom moved back to Mexico and the Americas. Now, as construction ramps back up, home builders are having a difficult time staffing up.

Farmers are experiencing similar labor shortages, although many have said they’ve lost workers because of tougher enforcement of immigration laws that began during the Obama administration.

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I’m a reporter in Mexico. My life is in danger. The United States wouldn’t give me asylum.

5/25/2017 The Washington Post

Flickr/Adrián Martínez

On Feb. 5, I walked into the United States from Mexico and turned myself over to immigration authorities for the purpose of seeking political asylum. But even though I have good reason to fear for my life, U.S. officials refused to let me stay. And now I’m in danger again.

I’m a journalist in Acapulco, Mexico. For almost a year, I have been receiving death threats from Mexican federal agents over articles I wrote in Novedades Acapulco, a newspaper there. In February 2016, I witnessed abuses by the Mexican military during a traffic accident. As a journalist, I began taking photographs. Federal agents arrived and began screaming at me. They took away my camera, my identification and my credentials and began hitting me as they told me to stop taking pictures and leave the area. I filed a complaint with the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights. Immediately afterward, I began receiving threats over the phone. A few weeks later, several men arrived at my home, pointed a gun at my forehead and told me to keep quiet. I moved to a different city, but the threatening messages and phone calls continued. Eventually, I moved across the country, hoping that these men would finally forget about me. Unfortunately, it did not take long for them to find me again. I realized that there was no place in Mexico where I could go without fearing I would be killed — the same way so many of my fellow journalists have been. Just this month, award-winning reporter Javier Valdez was killed in Sinaloa. He was the sixth journalist slain in Mexico this year.

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