Tag Archives: immigration

The Anti-Asylum Measures Impacting Mexico, and Those Implemented by Mexico

Posted by Leandra Barrett – PhD student in Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU

Recent news stories, which are as tragic as they are familiar, highlight the ways anti-asylum and anti-migration policies have been implemented worldwide. Such policies, including the United States’ own “Prevention through Deterrence,” have deadly consequences. In North America, migrants experience deadly exposure on both ends, at both international land-borders: migrants have trekked through blizzards and experienced life-threatening frostbite at the U.S.-Canadian border, and between September 2017 and June 2018, migrant deaths have risen more than 50% at the US-Mexico border.

This ever-changing landscape of immigration policy and enforcement was at the front of my mind as I visited the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’s “Día Mundial Del Refugiado” in Mexico City (the UNHCR is known here by it’s Spanish acronym, ACNUR). Held in the shadow of the city’s historic Monumento a la Revolución, the event engaged the public through a fair featuring many Mexico City-based organizations supporting refugees and asylum seekers, live coverage of the world cup, an art collaborative exhibit featuring work from refugees around the world, and games.

Barrett_Mexico_Migration Postcard

In the foreground, a hand holds up postcard stating, “¿Te atreverías a cruzar la frontera sin nada más que la esperanza de poder vivir en paz y seguridad?” depicting a illustration of Central American child running to Mexico. Mexico City’s Monumento a la Revolución is in the background.

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Security, Red Tape, and Human Rights on the Mexico-Guatemala border

By Laura Weiss, NYU CLACS student

Instituto Migratorio

My research this summer has to do with social movement responses to human rights abuses that have arisen or worsened as a result of U.S.-Mexico policy. One of my case examples for my thesis will be to explore the buildup and consequences of the Southern Border Plan – and the responses by NGOs and activist groups in Mexico and the United States.

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a delegation with the American Friends Service Committee on human rights, migration and militarization in Mexico, for a portion of their two-week trip, to the city of Tapachula in Chiapas, and its outskirts, on the Mexico-Guatemala border. It was a great opportunity to see firsthand a lot of what I’ve studied on the Southern Border and connect with a group of inspiring activists, researchers, journalists and filmmakers interested in similar topics. Going to Tapachula, meeting with human rights groups, and seeing the border zones deepened and complicated my understanding of the migration situation in Southern Mexico today.

Contextualizing the Southern Border Plan

Before coming to Mexico, I’d read a lot about the Southern Border Plan, or Plan Frontera Sur. The program, with the stated intention of improving border and human security on the 541 mile border between Mexico and Guatemala, was announced shortly after the “child migrant crisis” of 2014. In the summer of 2014, 70,000 Central American children arrived at the US-Mexico border, seeking refuge from the life-threatening conditions they faced in their home countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The program aimed to stop migrants and asylum-seekers in Mexico, before they reached the United States, and allotted funding for more migration officers, as well as new detection technologies and detention centers, with support from the United States. The plan also included methods to dissuade migrants and asylum-seekers from boarding the infamous Bestia cargo train that many traveling through Mexico have used as transportation northward – by speeding it up and inserting posts along the trail to make it more difficult to board.

The disbursement of funding has been extremely opaque, and denial hasn’t helped make it any clearer. When I was in Puebla, Mexico, in January for a course on social welfare and child migrants through NYU’s School of Social Work, both the National Migration Institute  (INM) delegate in Puebla and US Embassy representatives in Mexico City denied any financial pressure or support from the US government for the plan. But the law begs to differ. The congressional appropriations for 2015 clearly show that at least $75 million was appropriated to Mexico to secure its southern borders, that in addition to the yearly budget for the US-Mexico bilateral security initiative, Plan Mérida, which has included over $2.6 billion in U.S. funding since 2008.

Meanwhile, measures to help improve services for Central Americans fleeing violence in their home countries have come much more slowly than those securitizing the southern border. The US and Mexico have both defied international law that state that a person cannot be sent back to a country where they face threats to their life and person. As I wrote in an article, “Secure Borders Now, Protect People Later,” for NACLA in February, it wasn’t until January 2016 that the US government announced any sort of specific refugee program to allow Central American child migrants to remain in the country. By national security measures, however, Plan Frontera Sur seemed to work—at least in the short term. Detention and deportation rates from Mexico to Northern triangle countries increased by 40% in the year followed the passage of Plan Frontera Sur, according to the Migration Policy Institute. However, more recent estimates show that the number arriving at the US-Mexico border is once again rising.

With all of this information in mind, I set off to Tapachula.

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“La Bestia” and La Casa del Migrante Saltillo

Posted by Katie Schlechter – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

In Saltillo the presence of the migrant feels more present than it does in Mexico City, but also somehow a bit tucked away. On my first walk around the hot city the afternoon that I arrived, I could already hear the trains. “La Bestia” runs right through here, mostly carrying migrants towards the border with Texas—from here it’s only a three and a half hour drive to Laredo without traffic. Yet some migrants are also catching the train south, after a serious injury or an inability to pay the “cuota” to cartel groups in order to continue their journey north forced them to backtrack.

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Train tracks less than a block away from the Casa del Migrante Saltillo in northern Mexico. (Photo: Katie Schlechter)

The train horns carry on throughout the night and I can hear them from the room where I’m staying near the center of town. As it gets later and the traffic noise dies down, I can actually hear train wheels click-clacking and screeching as they pull in and out of the main station a few blocks away. La Casa del Migrante Saltillo is a thirty minute hike down Calle Alvaro Obregón—a sweaty walk that I was disappointed to find offers none of the typical plethora of street food options I’m accustomed to in Mexico City. A panadería was my best bet for breakfast, and shortly after shelling out eight pesos for a few pineapple empanadas, I was turning off Obregón towards the shelter next to the train tracks.

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Early Latin American Migration to the U.S. Focus of Next Indocumentales

Post by Gretchen Kyle Shaheen, CLACS MA Candidate and Graduate Associate for K-12 Outreach

On Monday, November 23, CLACS will be presenting the second film in this semester’s installation of Indocumentales.  Starting at 6:30pm, we will be screening Empire of Dreams (1880-1942) of the PBS Series Latino Americans.

The second part of the Latino Americans Series, this film highlights immigration to the U.S. from Latin America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Empire of Dreams documents how the American population begins to be reshaped by the influx of people that began in 1880 and continues into the 1940s, as Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans begin arriving in the U.S. and start to build strong Latino-American communities in South Florida, Los Angeles and New York. 

The screening will be followed by a conversation with award-winning journalist, author, and 2015 Andres Bello Chair in Latin American Cultures and Civilizations at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Juan González, and Maribel Hernandez Rivera, Executive Director of Legal Initiatives at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

To read more about the screening of Empire of Dreams (1880-1942), and register to attend, click here.

Viewers interested in K-12 education can find more information on ways to incorporate the themes explored in the film into their classrooms by clicking here.

Indocumentales is a film and conversation series exploring the immigrant experience. This series is done in partnership with Cinema Tropical, and What Moves You?.  For more on Indocumentales, click here.

Our last screening of 2015 will be the award-winning film by Diego Quemada-Diez entitled La Jaula de Oro. This film will be showcased on Thursday, December 17. More information here.

 

Immigration, Integration and Identity of Palestinians in Honduras: A Success Story?

Posted by Gina Kawas, MA Candidate at CLACS – Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

Kawas_Honduras_OttomanLaissezPasser

Identity cards or travel permits issued to Palestinians by the Ottoman Empire; they were called miirur tezkeresi (or laissez passer). In long boat journeys, before arriving to Honduras, most immigrants passed by Europe and the United States. Photo by: Gina Kawas

My ethnographic research in Honduras had two objectives: to study the evolution and socioeconomic impact of the Palestinian diaspora, and comprehend their assimilation/creolization in Honduras. The assimilation was fast-paced, and provoked a disconnection with their homeland after the first generation of Palestinians arrived.

Being born in Honduras and having Palestinian descent myself [on my father’s side], I can relate to this disruption. My father never spoke to me about our Palestinian roots; it was my grandmother who used to tell me stories about what forced our family to migrate. The reasons, which I preliminary share with the subjects of my ethnographic research, were mainly poverty and the repression caused by the Ottoman Empire. Hence, the bulk of Palestinian immigration that arrived to Honduras did so in the latter half of the nineteenth century, which means that they did not have to face the post 1948 dispossession and dispersal caused by the creation of an Israeli state [the Al-Nakba, or catastrophe].

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Letters from Argentina: Fabricating the Experience of Migration

Picture from the departure of Coral Sanz from Cadiz to Buenos Aires, with Puri Zahino and family

Picture from the departure of Coral Sanz from Cadiz to Buenos Aires, with Puri Zahino and family

Posted by Cristina Colmena- PhD Candidate at Spanish and Portuguese Department NYU

My project focused on the construction of identities through the correspondence of Spanish migrants who went to Argentina during the 1960´s under Francoism. My point of departure was the letters sent by Purificación Zahino to her family in Spain from 1962 to 1969. She died at the age of 34 in Rosario and those letters and photographs were the “texts” to elaborate a kind of autobiography not only by her, but also by their relatives who stayed in Spain. In Puri´s letters there was some confusing information about her life and the people who were her employers -and at the same time a sort of “family”- so I came to Argentina to get some interviews and maybe find more archival material that allow me to fill the gaps. After some research in CEMLA (Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos) in Buenos Aires and contacting with Centro Navarro in Rosario where she used to work, I found the relatives who lived with her and also had the chance to talk to people who knew her and gave me very relevant information for my study.

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Palestinians in Honduras: From a Thriving Socio-Economic Trajectory to a Potential Rejection

Posted by Gina Kawas, MA Candidate at CLACS – Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

In June I carried out an ethnographic investigation in Honduras aimed at studying the social and economic effects Palestinian migration has had in the country. Landing in Tegucigalpa is always an interesting experience: having one of the most dangerous airports in the world, the passengers’ excitement after safely landing is manifested through clapping and wooing. But this arrival was different to others I have experienced. The environment was charged with disenchantment and anger towards the corrupt political and business elite that currently rules the country.

Situated in the midst of corruption scandals that have recently erupted across the region, discussions of a Central American Spring have flooded both local and international media. But for the first time in Honduras after the 2009 coup d’état, all sectors of society have united towards fighting against this never-ending problem. Corruption has been one of the main causes for the high levels of inequality, poverty and slow growth that Latin American nations have experienced since independence.

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