FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 22, 2020
HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS CHARGE THE UNITED STATES AND MEXICO WITH SYSTEMIC HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AT THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER UNDER THE GUISE OF COVID-19, REMAIN IN MEXICO POLICIES, AND THE FANTASY OF SAFE ASYLUM ALTERNATIVES IN CENTRAL AMERICA
Today the USF Immigration & Deportation Defense Clinic and Migration Studies program in conjunction with 40 organizations who do work in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and the United States filed a request for a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The organizations ask that the Commission condemn the United States and Mexico for their human rights violations at the U.S-Mexico border. The groups urge the Commission to visit the border region, investigate, and produce a comprehensive report on the violations.
The request focuses on three primary areas of concern.
COVID-19 Measures put in place by the governments of the United States and Mexico violate, among others, the rights to seek asylum; not to be returned to a country where one’s life or freedom would be threatened; to due process; not to be subjected to arbitrary detention; to family unity; to respect the best interests of the child; and to the preservation of health and wellbeing.
Asylum Cooperative Agreements (“ACA”) violate the principle of non-refoulement; the requirements stipulated by the UNHCR and Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for safe third country transfers; and the rights to a fair trial and due process.
Under the Migrant Protection Protocols (“MPP”), the United States, in coordination with Mexico, violates the principle of non-refoulement, and fails to protect the rights to life, liberty and personal security, equality before the law, and due process.
Maira Delgado Laurens, a graduate student in the USF Masters in Migration Studies program who led the coordination of rhe request say: “These policies are a tragic violation of human rights. Legitimate asylum seekers are being forced to remain in unsafe shelters or other conditions that threaten their health and safety.”
Jacqueline Brown Scott, the supervising attorney of the Immigration & Deportation Defense Clinic who has represented children and families at the border for many years charged: “The Trump administration has gone from caging children to deporting refugees to countries without explanation or an opportunity to make their asylum claims in the U.S.”
Karina Hodoyán, the Director of Migration Studies at USF, grew up along the border and travels there often. “The U.S. border patrol militarization of the border has contributed to making border areas in Mexico extremely dangerous.
Lisa Knox, the Immigration Managing Attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza, filed a supporting declaration. She explained that the “Remain in Mexico” policy has cut off effective legal representation while forcing clients to look desperately for housing and be subjected to harassment by criminals and Mexican officials.
Florence Chamberlain, the Managing Attorney for Kids In Need of Defense in Mexico, condemned the fact that “U.S. authorities are returning children at dangerous areas along the northern Mexico border during early morning and unsafe hours.”
Professor Bill Ong Hing, the director of the Immigration & Deportation Clinc, explained: “In more than 45 years of representing immigrants and asylum seekers, I never imagined that the U.S. government would engage in such heartless actions—placing families and children in the worse conditions imaginable.”
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