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LAWG joins U.S. & Mexican NGOs in Condemning Proposed ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’

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May 22, 2018

Washignton, DC—The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) joins nine other U.S. and Mexican non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in condemning the proposed ‘safe’ third country agreement which U.S. and Mexican governments were meeting on last week. LAWG and the nine NGOs strongly urge the United States and Mexico to abandon negotiations on such an agreement and instead to uphold their responsibility under international and national law to offer access to international protection to all those seeking it, ensuring due process and respect for family unity.

The statement reads:
“The United States and Mexican governments met in Washington, DC on May 17-18, 2018, to discuss the possibility of establishing a bilateral safe third country agreement. “Safe third country” is a legal designation indicating that the country is capable of providing adequate protection to asylum seekers such that the United States need not provide refuge to them. This type of agreement would prevent anyone who traveled through Mexico from asking for protection from the U.S. government and require they go back to Mexico to seek humanitarian protection. The process presumes migrants have the ability to access protection in Mexico and that it is a safe place to stay.

The below human rights, refugee rights, migrants’ rights, children’s rights, and women’s rights organizations strongly condemn the possibility of the United States and Mexico signing such an agreement. An agreement of this type would violate the United States’ international protection commitments to people seeking protection. As recently as February 2018, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued an urgent call to the Mexican government out of concern that the Mexican Commission of Assistance to Refugees (COMAR) was collapsing and urging the government to affirm its commitment to refugee protection.1 Mexico is not safe for many migrants, and its asylum system lacks capacity to process more than a tiny fraction of cases of individuals seeking, and in need of, international protection.”

Full statement here.