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October 9, 2018
Ahead of Senate Homeland Security Hearing, Regional Civil Society Organizations Call for Recognition that Violence Continues to Propel Central Americans to Flee
Washington D.C.–Ahead of tomorrow’s Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) “Threats to the Homeland” hearing, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) joins over 30 organizations from the United States, Mexico, and Central America in a statement expressing concern over Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner McAleenan’s statements on drivers of Central American migration following his recent trip to the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. The statement calls for recognition that violence continues to propel Central Americans to flee and calls such characterizations by the commissioner “dangerous” and “inaccurate.”
“To say that violence is not forcing individuals to leave their homes in Central America in search of international protection is a reckless mischaracterization of the reality on the ground. It is well documented that violence perpetrated by gangs, organized crime, and state security forces drives children and families to flee or live in hiding and that individuals lack access to justice due to widespread corruption and impunity. To negate one of these factors as a driver of forced migration punishes those who may qualify for asylum. Separating families or locking up children indefinitely will also do nothing to deter future migration. Responses from the United States should not prevent Central Americans from seeking safety in the United States nor should they worsen existing conditions on the ground. Instead, they should recognize human rights and international protection,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, LAWG Senior Associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights and Border Issues.
The NGO statement reads, “Meaningfully addressing the root causes of migration from the three Northern Triangle countries requires comprehensive rights-based policies focused on reducing violence and poverty, combating corruption, and strengthening human rights and the rule of law in the region. These efforts should be led by the governments of the region in collaboration with civil society organizations, and the U.S. State Department and Agency for International Development (AID), not the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”
LAWG urges U.S. efforts to address the root causes of migration in the region to consider the intersection between push factors and to recognize an individual’s right to seek asylum under international law at the U.S.-Mexico border and throughout the region.