Lauri Alvarez, Program Assistant
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February 4, 2020
Ahead of SOTU, LAWG Reiterates Anti-Asylum Policies Will Only Fuel Refugee Crisis from Central America
Washington D.C. -Ahead of the President’s State of the Union address scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, Feb. 4th, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), reiterates that the Trump Administration’s current anti-asylum policies are unlawful and will only fuel the refugee crisis from Central America. Over one year into the implementation of the Remain in Mexico, or so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), there are close to 60,000 asylum seekers, including families and children, waiting in unsafe conditions in Mexico throughout the duration of their U.S. asylum proceedings. They have been denied access to due process and less than four percent of them have access to lawyers. There have been over 800 public reports of rape, kidnapping, torture, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers returned under Remain in Mexico.
At the same time, the administration has been pressuring the Mexican government to stop migrant caravans and the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to stop their own citizens from fleeing. To date the administration has entered into “safe third country” agreements, also known as the Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs), with the three Central American countries, though only the Guatemala one has started to be implemented. These agreements violate U.S. and international law. The situation of the estimated over 300 Hondurans and Salvadorans, including families and children, that have already been deported to Guatemala under the ACA is extremely concerning given a lack of access to protection and basic services upon their arrival.
“The President should not be pressuring Mexico to stop migrant caravans or the Central American governments to stop their citizens from seeking protection. Both the Remain in Mexico policy and the unsafe third country agreements with Central America are illegal and force asylum seekers back to danger. These policies shut the door to men, women and children seeking protection at our border, and eviscerate our asylum system as we know it. This does not represent the values on which our country was founded,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, co-director for the Latin America Working Group.
“While the White House was pressuring Central American governments to sign absurd safe third country agreements and deter migration, the governments of Guatemala and Honduras ended cooperation with international anti-corruption agencies–covering up corruption and making it still more likely their citizens will be forced to flee,” said LAWG’s co-director Lisa Haugaard. “A policy towards Central America that prioritizes migration deterrence and sidelines human rights and anti-corruption efforts, will do nothing to resolve the refugee crisis.”
For more resources on these policies, see All About the Remain in Mexico and Forced Return to Danger- Civil Society Concerns with the Agreements Signed between the United States and Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador