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Press Release: Immigration Experts Outline Effective Policy Solutions to Central American Humanitarian Crisis

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A recording of the call can be found here.

Earlier today, immigration, refugee and regional policy experts and advocates from Human Rights First, Latin American Working Group, Refugees International, and the Women’s Refugee Commission convened to discuss concrete policy proposals solutions from a new report to effectively manage—both in the region and at the U.S. southern border—the humanitarian crisis stemming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Eric Schwartz, President of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Migration and Refugees, said, “Effective border management does not mean treating asylum-seekers like criminals or animals. In wanton disregard of both the spirit and the requirements of U.S. law, the Trump administration’s asylum restrictions and the remain in Mexico policy have deliberately put at grave risk highly vulnerable women, men, and children. And the White House’s soon-to-be-announced plan to force asylum-seekers into Guatemala represents a grotesque distortion of U.S. law and will create further misery. ”

Eleanor Acer, Senior Director for Refugee Protection at Human Rights First, said “It is long past time for real solutions, but the Trump Administration is just dishing out more of the same, expanding its inhumane and illegal efforts to ban, bar, and block people seeking refuge from the United States.  This cruel and counterproductive quest to destroy the U.S. asylum system and prevent this country from providing protection to fleeing refugees is not a solution. It will just put the lives of even more refugees in danger and trigger even more dysfunction and chaos. This is a regional humanitarian crisis—a manageable one that can and should be addressed using proven strategies. The measures outlined in this “Real Solutions” blueprint will restore order to the region, and the U.S. border, while upholding America’s refugee laws and treaty commitments.”

“Right now the U.S. is saying to Northern Triangle governments: ‘physically stop your people from fleeing.’ What we should be saying is: ‘Serve and protect your citizens so that they are able to stay.’ And if the governments commit to this, we should provide the humanitarian aid that helps them do just that,” said Lisa Haugaard, executive director of the Latin America Working Group.  “The United States also must use tough and principled diplomacy to insist governments end corruption and human rights abuses.”

Michele BraneSenior Director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, went on to say: “The nightmare at the southern border of the US has been deliberately manufactured by the Trump administration.  The United States absolutely is able to manage the needs of children and families fleeing violence and desperation in Central America. Smart solutions include  addressing root causes for displacement, creating protection spaces regionally, and creating smart effective policies in the US to process those needing protection. For example, the Family Case Management Program is an alternative to detention that should immediately be reinstated on a large scale to effectively and humanely address the needs of asylum-seeking families.”

The new reportProtecting Refugees and Restoring Order: Real Solutions to the Humanitarian Crisis, was developed partnership with and/or endorsed by the following groups: Human Rights First, America’s Voice, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Center for Victims of Torture, Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights (CHIRLA), HIAS, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Kids in Need of Defense, Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Refugees International, RefugePoint, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Women’s Refugee Commission and Young Center for Children’s Rights.