Press Release: LAWG Condemns U.S. Government Violence against Asylum Seekers at the Border, Calls for Compassionate & Humanitarian Responses

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Author: Daniella Burgi-Palomino

Daniella Burgi-Palomino
(202) 546-7010 |

November 27, 2018

LAWG Condemns U.S. Government Violence against Asylum Seekers at the Border, Calls for Compassionate & Humanitarian Responses

Washington, D.C.–The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) strongly condemns the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents this past Sunday against asylum-seeking individuals, including families with children. This excessive use of force was followed by the closing of the San Ysidro port of entry on one of the busiest travel days of the year. It was yet another unnecessary decision by the Trump Administration that harms communities on both sides of the border. LAWG denounces the continuation of efforts to criminalize and turn away asylum seekers, including the members of the caravan who left Honduras, without offering them protection.

These are shameful acts that don’t represent our American values of welcoming and protecting those fleeing persecution. We need compassionate and humanitarian responses, not ones that further traumatize migrants or militarize border communities. The United States should not keep abdicating its responsibilities under international law to offer access to protection to asylum-seekers. Neither should it pressure the incoming Mexican government to agree to do its dirty work by deporting and forcing individuals to stay in areas where they don’t feel safe. The only crisis at the border is the one the administration keeps creating with its cruel policies,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Senior Associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights, and Border Issues at LAWG.

There are reports that a “Remain in Mexico” plan is being negotiated between the United States and the incoming Mexican government to keep asylum-seekers along Mexico’s northern border. We have documented the risks facing migrants along Mexico’s northern border. Implementing such an agreement would only increase the danger facing individuals, leaving them stranded without access to protection, and make the humanitarian situation at the border worse. Families and children are already in a dire situation after risking their lives for weeks to seek protection at our border from violence, corruption, and impunity in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. Any agreement that forces individuals to stay in Mexico is a violation of their right to seek protection in whichever country they feel safe.

We urge the U.S. government to refrain from excessive use of force against migrants, including children, along the border and to hold CBP accountable for all rights violations committed. Instead of continuing to fuel the crisis at the border by separating families and restricting access to asylum, the administration should focus on ensuring family unity, due process, and access to asylum. We urge Congress to oppose measures to fund deportation forces and to further militarize the border, which are a waste of taxpayer dollars and do nothing to make us safer. Instead, Congress should demand accountability measures for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP and cost-effective community-based alternatives to detention. The United States should also press Central American governments to address the high levels of corruption and impunity that are fueling this exodus.