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Press Release: LAWGEF & Over 100 Organizations Urge Secretary Tillerson to Uphold Human Rights in U.S. Policy toward Central America in Prosperity & Security Conference

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For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2017
Contact: Daniella Burgi-Palomino, dburgipalomino@lawg.org, (202) 546-7010    

Ahead of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America that the United States is co-hosting with the Government of Mexico, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), from June 15th-16th in Miami, the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF) and over 100 national and international civil society allies from the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador (as well as other countries in Latin America and Europe), sent a letter expressing concerns regarding the topics to be discussed at the conference and urging Secretary Tillerson to demonstrate leadership to ensure that human rights do not take a backseat in any agreements reached during the conference.

“The Prosperity and Security Conference on Central America should be a moment for the Trump Administration to show that it is serious about addressing the root causes to the refugee crisis in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America. It should not be a moment for expanding flawed border enforcement or prioritizing private sector investment for mega-development projects which will only cause more displacement. Human rights protection, including the right to seek asylum, should be the cornerstones of any U.S. policy to the region—sidelining these issues and excluding civil society organizations from the conference is a mistake. As the co-host of the conference, Mexico should not agree to cooperate with the United States if it means deporting asylum seekers back to harm,” states Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Senior Associate for Mexico, Migrant Rights, and Border Issues.

The NGO letter expresses concern about lack of consultation with civil society organizations from the region in preparation for the conference and their exclusion from participation. It also highlights that the conference aims to discuss U.S. policy towards the region solely from a security and economic lens without addressing the protection needs and human rights of families, individuals, and children from the region, failing to consider the nexus between the multiple causes of and solutions to forced displacement and migration.

The organizations urge Secretary Tillerson and his colleagues to address these challenges in Central America during this conference by ensuring that U.S. support for Central American countries prioritizes building sustainable, inclusive economies and strengthening human rights, anti-corruption efforts, access to justice, and the rule of law.

Read the complete letter in English here and in Spanish here.

Immigrant, faith, and local leaders, policy experts, and advocates held a telephonic press breifing ahead of the Central America conference to urge the Trump Administration to reassess Northern Triangle policy. A recording of the call is available here.

LAWGEF is also participating in a civil society briefing, “Causes of Central American Migration the United States’ Response,” in Miami, Florida on June 14th at the Florida International University College of Law, 11200 SW 8th Street, Large Courtroom, 2-4pm. Livestream will be available here.