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To U.S. Presidential Candidates: How to Address the Plight of Children, Women, and Men Fleeing the Northern Countries of Central America

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Date: Aug 18, 2020

Authors: Lisa Haugaard, Daniella Burgi-Palomino

A Few Do’s and Don’ts

Do…

  • Understand that this is a refugee crisis and rescind anti-asylum policies that deny access to protection.
  • Pledge aid—but not just any aid. Make sure our money helps address the roots of the crisis. This means funding programs to prevent violence, address gender-based violence, protect human rights, improve justice, mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce poverty, and build inclusive economies, and address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Prioritize corruption—urge Central American governments to address corruption and enforce this as a condition for government agencies to receive aid.
  • Urge immediate action by governments to protect human rights and end abuses by police and military forces—and enforce this as a condition for them to receive U.S. aid.
  • Fly the rainbow flag: LGBTQ+ Central Americans and women face high levels of discrimination and violence.
  • Stand up for valiant human rights defenders, environmental activists, union leaders, and journalists at risk. Support these Central American civic leaders organizing for change.

Don’t…

  • Fund security forces that are attacking and killing protesters and committing other abuses. Never encourage the use of military troops for law enforcement.
  • Support corrupt government officials. U.S. taxpayer dollars should not line the pockets of corrupt government officials in Central America—or anywhere else. Ignoring corruption sends the message that it is ok for governments to steal from their citizens.
  • Block access to asylum for Central Americans fleeing violence at our border or throughout the region. They have an international right to seek protection where they feel safe.
  • Pretend that Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador are safe places for asylum-seekers.
  • Allow Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to end for some 300,000 Salvadorans and Hondurans-instead, provide these members of our communities with a path to citizenship.
  • Demand that governments prevent their citizens from fleeing. They can’t, and under international law, it’s illegal. Instead of telling Central American governments to block their citizens from leaving, urge those governments to protect and serve their citizens so that they are able to stay.

For more details, see Serve Your People: A Roadmap for Transforming Relations between the United States and the Northern Countries of Central America.

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