Asylum Rights Violated
Facing Walls: USA and Mexico’s violation of the rights of asylum seekers, a new report from Amnesty International USA, explores the impact of a raft of new policies and ongoing practices that result in asylum seekers pursuing increasingly more desperate and dangerous means of crossing the border. Asylum seekers who would otherwise present themselves through legal channels at the U.S. border find themselves turned back to the dangers from which they’re fleeing or threatened with being unlawfully locked up in immigration detention centers in the U.S.
“Extreme policies won’t change the fact that for many of these people seeking asylum, the danger is so great at home that they have no choice but to flee,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Rather than being deterred, people will be forced into the desert, into the rivers, and into the hands of smugglers. These policies place those fleeing violence in deadly peril."
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International adds “The USA and Mexico are partners in crime in brewing up a burgeoning human rights catastrophe. The USA is building a cruel water-tight system to prevent people in need from receiving international protection and Mexico is all too willing to play the role of the USA’s gatekeeper.”
The report chronicles the the factors that have led to the perilous situation and its impact:
Following intensive field research on both sides of the US-Mexico border since February this year, Amnesty International found that President Trump’s catalogue of measures aimed at “tackling immigration” violate international law. These include the January 25 Executive Order on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and a series of other measures which allow for the forcible return of people to life-threatening situations as well as increase the unlawful mandatory detention of asylum-seekers and families for months on end.
In addition to an increase in smuggling and higher death rates at some border points, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are illegally refusing entry to asylum-seekers at ports of entry.
A husband and wife who fled Honduras with their daughter after the husband was assaulted, shot and persecuted by a powerful criminal gang (mara), told Amnesty International that they were turned away from the McAllen, Texas border crossing six times over a three-day period in January 2017, despite presenting themselves to CBP officers to ask for asylum.
Amnesty International has also found that Mexico is failing in its responsibility to protect the increasing number of Central Americans seeking protection in the country.
According to official figures, in 2016 a record 8,788 asylum claims were lodged in Mexico in comparison to 1,296 in 2013.
Ninety-one per cent of these claims came from citizens of the violence-wracked “Northern Triangle” of Central America (Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala), and the UN Refugee Agency forecasts a possible 20,000 claims in 2017.
Instead of providing protection, Mexico is pushing people back to extremely dangerous situations. In 2016, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration detained 188,595 irregular migrants, 81 percent of these from Central America, and returned 147,370 to their countries of origin. Nine seven per cent of people deported were from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
To find out more and download the full report click here: Facing Walls: An Amnesty International Report.