On Friday, Amnesty International leaders around the world denounced the US policy of sending asylum seekers back to dangerous Mexican border towns to await their immigration cases as an “international disgrace” that must be ended.
During a visit to the US-Mexico border this week, Amnesty International leaders from the US, UK, Kenya, Mexico, Greece and Canada said the Remain in Mexico program , or Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), had created a crisis at the border. sending more than 50,000 people to Mexico.
Asylum seekers, mostly families from Central America, wait in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, where they must fend for themselves, with no health care, work opportunities or school for their children.
“The policy of staying in Mexico is nothing short of an international disgrace, rather than calling it a policy of protecting migration, it is really a policy of rejecting migrants,” said Irungu Houghton, director Executive of Amnesty International Kenya. “It’s incompetent, it’s inhumane and it’s a cruel way to treat people who are fleeing for their lives.
“Rather than funding programs that address why people come to the United States of America or even dealing with the consequences of dealing with this large number of people, precious resources are spent militarizing borders and building walls,” he added.
Houghton noted that Kenya currently hosts 468,000 refugees, while the much larger United States has significantly reduced its refugee and asylum programs.
Gabriel Sakellaridis, executive director of Amnesty International Greece, said he was shocked by the scenes at the border and that the United States had engineered a situation similar to Europe, which pushed asylum and the treatment of refugees outside its borders.
“In these two ways, we see the United States and Europe, which are two of the richest and most prosperous regions in the world, trying to create a front yard either in Mexico or in Turkey or in Libya, in order to avoid their obligations under international refugee law and human rights,” Sakellaridis said.
The Stay in Mexico policy began in Tijuana in January before rolling out to other border towns. Trump administration officials said it was effective in keeping people out of the US and improving due process – the opposite of what border advocates have reported .
This month, Human Rights First uncovered at least 340 cases of rape, kidnapping, torture and other violent attacks against people deported to Mexico while they wait for their cases to be heard in US immigration court. .
Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said people they visited in the Matamoros camps, where more than 2,000 people stay in squalid conditionsexpect to be kidnapped and many have been kidnapped more than once.
“This waiting is part of everyday life while waiting for their asylum application to be considered,” Huang said. “It’s something that they all know is going to happen and it adds incredible stress to the already existing trauma that these people have gone through.”
Kate Allen, executive director of Amnesty International UK, said “people’s lives are absolutely ruined” by the policy to stay in Mexico.
“This chaos of 50,000 people is completely self-inflected and unnecessary,” Allen said.
Like other leaders, she praised the work of shelter operators in Mexico, legal aid providers, teachers and other volunteers trying to help refugees at the border. Allen said: “In all of this, what is quite wonderful is to see how civil society on both sides of the border is doing absolutely everything it can do, so ordinary people, taking action. “