Mexico and the US commit abuses against migrants at the border, according to Human Rights Watch | The USA Print

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A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback attempts to apprehend a Haitian migrant in Texas in September 2021.
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback attempts to apprehend a Haitian migrant in Texas in September 2021.PAUL RATJE (AFP)

The international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has confirmed with solid and deeply documented evidence what anyone with a mobile phone and internet access could guess: Mexico and the United States systematically commit abuses against migrants on their shared border. Far from the story about a more porous border that was imposed with the arrival of the US president, Joe Biden, to power in 2021, “the requests for refugee status and the apprehensions of migrants in Mexico have increased dramatically,” defends the organization. in a report. The document was released this Monday, coinciding with the start of the Summit of the Americas being held in Los Angeles, whose HRW leaders are demanding “to commit to putting an end to abusive immigration policies.”

“Migrants and asylum seekers who enter Mexico through the southern border face abuse and difficulties in obtaining protection or legal status as a result of immigration policies designed to prevent them from reaching the United States,” the report reads. HRW states that Biden has denied access to the right to asylum in the US and has pressured his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, “to intensify efforts to stop migration and increase restrictions on those who can enter Mexico or travel within from the country”.

The political decision of both presidents only makes an already extremely vulnerable situation more difficult. Migrants who cross Mexico on their way to the United States often have several things in common in their stories: the first is that they flee from countries where violence and poverty make life impossible; second, that on their way north they encounter more of the same poverty and violence from which they escaped: assaults, kidnappings, murders, rapes, illegal deportations or mistreatment by security forces. A long and macabre etcetera that Biden and López Obrador aggravate with their policies, according to HRW. In addition, “the majority of those who enter through the southern border are black, brown, and indigenous people from Central America and the Caribbean who do not have visas to enter Mexico, almost half of them Haitians,” which makes them more likely to suffer abuse and violence. discrimination.

Tyler Mattiace, an HRW researcher, points out in the report that “delegating US immigration policy to Mexico has led to serious abuses and forced hundreds of thousands of people to wait in dire conditions to request protection.” The Summit of the Americas, which will take place between this Monday and next Friday, will bring together the leaders of the continent to discuss issues such as climate change or the situation of democracy in the region. The US government assured that during the event, the countries will also sign a joint declaration on the protection of migrant flows. “Any signed agreement must include commitments to restore and expand access to protection throughout the continent and put an end to those immigration control policies that have given rise to abuses,” demands HRW.

However, the organization of the Summit has not been without controversy and the presence of the Mexican president is still unknown, in the midst of a political battle with Biden. The US did not invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela for “not respecting democracy”, which caused strong indignation among several Latin American countries led by Mexico. The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that it will send a delegation, but López Obrador has assured that he will not attend if all the excluded nations are not included.

The absence of López Obrador has a serious symbolism. Mexico is the key country, along with the US, to understand migratory flows. It is a nation that has historically sent migrants to the US, but also receives them from Central and South America. Its territory is a hot spot for the transit of people. In 2021, security forces detained 307,569 migrants, according to HRW, the highest figure ever recorded in the country. A record was also broken in the number of people who requested refuge, 130,863, the third highest number in the world according to UNHCR. Only 38,005 of the applications were processed by the Refugee Aid Commission (Comar), which has denounced on numerous occasions that it is overwhelmed and does not have sufficient resources to deal with the enormous volume of applicants it receives.

Migrants continue to arrive in Mexico and try to reach the United States. In the territory governed by López Obrador they find, among other threats, 30,000 soldiers deployed in a special operation to contain them, which commits human rights violations, according to a report. of the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law (FJEDD). For his part, Biden “has maintained many of the abusive policies of former President Donald Trump,” according to HRW. “The United States must restore access to asylum at its border and stop pressuring Mexico to clamp down on migration. Mexico must guarantee that Comar has the necessary funds, that asylum seekers can present their requests and improve the processing of residence visas for those who have been recognized as refugees”, sentences HRW.

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