Perspective: The US southern border

The American Immigration Council released a report in 2016 concerning US policy related to asylum seekers entering the country via the southern border. It provides some important perspective concerning the situation at the border today and reveals that the harshness of related US policy predates the present Trump administration. The present administration has simply taken the policy to a further extreme. The policies of both administrations undermine the Universal Human Right for people to seek asylum.

The report demonstrates the need for American citizens to stand up for the human rights of those desperate enough to make the dangerous journey to our southern border in hope of finding refuge from unchecked violence. The separation of children from their parents at the border is an outrage. But so are other policies (predating the Trump administration) that promote deterrence over fair process and humane treatment of asylum seekers.

Here are some excerpts from the 2016 report:

“Faced with the increase of Central Americans presenting themselves at the United States’ southwest border seeking asylum, President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), specifically, implemented an “aggressive deterrence strategy.” A media campaign was launched in Central America highlighting the risks involved with migration and the consequences of unauthorized immigration. DHS also dramatically increased the detention of women and children awaiting their asylum hearings, rather than releasing them on bond. Finally, the U.S. government publicly supported increased immigration enforcement measures central to the Mexican government’s Southern Border Program that was launched in July of 2014.2 Together, these policies functioned to “send a message” to Central Americans that the trip to the United States was not worth the risk, and they would be better off staying put…

…we may infer from this analysis of migration intentions that those individuals who do decide to migrate and successfully arrive at the U.S. border are far more likely to fit the profile of refugees than that of economic migrants. Upon arrival, however, they are still subject to the “send a message” policies and practices that are designed to deter others rather than identify and ensure the protection of those fleeing war-like levels of violence…

Why do these individuals continue trying to make the trip when seemingly fully aware of the dangers involved? The findings reported here suggest that no matter what the future might hold in terms of the dangers of migration, it is preferable to a present-day life of crime and violence. The unprecedented levels of crime and violence that have overwhelmed the Northern Triangle countries in recent years have produced a refugee situation for those directly in the line of fire, making no amount of danger or chance of deportation sufficient to dissuade those victims from leaving.”

Click here to read the full report.

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