As a group of migrants and asylum seekers make their way through Mexico to the United States, the President has threatened to cut foreign aid to Central American countries and plans to send troops to the Southern border. In response to further reports that the President will issue an executive order that would bar individuals from seeking asylum in the United States, Mary Giovagnoli, Executive Director, Refugee Council, USA, issued the following response:
“Refugee Council USA urges the President to exercise restraint and compassion and uphold our legal obligations under U.S. and international law in response to the asylum seekers, migrants, and others traveling together and seeking protection from harm in parts of Central America.”
Our nation’s response to the life-threatening dangers driving this group is a test of our humanity. To treat this as anything other than a vulnerable people seeking to find safety stokes fear and hatred against the women, children, and men who have joined together to make a dangerous journey slightly safer. Some are seeking asylum in Mexico, others will grow discouraged and return home, and some will eventually arrive at the southwestern border of the United States.
Turning people away is not an option consistent with our national values and legal obligations. We have adequate systems in place to process and adjudicate the cases of individuals who present themselves at the border, whether they arrive individually or in large groups. If we have learned anything from the past, it is that overlooking the plight of vulnerable families serves only to divide us and to delay seeking solutions these families need and deserve. Now more than ever we should not use these families as an excuse to sow fear and division.
We urge the administration to process responsibly all individuals who arrive to the United States and seek asylum and other legal protection. We also urge Congress and the administration to strengthen refugee and migrant protection throughout Central America and Mexico and to support programs that seek to end violence and corruption in the most dangerous parts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. We remain steadfast in our commitment to offer humanitarian assistance and protection to these families in need.”