360 Videos Document Life for Asylum Seekers at U.S. Border
Washington, D.C.—As the Trump Administration ramps up its attacks on refugees and asylum seekers and threatens to designate Mexico as a “safe third country,” Human Rights First and RYOT released today part one of a two-part 360 degree video series, Crossing the Line, that follows brave asylum seekers as they attempt to flee violence and persecution.
The video takes viewers to the U.S. Mexico border to hear from asylum seekers in search of safety—highlighting the dangers they face in Mexico and the challenges the Trump Administration presents when they get to the other side.
“This series sheds light on the humanity many have lost sight of—the untold stories of the mothers, fathers, and children who have risked their lives in search of the most basic human necessity: safety,” said Human Rights First’s Ashley Panzera, a filmmaker.
The Trump Administration and its congressional allies have advanced proposals to shift U.S. refugee protection obligations onto Mexico and to block from the United States non-Mexican refugees and asylum seekers who pass through Mexico. Legislative proposals would change U.S. law to require asylum denials to refugees who travel through Mexico even if they lack actual protection there, and allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to declare Mexico a “safe third country” to which the United States would return refugees.
“These types of projects are what really connect us at RYOT back to our roots. Headlines are clouded with political rhetoric in an attempt to evoke fear or pity of immigrants, but when you get the opportunity to step away and connect with the people actually experiencing these atrocities it changes how you digest and understand these issues. You realize that this is about people—it’s about going the extra mile to connect with and understand those whose lives are at stake. The only thing differentiating us and them is that we were randomly born here; that shouldn’t stop anyone from being afforded the same right to life,” said RYOT’s Tarik Benbrahim, director of special projects.
Central America’s northern triangle—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—has some of the highest homicide rates in the world. Rampant violence has led to an increase in the number of people seeking asylum is the United States.
In a 2017 report Human Rights First found that migrants and refugees face grave risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, trafficking, and other harms in Mexico. They are targeted not only due to their inherent vulnerabilities as refugees and migrants, but also due to their nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Some have been trafficked into forced labor, while refugee and migrant women and girls have been trafficked to Mexico’s southern border where they have been exploited in bars and night clubs that cater to police, military and other forces in the area.