Administration Attempts to Undermine Asylum by Negotiating “Safe Third Country” Agreement with Mexico
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today condemned the Trump Administration’s attempts to violate U.S. refugee protection commitments and law by pushing Mexican officials to agree to designate the country as a “safe third country.” Administration officials are reportedly meeting today and tomorrow with their Mexican counterparts to discuss an agreement. Human Rights First has documented the escalating dangers facing those seeking protection as they pass through Mexico.
“Mexico is not a ‘safe third country’ in any sense,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Those seeking protection face grave risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, trafficking, and other harms in Mexico. The administration has waged a year-long campaign to undermine the asylum system and vilify those who seek protection at our border; today’s negotiations are merely the latest tactic to shut the door on those who are desperate to live in freedom and safety. Trump’s vile labeling of immigrants as ‘animals’ is the latest indication that he isn’t interested in solving real migration challenges, but rather in fomenting fear.”
Last year Human Rights First found that Mexico was not a safe third country for refugees. The organization’s findings included that refugees and migrants face acute risks of kidnapping, disappearance, sexual assault, trafficking, and other grave harms in Mexico; that Mexican migration officers deport Central Americans who have expressed fear of return despite the country’s nonrefoulement and human rights obligations; and that deficiencies, barriers, and flaws in the Mexican asylum system leave many refugees unprotected.
Since then, the dangers facing refugees and migrants in Mexico have escalated. Recent reports confirm that Mexican authorities continue to improperly return asylum seekers to their countries of persecution and that the deficiencies in the Mexican asylum system have grown.
“Trump Administration officials must know that such an agreement would violate both U.S. law and treaty obligations. The administration must abandon this dangerous effort, and instead focus on efforts to build strong asylum systems in Mexico and other countries south of the U.S. border,” added Acer.