Homeland Security Regional Compact Plan Won’t Address Root Causes of Refugee Crisis
New York City—In response to today’s announcement that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is discussing the development of a regional compact plan with Central American countries in the northern triangle, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:
The so-called compact announced today sounds like a short-sighted and heavy-handed attempt to stop people in desperate need of safety from finding it in the United States, rather than an actual commitment to address underlying human rights violations in the region. It is yet another move from an administration that has spent the past two years dismantling the systems put in place to protect the world’s most vulnerable people.
This announcement does not reflect any commitment to address the actual root causes pushing people to seek protection—political repression, gender-based persecution, brutal murders, and other human rights violations.
The Trump Administration is enlisting the very countries that people are fleeing to prevent the escape of individuals plagued by this persecution and violence. The United States should certainly work with countries in the region to counter and prosecute smugglers and traffickers who prey on migrants and asylum seekers. This plan, however, aims to stop asylum seekers who do not employ smugglers but travel with other people for safety through dangerous territories.
Human Rights First urges the Trump Administration to implement regional strategies that strengthen the rule of law and human rights conditions in Central America, strengthen refugee protection in Mexico and other countries, and stop its efforts to block refugees from asylum in the United States.