Ahead of North American Leaders’ Summit, JRS/USA Urges Collective Action to Protect Asylum

17 November 2021

On November 18, President Biden will host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico at the White House for the first North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) since 2016. During the Summit, the United States, Mexico, and Canada will reaffirm their strong ties and integration while also charting a new path for collaboration, including on migration and protection of persecuted peoples across the continent.

“As North American heads of state meet we are hoping that these leaders take seriously the need to work collaboratively to defend human rights, including the right to migrate and seek asylum from persecution and violence,” said Giulia McPherson, Director of Advocacy & Operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

We believe that people have the right to migrate to protect themselves and their families and that this can be done in a safe and lawful manner that respects countries’ rights to regulate their borders. We hope that the U.S., alongside Mexico and Canada, will work together to find this balance with creativity and compassion.

Cooperation among the countries of North America has been critical in confronting the threat of COVID-19 and expanding access to vaccines that save lives. We encourage them to  put science first and value the recommendations of public health experts in all decision-making. Continued misuse of the Title 42 public health authority  denies asylum seekers their right to seek safety in the United States and is a repudiation of science. The North American Leaders Summit presents an opportunity to end this policy and reinstate humane, compassionate asylum processes. 

These three powerful democracies have a chance to work together to realize their commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all three adopted at the same time in 1948.  There are many things that need to be discussed among these leaders, but we call on them to put the rights of asylum seekers and refugees at the top of their list.