Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA) decries the Biden Administration’s latest policy to expel asylum seekers and migrants to southern Mexico, a decision which further threatens their safety and legal right to seek protection.
Beginning in early August, the Administration initiated flights to southern Mexico of Central Americans who were expelled from the US under Title 42, a ban on those seeking asylum at the US southern border. The flights are currently taking place 24 times a month, with hopes of increasing the number, according to reports.
Mexico agreed to support the effort amid strained relations between the Administration and Central American governments.
Now, expedited departures from Mexico have “sent roughly 13,000 people from northern cities to its southern border on about 100 flights.”
In a statement on August 11, UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, called on the Administration to end the practice, saying that the government was “putting families and individuals who may have urgent protection needs at risk by returning them to their country of origin, before needs have been assessed or addressed.”
“The current overload of asylum cases at Mexico’s southern border, especially in Tapachula, coupled with this newest policy, is adding increased burden and suffering to migrant families merely seeking a better life,” says Felipe Vargas, Advocacy Officer at JRS/México.
Familias que solicitan asilo en 🇺🇸 están siendo deportadas desde McAllen Texas. Los vuelos aterrizan en Tapachula 🇲🇽 y después se les transporta a la frontera de Talismán, Chiapas y se les abandona aquí en El Carmen, Guatemala. El único acompañamiento que reciben es la de las OSC pic.twitter.com/LtaTav7Mx4
— Felipe Vargas Carrasco (@FelipeVarc) August 19, 2021
The move to begin flights from the US to southern Mexico could further increase the risk of chain refoulement — when one country returns an asylum-seeker to an allegedly “safe” third country. Accordingly, this “opens the door for other countries to push back in contravention of international law and the humanitarian principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention.”
As the Biden Administration has yet to announce plans to end Title 42, JRS/USA — alongside the Hope Border Institute — calls on the US government to restore access to asylum for all.
Border communities have the capacity to welcome asylum seekers and are ready and eager to support them.
It’s time to restore welcome.