Haitians in Mexico face harsh conditions, discrimination

“The racism against people and families from Haiti – for those who have been victims of violence, trauma and family separation – is institutional.”  

On Saturday, September 11, Mexican immigration authorities working alongside the National Guard launched an operation that led to the arrest and detention of 400 migrants from Central America and Caribbean. Later in the morning, 150 of them, all Haitians, were expelled from Mexico into Guatemala. According to newsource, Arestegui, they were driven to the border crossing at Carmen in the department of San Marcos, Guatemala. “There, they abandoned the more than 150 Haitian migrants, including children, women and men, to block their re-entry to Chiapas.”

On Monday, September 13, hundreds of Haitians, alongside migrants from Cuba and countries of Africa, gathered in the central square in Tapachula demanding permission to leave the state. This follows several caravans of Haitians and others who have tried to leave Tapachula over the past two weeks, only to be turned back, often violently, by INM and the Guardia. 

The majority of migrants entering into southern Mexico continue to be from Central America, but there has also been an increase in the number of migrants from Haiti, many of whom have applied for asylum or refugee status. Nearly all of whom have been trapped in or near Tapachula, Tabasco while waiting – some for close to two years.  According to Mexican Senator Emilio Álvarez, as of September 7 of the 137,000 migrants present in southern Mexico, 30,000 were Haitian nationals. Other sources show that as of the end of August, of the 55,000 people who have applied for asylum in the Tapachula office of COMAR this year, 19,000 are Haitians.  

Haitians arriving in Mexico over the last two years are mostly coming from Brazil and Chile, where economic pressure and nativist/racist backlashes have led to more restrictive immigration laws and declining work opportunities. The ongoing political crisis in Haiti is also leading people to look for a way out, many traveling to South America through the Dominican Republic and then up through Central America. Whether people’s journeys from Haiti started 10 years ago or 10 months ago, the trip is long, extremely dangerous and expensive. In Mexico, people are stuck near the Guatemala border awaiting legal status that will provide mobility within Mexico.

The crisis along Mexico’s southern border is the direct result of pressure from the United States government, which has demanded that Mexico block the passage of Central American migrants and others. Such pressure is not new. Clinton, Bush and Obama pressed the government of Mexico on migration. Trump, however, took it to extremes, blackmailing the government of Mexico under threat of trade sanctions to halt migration. Biden has not relented in this pressure. Though more reliant on carrots (promises of vaccine support) rather than sticks (sanctions), Biden has nevertheless pressed Mexico repeatedly to block the movement of people migrating toward the US-Mexico border.

As a result, since 2019 Mexico has further militarized its southern border and placed restrictions on the movement of migrants. Under pressure from Biden back in April of this year, the Mexican government agreed to send up to 10,000 more National Guardsmen to the southern border to assist with immigration enforcement. 

In 2019, Mexico also changed rules covering temporary, oficios de salida or “exit visas.” Prior to the summer of 2019, people arriving in southern Mexico could receive a visa for 15 to 30 days – allowing them time to apply for a change in status. Many traveled to the border with the United States. Visas now require exit through the nearest (for most) southern border, leaving people with the option of applying for asylum, or other change of status within that time frame. If trying to reach the United States immediately, they must do cross Mexico in an unauthorized manner. 

For Haitians, Cubans, and others from Africa and Asia, simply returning back to Central America is not really an option; indeed, this was not even possible for most 2020 because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

In October of 2020 there were caravans protesting these new visa rules and other restrictions on mobility for asylum seekers; rules that require people to stay within the border of the state within which they sought asylum – for the vast majority of Haitians this is Chiapas. The resulting caravans were violently repressed by the National Guard in a preview of what we are seeing now.

Meanwhile, COMAR is overwhelmed. Legally required to issue asylum decisions within 45 days, COMAR is now taking months, and in some cases, years to make a determination.

The result is a simmering crisis fueled by human rights violations and an asylum system backlogged to the breaking point.

Much of the above may seem episodic in the sense that the backlog and new rules have resulted from a very particular convergence of issues, all exacerbated by COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, for Haitians and other black migrants, there remains a long standing tradition of discriminatory treatment at the hands of Mexico’s immigration authorities.

In September of 2019, the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) raised specific concerns regarding the Mexican government’s treatment of migrants as part of its review of the government’s fulfillment of obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Concerns included the “negative impact of the work of the National Guard on migration control and the use of racial profiling by migration authorities, which has led to arbitrary detention and systematic refoulement without adequate legal advice.” Finally, the CERD noted, “concern that the phenomenon of migrant caravans has led to an increase in discourse informed by discriminatory views, racial hatred and xenophobia targeting migrants.” 

As a result of these findings, the CERD made several recommendations for reform, including a review of the deployment of the National Guard with a view toward “withdrawing it from that task,” and also called for thorough investigations of “all acts of discrimination, excessive use of force and abuse of authority committed against migrants.”

In June of this year a coalition of organizations in Mexico issued a statement against the government for its failure to implement these recommendations. They wrote, 

The racism against people and families from Haiti – for those who have been victims of violence, trauma and family separation – is institutional. One of these cases is Maxene André who died on the 6th of August 2019 inside the Migration Centre “Siglo XXI” in Tapachula, Chiapas. André was sick and isolated for 15 days out of the 20 days that he was in detention.

The response by the Mexican government and institutions has incited xenophobia and discrimination against migrants entering through the southern border, particularly by deploying the INM at the borders in collaboration with the NGF and members from the SEDENA to stop migrants and asylum seekers to enter, especially through the southern border. 

The attacks against the migrant caravan earlier this month is thus a reminder of the Mexican government’s ongoing failure to implement necessary reforms to address violations against migrants, including the failure to take steps to respond to the specific needs of migrants from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. 

Within Mexico, human rights organizations are speaking out about the situation, and demanding that the government make reform immediately. The calls for reforms include providing migrants work authorizations that would allow them to travel beyond the boundaries of Chiapas while they await a decision on their asylum claims. The United States is also called out for its relentless pressure on Mexico to halt the movement of people approaching the US border.

For those of us in the United States, this last message is crucial. What is being discussed as a border crisis, at both the northern and southern borders of Mexico, cannot be separated from the United States government’s relentless campaign against asylum. Trump launched an all out war against asylum – at a time when border crossing was actually at a low point. Now, with institutions degraded and processes uncertain, Biden seems to simply be doubling down, blocking avenues to asylum in the hopes that doing so will deter enough people from trying to come here that he can buy some time to implement reform.

It is demonstrably not working.

The consequences are tens of thousands of people left stranded in Chiapas, and thousands more left stranded in the United States, as seen under the bridge in Del Rio, Texas. 

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Franciscan Network on Migration demands respect for right of migrants in Mexico

Image: Red Franciscana de Migrantes

English Translation (en Español abajo)

To the Mexican Authorities
To the National Human Rights Commission
To Franciscans International
To all people of good faith

The Franciscan Network on Migration (FNM), as well as various groups and civil organizations defending the human rights of migrants, have monitored the spontaneous detentions and deportations of migrants on August 13, 31 and September 1, 2, 7, 8 2021, carried out to the detriment of people being moved from Mcallen, Texas to Ceibo, at the Guatemalan border, as well as from different places in Mexico such as Villahermosa and Tenosique, Tabasco.

In this sense, those of us with the FNM are concerned about the various human rights violations carried out by the National Institute of Migration and the National Guard in the south of the Mexican Republic, such as persecution, massive detentions, threats, expulsion towards the southern border of Mexican territory as well as the execution of all kinds of violence against migrants regardless of their immigration status, actions aimed not only at violating their rights, but also at criminalizing them.

The immigration policy of detention and expulsion taken by the Mexican government translates into actions that do not take into account the social context of the migrant population, therefore:

  • We condemn the various forms of violence, aggression, mistreatment, family separation, detentions and illegal deportations of migrant women and their families by the National Guard and the National Migration Institute.
  • We demand that the Mexican State respect all the human rights enjoyed by migrants and asylum seekers established both by its Constitution and by various international standards.
  • We demand full respect for the human rights of defenders and journalists, who by their profession monitor and make visible the dramatic migratory situation.
  • We call on the Mexican authorities at all three levels to seek effective responses that protect the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as those human rights defenders who work with them.

Franciscan Network on Migration


Original press release here

10 de septiembre de 2021

A las Autoridades de mexicanas
A la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos
A Franciscans International
A todas las personas de buena fe

La Red Franciscana para Migrantes (RFM), así como diversos colectivos y  organizaciones civiles defensoras de los derechos humanos de las personas migrantes,  hemos monitoreado desde el 13, 31 de agosto y 1, 2, 7 y 8 de septiembre de 2021, las detenciones y deportaciones en caliente en agravio de las  personas en contexto de movilidad humana desde Mcallen, Texas dirigidas al Ceibo,  Frontera de Guatemala, así como también desde diferentes lugares de México hasta  Villahermosa y Tenosique, Tabasco. 

En este sentido, desde la RFM estamos preocupados por las diversas acciones violatorias de  derechos humanos realizadas por el Instituto Nacional de Migración y la Guardia Nacional en el sur  de la República mexicana, tales como persecuciones, detenciones masivas, amenazas, expulsión  hacia la frontera sur del territorio mexicano así como la ejecución de todo tipo de violencia contra las

personas migrantes sin importar su estatus migratorio, acciones encaminadas no solo a violentar sus  derechos, sino también a criminalizarlos.  

La política migratoria de detención y expulsión tomada por el gobierno mexicano se traduce en  acciones que no toman en cuenta el contexto social de la población migrante, por lo que:

  • Condenamos las diversas formas de violencia, agresiones, maltratos, separación familiar, detenciones y deportaciones ilegales de mujeres migrantes y sus familias por parte de la Guardia Nacional y el Instituto Nacional de Migración.
  • Exigimos al Estado mexicano el respeto de todos los derechos humanos que gozan las personas migrantes y solicitantes de asilo establecido tanto por su Carta Magna, como por los diversos estándares internacionales.
  • Exigimos el respeto pleno de los derechos humanos de las personas defensoras y periodistas, quienes por su profesión monitorean y visibilizan la dramática situación migratoria.
  • Hacemos un llamado a las autoridades mexicanas en sus tres niveles a buscar respuestas efectivas que protejan los derechos humanos de las personas migrantes y solicitantes de asilo, así como de los defensores de los derechos  humanos que trabajan con ellos. 

Red Franciscana para Migrantes

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Organizations in Mexico and the United States demand an end to expulsions, Title 42

Dozens of non-governmental organizations in Mexico issued a denunciation of the United States and Mexican governments policy of summary expulsions involving migrants from Central America, expelled from the US under Title 42, flown to southern Mexico to be bussed to the border with Guatemala; as well as Haitians summarily expelled from Mexico to Guatemala despite having legal status in Mexico. The Quixote Centered joined with others endorsing the statement. The English translation is presented below. The original Spanish is here.

NGO Statement: We denounce the expulsions by the governments of the United States and Mexico returning migrants, including those seeking international protection, by air and land to Guatemala

August 25, 2021

As a part of our mandate to provide oversight, on August 18th, the Collective of Organizations Monitoring and Observing Human Rights in Southeast Mexico (or Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos en el Sureste Mexicano, or COMDHSEM by its name in Spanish), alongside organizations belonging to the Transborder Coordination on Migration and Gender (or Mesa de Coordinación Transfronteriza Migraciones y Género, or MTMG by its name in Spanish), together with the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala (Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala), documented the arrival of four flights to the city of Tapachula, Mexico, from the United States and the northern border of Mexico that transported Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans expelled under Title 42 from the United States. The organizations also documented Haitians transferred and expelled from the southern border of Mexico into Guatemala, without respecting the administrative procedures in either country.

The expelled individuals – families, women with children and adult men and women – were transported mostly from the Tapachula airport in eleven buses of the National Migration Institute (INM), to Talismán, along the border with Guatemala, where they were abandoned on the pedestrian border bridge and forced to leave Mexico.

These flights are part of the measures taken by the Biden administration to accelerate the expulsions of migrants under Title 42, combined with actions taken by the Mexican government to contain and return asylum seekers and refugees. These expulsions, coordinated between U.S. and Mexican authorities, violate international law, lack legal and administrative grounds, and seriously impact the people subjected to them.

One of the expulsion routes identified is carried out by land from the United States to the city of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, where INM agents in Mexico detain expelled individuals. From there, land transfers are made to Hermosillo, Sonora, and then people are transported by air to Tapachula, Chiapas, and again by land, from the Tapachula airport to the border with Guatemala.

In addition, land expulsions of people detained in Mexico’s interior, mainly of Haitian nationality, were documented. We observed that some of these migrants possessed documents that allowed them to remain in Mexico, such as refugee applications before the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR- its Spanish acronym), and even paperwork demonstrating the recognition of their status as refugees. Therefore, their expulsion is totally illegal and arbitrary.

The procedure for entering Guatemalan territory is equally as irregular, without any criteria such as registration, orientation or clear information about the administrative and / or legal processes that people must follow to return to their places of origin or to resume their migratory route.

We are concerned that the United States and Mexican administrations are generating a staggered process of immediate expulsions, denying or omitting the rights of people to access regularization mechanisms, or otherwise, violating the rights of individuals who have already initiated international protection processes.

For this, we DEMAND:

To the governments of Mexico and Guatemala:

  1. Comply with the provisions of International Refugee Law and International Humanitarian Law, ensuring abidance to the principle of non-refoulement, the Best Interest of the Child, the right to listen, and access to information and communication, in the appropriate languages ​​that facilitate access to due process.
  2. Publicly clarify the development of these expulsions and specify under what agreements and legal grounds it was decided to carry them out.
  3. Guarantee that individuals, families, girls, boys and adolescents have access to clear and pertinent information on their rights. In all cases, the greatest protection of children and their families must be sought, based on the principle of the Best Interest of the Child.
  4. Do not condition regularization through refugee status in Mexico as an exclusive figure if the person has expressed interest in requesting protection in another country. 
  5. Respect domestic laws, such as Guatemala’s Migration Code (Decree 44 -2016), so that individuals have access to a regular and dignified stay in the country.
  6. Generate, through the support of shelters, the necessary conditions of care and protection for migrants in Guatemalan territory.
  7. Consult actively with civil society organizations to produce a comprehensive and adequate response to the needs of the migrant population, asylum seekers and refugees.

To the United States government:

  • Rescind the Title 42 order and all versions of its implementation, including lateral flights along the border and flights to southern Mexico.
  • Establish a process at the U.S.-Mexico border that is dignified and respectful of international law, in which unaccompanied families, adults and girls, boys and adolescents, can make their requests for protection immediately. This includes guaranteeing access to ports of entry. 
  • Stand firm in the decision to terminate the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (Remain in Mexico, or MPP) and take all possible steps to put an end to this policy.
  • Continue the processing of people previously subjected to MPP, guaranteeing their stay in the interior of the United States to allow them to continue with their asylum process.
  • Cease pressuring governments of the region to take deterrence or enforcement actions, through the militarization and externalizing of their borders.

Signatories

Colectives

Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos en el Sureste Méxicano

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – Oficina para América Latina y el Caribe, Apostólicas del Corazón de Jesús, Programa de Asuntos Migratorios – UIA,  Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova AC., Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac, Centro de Derechos de las Víctimas de la Violencia Minerva Bello, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Formación y Capacitación (FOCA), Iniciativas para el Desarrollo Humano A. C. (IDEHU), Kaltsilaltik, La 72 Hogar Refugio para Personas Migrantes, Médicos del Mundo – Francia (MdM), Misioneras Combonianas, Red Jesuita con Migrantes – Centroamérica y Norteamérica, Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM) – Comalapa, Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados – México (JRS), Tzome Ixuk, Mujeres Organizadas, Una Mano Amiga en la Lucha contra el SIDA, Voces Mesoamericanas Acción con Pueblos Migrantes.

Mesa de Coordinación Transfronteriza Migraciones y Género MTMG:

Capítulo Guatemala MTMG

American Friends Service Committee, Oficina Regional para América Latina y El Caribe  (AFSC); Asociación Comunitaria Multisectorial de Monitoreo Comunitario en Salud y Apoyo a Migrantes (ACOMUMSAM); Asociación Consejería Oxlajuj Ix para Centroamérica y México (CAMEX); Asociación Coordinadora Comunitaria de Servicios para la Salud-Guatemala ACCSS; Asociación de Desarrollo Social de Ixcán (ADESI); Asociación de Familiares de Migrantes Desaparecidos de Guatemala (AFAMIDEG); Asociación Lambda; Asociación Pop No’j, Consejo de Juventud para el Desarrollo Ixcoyense  (COJDI); Comisión de Migrantes; Comité Municipal de Migración; Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP); Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER); Gobierno Ancestral; Jóvenes por el Cambio; Mamá Maquin; Médicos del Mundo Francia – España; Mesa Nacional para las Migraciones en Guatemala (MENAMIG);  Molanil K´inal B´e; Pastoral Social La Libertad Cristo de Esquipulas; Pop Noj’; Red  Juvenil Ak´Molam; Mesa Técnica de Migración, Ixcán; Sociedad Civil.

Capítulo México MTMG

American Friends Service Committee, Oficina Regional para América Latina y El Caribe  (AFSC); Centro de Derechos Humanos Oralia Morales; Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova;  Coalición Indígena de Migrantes de Chiapas (CIMICH); Comité de Derechos Humano Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada A.C.; Formación y Capacitación A.C. (FOCA); Iniciativas para el Desarrollo Humano A.C.; Instituto Mexicano para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC); Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración AC (IMUMI); La 72, Hogar – Refugio para Personas Migrantes; Médicos del Mundo Francia – España, Pastoral de Migrantes; Parroquia de Frontera Comalapa; Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes  (SJM); Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados  (SJR), Servicio Pastoral a Migrantes San Martin de Porres (SEPAMI – SMP ); Una Ayuda para ti Mujer Migrante A.C.; Voces Mesoamericanas, Acción con Pueblos Migrantes, A.C. 

Grupo de Trabajo Sobre Política Migratoria-GTPM

Aldeas Infantiles SOS México, I.A.P.; Alianza Américas; American Friends Services Committee; Asylum Access México (AAMX) A.C.; Casa del Migrante Saltillo (Frontera con Justicia A.C.); Centro de Derechos Humanos  Fray Matías de Córdova, A.C.; Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante de Baja California; Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos; Fundación  Appleseed México, A.C.; DHIA. Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción, A.C.; FUNDAR Centro de Análisis e Investigación, A.C.; IMUMI Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración; Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura del Diálogo, A.C.; INSYDE Instituto para la Seguridad y la Democracia; M3 Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano; REDIM Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México; Sin Fronteras, IAP; Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes México; Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados; SMR Scalabrinianas:  Misión para Migrantes y Refugiados; Leticia Calderón, Analista en temas migratorios; Brenda Valdés; Elba Coria; Manuel Ángel Castillo, Investigador; IDC International Detention Coalition (Observadoras). Claudia Martínez Medrano, Jocelín Mariscal Agreda y Melissa A. Vértiz Hernández, Secretaría Técnica.

Grupo Articulador de la Sociedad Civil en Materia Migratoria:

American Friends Service Committee – Oficina Regional América Latina y el Caribe (AFSC); Asociación La Alianza ; Asociación Pop No’j, Asociación LAMBDA, Centro de Estudios de Guatemala -CEG-; Comité Central Menonita Guatemala/El Salvador; Inmigrant Worker Center (IWC- CTI); Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial (ECAP); Fundación Myrna Mack; Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado de Democrático de Derecho (FJEDD); Instituto Centroamericano de Estudios Sociales y Desarrollo (INCEDES); Red Jesuita con Migrantes –Guatemala a través del Instituto de Investigación y Proyección sobre Dinámicas Globales y Territoriales de la Universidad Rafael Landívar; Mesa Nacional para la Migraciones en Guatemala (MENAMIG); Misioneros de San Carlos Scalabrinianos, Casa del Migrante de Guatemala, Programa de Atención, Movilización e Incidencia por la Niñez y Adolescencia (PAMI); Red por la paz y desarrollo de Guatemala (RPDG). Aracely Martínez, Danilo Rivera y Simón Antonio.

Civil society organizations

  1. Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
  2. Red Mesoamericana Mujer, Salud y Migración
  3. Asociación para el Cambio Social JXC.
  4. Centro de Atención a la Familia Migrante Indígena AC
  5. Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS)
  6. Haitian Bridge Alliance
  7. Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
  8. Global Labor Justice – International Labor Right Forum (GLJ-ILRF)
  9. Caravana por Los Niños/Caravan for the Children, San Francisco California
  10. Quixote Center
  11. Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim (CMPI)
  12. Movilidades Libres y Elegidas, A.C. (CoLibres) 
  13. Espacio Migrante A.C.
  14. Dignidad y Justicia en el Camino A.C. – FM4 Paso Libre
  15. ELCA-AMMPARO
  16. Oficina en Washington para Asuntos Latinoamericanos (WOLA)
  17. Jewish Activists for Immigration Justice of Western MA Casa del Migrante en Tijuana, A.C.
  18. Haitian Bridge Alliance
  19. Veterans For Peace Chapter 182 Baja Mx
  20. Guatemala Human Rights Commission USA
  21. Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM)
  22. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
  23. Witness at the Border
  24. National Immigration Law Center
  25. Women’s Refugee Commission
  26. Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” (Red TDT)
  27. Asylum -Access México (AAMX) A.C.
  28. Border Line Crisis Center, A. C.
  29. Border Angels
  30. Psicólogos Sin Fronteras BC

Academia and individuals

  1. Carmen Fernández Casanueva, Profesora-Investigadora CIESAS Sureste
  2. Cristian Rojas
  3. Abdel Camargo
  4. Jaime Rivas Castillo
  5. Cristina Roblero
  6. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee 
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Mexico Fails to Comply with the Recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Related to the Protection of Migrants and Asylum Seekers

 

[Original PDF Spanish, and English]

June 1st 2021

We call on Mexico to implement the recommendations that various human rights mechanisms have made in the context of the protection of human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and human right defenders that work with them.

In the context of the 103rd Session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) – and its follow-up letter to the Mexican government – our organizations join the Committee’s findings on the lack of implementation and the insufficient implementation of some of the recommendations made in 2019. In particular, after almost two years, the implementation of recommendations related to migrants, asylum seekers and those requiring complementary protection is inadequate and the current situation is, in fact, a regression.

The lack of implementation of the CERD recommendations by Mexico is framed in the context of migration policies towards militarization, criminalization, systematic detentions and use of force that incite discrimination against migrants and asylum seekers. This context has been aggravated after the implementation of measures to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have witnessed an increased number of security forces, including the military and the National Guard Forces (NGF), in migratory verification and control tasks. From June 2019 to December 2020, the military and the NGF detained 152 thousands migrants in the southern border. The National Defence Ministry (SEDENA) – and not the NGF – conducted 67% of this detentions, including the detention of 27 thousands children.

We have identified an excessive, arbitrary, and indiscriminate use of force during the “caravans” with multiple human rights violations. The same pattern has been identified against protests inside migration detention centers when migrants tried to fight for their rights and better conditions during their detention. Sometimes these protests occur with irreparable consequences, like the death of a Guatemalan migrant in the Migrant Detention Center in Tenosique in April 2020.

We have also documented how the National Institute of Migration (INM) has denied access to the asylum-seeking procedure for those needing international protection. Those who have expressed the  intention to access this proceeding have on many occasions been sent to detention centers without appropriate revision of their requests. Our organizations have even documented that people with asylum-seeking requests, or with recognized refugee status, have been detained and deported to countries where their lives are at risk.

Furthermore, with the arrival of African and Asian migrants, as well as from Haiti, the Mexican government has not adopted an integral migration policy to respond to their needs, such as adequate interpretation and enough human rights information.

The racism against people and families from Haiti – for those who have been victims of violence, trauma and family separation – is institutional. One of these cases is Maxene André who died on the 6th of August 2019 inside the Migration Centre “Siglo XXI” in Tapachula, Chiapas. André was sick and isolated for 15 days out of the 20 days that he was in detention.

The response by the Mexican government and institutions has incited xenophobia and discrimination against migrants entering through the southern border, particularly by deploying the INM at the borders in collaboration with the NGF and members from the SEDENA to stop migrants and asylum seekers to enter, especially through the southern border. These practices have been documented and published in different press-releases and reports, in which the criminalization of people entering to Mexico in “irregular” migration status, and allegedly carriers of a disease, is evident. This situation was more evident with the sanitary measures implemented in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which have been not only discriminatory but also with the purpose to deter migration.

On the other hand, there are around 1500 people, mainly from Central America, in vulnerable and risky situations in the camp installed since the 18th of February 2021 in Tijuana city, known as “El Chaparral”. In this camp there are inappropriate sanitary, hygienic, and secure conditions, and a lack of health services and adequate food. In addition, the spread of racist, discriminatory and xenophobic messages and actions creates stressful and tense environments in the camp. Until now, the local and federal authorities have not implemented any humanitarian assistance or preventive measures to address these acts of discrimination.

We also raise awareness of the particular situation of non-accompanied children. On the 11th of November 2020, a Decree was officially published, which modified and reform several articles on migrant children of the Migration Law and the Law on Refugees, Complementary Protection and Political Asylum. However, in practice, the detention of non-accompanied children continues, particularly detentions in inadequate places; being separated from their families, the lack of access to the right to request asylum for themselves. Until now, there are no adequate regulations, protocols, or operative manuals that would effectively implement the reforms.

Lastly, in addition to the widespread context of strengthening migratory policies, our organizations have witnessed intense months of hostilities, harassment, surveillance, defamation and aggressions against human right defenders, shelters and spaces attending migrants. On the 19th of January 2021, during a human rights monitoring activity carried out by the “Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos del Sureste Mexicano”, human right defenders were followed and kept under surveillance by members of the NGF, SEDENA and the Marine. This happened in a context were human right defenders, shelters and civil society organizations are the ones providing humanitarian assistance and protecting migrants.

During Covid-19, and in addition to acts and statements that criminalize human right defenders, there has been a use of the health emergency to falsely argue that accompanying migrant and defend human rights pose a “risk” of contamination to the local communities. This has been the case in various shelters and for human right defenders such as in the “El Chaparral” camp in Tijuana. For this reason, we are concerned that Mexico did not provide information to the CERD on the implementation of the recommendations related to the protection of human right defenders working with people on the move.

The lack of governmental actions to implement the Committee’s recommendations is just a sign of the systemic denial of the fundamental rights of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers who are discriminated against because of their nationality.

We call on Mexico to comply with its international obligations and particularly to implement the recommendations that various human rights mechanisms have made in the context of the protection of human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and human right defenders that work with them.

Signed by,

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova A. C.
Franciscans International
Programa de Asuntos Migratorios, Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México Red Franciscana para Migrantes en Centroamérica, México y Estados Unidos
Red Franciscana para Migrantes en México
Red Jesuita con Migrantes Centroamérica y Norteamérica
Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados México

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Media Release: The Invisible Wall: New Report on Title 42 and impact on Haitian migrants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Nicole Phillips, Legal Director, Haitiian Bridge Alliance, nmp.law@gmail.com, +1 (510) 715-2855

Tom Ricker, Policy Director, The Quixote Center, tomr.quixote@gmail.com, (301) 922-8909

Biden’s Invisible Wall: New Report Describes the Hardships that Title 42 Expulsions Create for Haitian Migrant Families and Calls on Biden to Stop Expelling Migrants to Haiti

San Diego, California, March 25, 2021 — Today, one year after the “Title 42” policy was enacted, the Haitian Bridge Alliance, Quixote Center and UndocuBlack release the report, The Invisible Wall: Title 42 and its Impacts on Haitian Migrants, and call on the Biden-Harris Administration to immediately revoke Title 42 and end expulsions to Haiti. According to Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of Haitan Bridge Alliance, “Most if not all of the expulsions to Haiti are per the Title 42 policy, which was adopted  under a false pretext of the coronavirus pandemic. Title 42 is Trump’s invisible wall that effectively closed the U.S.-Mexico border to migrants.” “Our Report,” says Ms. Jozef, “presents the voices and hardships of Haitian migrant families who have been abused in immigration custody and then expelled under the Title 42 policy without the opportunity to seek legal counsel or request asylum or other protection.”

On February 1, 2021, the first day of Black History Month, the U.S. government drastically expanded removals and expulsions to Haiti. Rather than dismantle the Trump Administration’s invisible wall, the Biden-Harris Administration doubled down. More Haitians have been removed per the Title 42 policy in the weeks since President Joe Biden took office than during all of Fiscal Year 2020. The Report provides the narratives of Haitian families who were apprehended at the U.S. Mexico border within the last year under the Title 42 policy and were subject to expulsion to Haiti or Mexico. 

The Report explains how Haitian migrants are expelled under the Title 42 policy without being informed whether or when they will be expelled, and without the opportunity to seek asylum or other forms of protection.  “Abigale” (name changed), a Haitian woman interviewed for the Report, describes the cruelty of immigration officials during her family’s expulsion, “None of the officers ever confirmed that we were being deported. No one would even say the word deportation. None of them, through this whole process. All the families were crying on the bus, for over an hour. My husband and others kept asking what was going on, if they were deporting us. They would not tell us anything despite our desperation. It was all extremely emotional.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration has continued cruelty against immigrants,” said Patrice Lawrence, Co-director of the UndocuBLack Network. “We hope that this will not be their legacy. It is cruel to use Title 42 as a loophole for deporting immigrants in general and Black migrants in particular. It is a euphemism for removals and deportation of immigrants which the Trump Administration deemed expendable in the wider context of its eugenic agenda of creating a Whiter America and atmosphere of nativism. The invisible wall named Title 42 keeps at bay brown and Black people fleeting war, violence, poverty and disasters under the pretext of protecting Border Protection officers from COVID-19 and to minimize the number of persons in congregate settings, such as immigration detention centers. The Biden-Harris Administration continues to ignore the cry and plight of immigrants that are being forced to board a plane and are taken to the very places they escaped from. The xenophobic language of the previous Administration might be gone, but the practices still remain.”

“There is no sound public health rationale for the Title 42 ban on migrants,” says Tom Ricker, Policy Director with the Quixote Center.  “The idea for the policy came not from public health officials, but from the Trump White House. The entire justification for the Title 42 policy is the claim that the United States lacks the capacity to safely detain people. Yet, the United States is holding people for weeks only to then put them on crowded planes. How do you deny someone asylum who has been placed in detention – with no legal representation at all – based on the argument that there is no capacity to detain them?”

The Report also describes the high security risks that Haitian migrants face when they are expelled to Haiti or Mexico. As one woman who was recently expelled to Haiti under Title 42 describes, Now the country is in more turmoil so I’m even more afraid to leave [my home]. If these people find us, they would just kill us this time around.” 

“Haitian migrants flee violence, instability and persecution in Haiti, then travel a long and treacherous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking safety and security in the United States,” says Nicole Phillips, Legal Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance. “Instead of security, they are abused by immigration officers and – under the Title 42 policy – summarily expelled back to the country they fled without any chance to seek protection. As this Report explains, these expulsions are not only tragic, they are illegal.”

The authors offer nine recommendations. “First,” says Ms. Phillips, “the Title 42 policy must be revoked immediately. It is also critical that asylum processing resumes, while migrants are released to shelter in place with their loved ones in the United States rather than being detained. Incarceration must stop.”

The Full report can be read here.

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