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Advocates Travel to Border to Support Migrant Caravan

Photo: David Tobasura / AFSC

Quaker org calls on states to respect the right to migrate

WASHINGTON DC (October 22, 2018) As thousands of Central American migrants have joined a caravan headed for the U.S., the American Friends Service Committee – a Quaker organization that advocates for the rights of migrants both nationally and internationally – is sending personnel to the Mexico-Guatemala border and calling on states to take action.

David Tobasura, a Consultant in Migration and Human Mobility for AFSC in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico, has traveled to Tapachula along with representatives from other civil society organizations to document the human rights violations being committed against Central American migrants in the caravan and help coordinate a response to meet people’s needs on the ground.

“Our presence is important in order to document and expose the human rights violations that men, women, and children are facing as they try to pass through Mexico,” said Tobasura. “Governments are criminalizing and persecuting these migrants, and we hope our presence can help stop future violence against them.”

People in the caravan are escaping violence and poverty and seeking asylum in the U.S. and Mexico. Advocates point to the fact that the U.S. in particular has an obligation to these migrants, because much of the destabilization in the region can be attributed to U.S. policies. “The U.S.’s militarized security policies have directly contributed to destabilization in the region, which is driving migration,” said Kathryn Johnson, AFSC’s Policy Advocacy Coordinator. “But instead of addressing these root causes, the U.S. is pressuring the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras to close their borders and threatening to cut off aid.”

AFSC has programs addressing the protection of migrants in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Haiti. The programs work to strengthen civil society networks and empower those networks to engage in collective advocacy. AFSC also works in the U.S. and along the U.S.-Mexico border for just and humane immigration policies.

“People are traveling thousands of kilometers from their communities of origin to seek safety and improve their living conditions,” said Berta Guevara, Consultant in Migration and Human Mobility for AFSC in El Salvador. “Instead of responding with compassion, the governments involved are treating migration as a national security threat. We demand that all state entities guarantee the fundamental protection of human rights of migrating people.”

As the caravan moves forward, local and international organizations, civil society groups, and residents of the area are providing support in whatever ways they can. “The caravan has shown us the solidarity and support by civil society for those who have been forced to leave their countries,” said Douglas Juarez, Regional Human Mobility Coordinator for Latin America and The Caribbean. “We are calling on the U.S. to respond with compassion rather than violence, and to provide those who are seeking asylum or humanitarian visas an opportunity to apply.”

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.

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