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Groups Denounce US-Mexico Central American Refugee Deportations

Refugees Aren't CriminalsPetition Filed Against Joint Campaign Plan Frontera Sur

Over 35 faith-based groups and human rights organizations filed a petition on April 14 to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States denouncing the joint campaign of the United States and Mexico--the infamous Plan Frontera Sur--to interdict and summarily deport persons--including thousands of children and families--fleeing rampant violence in Central America's "northern triangle": Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The petition, Adolescentes en el Camino, et al. (United States and Mexico), Case P-652-16, marshals extensive evidence that the two governments are deporting tens of thousands of men, women and children to jurisdictions in which they run a clear risk of persecution and death, in violation of the long-standing international prohibition against refoulement of refugees. Petitioners ask the Commission to rule, inter alia, that interdicted refugees are entitled to a full and fair process by which their eligibility for international protection in Mexico may be determined

The petition also contends that the two governments unlawfully detain Central America asylum-seekers en masse and subject them to conditions of hyper-violence and impunity in Mexico in an unconscionable and illegal effort to deter them from seeking international protection.

Petitioning groups hope the Commission will use the petition to extend the law of human rights on interdiction, which the Commission last addressed comprehensively in The Haitian Centre for Human Rights et al. (United States), Report No. 51/96, Case 10.675, March 1997, to rule (1) that the U.S. may not evade responsibility for complying with international protections against refoulement by outsourcing border control to Mexico; and (2) that by creating and condoning conditions of hyper-violence and impunity against migrants transiting Mexico,  the U.S. and Mexico unlawfully obstruct refugees from winning international protection.

The petition can serve as a tool to advocate for greater responsibility in U.S. policy in the region: i.e., that U.S. support for the Plan Frontera Sur should end until and unless the Inter-American Commission certifies that Mexico is in substantial compliance with its obligations to confer refuge or other international protection on deserving Central Americans fleeing the Northern Triangle.

Petitioners are represented by the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law (CHRCL), affiliates of the USC-Gould School of Law International Human Rights Clinic, Latino Justice PRLDEF, the Van Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law, La Raza Centro Legal, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

The  petition is an extension of CHRCL's advocacy on behalf of immigrant and refugee children detained in the United States; such children are increasingly being interdicted in Mexico and summarily deported to countries in which they suffer horrific persecution.

AFSC this week issued a letter urging Congress to protect migrants from xenophobia.

The petition to the IAHRC is available for download here.
ESBOZO en español, aunque un poco diferente de la versión archivado, está disponible por este vínculo.

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