NEW YORK, May 30, 2019 – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to reports of a new Trump Administration policy denying asylum to anyone transiting through a third country on their way to safety in the U.S.
“Once again, the administration is seeking to slam the door on vulnerable people, in likely contravention of U.S. law and America’s legacy of providing safe haven to the persecuted,” said Nazanin Ash, Vice President of Global Policy & Advocacy at The IRC. “The administration’s policies have already kept thousands of vulnerable people waiting unnecessarily at the border for the chance to claim asylum – at great risk, hardship, and expense – only to now be told they won’t even have the opportunity to have their claims heard.”
The new proposal, as reported, would deny safety to Central Americans and others transiting through Mexico to the U.S., and would usurp the proper authority of the U.S. Congress under the Constitution. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), people can be denied the ability to claim asylum in the U.S. if they can be removed to a ‘safe third country’ with which the U.S. has a formal agreement. No such agreement exists between the U.S. and Mexico, and IRC’s gauge on the ground demonstrates through those surveyed that conditions in Mexico are far from secure.
In April, The IRC released a survey of nearly 600 people residing in shelters in border locations that demonstrated the extent of the risks people face in Mexico.
“The IRC’s survey in Mexico demonstrated that children are at risk of kidnapping, gang recruitment, sexual abuse, and other physical violence. Participants in each female focus group conducted by The IRC reported kidnap and rape as the most significant safety risks for women. To make matters worse, the gaps in services necessary to meet comprehensive needs make women doubly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse in Mexico.”
“The dubious constitutionality of this reported proposal aside, its human consequences are clear,” said Ash. “Along with metering, the so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, the Asylum Ban, and various other moves to undermine the protection of asylum seekers, this rule would only expose already vulnerable people to further suffering. Those in need of safety must be afforded their right to protection, regardless of their route of travel. The rules can’t keep shifting when lives hang in the balance – Congress must assert its authority.”
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.