Pandemic and detention on the United States-Mexico border

Pandemic and detention on the United States-Mexico border

The rights and health of migrants must be protected against covid-19. Authorities must consider alternatives other than arrests for health and humanitarian reasons

The coronavirus crisis has unfortunately uncovered problems related to inequality between and within countries, as well as the exclusion of the most vulnerable groups. How leaders respond to this difficult situation for marginalized sectors of society will determine their reputation and legacy.

At the moment, President Trump and his administration face vital test, after a federal judge set an April 6 deadline to explain why 7,000 detained migrant children and their parents considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus. , they can not be released on the US border. USA and Mexico.

The continued detention of migrants by the Trump administration sparked a health and human rights crisis long before the coronavirus hit its shores. It has at all times been a cruel and unjustifiable policy, controlled by the cynical politics of xenophobic populism rather than addressing the challenge of mass migration in the Americas through an empirical approach.

The causes of the humanitarian border health crisis are very diverse. Criminal and political violence, compounded by economic hardships and dire poverty, has forced millions of people in Central and Latin America to abandon everything, seeking safety and asylum in neighboring countries.

More than four million people have fled Venezuela and hundreds of thousands have traveled from the northern triangle of Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – to the United States.

In recent years, human rights defenders, legislators, and legal experts in the United States and other countries have consistently denounced that the policies of family separation, child detention, and forced repatriation of migrants are inconsistent with the international legal obligations and safeguards of the human rights that are established in the laws of the United States.

Currently, these complaints are more justified if possible, mainly because the US border. USA and Mexico has been closed, except for essential travel, because of the coronavirus, and its surveillance has been considerably militarized. In such circumstances, many migrants, including children, face extortion, sexual violence, hunger, inhumane detention conditions and the risk of significant abuse in Mexican shelters while awaiting the trial in the United States. All this has great repercussions. Likewise, it is expected that these negative impacts will occur for decades, since the risk of children suffering trauma causes particular harmful effects.

In the current landscape, it is not very realistic to expect a substantial change in US immigration policy. USA until after the November elections. But that does not mean that politicians and officials can ignore their responsibilities under international law.

Likewise, the covid-19 is immune to political calendars. If we do not stop suffering during arrests, abuse will continue and the virus will spread easily among the population that has limited access to health and services.

I encourage those responsible for the current conditions of migrants at the US border. USA and Mexico consider the recommendations developed by the Border Humanitarian Health Initiative, based at the University of California, San Francisco. Such recommendations provide practical and principled short, medium and long-term measures to treat migrants with justice and dignity, as well as to address the root causes of displacement. This includes offering essential and sanitary services to migrants on both sides of the border. In Mexico, special access and specific programs appropriate to the needs of the populations must be implemented, as well as the barriers that limit basic health care and services.

To the extent possible, the US authorities. USA and Mexico should consider other alternatives beyond arrests, for health, humanitarian and human rights reasons. Children should not be detained in any case for reasons related to their immigration status or that of their parents, as was clearly established in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants agreed during the 2016 United Nations General Assembly.

Medium-term measures should include efforts to ensure continued health care for vulnerable groups, such as children, at border crossings, external oversight of the health and immigration systems, improved processing of migrants and the exchange of best practices, research and other important information between public bodies and civil society.

But without real efforts to address the root causes of these waves of migration across the Americas, such as endemic poverty, gang violence, human trafficking, and impunity for those who abuse rights, the above measures will remain only temporary patches. .

Moments of crisis demand leadership and bring out arrogance and bad faith. This is the ideal time for kind and caring people to stand up for the most vulnerable and build a safer and healthier future for all.

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