HIAS Statement on Changes to Asylum Policy
Dec 20, 2018
Silver Spring, Md. -- Today the United States announced an agreement with Mexico that would force individuals seeking asylum at the Southern border to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed. Those who are able to demonstrate a fear of persecution in Mexico would be allowed to enter the U.S., although the process for this is unclear.
This plan is another part of a virtual border wall the Administration continues to build to keep people from exercising their fundamental right to seek asylum.
HIAS staff recently traveled to Mexico’s Northern border region and saw that Mexico is not a safe place for asylum seekers to wait for the months, or years, it will take for their asylum cases to be processed. This part of Mexico is a place where asylum seekers are at great risk of violence, persecution, extortion, and becoming targets of dangerous cartels. Forcing asylum seekers -- many of whom are children -- to remain in Mexico limits their access to legal counsel and violates U.S. and international laws.
In response to the administration's announcement, Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ Senior Vice President for Public Affairs said, “The administration’s plan to force people seeking asylum in the United States to remain in Mexico will hurt people, including children. People who flee persecution have the right to seek asylum. This is a fundamental right under U.S. and international law. If our country is to regain its place as the world’s humanitarian leader, our government must treat people seeking our help with dignity, compassion, and respect, if for no other reason than the fact that they are human beings.”