Human rights groups urge protection of migrants to be at the heart of US policy | Human Rights News:

Guatemala, Guatemala – Migrant rights groups in Guatemala and outside the United States are urging the White House to take a more proactive approach to migration before Vice President Kamala Harris. upcoming visit to Guatemala և Mexico.

US President Biden has instructed Harris leading diplomatic efforts In Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to help stop migration to the country’s southern border after large numbers of children and families arrived earlier this year.

The Biden administration has so far focused on “root causes“From Central America, migration advocates, however, say that the use of security forces to block asylum seekers and the deportation means that US policy, which has failed for years, continues.

“For now, the emphasis is on militarization,” said Sylvia Rakuch, coordinator of the Pop N’oj Association, a migrant program focusing on Guatemalans.

“We need to focus on regulatory mechanisms, ‘migrant security’ and protection,” he told Al Jazeera.

Harris direction

Harris is scheduled to arrive in Guatemala late Sunday evening, where he will meet with President Alejandro iam Yammate’s other parties on Monday. He will then travel to Mexico to meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday before returning home.

Migration’s main reasons will be high on Harris’s agenda during his first official visit abroad, but officials are expected to discuss private sector investment, aid and economic development. Negotiations in Guatemala will focus on corruption.

Alianza Americas, a transnational network of 50 migrant-led organizations և regional և other Guatemalan groups, welcomes Harris’ stated interest in addressing the root causes of structural migration.

At a news conference in Guatemala on Thursday, they made a number of proposals on the rule of law, socio-economic conditions, multifaceted violence, climate justice and other issues that they said needed to be addressed.

This week, Harris will meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (R) and his Guatemalan counterpart Alejandro iam Iammate. [File: Mexico’s Presidency/Handout via Reuters]

Ending use Title 42: – A public health directive that allows the United States to expel migrants and asylum seekers across the border immediately is an urgent priority, says Abel Nunes, vice president of Alianza Americas and executive director of the Center for Central American Resources in Washington.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration began using the 42nd title last year during the COVID-19 epidemic, and Biden continues to use it to expel the majority of asylum seekers at the border. The policy prevents people from seeking asylum or entering any other US immigration proceedings.

Deportations of Title 42 to Nuevo Laredo, northern Mexico, are on the rise kidnappings and violence Last month, Human Rights First and other human rights groups in the United States reported that migrants were seeking asylum. “It simply came to our notice then. “It’s a virtual wall,” Nunes told Al Jazeera.

Blocking asylum seekers

Biden also continued to pressure former US administrations on Mexico, and is now growing in Guatemala to stop migrants and asylum seekers before they reach the US border.

“It is becoming more and more acute,” said Luis Garcia, a migrant rights group at the Center for Human Dignity in Tapachula, southern Mexico.

Garcia told Al Jazeera that the governments of Mexico and Guatemala have risen mass deployments to thank the new US administration for its police and military efforts this year, which promised a more “humanitarian” approach to immigration than Trump did.

Mexican National Guard marches after country announces strong deployment on border with Guatemala to stem flow of US-linked migrants [File: Jose Torres/Reuters]

Mexico continues to rely heavily on its National Guard for immigration’s borders, while during the epidemic Guatemala regularly sent troops to Honduras to officially stop other migrants for health reasons.

Last year, migration slowed for months due to the blockade of the epidemic and the closure of borders, but since then they have increased. The devastation of November Hurricanes Eta և Iota He encouraged many to flee, especially from Honduras.

“More and more [US] The border is approaching, “said Rakuch, of the Pop N’oj Association. “Guatemala can also be a wall, it’s worrying.”

New US-Guatemala deal

Guatemalan officials did not provide details of the meeting during Harris’ visit this week, but a spokesman for the Guatemalan presidency told Al Jazeera that Guatemala’s interior and defense ministers would take part in the talks.

“The issue of migration – all aspects of social, economic and security – is always present in bilateral talks,” Patricia Letona said in a written statement, answering the question whether the deployment of police or military in connection with migration is on the table.

“Since taking office in January 2020, Giammate has been committed to” strengthening border security as a strategy to counter transnational threats, such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, as a precautionary measure against the epidemic, “Letona said.

To that end, US-Guatemalan officials signed a new deal on Friday. The memorandum of international cooperation between the US Department of Homeland Security and the Guatemalan Ministry of Internal Affairs will create a new tactical police unit. US agencies, including US Customs և Border Protection (CFP), will also provide training, equipment, and technical assistance.

The new unit will “improve border security” in the United States and Guatemala by “identifying, dismantling and dismantling criminal organizations that profit from human trafficking, smuggling, drugs and smuggling,” the US embassy in Guatemala tweeted Friday night.

Guatemala’s interior minister, Gendry Reyes, said in a brief public statement the same day that the final deployment would be “to reinforce the entire migrant problem.” As a major transit country, Guatemala shares borders with Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Mexico.

Guatemala’s Interior Ministry ներքին US Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request from Alaze Azira to comment on the unit’s mandate for timely publication.

The same tactics

Migrants’ ombudsmen say the police’s military response to migration shows that Biden does not intend to significantly change his approach to Central American migration to previous US administrations.

During the Obama administration, when Biden served as Vice President of the United States, Guatemalan Border Patrol Special Forces also received US training equipment, including armored jeeps. But in 2018, cars were deployed to intimidate the International Anti-Corruption Commission, which led the US to do so. to suspend some military aid to Guatemala.

U.S. officials are increasingly talking about the root causes of migration, including corruption, but lawyers say so far the words are different and the actions are not.

Central American families sit on the side of the road waiting to be relocated to a U.S. Border Patrol facility in La Oya, Texas, last month. [Adrees Latif/Reuters]

“We need to realize that history is a little different, we are happy,” Nunes told Alianza Americas, but added that civil society groups in countries of origin, in the Diaspora and in the United States should not be placed in discourse.

Nunes said he envisions more security measures, more campaigns telling people not to leave. But if the United States is serious about recognizing the root causes of migration, he said it must recognize that systemic change is long-term, providing protection and regulatory channels for people who need to flee.

“We need to coordinate and continue to put pressure on them to ensure that we achieve a migration process that centralizes migrants and protects their rights,” he told Al Aziz. “As long as we don’t do that, the truth is, it’s just a show.”

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