This month’s media report covers various human rights violations and inhumane treatment of migrants and asylum seekers—detention conditions, family separation, rejection at the border—and includes an update on Temporary Protected Status and an open letter from the Jesuits in Latin America and the Caribbean calling for the protection of a Honduran priest under threat.
- Asylum Seekers Turned Away: With San Diego ports of entry at capacity, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol staff are turning away asylum seekers at the border, telling them to return at a later date. This is a violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Along with the separation of families, these turn-backs are increasingly discouraging those who seek asylum and delaying their applications. Having little other recourse, they must find shelter in Mexico until they are granted entry. KBI Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams testified about just these issues before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in March 2017 (https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/kbi-advocates-asylum-seekers/ ). Read more about recent developments here: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2017/dec/27/san-diego-ports-entry-pause-entry-new-asylum-seeke/.
- Court Ruling Against Inhumane Detention Conditions: In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups representing migrants, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must provide blankets and mats for people held in short-term detention, typically in cold cells with concrete floors, and rejected the CBP’s argument that this presented a “hardship” for the agency. In response to a bid to overturn this ruling, the court reiterated it, and also issued instructions about other detention conditions, as outlined in this article: http://tucson.com/news/local/appeals-court-says-border-patrol-must-provide-mats-blankets-in/article_a416acb3-9d2f-5842-8678-1f4071fdc6ce.html.
- Jesuit Open Letter to Protect Honduran Priest: In an open letter to the international community, the Jesuit provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean denounced threats made on social media against Father Ismael Moreno, S.J. in Honduras. After a bitterly fought presidential election in the country, anonymous flyers falsely accuse Padre Melo, as he is known among his congregants, of associations with drug cartels and other criminal elements, and places the priest in life-threatening danger in an already violent environment. More details about this grave situation are described here: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/01/02/jesuits-issue-open-letter-denouncing-grave-threats-against-honduran.
- Temporary Protected Status Update: The Trump administration has withdrawn the humanitarian protections of Temporary Protected Status granted to nearly 200,000 Salvadorans in 2001 when two earthquakes devastated that country, still coping with the aftermath of a civil war in which the U.S. provided military aid to the government. These families have made a home in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, and now have until September 2019 to leave or face deportation. Read more here: https://www.wola.org/2018/01/trump-administration-puts-200000-salvadorans-risk-deportation-tps-decision/.
Father Ismael Moreno, S.J., here in Toronto to speak about the violence faced by activists in his home country of Honduras, is the target of an anonymous campaign to implicate him in drug-trafficking.