United States: IACHR expresses concern over new measures restricting the right to asylum

June 13, 2024

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the announcement of the implementation of Presidential Proclamation on "Border Security" by the United States government. These actions restrict the right to seek international protection. The IACHR urges U.S. authorities to reconsider this policy change and to guarantee the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.

On June 4, the U.S. government announced new executive actions to strengthen security at the Southern border. According to official information, these measures include restricting asylum eligibility for migrants who cross this border “unlawfully” with certain exceptions. The measures would be applied when U.S. Government resources to process arriving migrants at the southern border are “overwhelmed” and would facilitate the expedited removal of migrants without legal status. In addition, the suspension and limitation on entry would be re-activated whenever authorities record a 7-consecutive-calendar day average of 2,500 encounters or more and would be suspended 14 days after there has been a determination that there has been a 7-consecutive-calendar-day average of less than 1,500 encounters.

According to the government, these actions are justified in response to alleged congressional inaction on immigration and border security reforms.

While the IACHR recognizes that massive and mixed migratory flows pose challenges for transit and destination countries, the IACHR considers that these actions may significantly aggravate the vulnerability of migrants, particularly those in need of international protection, by limiting their right to seek asylum. Although States have the authority to establish their immigration policies, these policies should comply with international human rights obligations.

The IACHR recalls the United States has an obligation to adequately identify migrants in need of protection. To this end, authorities must guarantee the right to seek and receive asylum, the prohibition of collective expulsion of asylum seekers and respect for the principle of non-refoulement.

It is also noted that, although this new policy seeks to protect the rights of children and adolescents by excluding them from the restriction, in practice this could result in an increase in unaccompanied migration or separation from their families. Thus, children in human mobility would be exposed to additional risks and a situation of a total lack of protection. This, in turn, would result in a violation of the right to live in a family and family unity.

The IACHR emphasizes the need for humane migration management and urges that migration policies should not result in cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, family separations, dangers for children and adolescents or risks to life, liberty, or integrity of those in need of protection. Addressing the causes and consequences of mass migration requires cross-border and regional cooperation, and the approaches should consider the expansion of legal pathways and recognize the legitimate motivations of people seeking safety and opportunities, especially those fleeing conflict, violence, persecution, or political and economic crises in their countries of origin.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 137/24

10:58 AM