San José, 18 de diciembre de 2020

Implementation of Asylum Agreement Violates Human Rights of Migrants

On December 18, International Day of the Migrant, CISPES joined over thirty human rights, religious, solidarity and service organizations throughout Central America and the United States to denounce the pending implementation of an Asylum Cooperative Agreement (ACA) between the United States and El Salvador, which was announced on December 15 during Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf’s visit to El Salvador.

The ACAs, signed between the Trump Administration and the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in 2019, allow the United States to refuse asylum-seekers the opportunity to pursue an asylum claim here, instead sending them to a “safe third country” in Central America to seek refuge.

As the organizations state, “We refute the application of the policy designating El Salvador as a ‘safe country’ … According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, in 2018, the country with the highest number of pending asylum applications in the United States was El Salvador. Every year, tens of thousands of people flee El Salvador in search of refuge due to conditions of insecurity. This is the country that in recent years has had the highest umbers of feminicides in the region, along with high levels of violence against both cis and transgender women and against the LGBTI community in general.”

According to the signers, “[T]his policy imposed by the Trump Administration on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is another attack against the rights of people seeking asylum. The implementation of the ACAs goes against international obligations of these governments, as evidenced by a report from Refugees International regarding the implementation of the agreement in Guatemala in November 2019, which resulted in 939 people from El Salvador and Guatemala being transferred to Guatemala, the majority of whom were women and children. Only two percent submitted asylum applications in Guatemala, making clear that the ACA ‘was implemented in a way that effectively obligates people to abandon their claims.’ In practice, there is no intention of transferring migrants to another safe country. We strongly condemn the racism and nativism that are the true motivations for this policy and we make a hemispheric-wide call to put forward a new vision of cooperation based on the dignity and well being of every person.”

The organizations also pointed to a lawsuit filed by civil society organizations in El Salvador before the Supreme Court of Justice arguing that the agreement signed between the U.S. and El Salvador is unconstitutional on the basis of “violating the integrity of national territory, sovereignty and human rights of all persons seeking asylum, refuge and protection” and furthermore “favors bi-nacional economic interests over the life and dignity of hundreds of thousands of migrants.”

Endorsing organizations:

El Salvador:
SHARE Foundation
Red Jesuita con Migrantes
Red Regional de Organizaciones Civiles para las Migraciones capítulo El Salvador
Casa del Migrante Scalabrini El Salvador
Soleterre Strategie di Pace ONLUS
Sínodo Luterano Salvadoreño
Asociación Casa Abierta
Comisión de Justicia, Paz e Integridad de la Creación-CONFRES
Asociación Comunicando y Capacitando Mujeres Trans en El Salvador -COMCAVIS TRANS
Instituto Salvadoreño de la Persona Migrante
Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho – FESPAD.

Asociación Pop No’j
Casa del Migrante Scalabrini, Guatemala

Estados Unidos:
Commitee in SOlidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia (IRTF Cleveland)
Justice in Motion
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Witness at the Border
CARECEN – Los Angeles
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
School of the Americas Watch
Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC – Denver, Colorado)
U.S.-El Salvador Sister CIties
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC)

Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala

Center for Justice and International Rights (CEJIL)
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law