Cruel Trump policy puts refugees at risk

Asylum Access Press Release

Emily Arnold-Fernández, CEO and president, +1.415.601.3896
Diana Essex-Lettieri, COO and vice-president, +1.805.512.0645

OAKLAND — The Trump administration’s most recent attack on refugee families fleeing violence in Central America is dangerous — and illegal.  Thousands of women, children and men are making the treacherous journey to the US border because they seek safety and compassion.  Instead, the US government is putting refugees’ lives at risk by keeping them from accessing asylum and forcing them to remain in potentially deadly conditions.

Under the new plan, announced July 15, asylum seekers who do not apply for asylum in the first country they reach will be barred from protection in the US.  Under the US Refugee Act, all refugees who reach the US are entitled to asylum. The Trump administration’s policy violates this promise and puts families and children at risk.  

Many refugees will not be safe in the first country they reach.  Recently, Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of Cristian and his father Rudy; refugees from Guatemala who were making their way through Mexico to seek safety in the US.  The young men had been abandoned by their smuggler and kidnapped by the Los Zetas drug cartel.  10-year-old Cristian was found lying in the curve of his dead father’s arm. His throat had been slit.  He was barely breathing.

Cristian’s and Rudy’s story is not unique.  Asylum Access provides legal services to over 3,000 asylum seekers annually across 8 sites in Mexico — from the southern border with Guatemala to the northern border with the US.  We hear these stories every day. While some families will be able to find safety in Mexico, many — like Cristian and Rudy — will not. It is therefore critical the US remain an option.  Closing our doors will have devastating results: further traumatization, injury and death of thousands of innocent children and families. We cannot let this happen.

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