Kino Border Initiative: Response to Policy Changes at Border for Migrants and Asylum Seekers

The following statement was issued by the Kino Border Initiative on March 18, 2020, in response to policy changes by the Department of Homeland Security to policies at the U.S.-Mexico border regarding asylum seekers and due process. 

In Response to Trump Administration Policy Change for Asylum Seekers and Migrants at U.S. Mexico Border

The Kino Border Initiative denounces the Trump administration’s announcement that it will send asylum-seekers and people in migration to Mexico without any due process.

It is our collective responsibility to promote and protect all people’s safety and health in these unprecedented times. However, ceasing access to asylum for those arriving at ports of entry and sending all migrants quickly back to Mexico—whose officials were not informed of the plan—does not honor the interests of public health, border security, or international obligations. Migrants and asylum-seekers subject to this policy are coming from places where rates of infection from the virus are far lower than they are in the United States; they are placing themselves in greater danger by attempting to migrate. This speaks to the gravity of the situations they are fleeing.

We must continue to act with decency at this time and expand on our obligation to respect human rights and due process. The administration’s plan effectively eliminates asylum and due process. It leaves thousands of people in legal and humanitarian limbo in Mexico and disregards how this will affect communities south of the border. Above all, it will not make our interconnected communities safer from the virus. We call on the administration to reconsider their plan and to act with decency, honor international obligations and keep everyone safe.

The administration has been continually focused on ways to stoke fear of migrants, eliminate access to long-held protections, and dramatically reduce due process. The latest announcement uses the pandemic as a pretext to advance its dangerous goals. This is a moment to come together, recognize the ways in which we are connected, and care for one another. In the words of our partners at the Jesuit Migration Network, “Solidarity is the most effective of protocols.”

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) is a binational organization that works in the area of migration and is located in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.   The KBI was inaugurated in January of 2009 by six organizations from the United States and Mexico: The California Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus, the Diocese of Tucson and the Diocese of Nogales.  The KBI’s vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.  Its mission is to promote US/Mexico border and immigration policies that affirm the dignity of the human person and a spirit of bi-national solidarity through:

  • Direct humanitarian assistance and accompaniment with migrants;
  • Social and pastoral education with communities on both sides of the border;
  • Participation in collaborative networks that engage in research and advocacy to transform local, regional, and national immigration policies.
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