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USA: ban on asylum-seekers from Mexico due to coronavirus is 'fear-mongering'

The US-Mexico border has been the focus of a string of discriminatory policies from the Trump administration © Alli Jarrar/ Amnesty International

Trump administration reportedly considering new restrictions 

Amnesty, Human Rights First and Physicians for Human Rights have written to governors and health officials in 13 states

Move ‘has nothing to do with making Americans safer from the coronavirus pandemic’ - Charanya Krishnaswami

Following reports that the Trump administration intends to issue a new rule that would allow US agents to turn back anyone entering from Mexico from seeking asylum because of the coronavirus pandemic, Charanya Krishnaswami, Amnesty International USA’s Americas Advocacy Director, said:

“The Trump administration’s ban on asylum-seekers coming from Mexico has nothing to do with making Americans safer from the coronavirus pandemic.

“President Trump is engaging in fear-mongering to justify racist and discriminatory policies whose only purpose is to demonise people seeking safety. Closing the southern border is a reactionary measure that has virtually no basis in fact.

“A blanket ban on asylum-seekers goes against the US government’s domestic and international legal obligations, plain and simple. A similar 2018 ban was swiftly declared unlawful by every court to have considered it.

“The Trump administration has already sent tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to harm’s way in Mexico, forcing them to survive in dangerous and precarious conditions, and exposing them to appalling risks of kidnapping, torture, and other abuses.”

Letter to governors and health officials

Yesterday, Amnesty USA, along with Human Rights First and Physicians for Human Rights, sent letters to governors and health officials in 13 states asking that they pressure the federal government to release immigration detainees being held in their states, while urging the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security to release asylum-seekers and immigrants currently held in inadequate conditions in immigration detention facilities. The organisations stressed that during a public health crisis, the government must act to protect the health of all people and ensure access to care and safety.

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