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No More Un-Safe Third Country Agreements

UUSC endorses our partner's demands for US engagement with local civil society ahead of Vice President Harris' trip to Guatemala and Mexico.

By Lindsey Hoemann on June 4, 2021

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Early next week, Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit Guatemala and Mexico to discuss “a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of migration.”  In anticipation of her visit, a coalition of Guatemalan and U.S. civil society organizations, including UUSC partner Asociación Pop No’j, held a press conference to present their recommendations to Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration for a regional approach to migration centered on human rights and the rule of law.

Their full statement to Vice President Harris recognizes the complex structural causes of migration and forced displacement and the essential role of the United States in addressing them. It includes specific recommendations for improving local socioeconomic conditions, strengthening the rule of law and governance, combating organized crime and gender-based violence, promoting climate justice, and creating comprehensive regional migration systems.

In response to recent news about United States plans to open “migrant resource centers” in Guatemala, Silvia Raquec, coordinator of Asociación Pop No’j’s Migration Program emphasized that “one of our requests is that Vice President Harris clarifies these reports, so we can avoid what happened with the Safe Third Country agreements [of the Trump administration] that were signed behind the backs of the people.”

José Luis González of the Jesuit Migrant Network agreed, stating that “we do not agree with processing [US] asylum claims from [within] Central America” instead of the United States, where seeking asylum at the border is a legal right. He continued, “Central American organizations are against anything that would mean an agreement similar to the so-called Safe Third Country agreements and all of these measures that the United States has of trying to stop people from seeking asylum and international protection.”

UUSC recognizes that local civil society and grassroots organizations are best positioned to understand the root causes of migration and provide analysis and proposals to address it. We applaud this statement and thank Asociación Pop No’j and other coalition members for their work and their voices. We urge Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration to incorporate these important recommendations and prioritize long-term cooperation that centers local communities’ experience, knowledge, and leadership.

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About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!

Image Credit: iStock – vichinterlang

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