UN Rights Chief: New US Border Policy Undermines Refugee Law


FILE - President Joe Biden talks with U.S. Border Patrol agents as they stand along a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso Texas, Jan. 8, 2023.

The U.N.’s top human rights official warns the U.S. government’s new border enforcement measures risk undermining peoples’ basic rights to seek asylum.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk says he fears the new border policy will undercut the basic foundations of human rights and refugee law to protect the lives of people fleeing for safety.

Türk’s spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, tells VOA the High Commissioner is concerned the measures will lead to an increase in collective expulsions without having protection needs assessed individually.

She adds that people who undertake these dangerous journeys are fleeing very difficult circumstances in their home countries.

The new U.S. policy would allow some 30,000 individuals from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua to come to the United States every month for a limited period of two years. Shamdasani says the High Commissioner welcomes measures that would create and expand regular safe pathways for migration.

“However, we are worried that these are very restrictive and that those who are most vulnerable, and those who are most in need of asylum, are unlikely to meet the requirements to be granted this humanitarian parole," said Shamdasani. "For example, one of the requirements is that you have to have a financial sponsor in the U.S. Now, obviously, those who are most vulnerable would not be in a position to provide that.”

Shamdasani says the announced changes to the so-called public health order known as Title 42 are also of concern. That policy, she says, will be expanded to include increased use of expedited removals of migrants from the United States.

She says Title 42 will permit the fast-track expulsion to Mexico of some 30,000 Venezuelans, Haitians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans each month.

“You may be aware that Title 42 has already been used some 2.5 million times at the southern border of the United States to expel people to Mexico go back to their home countries without an individualized assessment of their protection needs. This is of obvious concern to us,” she said.

High Commissioner Türk reiterated his call for the human rights of all refugees and migrants to be respected and protected at international borders. While there is a great deal of talk about migration crises, he says, the reality is that it is those who are migrating who often are the ones truly in crisis.


by Lisa Schlein

VOA News
scalabrinian spirituality 2023


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