Central American migrants being expelled by the United States and flown deep into Mexico for deportation to their homelands drew concerns from U.N. agencies Wednesday about the treatment of vulnerable migrants needing humanitarian protection.
Details of the highly unusual bilateral effort also began trickling out, with a Guatemalan official saying that Mexico is busing Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans to remote border crossings with Guatemala after they arrive on U.S. government flights. Mexican immigration agency buses are unloading migrants from those flights at international crossings in El Carmen and El Ceibo. The latter is a particularly remote outpost where there is a small shelter, but little else.
The migrants were expelled by the U.S. after being denied a chance to seek asylum under a pandemic-related ban.
Guatemala is not participating in the joint campaign, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Advertisement
A spokesperson for Mexico’s immigration agency said it had no information.
Guatemala’s immigration agency confirmed in a statement later that groups of migrants had arrived at the border posts of El Ceibo and El Carmen. The agency said it always tries to maintain a process of migratory control and emphasized the need to follow such controls as well as pandemic-related health requirements. It did not mention the U.S. flights to southern Mexico.
The U.S. Homeland Security Department confirmed last week that it had begun expelling migrants by air to Mexico under a pandemic-related authority that prevents migrants from seeking asylum at the border. Officials speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press the flights include Central American families who are to be deported by Mexico to their homelands after landing.
Matthew Reynolds, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative to the United States and Caribbean, said returning asylum seekers to their countries without proper screening for the dangers they are fleeing would violate international law.
“Individuals or families aboard those flights who may have urgent protection needs risk being sent back to the very dangers they have fled in their countries of origin in Central America without any opportunity to have those needs assessed and addressed,” Reynolds said in a statement.
The flights to southern Mexico also strain limited humanitarian resources there and raise the risk of coronavirus infection, he said.
The refugee agency was one of five U.N. agencies, including UNICEF, its human rights office, women’s agency and the International Organization for Migration, that expressed concern for the U.S. government’s continued use of the public health justification for not allowing the normal asylum process.
Source: El Universal