• Press Release


February 4, 2020

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump touched on issues of national security as well as immigration and asylum, claiming, “we entered into historic cooperation agreements with the Governments of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result of our unprecedented efforts, illegal crossings are down 75 percent since May — dropping 8 straight months in a row. And as the wall goes up, drug seizures rise, and border crossings go down.”

In response, Amnesty International USA’s national director of advocacy and government affairs, Joanne Lin, said:

“President Trump’s remarks tonight show that he has no inclination to stop his administration’s bigotry. This kind of rhetoric is chilling and harmful, just as the President’s policies are. Congress must take action now to nullify its effects.

“Trump cites national security as motivation for his cruel policies, but bigotry will never make us safer. The Trump administration has worked relentlessly since day one in office to dismantle the asylum system as we know it and force people who seek safety into grave danger. These policies must be stopped before they inflict more suffering, and the people already subjected to these cruelties must be treated appropriately. Let’s call this what it is: discrimination, white supremacy and hate. No human being is an alien. No human being is illegal. To see people as if they are anything other than human lies at the very heart of the problem with this administration’s policies.

“Agreements with Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala senselessly and dangerously demand of people to place their lives and their safety at risk in the very same countries that thousands are fleeing. Tactics by ICE place entire communities in a state of terror and fear. This is not the country we can believe in: this is destruction.”

Background and context:

Amnesty International USA has called on Congress to defund anti-asylum border policies that violate the basic human right to seek asylum and protection from persecution. Amnesty International drew upon its extensive past research documenting the harms faced by asylum-seekers in Mexico to intervene in Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan, submitting an amicus brief describing the many grave dangers faced by returnees under the program.

Amnesty International USA spoke out against cooperative agreements between the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, calling on the U.S. government to end them.

Amnesty International has previously documented the range of human rights violations committed by the U.S. government against people seeking asylum at the U.S-Mexico border. In 2018, Amnesty International concluded that Mexico is not a safe country for asylum-seekers and that people in need of protection are routinely subject to detention and deportation there.

For additional background, see the June 2017 Amnesty International report, Facing Walls, which documents how U.S. border authorities have routinely denied asylum seekers the ability to claim asylum at U.S. ports of entry, resulting in greater irregular flows of asylum seekers across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Media contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected]