January 9, 2023
President of the United States Joseph Biden
President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly
Dear President Biden, President López Obrador, and Prime Minister Trudeau:
We, the 94 undersigned civil society organizations, are writing ahead of the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) in Mexico City to urge your administrations to center human rights, humanitarian protection, and access to asylum for individuals fleeing persecution in your discussions regarding regional migration. The summit provides an opportune forum for the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to work together to fulfill the commitment made in the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection to “protecting the safety and dignity of all migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons, regardless of their migratory status, and respecting their human rights and fundamental freedoms.’’
We urge your governments to:
Adhere to existing domestic and international agreements by respecting the principle of non-refoulement and access to territory. Take all potential legal steps to ensure that access to asylum is restored and maintained at borders; that asylum systems are strengthened, and that individuals are not unlawfully pushed back, expelled under policies like Title 42, or banned from the opportunity to seek refuge. Asylum should be accessible to all individuals regardless of their nationality, race, legal status or mode of entry.
Create and expand supplementary human mobility pathways to reduce life-threatening risks, gender-based violence and other human rights abuses. Any supplementary pathway—including new US parole programs– must be easily accessible for displaced individuals and should not be tied to policies restricting asylum access.
Work with governments and subnational authorities along the migratory route to implement measures to support protection-sensitive entry systems that identify international protection needs and refer individuals into appropriate human mobility pathways. The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees’ 10-Point Plan of Action provides a roadmap for such action. Furthermore, in the case of migrants and asylum seekers at sea, such as in the Caribbean Basin, governments must prioritize safeguarding lives by strengthening search and rescue operations; screening for protection needs; creating supplementary pathways for migrants and asylum seekers at sea, and preventing refoulement by allowing access to territory.
Continue to expand the financing and delivery of humanitarian assistance along the migratory route, including programming to address sexual and gender-based violence against individuals in all their diversity and violence against children, with a particular focus on race and gender-sensitivity and language access for migrants.
Work with United Nations agencies to ensure that migrants and asylum seekers, including children, are not returned to unsafe situations or in violation of the principle of non-refoulement.
Counter xenophobia towards LGBTQI+, Black, Brown, and Indigenous migrants and asylum seekers, through anti-discrimination and anti-racism education and accountability efforts.
Investigate and prosecute crimes against migrants, in particular sexual and gender based violence, and maintain statistics on crimes and prosecutions based on gender, race and nationality.
Maintain statistics on deaths through criminal or noncriminal related causes, based on gender, race and nationality.
Invest in interventions that support marginalized communities, including women, girls, and indigenous groups, to build their economic security and resilience to climate- and insecurity-related factors.
Conduct meaningful and sustained consultation with civil society organizations, including migrant and refugee-led groups from across the region, in the implementation of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection. Prioritize meeting with local service providers, indigenous communities, migrants, and asylum seekers to understand the on-the-ground realities during high-level trips to the region.
Provide support as necessary to local communities who receive and provide services to migrants, especially indigenous communities.
We appreciate your consideration and welcome the opportunity to further engage with your administrations.
See signatories here.
Banner Photo Caption: US President Joe Biden speaks with US Customs and Border Protection officers as he visits the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on January 8, 2023. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)