Refugees International President Eric Schwartz delivered the following speech at the John and Lawrence Bonzani Memorial Lecture at Binghamton University on September 18, 2019.
Americans are well acquainted with the influx of Central American asylum seekers along the southern United States border. But the Central Americans are not alone. Lost in the news cycle are people of many nationalities who have crossed continents to seek refuge in the United States. One such group from Cameroon has been forced to flee in part by contradictions in U.S. policy, only to have America slam the door in their face.
In written testimony submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Senior U.S. Advocate Yael Schacher details how the Remain in Mexico (MPP) is undermining the right to seek asylum in the United States, the egregious treatment of asylum seekers by CBP, and how Mexico is struggling to handle the return of asylum seekers.
The right to seek asylum has long been enshrined in domestic and international law. And yet a new rule proposed by the Trump administration would make it all but impossible for most people to apply for asylum at the southern border. Despite these attacks on the U.S. asylum system, Carly Goodman, S. Deborah Kang, and Yael Schacher describe how history has shown that advocacy can prevail and protect the rights of asylum seekers.
In a particularly egregious violation of law and common decency, the Trump White House is pressing U.S. diplomats to negotiate a “safe third country agreement” with Guatemala. If implemented, it will put the lives of thousands of Central Americans at great risk. Alarmed, Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, took the unusual step of writing a letter to the State Department’s top acting lawyer, urging he and his office cease involvement in efforts to secure the agreement.
In a video message, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz shares thoughts on the tragic image of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria from El Salvador whose deaths are the inevitable result of policies that prevent people from seeking asylum in safety and dignity.
Across the globe, the number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution has risen to more than 70 million, almost double the number a decade ago, according to the latest annual report from the UN High Commission for Refugees.