Refugees International Welcomes Commitments Made at LA Declaration Ministerial in Guatemala, Calls for Additional Protection Pathways

Statement from Refugees International: 

“Refugees International reiterates its support for the regional dialogue that took place among 21 countries in Guatemala on May 7. The time is now to address the region’s emerging migration challenges, and we urge further consultation with civil society organizations, including those led by refugees and migrants.

Refugees International welcomes the expansion of access to resettlement in the United States to additional nationalities through the Safe Mobility Offices (SMOs) in Guatemala and Costa Rica and Canada’s acceptance of referrals from SMOs. However, the SMO initiative has limitations amid large-scale displacement in the hemisphere, including eligibility restrictions and the cap on the number of people resettled each year through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. We call for additional protection pathways to the United States and throughout the region, including for those displaced by the impacts of climate change.  

Refugees International also welcomes the new regularization initiatives and visa availability for migrants in Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica. These will provide legal status and access to the SMOs for more populations. To ensure the success of these and other regularization initiatives, Refugees International calls for increased efforts to support and fund labor market integration, including the implementation of policies that allow refugees and migrants to obtain formal jobs, validate their credentials, and boost private sector participation.

Two of the proposed initiatives to bolster regional security and reduce smuggling fall short. Raising awareness of the CBP One app is insufficient; the U.S. government must make more CBP One appointments available for people seeking safety, make more U.S. land border ports of entry available to asylum seekers with and without appointments, and ensure safe travel to the U.S. border for those with appointments. Refugees International is also concerned that increasing security at the Guatemalan border could lead to push backs and risk of refoulement.”

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