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Congress Urged to Freeze Border Patrol Funding Until Trump Ends "Illegal" Treatment of Asylum Seekers at US-Mexico Border

Demand comes as Mexico makes official request for probe into Sunday's firing of tear gas across the border which led to women and young children "screaming and coughing in the mayhem"

Members of the 'migrant caravan' wait in line to receive breakfast outside a temporary shelter set up for members of the caravan on November 24, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The human rights group Amnesty International is calling on Congress to freeze funding of the U.S. Border Patrol until the Trump administration ends its illegal treatment of refugees attempting to apply for asylum status at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The demand comes as U.S. President Donald Trump denied that his Border Patrol used tear gas against asylum-seeking children in Mexico despite an abundance of photo and video evidence showing they did precisely that. Late Monday, Mexico's foreign ministry formally called on the U.S. conduct an "exhaustive investigation" into the federal agents' behavior as they enforced the White House's anti-immigrant border policy.

"Instead of militarizing the border and peddling fear and discrimination, President Trump's administration should show compassion for those forced to flee their homes and must receive their requests for asylum without delay."
—Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International

Echoing the Mexican government's call for an investigation into the Border Patrol's actions, Amnesty on Monday issued 26 recommendations (pdf) to the Mexican and U.S. governments on how to humanely resolve the Central American refugee crisis, which has been fueled in large part by interventionist American foreign policy in the region.

"Instead of militarizing the border and peddling fear and discrimination, President Trump's administration should show compassion for those forced to flee their homes and must receive their requests for asylum without delay, as required by U.S. and international law," Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said in a statement. "For their part, the governments of Mexico and Central America must take urgent action to guarantee the safety and well-being of all these people on the move and ensure they do not suffer further human rights violations."

Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, added that "the danger posed to desperate families patiently waiting their turn for asylum at the border is an emergency of the U.S. government's own making."

To effectively and compassionately mitigate this emergency, Amnesty called on Congress to cut off funding to Border Patrol operations until it completely ceases "illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers" and demand a stop to any proposed policy change that would hold asylum seekers in Mexico while their applications are processed in the U.S.

Additionally, Amnesty recommended that the U.S. and other nations taking in refugees:

  • Properly inform people about their right to seek asylum and ensure that they have access  to asylum procedures with all due process guarantees;
  • Ensure that all procedures related to returns and transfers of individuals to countries of  origin involve human rights guarantees, among others allowing the individuals ́ effective  access to legal counsel and the opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of any return decisions before competent judicial bodies;
  • Ensure that no child is detained in immigration detention centers, including with their family;
  • Guarantee the safety and integrity of persons in transit and investigate all abuses and  violations of the human rights of migrants and asylum-seekers.

"By turning away asylum-seekers at ports of entry, U.S. authorities are violating their right to seek asylum from persecution and manufacturing an emergency along the border," Amnesty concluded. "This queue along the border exposes people who seek asylum to risks of detention and deportation by Mexican immigration officials, and exploitation by criminal gangs."

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