CISPES Denounces Migrant Containment Policies


CISPES Denounces Migrant Containment Policies Imposed by the U.S. on Mexico and Northern Central American Countries

As the blatant disregard for the lives of migrants and refugees intensifies globally, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) expresses solidarity with migrants and refugees being directly impacted by the brutality of border militarization and a discriminatory U.S. immigration system. Since the child migrant crisis of 2014, the United States has been actively increasing efforts to expand its southern border into Mexico and Central America, oftentimes through coercion. We denounce the cooperation and agreements recently signed by the Salvadoran government and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which are just the latest infringement on the human right to migrate and seek asylum.

We denounce these violent and deadly U.S.-imposed measures that the Mexican, Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran governments have increasingly become compliant with and complicit in. Nothing good can come from modeling the abusive systems of migrant detention and containment that exist in the United States, which are without a doubt, crimes against humanity. The systems of mass incarceration and migrant detention of the United States are racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and queer and trans phobic. These systems should be eliminated, not replicated.

Refugees detained by the United States, for example, are subject to brutalization by guards and rampant sexual abuse, which has particularly affected unaccompanied minors and the children who have been separated from their families. As migrant detention centers become increasingly overcrowded, the conditions in which migrants and refugees are held are worsening. Meanwhile, private corporations who run these centers continue to make enormous profits off of violence and death.

Since 2016, journalists and politicians have focused their attention on the Trump administration's wall as the battleground for immigration policies and largely ignore the growing expansion of the U.S. border well beyond its physical boundaries and the disregard of the sovereignty of other nations. The expansion of the U.S. border, such as the Muslim ban and asylum ban are policies that continue to build on a long and violent history of colonialism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.

We denounce all acts that infringe on the human right to migrate, while the US and global elite continue to push neo-colonial and exploitative policies across the globe and across the region, forcibly displacing oppressed communities. We demand that the African migrants that are being contained against their will in Tapachula, Mexico, be allowed to transit safely to the U.S. Mexico border. It is a shame that the Salvadoran government has agreed to take part in such inhumanity.

We mourn those, like Nebane Abienwe and Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, who have died in U.S. immigrant detention and those, including Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, who’ve been murdered by ICE and CBP agents, and all those who’ve lost their lives escaping the effects of U.S. imperialism. We extend our solidarity to the migrants and refugees facing DHS agents in Guatemala, making their way through Mexico, deported from Mexico, waiting to apply for asylum at the US’ southern border, those who remain imprisoned in private detention centers, those forced to wear ankle monitors, and all those lives endangered and cut short by a violent and inherently inhumane immigration system.

As an organization with a long history of solidarity with El Salvador, we know that the erosion of workers’ rights, the privatization of public resources and militarization will continue to exacerbate the conditions that force Central Americans to leave their homes and make the dangerous journey northward. We affirm our solidarity with the social movements fighting to create livable conditions in Central America. Seeking asylum is not illegal and we demand that the human right to migrate be defended and respected. Similarly, we will continue to assert that migration ought to be an option, not an obligation; therefore, we oppose any and all U.S. security and development policies that inhibit people from being able to make a dignified living in their countries of origin.


In late August, El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele and acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan agreed to collaborate more closely on migration and security. In the following weeks, the Salvadoran government introduced a new U.S.-sponsored border patrol unit and has since deployed over 800 military and police personnel at the country’s borders, with the justification that these policies will address human smuggling and attack criminal networks. The initial ceremonial deployment of the new Border Patrol took place at La Hachadura, a point of departure for many Salvadorans that have exited the country en masse to join the migrant caravans traveling north, indicating that the intention of this deployment is to stem the flow of migrants who reach the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to being deployed at border crossings, these officials have been deployed in “154 blind spots” in border regions, tactics that could lead migrants to seek out more deadly routes.

On September 20, El Salvador’s Foreign Minister signed an asylum agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with sweeping language that will allow the U.S. to divert migrants seeking asylum in the United States to El Salvador, potentially forcing asylum seekers not originating from El Salvador, or having transited through the country, to seek asylum there first, instead of the United States. Additionally, the agreement also commits U.S. funds for the creation of a "state of the art" asylum system in El Salvador. This and similar agreements with Honduras and Guatemala arrive after a U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the Trump Administration's asylum ban, which requires that anyone who has transited through another country before reaching the U.S.-Mexico border first seek asylum there.

Prior to this, on July 30, Guatemala also signed a “safe third country agreement,” after which the Salvadoran agreement was modeled. On September 25, another agreement was signed with the Honduran government. These agreements were preceded by the ongoing deployment of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents to Guatemala. These agents will continue to train and work side by side with Guatemalan police to keep Central Americans and other migrants from reaching Mexico.

Earlier this year, on June 2, following increased pressure from the U.S., Mexico agreed to further militarize migrant transit routes in order to avoid Trump’s tariffs, with a policy that has been dubbed the “Remain in Mexico" policy. By June 10th, six thousand members of the Mexican National Guard had been deployed to the country’s southern border. The effects of this policy are being felt now, as asylum seekers are forced to await their hearings in Mexico and are being sent to Mexico after being denied asylum, rather than returned to their home countries. Additionally, migrants, including thousands of African migrants from 15 countries, are imprisoned in so-called “shelters” in Tapachula, Mexico, in deadly and inhumane conditions. Migrants are being forced to remain in Tapachula, where they face high levels of violent persecution paramount to the conditions that forced them to leave their home countries.

While long-existing colonial borders are increasingly militarized and fortified to prevent human movement and new borders are created throughout Mesoamerica, the global elite continue to impose economic and extractivist policies that are at the root of mass displacement. In El Salvador, as a supposed solution to forced migration, the incoming President has offered to make El Salvador safer for private investors. He has proposed flexibilizing labor by doing away with the hard-fought eight hour work day, fired thousands of public sector workers, and made moves towards eroding certain public sector unions. As workers come under attack in El Salvador, people across the country continue to mobilize in defense of their human right to water as the right-wing escalates efforts to privatize the country’s limited water resources.

Hondurans have been waging a similar struggle against the neoliberal onslaught under very repressive conditions. In June, the Honduran people marked the ten year anniversary of the 2009 coup with nationwide strikes to stop the privatization of healthcare and education and to call for the resignation of narco-dictator Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH). Meanwhile people across various departments in Guatemala are currently living under an official "state of siege," a pretext the government is using to further militarize regions where there are strong movements to defend land and natural resources. 

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