IACHR: The United States federal and state authorities should avoid stigmatizing migrants, and coordinate policies and decisions to protect their rights

September 23, 2022

Related links

Contact info

IACHR Press Office

[email protected]

Distribution List

Subscribe to our distribution list

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was informed that nearly 12,000 migrants were transferred from the states of Arizona, Florida, and Texas to other states in the United States of America without proper coordination between state and federal authorities. This decision could affect the conditions for receiving and protecting people in movement arriving at the countries' borders and transiting through the territory. Federal and local authorities urgently need to move forward with concrete measures of cooperation at different government levels to guarantee the rights of this population.

The IACHR is concerned by the politicization of the issue by local authorities during recent mass transfers of migrants between states, as this is to the detriment of providing protection for these people. On this point, the federal government and border state authorities urgently need to implement an effective, coordinated response to protect the personal integrity and dignity of people in movement.

According to the state of Texas, the nearly 12,000 people in question are from Colombia, Cuba, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela. Since March 2022, they have been loaded onto flights or, in most cases, buses bound for cities such as Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, and the island of Martha's Vineyard. This, in a context in which, according to the most recent report, Border Authorities have registered record figures, with more than 2 million encounters, and the highest number of deaths on the southern border of the country, with more than 750 deaths, for the 2022 fiscal year.

In the three years since its working visit to the southern border of the United States, the IACHR has observed progress in the implementation of the US immigration policy. Specifically, it has noted the decision which brought to an end an earlier policy that promoted the separation of families at the border, as well as the termination of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPPs), which were intended to keep migrants and people in need of protection in Mexican territory pending immigration proceedings. The IACHR takes note of additional advances such as the closure of immigrant detention facilities following investigations on serious allegations of abuse and forced sterilization of detained migrant women; and the commitment by the US administration to improve the protection of stateless persons in the country.

The IACHR also acknowledged the results that the Federal Administration's Interagency Task Force have achieved in relation to the reunification of migrant children who have been separated from their families, the provision of psychosocial care services for those in question, and the possibility of reunified families living and working in the US for three years. According to the most recent report, 365 children had been reunited with their families as of July 2022. Likewise, 1,500 families who suffered the impacts of the zero tolerance policy had been identified. This policy involved a series of repressive initiatives that included separating families and holding children in migrant detention.

On the matter of the transfer of migrants from one state to another without coordination between local or state and federal authorities, the IACHR warns that the absence of coordination prevents authorities from implementing appropriate conditions of reception for those who arrive at the border in search of international protection. Such measures should incorporate essential, timely communication between authorities that would allow adequate coordination and resource allocation in host communities and specific mechanisms to implement adequate refugee status determination procedures and guarantee effective social integration. In this sense, the IACHR emphasizes that, in line with the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, especially concerning the protection of human dignity, the States must create the conditions that provide a standard of living adequate and compatible with the dignity of the human person and must not create, by commission or omission, conditions that hinder or prevent it (Principle No. 2).

The IACHR stressed that access to the territory and migration and protection assessment procedures is a best practice that should be maintained and improved through appropriate social integration mechanisms. These procedures and mechanisms should be in line with the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Victims of Trafficking.

Furthermore, internal mobility and access to the formal labor market are key to the autonomy of migrant families in need of international protection. In this regard, the IACHR urged the authorities at different levels of government to coordinate interinstitutional channels of communication and coordination and to design the public policies needed to promote an environment that fosters the prevention of human rights violations and the protection of the human rights of people in movement, while avoiding discourses or statements that promote the stigmatization of these people. Likewise, it highlights, in line with the principle of prevention and protection against stigmatization, racism, xenophobia, and related forms of intolerance, that States should adopt all reasonable and positive measures that are necessary to prevent, eliminate and reverse or change discriminatory situations that perpetuate stigmatization (Principle No. 13).

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 212/22

2:52 PM