New asylum restrictions a death sentence for Central Americans fleeing violence

A woman holds her granddaughter while attending an MSF psychosocial support session at a shelter for migrants in Tenosique, Mexico.
MEXICO 2017 © Marta Soszynska/MSF
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The United States Attorney General announced today that domestic abuse or gang violence will no longer be considered legal grounds for asylum in the US, a decision that will endanger thousands of people attempting to seek safety from one of the most violent regions in the world.

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) operates programs in Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico. In Mexico, MSF has been treating migrants and refugees along migration routes north to the United States since 2012. The vast majority of the people MSF treats are victims of violence in their home countries. Direct attacks, threats to themselves or families, sexual violence, extortion, or gang-forced recruitment are some of the main reasons many of them flee their countries for their lives.

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Humanitarian crisis in Central America

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Statement from Jason Cone, executive director of MSF-USA

“Every day along the migration route we treat and counsel patients from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, who have survived the types of violence our organization usually sees in war zones. These people are legitimately in fear for their lives and cannot safely go back to their home countries. For many of the patients we’re treating along the migration route, today’s decision by the US Attorney General is a death sentence.

"This policy is an extension of a ruthless pattern by the Trump Administration of targeting neglected and at-risk people, such as refugees, unaccompanied minors fleeing forced gang conscription, and women in need of lifesaving reproductive health services.

"Cloaked in the rhetoric of national security, these policies are nothing more than callous acts that ignore international law and dehumanize people in need of assistance. They offer no greater safety for Americans. And they increase the dangers for many women, children, and men who will be driven back to face violence and abuse.”