Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Urges United States to Rescind Executive Order

Airport crowd

The Inter-American Commission on Human rights issued a statement yesterday expressing ‘deep concern’ regarding President Trump’s executive orders on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”, as well as the executive order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”.

The orders severely restrict immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, suspends refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. The implementation of these orders, issued in late January, threw airports into turmoil as hundreds of individuals from these countries were detained in airports throughout the US.

Of particular concern to the Commission was that the executive orders require, among other things, the immediate construction of a physical border wall along the US-Mexico border, the closure of the border to asylum seekers, and the expansion of a system of mass incarceration through the creation of more immigration detention centres along the border. In their statement, the Commission claims these measures “represent a policy designed to stigmatize and criminalize migrants or anyone perceived as a migrant… The implementation of these executive orders puts migrants and refugees at grave risk of violation of their rights to non-discrimination, personal liberty, due process, judicial protection, special protection for families and children, the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to freedom of movement, among others.”

The Commission reminded the United States of their international human rights obligations, which require the United States to implement all measures that may be necessary to protect the lives, integrity and safety of all migrants under its jurisdiction. They assert that immigration proceedings, particularly those that could lead to migrant’s deportation, must examine, justify, and decide cases on an individual basis. These proceedings must respect minimum guarantees such as the right to be heard by a competent authority in a deportation proceeding and to have sufficient opportunity to mount a defense and challenge a deportation decision.

Perhaps the most concerning is the denial of access to legal representation faced by detainees across the country. Among other airports, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency at Dulles International Airport refused to grant attorneys to any detainees it was holding, in spite of a federal judge’s order to permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport.

The Commission urged the United States to rescind the three executive orders and ensure any official measure related to immigration and asylum was in accordance with its international human rights obligations and international refugee law.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.