The US Government announced it will provide $20 million in foreign assistance funds  to the Mexican government to pay plane and bus fares to deport as many as 17,000 people, preventing them from moving onwards to countries where they may be able to seek asylum. The decision was made despite strong opposition from members of Congress and civil society.

The Mexican government released this statement saying that the proposal is still under evaluation, and reiterating Mexico’s commitment to promote orderly, legal, and secure migration with full respect for human rights and the international legal framework. Mexico is currently one of the Co-chairs of the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

If the assistance funds were to be provided by the US Government, they would  compromise an individual’s right to seek asylum in the country they deem safe and prevent governments from achieving their international obligations to offer an individual access to protection.

The IDC joined over 25 organizations expressing concerns over this development, and making practical suggestions for how these funds could be used to provide efficient and affordable solutions, rather than increasing the use of immigration detention.

This funding has been linked to conversations about an agreement to make Mexico a “Safe Third Country” for asylum seekers, which IDC and our Members have strongly opposed since last May.

The IDC position remains the same – emphasizing that cooperation between the United States and Mexico on migration management should prioritize respecting the rights of asylum seekers in both countries. Both States stand to benefit if they prioritize regional cooperation that focuses on upholding human rights and promoting durable solutions.

The letter states, “U.S. assistance to Mexico should not be directed towards increased detention and deportation and should not support migration and security agencies that have few mechanisms to hold their agents accountable for the abuses they commit against migrants. Moreover, the United States should not be outsourcing its immigration enforcement to Mexico. Instead the United States should support the efforts of the UNHCR and civil society organizations in strengthening regional protection mechanisms…”

Read the letter here.