Washington, D.C.—On March 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a statement on President Trump’s visit to San Diego to review prototypes for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The statement advocates for the wall and for “closing loopholes” in the U.S. immigration system. The Trump administration’s views on the wall and its representation of the U.S. immigration process ignores the realities at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the hemisphere.
“The administration continues to push false claims that building more wall is necessary to curb migration and secure the border from drug trafficking,” said Adam Isacson, Director for Defense Oversight at WOLA. “Fencing already exists in nearly all of the urban areas where physical barriers could have an effect on migration. However, most families and unaccompanied minors arriving at the border today are actively seeking protection and are not deterred by a wall or additional agents,” said Isacson.
This DHS statement is one of numerous accounts in recent months of Trump administration officials suggesting that Central American unaccompanied children and families are taking advantage of “loopholes” in U.S. immigration laws to enter the United States, while in fact those requesting asylum are simply practicing their right to seek international protection.
“Under U.S. and international law, it is not illegal to leave your home country to seek protection from persecution. The increased number of Central Americans applying for asylum in the United States is not because more people are exploiting the system, but because many have credible claims,” said Maureen Meyer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights at WOLA. “Families and unaccompanied children take the dangerous journey through Mexico precisely because many of them are fleeing for their lives. Reducing their ability to seek asylum or other forms of international protection in the United States will indeed put them in harm’s way by returning them to some of the most violent countries in the world,” said Meyer.
In a new fact sheet, WOLA debunks the Trump administration’s inaccurate and misleading claims about alleged “loopholes” in the U.S. immigration process.
Explore WOLA’s other resources on border security and Central American migration: