FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2021
CONTACT: Bilal Askaryar | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mexican, US Government Must Halt Demolition of Senda de Vida Shelter in Reynosa, says #WelcomeWithDignity
Washington — Today, the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign called on Mayor Maki Ortiz Domínguez and local and federal authorities in Mexico to cease plans to demolish the Senda de Vida shelter in Reynosa, Mexico. The shelter provides critical relief for vulnerable people seeking asylum in one of the most dangerous areas along the border. Late Friday afternoon, the demolition order was temporarily halted by a temporary restraining order, but #WelcomeWithDignity campaign members urged the Mexican government to permanently halt any plans to demolish the shelter.
In addition to letters of support from Angry Tias and Abuelas, the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, Iglesia Restauracion, Medicos Sin Fronteras, Solidarity Engineering, and Witness at the Border, members of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign responded:
“Shelters in Mexico are providing critical support and protection to migrants and asylum seekers who continue to be expelled to Mexico and blocked from seeking protection at U.S. ports of entry by the Biden administration,” said Kennji Kizuka, associate director of research for refugee protection at Human Rights First. “Closing down migrant shelters in Reynosa or other Mexican border cities will only further endanger the families and adults the United States is illegally turning away from asylum protections and returning to dangerous areas where migrants are targeted for kidnapping, rape, and other violent attacks.”
“The United States should immediately end the illegal and discriminatory Title 42 summary border expulsion policy, and the Mexican government should stop accepting expelled asylum seekers from the United States,” said Ariana Sawyer, US Border Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But closing down the Senda de Vida migrant shelter fails to accomplish either of these goals and will only mean putting hundreds of asylum seekers, including children and families, in serious danger.”
“Closing Senda de Vida will have a direct public health impact that none of us are prepared to meet,” stated Andrea Leiner, Chief Communications Officer for Global Response Management, an NGO providing emergency medical care to the asylum population in Reynosa. “Besides the increased risk of water-borne illness, assault, kidnapping, malnutrition, and dehydration for populations sleeping on the streets of Reynosa, we are also amid a rise of COVID-19 cases in the general public. It is imperative that all groups work together to face these difficult problems and we strongly recommend that the City of Reynosa supports Senda de Vida in its mission.”
“We stand in solidarity with pastor Hector and the asylum seekers who are at Senda de Vida Shelter in Reynosa and ask the Mexican Government to provide protection against all attacks on the community,” said Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance. “Shelters provide critical support for migrants and asylum seekers who are being forced to stay in extremely dangerous situations due to U.S policies like Title 42. We ask that the City of Reynosa support the shelter to Welcome people with Dignity. The U.S government must immediately rescind Title 42, stop all expulsions to Reynosa and other cities.”
“Shelters are critical to ensuring immigrants and asylum seekers have access to humanitarian assistance and an element of safety on their journey,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service. “We should remember that U.S. anti-asylum policies, like Title 42 expulsions, continue to unlawfully turn individuals and families away at the border and force them to remain in perilous situations. The United States should immediately end all Title 42 expulsions, invest in humanitarian assistance for arriving immigrants and asylum seekers at border shelters that is decoupled from enforcement, and restore asylum protections that welcome all people.”
“Destroying Pastor Hector’s Senda de Vida would destroy a beacon of hope in one of the most dangerous places in the world. It’s reprehensible, bringing further harm to the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. The Pastor is doing vital work, sheltering hundreds of people during the pandemic who would otherwise be homeless. If the shelter is closed, it will be a human rights catastrophe: even more asylum seekers expelled from the U.S. because of Biden’s continued use of Title 42 will be forced to live on the streets of Reynosa. The US should end Title 42 now and support officials in Mexico to keep Senda de Vida open,” said Margaret Seiler for the Leadership Team of Witness at the Border.
“Demolishing this shelter and turning hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers out onto the streets of Reynosa would expose them to potentially life-threatening criminal violence and a host of other serious risks, and would leave future expelled migrants without access to an essential safety net,” said Stephanie Brewer, Director for Mexico and Migrant Rights at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). “Reynosa’s municipal government and Mexico’s federal authorities should halt these counterproductive plans and direct their efforts toward protecting the rights of this vulnerable population.”
“The Senda de Vida Shelter serves as a vital lifeline and safe haven for migrants, including those who have been summarily expelled from the United States and denied their legal right to seek asylum and should not be closed,” said Ursela Ojeda, Policy Advisor of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Demolishing such shelters that provide critical humanitarian assistance to hundreds of vulnerable families will only increase their exposure to violence and serious harm in border cities. WRC urges the United States to immediately end the unlawful Title 42 border expulsion policy that forces migrants to stay in northern Mexico shelters and instead restore asylum protections and welcome people fleeing for their lives into safety.”
“Mexican authorities at the federal and state levels must heed the warnings of Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) and the Human Rights Commission of the State of Tamaulipas (CODHET) that the forced eviction of migrants and asylum-seekers at the Reynosa shelter, Senda de Vida, could result in violation of the human rights of hundreds of families, children, and others currently residing there,” said Edith Olivares Ferreto, interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Mexico. “Those individuals at imminent risk of unlawful forced evictions may likewise be at risk of refoulement to their countries of origin, if not provided with urgent protective measures and oversight of the process by Mexico’s human rights protection mechanisms.”
“The Mexican government should be working with shelters along the border to protect the rights of migrants, not seeking to destroy them. Shelters like Senda de Vida are the only places migrants have to escape violence from organized crime and other human rights violations. They are forced to seek refuge from civil society organizations because of anti-asylum policies like Title 42 that expel them to dangerous areas, leaving them with nowhere to turn. We urge the U.S. government to immediately end the illegal Title 42 policy and the Mexican government to stop the closure of this shelter and instead work towards ensuring safety and refuge for these asylum seekers,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Co-director of the Latin America Working Group (LAWG).
The Welcome with Dignity Campaign is composed of more than 80 national and regional organizations committed to transforming the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee their homes to ensure they are treated humanely and fairly. To learn more and join our campaign visit: welcomewithdignity.org