Experts Call for Respect for Human Rights and Dignity of Migrants Facing Humanitarian Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Mexico City, MEXICO – Representatives of organizations defending the human rights of migrants stressed the urgency of finding new strategies to address the migration phenomenon, ensuring that order does not imply violence, as has been the case at the U.S.-Mexico border. During a virtual meeting organized by Alliance San Diego and its network of allies, they reflected on the current context of crisis at the border and ways to combat police brutality and human rights violations in the United States, which affect disproportionately Mexican and Central American immigrants and people of color.

Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director of Alliance San Diego, said that the goal of the “Start With Dignity” Campaign is to demand a change in U.S. use of force standards, and she pointed out that “the United States cannot present itself as a leader on human rights when it fails to protect them at home. It is time to bring our laws in line with our international human rights obligations to recognize the inherent dignity of each and every one of us”.

Meanwhile, Nashieli Ramírez Hernández, President of the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City, commented that: “the restrictive policies and criminalization of migration that have worsened since the 1990s in the United States have not reduced migratory flows which, on the contrary, continue to grow, due to political, social, security and environmental crises in Latin America”. She assured that, so far in 2023, and according to official figures from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, more than 1.6 million migrant detentions have been registered, of which 26% are families and 6% are unaccompanied children and adolescents. She added that local border control initiatives are particularly worrisome, as is the case of Operation Lone Star in Texas, with discriminatory and abusive police actions based on racial profiling, or the installation of more than 350 m of buoys with barbed wire in the Rio Bravo, which are related to the death of at least two migrants.

During his speech, Bernardo Méndez Lugo, Executive Director of “America Sin Muros” (America Without Walls) and retired Minister of the Mexican Foreign Service, said that the organization he presides tackles human rights violations of migrants by border agents, and said that more than half of the deaths related to this phenomenon occur in the attempt to cross into the United States. He concluded by calling for the defense of free human mobility, as well as the international human rights norms of the United Nations.

Later, Isabel García, Co-Founder and Director of the Human Rights Coalition, recalled that immigration laws in the United States “began with racism and discrimination”, since the first anti-immigration law in the United States was passed in 1929 to prevent the arrival of people considered to be of "inferior races", such as people of Mexican and indigenous descent and Afro descendants. For this reason, she emphasized the importance of the “Start With Dignity” campaign to promote a cultural change in immigration policies, and to fight against racism in the United States, as she also does through the “Stop the Hate” collective.

Moreover, Perla Torres, Director of the Family Network of the Colibri Center for Human Rights, shared her experience as part of this organization that provides support from Tucson, Arizona to family members of missing migrants. She assured that “since 1998, at least 7,000 people have lost their lives trying to cross the border into the United States, although this figure could be even higher”. She added that in their databases they have at least 4,000 reports of missing persons, and that, from January to April 2023, there are more than 1,400 remains that have not been identified in Pima County (on the Arizona-Sonora border alone). She assured that this crisis not only affects migrants in the U.S., but also their families in Mexico and Central America.

To conclude, Alexandra Haas, Executive Director of Oxfam Mexico, spoke about the importance of addressing this issue starting from the social perceptions of the migratory phenomenon, how migration is erroneously associated with problems such as insecurity. She considered it fundamental to de-normalize the violent treatment of migrants and “to propose that another way of dealing with migration is possible, that maintaining order does not imply violence”. She added that “the excessive use of force that we are witnessing contravenes international human rights standards” and that to fight it, it is imperative to address the internal policies that cause it, for which reason she considered that “the transformation sought should be not only of guidelines, but also of the organizational culture within these organizations”.

Finally, Gabriela Rodriguez Clark, representative of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, called on people to join the “Start With Dignity” campaign and sign the petition addressed to President Biden to reinforce the U.S. government's commitment to human rights.



Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community organization that is building collective power to create a more inclusive democracy, one where all people can participate with dignity in an environment of harmony, safety, equality and justice. We pursue this mission by developing leaders, engaging the community, advocating for policies, communicating strategically, and protecting human rights.