Trump Administration Accused of Ignoring U.N. Requests for Access to US-Mexico Border

The American Civil Liberties Union hit out at the Trump administration over its refusal to cooperate with international human rights monitors, including ignoring repeated requests to arrange a formal visit to the U.S.-Mexico border from the U.N. special rapporteur on migrant rights.

"For us, this is of really serious concern because it puts the U.S. squarely in the company of some of the worst human rights abusers around the world," ACLU Director of Human Rights Jamil Dakwar told Newsweek.

Felipe González Morales, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, told Newsweek on Tuesday that he had made two requests, one in March last year and another in December, to the Trump administration asking "to conduct an official visit and prepare a report about the situation of the human rights of migrants in the U.S."

In his December request, González Morales said he cited his concerns over the death of Jakelin Caal, the 7-year-old girl from Guatemala who died while in the custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico with her father.             

"I got a response to my first letter, which stated that the State Department was consulting with different stakeholders regarding my request," González Morales said. "As for my letter from December, I did not get any response. Nor I have gotten to any of the communications I have sent since mid-last year to the U.S. Government addressing different topics on migration in the U.S."

González Morales also said: "In June last year, I had a meeting with the Permanent Mission of the U.S. in Geneva for this purpose, at which I was told the matter was under study at the State Department." The special rapporteur said that in addition to monitoring the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, a formal visit would also allow him to conduct a review of "all relevant aspects of the human rights of migrants in the U.S., such as the detention of adult and children based on their migratory status, access to justice for migrants, status of investigations about the death of migrants in the U.S., the prospects of [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] and other relevant programs."

In being ignored by the Trump administration, González Morales is far from alone, according to the ACLU. Not only has the U.S. government failed to extend official invitations to any U.N. experts to visit the country since President Donald Trump took office, according to an analysis Dakwar submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, but at least 22 requests from U.N. special rapporteurs have gone ignored by the Trump administration, with the last response from Trump officials having come in May 2018. 

In his analysis, Dakwar accused the Trump administration of having "escalated its hostility toward human rights bodies, including the apparent severing of relationships with independent experts appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations."

The U.S. withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council last year. Among the ignored requests are repeated appeals from González Morales, the U.N. monitor on the human rights of migrants, to be allowed to make an official visit to the U.S.-Mexico border to address widespread concerns over the treatment of asylum seekers and immigrants. 

"The special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants has repeatedly asked to visit the United States to report on the serious deterioration of human rights of immigrants, especially on the U.S.-Mexico border, including family separations, expedited deportations, abusive immigration detention, tear gassing of immigrants and asylum seekers, and the undermining of their rights to seek protection and asylum," Dakwar said in his analysis. 

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