Congressman Lowenthal Leads Letter Promoting Human Rights in the US-Mexico Partnership

March 4, 2021
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), today, joined with Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08) and Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) to lead 15 additional Members of Congress in calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take immediate and critical actions to prioritize human rights in the U.S.-Mexico relationship.                                                                                                        

In a letter to Secretary Blinken, the Members urge the Biden Administration to take key steps to make sure that the Mexican government and Non-Governmental partners are able to adequately protect and support migrants and to improve the capacity of Mexico’s own asylum system.

The Members state that “while President Biden has suspended the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and the Department of Homeland Security has recently announced that it will begin processing  individuals with open cases under this policy, tens of thousands of people are still waiting in Mexico to continue their U.S. immigration proceedings or request asylum, while many others have been expelled to Mexico under Title 42 public health authority without access to the U.S. asylum system.“

The Members urge both coordination with the Mexican government and international organizations and consultation with civil society organizations to ensure that during any continued wait in Mexico, asylum seekers have access to water, food, healthcare, shelter, and protection from crime.

The letter also highlights the continuing threat to civilians, human rights defenders, journalists and others, pointing out that, “the past two years have seen record violence in Mexico, with roughly 35,000 annual homicides. Approximately 30 human rights defenders and journalists were killed in 2020. Over 80,000 people have disappeared since 2006. In this context, we encourage you to work with the Mexican government to address the near-total levels of impunity that enable criminal groups and state agents to perpetrate serious crimes and human rights abuses.”

The Members urge the Biden Administration to focus on civilian institution-building and strengthening the rule of law and human rights in Mexico as the building blocks of a sustainable solution to violence.

The Members also encourage Secretary Blinken to engage in a serious review and reassessment of specific security policies that have failed to reduce violence or provide justice to victims. These include the continued reliance by Mexico on military troops for domestic policing, as well as the kingpin strategy, which has been advanced by both the United States and Mexico but has been unsuccessful in weakening the cartels. 

Instead of preserving the status quo of the U.S.-Mexico security relationship, the Biden Administration should work to empower and protect civil society leaders and prosecutorial offices in Mexico which seek to strengthen human rights, domestic institutions, and the rule of law.

Full letter text, with signatories, is available here.