Rebuilding from the ashes, Trump’s heritage on immigration and asylum policy

With President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration taking office on 20 January 2021, there will be an opportunity for the US administration to renew its commitment to human rights, not only by ending its own egregious human rights violations but also by re-engaging with the international community through the United Nations and multilateral institutions.

For four years the Trump administration has implemented policies that have time and again demonstrated its disregard for human rights and its desire to suppress the rights of specific groups for political gain. We have seen executive orders and federal policies passed, along with divisive and hateful rhetoric directed at women and girls, the LGBTQI+ community, Black and Latino people, migrants and refugees, among others.

One of the Trump administration’s flagship issues, since his 2016 presidential campaign, has been migration and asylum. His promises to build a wall along the border with Mexico and to destroy the asylum system soon became public policy. His administration has devoted significant time and effort to punishing those who arrive in the United States seeking safety and protection, including families and children. This has affected people fleeing levels of violence comparable to war zones, coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, those fleeing political repression in Cuba and massive human rights violations in Venezuela and Nicaragua, as well as a growing number of people forcibly displaced from countries outside the continent due to persecution and conflict.

Instead of offering shelter to people in need, the Trump administration devised a series of policies to criminalize them and deny them protection. It did this by claiming that there were insufficient resources to respond to these cases, all the while spending billions of dollars on militarizing the country’s borders.

In 2018, thousands of parents seeking asylum were charged with crimes under a “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in thousands of children being forcibly separated and detained, literally held in cages or flown to other facilities thousands of miles away, without consent and with no information as to their whereabouts.

By Erika Guevara Rosas for AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
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