100 Orgs Urge Inter-American Human Rights Commission to Investigate Abuses and Racism at the US Border

Jan. 21, 2022, Washington, D.C. — A diverse coalition of one hundred (100) organizations from across the United States and Latin America have filed a petition in the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (“the Commission”), detailing abuses by the U.S. government against Haitian and Central American refugees at the border and asking for Commission intervention. Lawyers for Civil Rights and its allies filed the petition yesterday on behalf of Alianza Americas, Haitian-Americans United, and dozens of other national and international organizations, religious and secular community-based groups, educational and cultural institutions, immigrants’ rights advocates, women’s rights champions, indigenous groups, LGBTQ+ leaders, and health equity advocates. The petition requests an investigatory hearing and urges the Commission to visit both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to observe and document human rights abuses at the hands of U.S. officials.  

The petition collects alarming and harrowing factual accounts from survivors of U.S. governmental abuse at the border:
  • Families being denied access to medical care and treatment.
  • Pregnant women deprived of medical assistance even after experiencing illness, leading to at least one miscarriage.
  • Immigrants being released from U.S. custody without medications for HIV or other chronic conditions. 
  • Families — including those with infant children — denied access to food, water, hygiene products, and sanitation. 
  • Exposure to COVID-19 along with a failure to provide masks and vaccines.
The petition also highlights systemic barriers to justice, including language discrimination and exclusion, failure to provide consular access and protections, and the absence of asylum and refugee protections for people fleeing persecution and violence.

All these abuses, at the hands of U.S. border officials, constitute serious violations of well-established rights under U.S. and international laws. Based in Washington, D.C., the Commission is a key part of the legal arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), which promotes peace and justice across 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere. The Commission has played a critical role in denouncing human rights abuses, including the unlawful U.S. interdiction of Haitian refugees in the 1980s. Since human rights violations persist, the need for the Commission to address the latest iteration of abuses by the United States is urgent.

“The ongoing border crisis reveals abusive practices against asylum-seekers and other migrants. The continued mistreatment of these vulnerable populations, particularly Central Americans and Haitians, confirms that the U.S. immigration system is broken. It also begs for immediate change and stronger protections,” said Oscar Chacon, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Alianza Americas, a transnational network rooted in immigrant communities that focuses on improving the quality of life for all people in the U.S. and Latin America.

“The violence at the U.S. border reflects racism and discrimination. Instead of punishing people, we need to protect them. Haitians and other immigrants deserve American help and protection,” said Reverend Dieufort Fleurissaint of Haitian-Americans United, a Boston-based organization that is working with more than 1,500 Haitian refugees recently released from detention at the U.S. border. 

The U.S. government has failed to rein in racism and abuses at the southern border. We need international oversight because the U.S government has failed to police itself. The U.S. government must be held accountable,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, the Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

The 100 organizations filing the human rights petition are represented by Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights, Germán Humberto Rincón Perfetti of Rincon Perfetti Abogados y Consultores Internacionales, and Helena María Olea Rodríguez of Alianza Américas.

The human rights petition is available here in English and here in Spanish.

Read more about the border crisis, including LCR’s complaint against federal officials on behalf of Black Haitian families and our most recent report from the U.S. border.

Full list of 100 signatories to the human rights petition:

Alianza Américas
Haitian-Americans United (HAU)
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Lawyers for Civil Rights
Access Living / Cambiando Vidas
Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice
Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition
Albergue Decanal Guadalupano
Alianza de Salvadoreños Retornados
América Para Todos
Arkansas United
Asociación Colectivo Violeta
Asociación de Gualtemaltecos
Asociación de Retornados Guatemaltecos
Asociación de Salvadorenos de Los Angeles (ASOSAL)
Asociación Pop N´oj
Border Patrol Victims Network
CARECEN D.C. (Central American Resource Center of Washington, D.C.)
CARECEN Los Angeles (Central American Resource Center of Los Angeles)
CARECEN San Francisco (Central American Resource Center of San Francisco)
Cáritas de El Salvador
Casa de la Cultura El Salvador
Casa de la Misericordia y de Todas Las Naciones
Casa Monarca
Casa Tochán
Casa Yurumein
Center for Immigrant Progress
Centro de Atención a la Familia Migrante Indígena
Centro Internacional para los Derechos Humanos de los Migrantes
Centro Presente
Centro Romero
Centro San Bonifacio
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO)
Clínica Jurídica para Refugiados “Alaíde Foppa” dela Universidad Iberoamericana
Club Francisco Villa
Club Nueva Visión de Cheranástico
Club San Juanico
Club Taji
Colectiva Feminista MAPAS
Colectivo de Mujeres Transnacionales
Colectivo Iglesias por la Paz
Comité de Solidaridad y Derechos Humanos Monseñor Romero
Comité Oscar Romero de Valparaíso, Chile
Comunicaciones Comunitaria (COMUN)
Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina (COPAL)
CRECEN Houston
Dominican Development Center
Durango Unido en Chicago
Familia Unidas en Accion
Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (FIEL)
Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP)
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Fundación Arcoíris por el Respeto a la Diversidad Sexual
Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho
Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente de El Salvador (GMIES)
Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP)
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HAIS) México
Hondurans Against AIDS
Immigrant Family Services Institute, Inc. (IFSI)
Instituto de Geografía para la Paz A.C (IGP)
Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración (IMUMI)
Justice for our Neighbors
Justicia, Paz e Integridad de la Creación (JPIC) Familia Franciscana Guatemala
Kino Border Initiative
La 72, Hogar-Refugio Para Personas Migrantes
La Colaborativa
La Federación de Clubes Michoacanos en Illinois (Casa Michoacán)
Latinas en Poder
Latino Commission on AIDS
Latino Policy Forum
Latinos Progresando
Lila, LGBTQ Inc.
Living Hope Wheelchair Association
Mission Guatemala USA
Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLA)
Organización Negra Centroamericana (ONECA)
Organización Trans Reinas de la Noche (OTRANS-RN)
Pastoral Social de la Iglesia Anglicana de México
Plataforma Migración y Desarrollo
Red Clamor
Red de Pueblos Transnacionales
Red Jesuita con Migrantes Latino America y el Caribe (RJM-LAC)
Red Mexicana de Lideres y Organizaciones de Migrantes
Red Nacional de Apoyo a Personas Migrantes y Refugiadas LGBT México
Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México (REDIM)
Rural Women Health Project
Salud Integral Para La Mujer
Seeds of Resistance
Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN)
St Brigid’s Casa Mary Johanna
Strangers No Longer
Tabernacle de la Voix de l’Evangile
Telpochacalli Community Education Project
Tennessee Immigrant Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)
United for a Fair Economy
We Count!
WIN! The Welcome Immigrant Network
Wind of the Spirit
Women Working Together USA