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UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF welcome new pathways for regular entry to the US, reiterate concern over restrictions on access to asylum

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UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF welcome new pathways for regular entry to the US, reiterate concern over restrictions on access to asylum

Joint statement
14 October 2022
A family seeking safety crosses the border from Mexico into the United States.


Panama - The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcome the United States and Mexican governments’ announcement of a new pathway for a number of displaced Venezuelans to enter the United States. This is an encouraging development to facilitate safe and regular migration and provide alternatives for people on the move. However, the agencies remain deeply concerned by the continuing restrictions on access to asylum experienced by people from many different nationalities at the US-Mexico border due to Title 42.

Recognizing the increasing mixed movements, the risks for people affected and the pressures placed on countries throughout the region, the agencies are encouraged by the launch of a new safe and regular pathway for entry to the United States and are seeking further information on its implementation. Such pathways can be essential to provide alternatives to irregular and dangerous journeys and an effective way to promote fair sharing of responsibilities. We also welcome the announcement of a significant increase in the number of H-2B visas for temporary workers for nationals of the northern countries of Central America and Haiti.

Any such initiatives, however, cannot come at the expense of the fundamental human right to seek asylum. Access to safe territory for asylum seekers is a cornerstone of the 1951 Refugee Convention and of international refugee law. We remain concerned by asylum restrictions that are inconsistent with international law standards, including those imposed through Title 42 public health action, and reiterate the call for their urgent termination. Many people subject to this measure since its implementation in March 2020 have been sent to border communities with significant security challenges, limited support networks and inadequate shelter capacities, making their return to Mexico both dangerous and unsustainable.

We have repeatedly brought attention to the negative impact of these restrictions on asylum seekers and migrants at the border. Every day such policies remain in place puts more desperate individuals, families and children at risk. The safety and well-being of children, including children arriving with family members, are a critical concern; their best interests must be protected.

Fair and effective reception and processing systems at national borders, including the US-Mexico border, are achievable. We are committed to working with states throughout the hemisphere to strengthen reception and processing capacities, foster regular migration and expand safe pathways for asylum seekers and migrants, in line with international standards and the goals of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection.

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