June 13, 2017 — The Jesuit Migration Network of Central America and North America has expressed dismay about the upcoming Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, co-hosted by the United States and Mexican governments.
The Jesuit Migration Network, which accompanies migrants and refugees and studies and promotes policies that honor the human rights of these groups, in a statement voiced “deep concern” that the conference “will address prosperity from a lens that is purely economic and informed by the private sector, and that it will address security with an approach that ignores human rights and further militarizes borders.”
The conference will be held in Miami from June 15-16, with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador also participating.
The Jesuit Migration Network said while it values the private sector’s interest in working to address challenges in these countries, other sectors of civil society should be represented in these discussions.
“We fear that the focus of this conference will not address the structural problems that the countries in the Northern Triangle of Central America face. Rather than contributing to the development of these countries, as well as reducing forced migration from them, we are concerned that it will lead to policies that increasingly repress and militarize in the name of security.”
The network maintains that supporting repressive, military approaches are not a solution to migration and that investing in security forces does not address the root causes of migration — and increases the vulnerability of communities.
Instead, the Jesuit network calls on governments to increase spending for social programs, including health and education.
“We believe that economic growth and prosperity will only be possible if investments in the social sector are strengthened, because when these areas are strong, vulnerable populations can more fully access the rights they are entitled to. Policies driven by private sector investment fall short of responding to these needs.”
The Jesuit Migration Network also called upon Mexico and the United States to “uphold their responsibilities in providing international protection to those fleeing violence” as a moral obligation, as well as a responsibility under international human rights conventions.
To offer another perspective beyond the Conference on Prosperity and Security, on June 14 the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. took part in a briefing in Miami on Central American migration and the United States response, which was livestreamed from 2-4 p.m. ET. The event included civil and human rights organizations, community advocates, faith groups, and policy experts who discussed the root causes of migration from Central America from a civil society and community perspective.
Read the full statement from the Jesuit Migration Network here. The Jesuit Conference and other members of the Jesuit Migration Network also joined over 100 organizations from throughout the region in expressing concerns regarding the upcoming conference and urging Secretary Tillerson to demonstrate leadership to ensure that human rights do not take a backseat in any agreements reached during the conference. Read the letter here.