In a letter to President Joe Biden, human rights groups in Brazil and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) urge the U.S. administration to emphasize the importance of migrant rights and access to asylum in Brazil. As they note, since 2019 the Brazilian government has issued a number of decrees that run against the principle of non-refoulement, the right to immediate access to the asylum application procedure and the principle of non-criminalization of migration. These decrees violate several treaties and Brazilian migration and refugee laws.
Between March 2020 and January 2021, the Brazilian government issued 28 decrees which all restricted entry to the country. These decrees are strict and discriminatory against those fleeing Venezuela, and in some cases amount to the suspension of asylum requests, immediate deportation, or repatriation and administrative, civil, and criminal liability of migrants as a consequence of non-compliance. These measures violate the principle of non-refoulement, the right to immediate access to the asylum application procedure and the principle of non-criminalization of migration, all of which are provided for in Brazilian law.
The enforcement of these measures has had cruel effects on the ground. During August 2020, for example, dozens of people, including children, were deported in Brazil’s Acre state border with Peru. They were left on a bridge for days without food, water, hygiene, or shelter, since they could not return to Peru. In January 2021, more than 50 Venezuelan indigenous people, among them 32 children, experienced threats of mass deportation. Their deportation was only halted by a lawsuit filed by the Public Defender’s Office. In fact, deportation rates increased more than 5,000 percent in Brazil in 2020 compared with 2019.
Considering the importance of the U.S.-Brazil relationship, the signers of this letter urge President Biden to raise this issue in the bilateral relationship. They urge the Biden administration to promote and protect the basic rights of migrants and refugees as human beings, regardless of their nationality or host country.
The full letter is available here, and is signed by:
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello
Centro de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania do Imigrante (CDHIC)
Colectivo (In)movilidades en las Américas
Conectas Direitos Humanos
Instituto Migração Gênero e Raça (I-MiGRa)
Pacto pelo Direito de Migrar (PDMIG)
Rede Sem Fronteiras (RSF)
Serviço Jesuíta a Migrantes e Refugiados Brasil
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)