GHRC Participates in US Congressional Briefing on Migration from Central America

By Julia Nierenberg, GHRC 2015 Fall Intern

This week, outlets such as The New York Times and Al Jazeera America published articles, videos and photos that illuminate and remind the world of the refugee and migrant crisis in the Northern Triangle. In the New York Times piece, Azam Ahmed stated that the images of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing to Europe reminds him of the smaller, but still significant migrant crisis occurring in Central America, specifically in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Men, women, and children are fleeing Central America at increasingly rapid rates. Last year was the first year that Mexican child migrants did not outnumber children fleeing from other countries in Central America to the United States; Ahmed recalls that, “From the beginning of October 2013 through July of this year, nearly 80,000 unaccompanied minors from those Central American countries were detained by United States authorities along the Mexican border.”

On September 16, GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones participated in a briefing hosted by Congressman Raul Grijalva on Capitol Hill about this ongoing crisis; Alford-Jones was joined by speakers from U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Congressional Research Service (CRS), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Participants in the panel discussion highlighted the need for basic compassion for refugees, just application of the rule of law, and an understanding of the role of the US in contributing to migration from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

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Left: Congressman Grijalva; Right: GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones

In his remarks, Congressman Grijalva reiterated that “this country [the United States] is a refuge for people fleeing violence and death” and that refugees from Central America “deserve the same equitable treatment that we would give to anyone else.” Continue reading

Congressional Briefing on Migration from Central America: Comments by Kelsey Alford-Jones

The below comments are from the September 16, 2015 congressional briefing titled: “Central America’s Unresolved Crisis”



My Name is Kelsey Alford-Jones, I am the Executive Director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, an organization that documents and denounces abuses, educates the international community, advocates for just policies and supports communities and activists who face threats and violence.

We have been working in Guatemala for over three decades and have staff on the ground. I also travel frequently to Guatemala.

Last summer GHRC played an active role in the NGO response to the unprecedented number of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America, providing analysis and policy recommendations. One year later, Guatemalans continue to seek refuge in the US and it is clear that many have legitimate need for international protection but are not receiving the proper support from the US government. Continue reading