FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2019
NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls for the immediate release of human rights defenders Cristóbal Sánchez, founder of the Cultura Migrante collective, and Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras (PSF), following their June 5 arrests by Mexican officials on trumped-up human trafficking charges. These politically motivated arrests continue the US and Mexican government’s campaigns of criminalization and surveillance of migrants and migrants’ rights activists which include the joint covert watch list uncovered in March, and the prosecution of humanitarian aid workers with No More Deaths, who left food and water for migrants in the Sonoran desert. Ahead of their hearings tomorrow before a judge in Tapachula, Chiapas, the NLG joins PSF today in their call for support for Sánchez and Mujica.
In their June 7 press release, Pueblo Sin Fronteras connects these arrests to President Trump’s threats to increase tariffs on Mexican products over immigration policy: “It’s no coincidence that Irineo and Cristóbal were arrested the same day that Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard met in Washington, DC, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the wake of last week’s threats by President Donald Trump to increase tariffs on Mexican products.” In fact, the day after these arrests, Trump announced that the scheduled tariffs would be suspended, having reached a “signed agreement” with Mexican officials in which they “agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border.”
The PSF press release also cites the June 5 detention of about 500 migrants in a raid by Mexican police and immigration officials, “including entire families fleeing hunger and violence,” as evidence of Mexico’s increased criminalization campaign and acquiescence to increased pressure by the US government. It was the largest single raid since last year: “This series of events makes it clear that the rhetoric of the Mexican government, which tells us that Mexico makes its own immigration policy, is false,” PSF stated.
In March, the NLG International Committee sent a delegation to Tijuana, Mexico to document human rights abuses and violations of international law surrounding the treatment of migrants. The delegation met with PSF, including Mujica, who described at length repeated harassment, intimidation, and even death threats against PSF members both online and in person in Tijuana in addition to arbitrary arrests and violence by Tijuana municipal police targeting them for their work supporting migrants, and hours-long interrogations and detentions by US Customs and Border Protection authorities. In early April, Mujica and a migrant were targets of an arson attack at his home.
The NLG continues to be in solidarity with PSF and echoes their call for respect, dignity, and justice for migrants and human rights defenders, especially as migrants and asylum seekers continue to die in ICE custody, with 24 dead during the Trump administration alone. As they state, “As long as the government of the United States continues supporting corrupt governments, fraudulent elections and coups in Central America, and the criminalization of migrants and human rights defenders in Mexico, and as long as the governments of Mexico and Central America continue to permit the United States to dictate their immigration policy, this fabricated crisis will continue. We will continue fighting for the freedom of our compañeros and for human rights.”
Please sign and share this petition by the Alliance for Global Justice and spread the word on social media using #StandWithPueblosSinFronteras and #HumanitarianAidIsNeverACrime
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.
Below is the full June 7 Pueblo Sin Fronteras press release, originally posted to their accounts in English to Facebook and in Spanish to Twitter:
WE DENOUNCE THE DETENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IRINEO MUJICA AND CRISTÓBAL SÁNCHEZ
Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, and Cristóbal Sánchez, founder of the Migrant Culture collective, have been human rights defenders for over a decade. We urgently condemn these arrests, which are clearly reprisals carried out under pressure from the United States.
June 7th, 2019
To the community of human rights defenders,
To the media,
To the governments of Mexico and the United States,
To the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,
On Wednesday, June 5th, immigrant rights defenders, Irineo Mujica and Cristóbal Sánchez, were arrested by a Mexican government that promised to defend human rights but that in reality has bent under pressure by the anti-immigrant government of the United States.
Irineo Mujica and Cristóbal Sánchez are advocates with more than a decade of experience accompanying migrant folks, and now they are political prisoners. Irineo would truly give the shirt off his back to an immigrant brother or sister, and Cristóbal has always stood up for human rights due to his firm convictions—never for another reason. Both are part of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Advocates and Journalists. Irineo and Cristóbal have dedicated their lives to the wellbeing of the migrant community and to social justice, and the Mexican government arrested them to present them as trophies for the U.S. government. Ultimately, those most harmed by this process of criminalization are migrant folks and all of the community of human rights defenders. We demand that they be released immediately and that the charges against them be dropped.
It’s no coincidence that Irineo and Cristóbal were arrested the same day that Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard met in Washington, DC, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the wake of last week’s threats by President Donald Trump to increase tariffs on Mexican products.
Also Wednesday, around 500 migrant folks, including entire families fleeing hunger and violence, were detained in an operation carried out by the [Mexican] National Institute of Migration, National Guard, and Federal Police. This series of events makes it clear that the rhetoric of the Mexican government, which tells us that Mexico makes its own immigration policy, is false. We demand respect for the human rights of displaced people and the urgent recognition of their requests.
As long as the government of the United States continues supporting corrupt governments, fraudulent elections and coups in Central America, and the criminalization of migrants and human rights defenders in Mexico, and as long as the governments of Mexico and Central America continue to permit the United States to dictate their immigration policy, this fabricated crisis will continue. We will continue fighting for the freedom of our compañeros and for human rights.
The campaign of criminalization of migrant and refugee folks who walk through Mexico, and the campaign of criminalization of those who accompany them, look after them, and defend them, are the same campaign. We call on organizations and advocates to stand in solidarity with all human rights defenders and all displaced people who have been criminalized and endangered.
Stop the criminalization!
Pueblo Sin Fronteras
Contacts: +52 1 (222) 120-9152 | +1 (775) 560-4904 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- 4/4/19: NLG in Solidarity with Pueblo Sin Fronteras Following Arson Targeting Director, Condemns Binational Surveillance and Targeting of Migrants and Human Rights Defenders
- 3/8/19: NLG Condemns Secret US-Mexican List of Journalists and Advocates Documenting and Providing Humanitarian Aid at the Border
- 12/5/18: Refugee Caravan: A Legal Observer’s Report from Tijuana
- 11/28/18: [WEBINAR] Why Do Refugee Caravans Exist? A Lesson in Geo-Political History of Central America
- 11/20/18: NLG & Al Otro Lado Mobilizing Legal Support for Central American Refugee Caravan at Mexico-US Border