What Are Deadly Deterrence Policies?

Deadly deterrence policies are harmful to migrants and asylum seekers because they restrict or prevent people from seeking protection, often through the use of force, intimidation, or inhumane treatment.

Known as the “prevention through deterrence” approach to immigration, these policies limit the entry of asylum seekers and migrants at ports of entry and denies them access to the asylum system in an attempt to keep people from illegally crossing the border (HRW).

These policies can lead to the following negative consequences:

  • Increased risk of harm and death: Migrants and asylum seekers are often forced to take more dangerous routes to avoid detection, which can result in increased fatalities and injury. Additionally, the use of force and intimidation by border patrol can result in physical harm and even death.
  • Violation of human rights: Deterrence policies often involve the use of inhumane treatment, such as denying access to basic necessities like food, water, and medical care, or detaining migrants and asylum seekers in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. These practices violate numerous human rights outlined in the UDHR.
  • Reduced access to asylum and protection: Deterrence policies can make it more difficult for migrants and asylum seekers to reach safety and seek protection. This can include denying them access to asylum proceedings, or forcing them to return to countries where they face persecution, violence, or other human rights abuses.
  • Harm to vulnerable populations: Migrants and asylum seekers are often among the most vulnerable populations, including children, women, and individuals with disabilities. Deadly deterrence policies can have a disproportionate impact on these groups, increasing their suffering and likelihood of harm.

Deadly deterrence policies do nothing to address the root causes of migration and asylum-seeking and do not keep people from attempting to cross the US-Mexico border.

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