AMERICA/GUATEMALA - "Migrant Houses" risk closure: Red Clamor supports Bishops' demands

Friday, 3 February 2023 emigration   human rights   laws   catholic church  

La Hora

Guatemala City (Agenzia Fides) - The Red Clamor ecclesial network, which includes organizations involved in the field of migration, refugees and human trafficking, joins the Bishops' Conference of Guatemala, which expressed concern in the final message of the last Annual Plenary Assembly comments on the new state regulations that endanger the work of Church-run Migrant Houses (see Fides, 28/1/2023). Specifically, the bishops are calling for a change in the provisions of Article 101 of Agreement No. 7-2019 of the National Migration Authority.
"As organizations working with people in forced mobility in 22 Latin American countries, we are concerned that the obligations to be imposed on Migrant Houses (migrant hostels) in Guatemala violate the right to privacy of the personal data of hosted migrants. discrediting them as trustworthy centers". Red Clamor emphasizes that the services provided by the Migrant Houses in Guatemala "are free and essential for tens of thousands of people in a situation of extreme vulnerability and without resources to cover accommodation costs."
The organizations that form Red Clamor reiterate the request made on several occasions to the Region's Migration Authorities that they define and support "migration policies that respect human rights and do not criminalize migrants or those who bring humanitarian aid." They call for these measures to be geared towards creating legal pathways for "orderly, safe and regular migration," as envisaged in the Global Compact signed by Latin American governments to prevent migrants from falling into international criminal networks of human trafficking and smuggling".

According to information gathered by Fides, the Catholic Church runs nine Migrant Houses in the country, which assist about 25,000 migrants a year, mostly people seeking to migrate irregularly to another country in search of better living conditions. According to the new regulation, those who host those seeking to migrate irregularly to another country commit the crime of illegal trafficking in persons, so the work of the migrant shelters is seriously jeopardized due to the requirements set by the state.
The Episcoipal Conference explains in its message at the end of the annual meeting: "We do not agree with the demands because we believe that our migrant homes should be maintained as a respectful and free service of charity. The strict application of the regulations would prevent this and force us to close them".
Article 101 of the Agreement requires facilities to have an individual file for each foreign person, containing the following data: personal identification document; biographical and biometric data; medical, psychological, economic and social investigations. These data must be sent electronically to the Sub-Directorate for the Respect and Protection of Migrants' Fundamental Rights. In addition, up-to-date data must also be submitted in writing every month within the first five days of the following month.
The Pastoral Care of Human Mobility of the Bishops' Conference therefore asks the authorities to amend this article and simplify the requirements for the care of migrants and wants to communicate reports and statistical data on the people cared for at regular intervals (number, nationality, age, gender and migration category), with the accreditation of each receiving facility to be reviewed every six months. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 3/2/2023)