In response to the latest developments at the US-Mexico border, Oxfam America’s President Abby Maxman made the following statement:
“We at Oxfam are heartbroken by the tragic deaths of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his young daughter Valeria in their fatal attempt to seek safety in the United States. We send our condolences to their family – and to all of those who have lost family and friends in their quest to reach the US border.
No person fleeing for his or her life should ever be forced to make the decision that Óscar was forced to make. Every person has the right to seek asylum, full stop. It is a human and legal right that has been agreed upon by nations around the world, enshrined in the Refugee Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as ratified into US law.
Oxfam works in 90 countries around the world and we know full well the challenges of providing dignified assistance to people fleeing violence and persecution. But surely the richest country in the world could do better than what is reflected in the horrifying images and stories coming out of US detention centers and along the border.
Make no mistake: the Trump administration’s policies are costing human lives. This administration has made it clear that they are willing to take every imaginable action to keep migrants and asylum-seekers off US soil, including restricting how many can apply for asylum each day and forcing asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico. The deadly consequences of these policies have been made clear, time and time again. How many more people will die before the Trump administration reverses these heartless policies?
The image of Óscar and Valeria should be a jolting wake-up call to the administration to acknowledge the lethal consequences of its policies and seriously act on Central America migration. Rather than continue to slam its doors on those seeking its protection, we urge the Trump administration to uphold the internationally recognized and moral right to seek asylum, reverse policies that are endangering lives, and work with Congress to redouble efforts to address the root causes of forced migration from Central America.”