Would it make sense for the US to try to protect the human rights of women and other at risk groups in Afghanistan against the Taliban onslaught while at the same time violating the human rights of asylum seekers and other vulnerable, peaceful nonwhite immigrants at the US border?

Some advocates of stricter immigration controls are attempting to draw an equivalency between the human rights crisis caused by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, including the murder and torture of opponents subjugation of women and the Taliban's support for terrorism; and the US border "crisis" caused by peaceful asylum-seekers seeking to exercise their internationally recognized right to seek refuge in the US from gang violence and other intolerable conditions in Central America.

While advocating stronger measures by the US to protect the Afghan people against the horrors of Taliban rule - which, as some are pointing out with ample justification, also poses the threat of another terrorist attack against the US, there is also a movement afoot to urge the Biden administration to restore Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy against asylum seekers at the US border.


But this policy, which the Trump administration cynically called by the Orwellian name "Migrant Protection Protocols" (MPP), has been justly criticized by human rights organizations as a massive human rights violation.

Human Rights First reported the devastating effect of this Trump/Miller policy as of six months ago, in a report entitled:

Delivered to Danger


The report begins:

As of February 19, 2021, there are at least 1,544 publicly reported cases of murder, rape, torture, kidnapping and other violent assaults against asylum seekers and migrants forced to return to Mexico by the Trump administration under this illegal scheme. Among these reported attacks are 341 cases of children returned to Mexico who were kidnapped or nearly kidnapped.

The HRF report continues:

These figures are likely only the tip of the iceberg as the vast majority of the more than 68,000 individuals already returned to Mexico have not been interviewed by reporters or human rights researchers, let alone spoken to an attorney...

U.S. government officials know that these regions of the border are extremely dangerous... These areas are designated as level 4 threats - the same danger assessment as for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The report then goes on to state:

The Trump administration falsely claims this dangerous policy is an alternative to separating families at the border and holding them in detention centers. In reality, this program is yet another move by President Trump and his leadership to block, ban and frighten asylum seekers from asking for protection in the United States - even if those policies cost refugees their lives.

Is it consistent with the principles. values and best interests of the United States for our government to try (in whatever feeble and halfhearted way it is now doing) to protect the lives, safety and other human rights of people in Afghanistan who are at the greatest risk from the Taliban's reign of terror, while at the same time forcing people at the Mexican border who are looking to this country for safety and protection to face similar threats of murder, torture and kidnapping under the Remain in Mexico policy?

While ostensibly standing up to protect human rights in Afghanistan, the United States should not be engaging in the deliberate, large-scale, violation of human rights at our own border that the Remain in Mexico policy represents.

President Biden did the right thing by cancelling "Remain in Mexico" despite the current order by a Trump-appointed Federal District Court judge to reinstate this inhuman and abusive policy - which is now up before a highly politicized, Republican-controlled Supreme Court that includes three Trump appointees.

Comparing (as some immigration opponents are now attempting to do) the "crisis" of Central American asylum seekers who are attempting to assert their human right under international law to seek safety in the to the very real human rights catastrophe in Afghanistan, which is now ciming under a reign of terror by a regime of murderers and torturers, does not contribute to a genuine understanding of either situation.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard College, A.B.
Harvard Law School LL.B