Thursday, June 19, 2014

Refugees and Rafael Correa

Human Rights Watch calls on Ecuador to revoke a presidential decree that gives asylum seekers less time to make their case.

The brief argues that the presidential decree imposes short, inflexible procedural time limits that make it difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to apply for refugee status and, if necessary, appeal adverse status determinations. The decree also sets a high admissibility standard for applications to be considered for refugee status determination; allows officials broad power to exclude asylum seekers from the asylum procedure; and grants overly broad powers to authorities to revoke refugee status.

The United Nations Refugee Agency concurs. Rafael Correa is between a rock and hard place. Because of Colombia's civil war, Ecuador has over 50,000 registered refugees and even more hoping to achieve that status. It's been hard to deal with logistically, and from a political standpoint a significant majority of Ecuadorians have a negative view of Colombians living there. And for the past several years Correa has framed his decisions accordingly:

"Este año tenemos la mitad de solicitudes de refugio que el año pasado porque 
antes cualquiera presentaba una solicitud de refugio, había muy pocos requisitos", 
expresó el jefe de Estado, quien enfatizó que ahora "es mucho más estricta la 
revisión para otorgar el estatuto de refugiado a alguna persona". "Algunas veces, 
delincuentes pedían refugio y eran refugiados. Esto se está acabando", puntualizó.

If Ecuador's voters feel unsafe as a result of a liberal refugee policy, it gets tightened. The logic is strikingly similar to the U.S. government's treatment of undocumented immigrants.


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