Two prominent international refugee advocates said that the U.S. may be overlooking key facts about the flow of immigrants across the southern border that has caused a sharp political debate.
For one, people trying to cross into the U.S. to claim refugee status due to violence in their own country have a “legal right” to seek asylum, Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday.
Families fleeing violence in Central America or elsewhere “have the legal right and the international legal right to seek asylum here, and — and we have to do that, we have to have that due process,” Miles said.
Appearing with Miles was David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, who said that it is also important to keep in mind that the flow of refugees is “a global crisis” and that most of those fleeing their homes are ending up in poor countries, not rich nations like the U.S.
“[It’s] not just that this is a global crisis — one in every 110 people on the planet are driven from their homes by violence, by persecution — but it’s also a time to remember that the vast bulk of those people are in poor countries, not in rich countries,” Miliband said. “They’re in countries like Ethiopia, like Bangladesh, which has received 700,000 refugees this year; Colombia has received 600,000 Venezuelans this year.”
“Countries like the U.S. have only 1 percent of the world’s refugees,” Miliband said. “And there are some lessons about the way families are helped in poor countries that actually should be learned in the rich countries, too.”
The IRC chief also noted that despite the red-hot debate in the U.S. over people trying to immigrate from Central America, the numbers are down from the recent past. “There are about half as many people coming from Central America to the U.S. as were coming 20 or 30 years ago,” Miliband said.