For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
Friday, May 5, 2023
Contact: Erik Villalobos,

Day Laborer Network Statement on Colombian Government Suspension of US Deportation Flights

(New York) In response to the Colombian government announcing that it will suspend US Deportation flights returning Colombian citizens detained at the border, citing cruel and inhumane treatment by US officials, Gonzalo Mercado released the following statement on behalf of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON):

We applaud Colombia’s decision this week to suspend flights carrying its returned migrants home from the United States over the U.S. Government’s “cruel and degrading” treatment of detained migrant people.

Colombian officials have accused the Department of Homeland Security, under Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, of subjecting Colombians to harsh and inhumane conditions before and during their return flights. These abuses, they say, violate agreements by the United States to guarantee the decent treatment of detained migrant persons.

About 1,200 Colombians had been scheduled to return on flights between May 1 and May 7, as part of an agreement linked to the ending of Title 42, the rule that the U.S. Government has used to quickly expel hundreds of thousands of migrant people detained at the border. That policy expires May 11.

Colombia’s migration director, Fernando García Manosalva, said migrant persons, even mothers with young children, were being needlessly restrained — cuffed at their hands and feet — during flights. He also cited recurring complaints about poor conditions in detention centers.

“We are adopting these measures so that the thousands of Colombians who are about to be returned from the United States have guarantees regarding their integrity and dignified treatment,” Mr. García said in a news release posted on Twitter. He added, “We are sure that the conversations that we will restart with the United States authorities will promote the well-being and integrity of Colombians and their rights.”

All migrant people deserve respect for their integrity and safety. All migrant people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Government agencies that take people into custody take full responsibility for their decent treatment. No immigration agency has the right — at any stage of arrest, detention, processing or deportation — to endanger any migrant person or to subject them to harsh and inhumane conditions.

Mr. Garcia stressed Colombia’s “commitment to spare no effort to guarantee good treatment for our compatriots” and called on the United States to renew and comply with its agreements.

On behalf of migrant people everywhere, we thank Colombia for taking a stand in defense of its citizens. We hope other governments receiving migrant people from the United States do the same, and that more migrant people are empowered to speak out against abusive conditions.

We must continue to expose the mistreatment migrant persons have long suffered at the hands of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Those agencies and those who lead them — Secretary Mayorkas and President Biden — must be held accountable, and they must do better.

– Gonzalo Mercado, Director of Transnational Programs at NDLON