January 5, 2023
Dear U.S. President Joe Biden, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
As you prepare for the “Tres Amigos” Summit coming up January 9 – 10th in Mexico, we, the undersigned grassroots organizations, victims of gun violence, and Afrodescendant and Indigenous Peoples from Canada, the United States, and Mexico, urge you to address the most urgent crises of our time: gun violence, environmental destruction, and the criminalization of immigration.
More Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2020 than in any other year on record. There have been 48 school shootings in 2022 alone. Young Black Americans experience the highest rates of gun homicides across all demographics and are three times more likely than white Americans to be fatally shot by police.
In Mexico, guns caused nearly 70 percent of the 35,625 homicides in 2021; and between 70 to 90 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico can be traced back to the U.S. More than one hundred thousand people have “disappeared” since the drug war escalation in 2006 and firearm use in femicides soared from 30% to 59% during the same period.
In Canada, from 2007 to 2017, First Nations (Indigenous communities) accounted for one-third of people shot to death by national police officers. Black Canadians are 20 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police than white people.
In Mexico and the U.S., the drug war has been used to justify the presence of militarized police units, often breaking into people’s homes or stopping them in the streets and executing them. A couple of high-profile examples include the case of Breonna Taylor, killed on March 2020 during a raid by SWAT team members on her apartment in Kentucky, and the massacre of 19 people in Tamaulipas, Mexico by members of a Special Operations Group. In Canada, militarized police are sent immediately to stop protests and demonstrations by First Nations, while allowing white anti-vaccine truckers to station at the Country’s capital for weeks.
In addition to gun violence, climate change fuels humanitarian crises and forced migration across the region, displacing countless Central American and Indigenous communities from their ancestral lands. The Canadian Government admitted as much in its 2022-2023 development plan on environmental and climate change, stating that, “We are seeing the impacts of climate change including the increased frequency and severity of forest fires, extreme heat events, storms, and flooding…causing significant consequences to Canadian and First Nations communities, economies and way of life.”
According to a survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately half of the rivers and streams in the U.S. – amounting to more than 700,000 miles of waterways and more than one-third of lakes – are polluted and unfit for swimming, fishing, or drinking. In Mexico, there could be a 40 to 70 percent decline in cropland suitability by 2030.
From the Arctic Circle to the border of Guatemala, climate disasters, gun violence, and poverty-related circumstances are forcing people to leave their homes in search of a safe place to live. Families throughout the region want to stay home but must relocate as a matter of survival. Sadly, federal entities in Mexico and the U.S. detain and deport many of them, or criminal organizations kill them, en route to safer places to live.
North America is one of the deadliest regions in the world for migrants, with 2022 setting a record number of migrant deaths at the Mexico-U.S. border (a record previously shattered in 2021). International agreements to protect migrants from violence have been ignored and undermined, leaving thousands of families stranded at borders as a result.
An Urgent Cry for Peace
This letter is an urgent cry for peace. These circumstances are unacceptable, unfair, and unsustainable. We urge you to use your power to end the proliferation of gun violence and the militarized drug war; stop the destructive impacts of pollution and climate change that disproportionately impact people of color and low-income communities; and support migrant populations with compassionate immigration policies, rather than criminalization.
Specifically, we are calling on you to:
- Take concrete measures to end U.S. gun exports and trafficking to Mexico, including banning assault weapons across the region, increasing restrictions for sales, and canceling transfers to corrupted police and military units.
- End immunity for gun manufacturers in the U.S. (the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA) and hold them and their dealers accountable for crimes committed with their weapons.
- Re-imagine public safety by promoting addiction and mental health treatment over incarceration, and adopt other public health-related alternatives to policing and the violent war on drugs.
- Develop a regional plan to dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions across the continent.
- Support climate-related disaster prevention and readiness for impacted communities, and propel a new green economy to generate jobs while protecting the environment.
- Show deference to the practices of Indigenous peoples, who have proven to be the best protectors of the environment, and allow Indigenous communities to maintain control of ancestral territories.
- Support President Lopez Obrador’s proposal of building a North American integration Mechanism to include the voices of Indigenous communities, victims of gun violence, and human rights experts as a fundamental part of all regional plans.
- Increase economic opportunities and cut violence in communities of origin; respect the human rights of migrants, and end policies that promote arbitrary and hostile action toward migrants.
Many of us will gather at the Peace Summit in Mexico City on February 23-24th, 2023 to discuss your responses to this letter, develop a multi-national action agenda, and organize around the upcoming elections in each of our countries. We will do everything in our power to support you in creating the world we deserve.
Thank you for your attention and for hearing our voices.
Al Otro Lado
Albergue Tochan-Nuestra Casa
Alianza Binacional Migración y Desarrollo
ALIANZA DE EXBRACEROS DEL NOSOTROS 1942-1964
Asociación de Mexicanos en Carolina del Norte, Inc. (AMEXCAN)
Black Lives Matter South Bend
BUAP-CA-230 Cuerpo Académico Procesos Transnacionales y Migración
California Institute for Rural Studies
Casa Tecmilco- México
Centro de Atención al Migrante Exodus
Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”
Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos
Centro de Estudios en Cooperación Internacional y Gestión Pública A. C.
Change The Ref
ChangeMakers Fort Wayne
Chi-Town GVP Summit
City of South Bend, Indiana USA
Coalición de Migrantes Mexicanos
Comisión Iberoamericana de Derechos Humanos para el Desarrollo de las Americas
Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)
Concejo de los Pueblos Originarios – Red de Pueblos Transnacionales
Consultora Solidaria SC
Critical Perspectives on Democracy and Media in the American Hemisphere, UC Berkeley
Defensora de los derechos humanos de las personas migrantes y refugiadas
EQUIS Justicia para las Mujeres
Facts Over Feelings
Familiares en Búsqueda Maria Herrera
Federacion Yucateca de California
Friends of Latin America
Fuerza Mundial Global, Mujeres de las Americas
Great Lakes Center for Reproductive and Children’s Environmental Health
Iglesias por la paz
Iglesias por la paz con justicia y dignidad
Instituto RIA AC
International Peace Bureau
Justice for the People PAC
Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
LCLAA LA Chapter
LeAja Consulting, LLC
Lila LGBTQ Inc.
Lost Heritage Foundation INC.
LV Acompañamiento y Arte por los Derechos de las Mujeres, A.C. (Las Vanders)
March for Our Lives
Marshall County Democratic Party, Ch
México Solidarity Project/Proyecto de Solidaridad con México
Michiana Alliance Against Racism & Political Repression
Migrants & Minorities Alliance
Movimiento Democratic Coalition
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG)-San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA)
Network to Prevent Gun Violence in the Americas
Newtown Action Alliance
Nicaragua Center for Community Action
North American Indigenous Center of New York
OME Organización de Mexicanos en el Exterior
Pastoral Social, Iglesia Anglicana de México
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
Presidente del consejo Interreligioso del Estado de Guerrero
Proyecto de Solidaridad con México
Ray of Hope Foundation
Red de Mujeres Afrodescendientes cdmx
Red de Pueblos Trasnacionales
Red Nacional de Juventudes Afromexicanas
San Francisco Living Wage Coalition
Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz A.C.
South Bend Common Council
Taylor Lee & Associates
The Accomplice Project (at the University of Notre Dame)
The Rhizome Center for Migrants
Tribunal Internacional de Conciencia de los Pueblos en Movimiento.
Unidad Latina en Acción NJ
Unidas siempre buscando
Unión de afros descendientes radicados en Mexico a.c.
US-El Salvador Sister Cities
WAVE Educational Fund
Witness at the Border
Women Against Gun Violence
Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press