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Women’s Refugee Commission Decries President Trump’s Executive Order Targeting Refugees, Families, and Youth

Washington, DC–The Women’s Refugee Commission stands in firm opposition to President Trump’s Executive Orders that further endanger and violate the rights of refugees and asylum seekers coming to the United States. The act of turning asylum seekers and refugees away before they reach U.S. soil is reprehensible, as these men, women, and children are fleeing life-threatening situations. These new policies risk returning asylum seekers and refugees to danger and even death. The Women’s Refugee Commission is similarly concerned over the impact that increased immigration enforcement will have on immigrant families in the United States. For too long we’ve documented the trauma and harm on parents and their children when immigration enforcement actions separate them, sometimes indefinitely, with little recourse. 

Today’s Executive Orders focused on building a wall at the Southern border of the United States, expanding immigration enforcement efforts by increasing the number of border patrol agents, closing the border to those seeking asylum at the Southern border by processing their requests and holding their immigration hearings from Mexico, and massively expanding detention practices. 

Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, responded to the Executive Order with the following statement: 

“Denying access to protection for those fleeing persecution flies in the face of U.S. obligations to protect the persecuted, and will not make Americans safer.  Border security policies that focus on deterrence and sacrifice due process have already made it very difficult for asylum seekers at our borders to exercise their right to seek protection and access a fair and humane asylum system.  Today’s announcements risk making it almost impossible. Keeping asylum seekers entirely out of the United States helps no one; externalizing our borders is a direct violation of human rights and U.S. values.

The Women’s Refugee Commission believes that today’s Orders will force women, children, and other migrants in a vulnerable situation arriving at our border into the hands of human smugglers and trafficking rings, which are often controlled by organized crime groups. This will not make us safer, but will instead empower criminal organizations. Aside from being the antithesis of cost efficient, these provisions will also greatly endanger asylum seekers who desperately need assistance.

Similarly, the United States should not be in the business of separating families, whether at the border or as part of interior immigration enforcement. The Women’s Refugee Commission has long documented the trauma of family separation, the impact on state and local child welfare systems, and the obstacles that stand in the way of loved ones being reunited with one another or being able to seek legal relief together. Tearing apart families is inhumane and un-American.

We urge President Trump to ensure that all immigrants, asylum-seekers and others, are able to exercise their right to protection and due process. The United States has a long history and tradition of being world leader in protecting vulnerable persons and accepting refugees into our country, and the Women’s Refugee Commission believes it can continue to do so, without jeopardizing our security and that, under President Trump, it should continue to do so, consistent with our country’s core values.” 


On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed two executive orders relating to immigration. Although these orders have not yet been implemented, the backgrounder linked below discusses the potential impact of the Executive Order on “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” on women and children seeking protection in the United States. 

10 Things to Know about How Trump’s Executive Order will Harm Women & Children Seeking Protection


For more information contact: Michelle Brane, michelleb@wrcommission.orgtessa@newpartners.com