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    New Trump rule puts LGBTQ asylum seekers at greater risk

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    LGBTQ asylum seekers from Central American countries stuck at the Mexican border at San Diego’s San Ysidro district are being placed at greater risk of persecution and violence through the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, immigrant advocates say.

    A source with CBP indicated to the Los Angeles Blade that a percentage of those returned to Mexico under the MPP program had failed to make the required appearances at the CBP Border Station for hearings. That’s because, Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission told The Guardian UK last month, of the sheer number of violent crimes occurring in the border towns.

    Sheryl Crow, Amy Ray Join 'The Lantern Tour II: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families'

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    As The Lantern Tour II prepares to kick off its nationwide tour tonight at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., tour organizers announced the winter 2020 date and full lineup, which will feature Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Jerry Douglas, Steve Earle, Buddy and Julie Miller and Amy Ray.

    The Lantern Tour II reunites Grammy-nominated and award-winning musicians Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, and Steve Earle for the concert series to benefit the Women's Refugee Commission and its work on behalf of migrant and asylum-seeking families.

    Trump is overwhelmingly abandoning vulnerable LGBT migrants to face abuse at Mexican border

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    Vulnerable LGBT+ migrants are being kept in Mexican border cities to face violence and abuse, despite the fact that they are supposed to be excluded from Trump’s Remain in Mexico program.

    Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission, told The Guardian: “When you see people not showing up for their court hearing in Remain in Mexico, you have to wonder what happened to the people who aren’t there.

    She raised her niece like a daughter. Then the US government separated them at the border

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    The six-year-old girl on the other end of the line tells Alexa she fears they will never be together again. In another 15-minute phone call, she questions if Alexa still loves her. She asks Alexa to pick her up from the family she’s staying with in New York. Alexa hears the girl say the words in Spanish: “You are my mom, I want to be with you.”

    Alexa wishes she could go get her. But Alexa’s locked up 2,400 miles away, at an immigration detention center in Arizona.

    A federal judge in San Diego ordered the Trump administration in the summer of 2018 to reunite families and stop separating most parents and children. But the court order does not apply to non-parents, and the administration keeps separating people like Alexa – aunts, grandparents or older siblings who commonly step in as guardians without formal paperwork – from the children they’re traveling with, without any procedure to reunite them.

    Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, says when these caregivers are separated from children at the border, it’s not even “necessarily noted in the file anywhere that this separation occurred or who the adult is that brought the child in”.

    She raised her niece like a daughter. Then the US government separated them at the border

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    Children who arrive at the border without a parent or legal guardian – even if they come with an adult relative – are considered “unaccompanied” and are sent to child shelters, according to a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson.

    But some advocates say the government should broaden its definition of legal guardian to include longstanding adult caregivers. Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, is disappointed the government has so far refused to take that step. “Because really the whole point of all of this is to do what’s in the best interests of the child,” Brané says.

    “We Have a Broken Heart”: Sexual Violence against Refugees in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya - The Experiences of Congolese, Somali, and South Sudanese Men, Boys, and Trans Women, October 2019

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    “We have a broken heart here. We feel insecure. No one wants to help us.” – “Aisha,” trans refugee woman from Somalia. Up to 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers reside in the urban centers of Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya. Most refugees in Kenya are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, and South Sudan, having fled brutal armed conflict, human rights violations, and persecution.

    House Democrats say migrants aren’t getting fair hearings at tent courts on the border

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    House Democrats are calling for investigations into two temporary immigration courts that opened along the southern border last month where migrants who have been waiting in Mexico are fighting to obtain asylum in the US, according to a letter sent Thursday.

    Laura Lynch and Leidy Perez-Davis, attorneys with the American Immigration Lawyers Association who visited the port courts shortly after they opened in September, said they and other lawyers from the National Immigrant Justice Center, Amnesty International, and the Women’s Refugee Commission were barred from observing proceedings in the courts absent a document showing that they were representing one of the migrants on site.

    Children's suffering does not stop at the border, UN report

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    European countries must do more to protect child refugees and migrants who face risks and hardship after arriving in Europe. This year around 13,000 children have arrived in Greece, where they are suffering under terrible conditions, the UN warns.

    "These children may have fled conflict, lost family members, been away from home for months, even years, with some enduring horrific abuses during their journeys," said Pascale Moreau, the director of UNHCR's Europe bureau. Many of the boys and girls who cross the sea from Libya are exposed to sexual violence or exploitation on their way to and in Libya," a report released by the Women's Refugee Commission in March 2019 confirmed.

    Immigrant rights advocates are remembering Kevin McAleenan as anything but 'level headed'

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    Media coverage of acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan’s resignation from the department has sought to portray him as “a level head” career official who was at times supposedly at odds with the policies and antics of white supremacist ghouls like Stephen Miller.

    “But how people can call the guy who implemented family separation, and closed the US border to asylum seekers, endangering the lives of thousands of people, level headed is beyond me. That is level headed cruelty and lawlessness,” said Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission.

    US sends asylum seekers to Mexico’s border towns as it warns citizens of violence in region

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    Advocates have been warning about the dangers of Remain in Mexico, or Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), since the program was announced in January. But their warnings have grown louder this week after a new report by Human Rights First revealed that there were at least 340 reports of rape, kidnapping, torture and other violent attacks against people returned to Mexico while they wait for their case to be heard in US immigration court.

    Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission, has visited the border multiple times to see how the policy is being implemented and said the new report was the “tip of the iceberg.”

    Border 'Tent Courts' Need Greater Oversight, Congress Told

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    The American Immigration Lawyers Association, Amnesty International and other advocacy groups have called on lawmakers to ramp up oversight of the so-called Remain in Mexico program and the "tent courts" located along the southwest border.

    The Truth About Refugees

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    WRC's Senior Advocacy Officer and UN Representative Stephanie Johanssen wrote a letter to the editor in The New York Times.

    To the Editor:

    Re “U.S. Cuts Refugee Program Again, Placing Cap at 18,000 People” (news article, Sept. 27):

    At a time when the number of refugees worldwide is at a record high, this administration continues its course of isolation and cruelty by cutting back on both access to asylum protections and refugee support.

    Read the full letter.

    Women Are Being Denied Cancer Treatment, Psychiatric Help At ICE Detention Center

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    Immigrant women being held in a Texas detention center say they are being denied proper medical care ― in some cases cancer treatment ― and have become suicidal after lengthy stays in the facility, according to interviews done this month by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

    ICE officers can release asylum seekers who pose no risk to the community on parole or on bond while they are waiting for their immigration dates. But the Trump administration’s strategy has been to detain people for as long as possible, despite the cost and the evidence that those who are released still show up to immigration court, according to Michelle Brané, the director of the migrant rights and justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    Trump’s agreements in Central America could dismantle the asylum system as we know it

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    The Trump administration has reached agreements with Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala that would require migrants on their way to the US to seek protections in those countries first, effectively cutting off their access to the American asylum system before they even reach the southern border.

    The agreements and the administration’s reported plan to implement them would realize President Donald Trump’s goal of driving down the number of migrants seeking refuge at the US southern border by sending them back to the countries they came from and passed through.

    Experts warn that the plan would have deadly consequences for the migrants who would be sent back.

    “We’re talking about forcing people to remain in these countries where the government is unable to protect them, locking them there and throwing away the key,” said Ursela Ojeda, a migrant rights and justice policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    Migrant court hearings going on behind closed doors

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    LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - The operations at the migrant tent processing facility are fully underway; however, it’s completely under wraps.

    A member of an organization that helps female refugees says she has been denied multiple times and questions the Remain in Mexico policy.

    Policy advisor for the Women’s Refugee Commission, Ursula Ojeda, says some of these migrants face serious danger when returning to Mexico and they just want a chance to seek asylum in the United States.

    U.S. signs asylum deal with Honduras that could force migrants to seek relief there

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    The Trump administration signed an asylum agreement with Honduras that could force asylum-seekers to seek protection in one of the most dangerous countries in the world instead of the United States, the latest agreement with a Central American country aimed at curbing migration at the southern border.

    Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan signed the deal during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, according to the DHS.

    Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said on Twitter McAleenan and Trump were “continuing to undermine human rights and endanger thousands of families, women, men, and children.”

    Trump Condemned for 'Morally Reprehensible' Plan That Rights Groups Warn Means Death for Asylum-Seekers

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    Human rights advocates on Thursday warned that a "suspect" asylum deal negotiated between the White House and the president of Honduras—along with similar agreements with Guatemala and El Salvador—could endanger thousands of refugees and could even prove deadly for many people in search of safety.

    The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it struck a deal with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to send asylum-seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border to Honduras if they have not already sought asylum there en route to the United States.

    "It's the third time the Trump administration has targeted families seeking safety by keeping them in harm's way," tweeted the Women's Refugee Commission. "It's morally reprehensible."

    Trump administration blocks most asylum seekers in ‘profound’ change to system as legal fights continue

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    A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week allowing President Donald Trump's administration to proceed with a near complete ban on asylum across the southern border while the policy is litigated will dramatically slash how many migrants can access the protection.

    “Because of this decision, thousands of women, children, and families — seeking safety and fleeing violence and persecution — will be returned either to the danger they fled or into the hands of cartels and traffickers at the Mexican border,” Michelle Brané, senior director for migrants’ rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said in a statement.

    Fear and Loathing on the Border: A First-Hand Look at the Travesty

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    I traveled recently with the Women’s Refugee Commission to the California-Mexico border, where we toured the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Otay Mesa Detention Center. We also rode along the border with the Border Patrol, visited the San Ysidro Port of Entry, attended U.S. Immigration Court hearings, and visited migrant shelters on both sides of the border.

    The Lantern Tour II: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families Announce Award-Winning Lineup

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    On the heels of a summer that saw the Trump administration ramp up its attacks against families seeking safety at the southern U.S. border, the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) today announced "The Lantern Tour II: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families," with the first two concerts taking place on Tuesday, November 5 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., and on Wednesday, November 6 at The Town Hall in Manhattan.