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  • Women’s Refugee Commission: Number of Migrants Arriving at the Border is a Normal Increase—Not All Time High As Reported

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    New report demonstrates that deterrence and punishment will not prevent mothers from seeking protection for their children

    October 18, 2016— U.S. Customs and Border Protection just released data showing that apprehensions of migrants at the southern border of the U.S. totaled nearly 409,000, a 23% increase from last year's total. This increase represents a normal level of apprehensions at the border and characterizing this figure as an all time high is incorrect. Border apprehensions have historically been much higher and, in fact, even with the current increase, are manageable.

    The increase from last year is explained by continued unrest and threats in Central America forcing women, children, and families to flee for their lives. The situation at the southwest border is largely a humanitarian refugee flow of asylum seekers who are lawfully seeking safe haven in the U.S. The Obama administration has taken an approach of deterrence and punishment that has been shown to be ineffective when addressing a humanitarian migration pattern. This misguided and impractical approach to asylum seekers has led to increased backlogs in the system that delay both access to protection and rule of law.

    Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission responded to the reports with the following statement:

    "The statistics from the week’s report demonstrate that deterrence and punishment will not prevent mothers from seeking protection for their children. This is a humanitarian situation in which individuals are turning themselves in and lawfully seeking asylum. It can be managed with policies that recognize this new reality. Instead of ineffective policies that are expending resources on detaining women and children and creating obstacles in their path, we should be placing resources into efficient asylum review procedures so that asylum seekers can be effectively screened and processed in a timely fashion.

    The United States continues to connect the arrival of women, children and families at our southern border to threats on national and border security, and current detention practices revolve around disciplinary action, apprehension, and detention. Those seeking asylum in the United States are vulnerable individuals seeking protection and peace. The time to move from the view that this is an illegal immigration issue and approach it as a refugee situation is now. The Administration has acknowledged that there is a refugee situation in Central America. It is time to adjust our border policies to recognize this reality. The Women's Refugee Commission urges the Administration to adjust our policies to more effectively and humanely respond to the population at hand and in doing so, to more effectively manage our border security.”