PRESIDENT’S PROPOSED BUDGET BETRAYS WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD, PUTS LIVES AT RISK

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NEW YORK – The White House delivered to Congress today President Donald J. Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget request. Titled, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the president’s budget request includes drastic cuts to U.S. foreign assistance including a 31 percent cut to the U.S. Department of State and USAID, and significant increases in funding for immigration enforcement, detention, and the militarization of the border in the United States. 

The president’s budget would slash funding for humanitarian assistance – including more than half a billion-dollars in cuts to migration and refugee assistance (MRA) – while increasing defense spending by $54 billion. The Women’s Refugee Commission and other U.S. non-governmental organizations estimate that $3.6 billion is needed for MRA to ensure continued assistance to conflict affected-areas, including advancing protections for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The president’s budget proposes $2.7 billion for MRA.

The budget zeroes out the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Account (ERMA), a contingency fund that helps the U.S. respond to unanticipated and urgent humanitarian crises, and also makes a significant cut to international disaster assistance (IDA). IDA funding provides humanitarian assistance following natural and man-made disasters. Currently, the U.S. spends just under 1 percent of its overall budget on international affairs. The proposed cuts in humanitarian aid would come as the world faces the greatest number of displaced persons on record, the majority of which are women and children.

“At a time when U.S leadership and funding for humanitarian assistance is critical, this budget plays politics with the lives of the most vulnerable populations in the world,” said Joan Timoney, senior director of advocacy and external relations at Women’s Refugee Commission. “Displaced women and girls face a host of risks including rape, domestic violence, trafficking, and child marriage. This proposed budget doesn’t just betray them, it puts their lives at risk.”

President Trump’s budget request also includes $1.6 billion for a controversial wall along the U.S. border, as well as a $1.5 billion increase for immigration detention and removal operations in order to maintain an unprecedented 51,000 detention beds.

“Given that many of those apprehended at our borders are women and children fleeing harm from across Central America, this budget ignores that ensuring access to protection and a fair asylum process are integral to our border security,” said Michelle Brané, director of migrant, rights, and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

The Women’s Refugee Commission has extensively documented the mistreatment of asylum seekers at the border and in immigration detention, including the inability of asylum seekers to be appropriately processed by border officials and unable to access counsel from within detention.

“The Trump administration’s answer to the refugee crisis in Central America is to build a wall, and lock up more women and children seeking protection,” said Brané “This will only further risk harm to those who are fleeing violence and insecurity while doing nothing to make America safer.” 

The president’s budget also zeroes out international family planning and comes on the heels of an expanded global gag rule.