Trump Admin Ramps Up Attacks on Migrant and Asylum-Seeking Families Women’s Refugee Commission Calls Actions Betrayal of American Values

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Washington, D.C. – Following a series of anti-asylum actions taken by the Trump administration in recent days, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) today responded by calling the latest assault on migrant and asylum-seeking families “barbaric” and a “betrayal of American values.”

In a statement on Friday about April border numbers, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton said, “To those seeking to abuse our generous laws—we are watching. We will not sit back and watch our laws exploited. If you make a false immigration claim, you will be referred for prosecution. If you assist or coach individuals in making false immigration claims, you will be referred for prosecution.”  

Also out of DHS on Friday, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for those fleeing danger in Honduras. Yesterday, at a press conference in Arizona, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to ramp up the separation of children from parents seeking safety in the U.S border.

And, today, Secretary Nielsen testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to review the administration’s proposed FY19 DHS budget.

Michelle Brané, director of WRC’s Migrant Rights & Justice program, made the following response:

“Recent actions by the Trump administration are an assault on family unity, the legal standing of asylum seekers, and on our morality. This is a betrayal of America’s values and leadership.

“In particular, Attorney General Sessions’ remarks and Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton’s statement fail to acknowledge that seeking asylum is difficult, dangerous, and legal. Attorney General Sessions goes a step further in attempting to conflate a mother seeking protection for her and her child with smuggling. The Trump administration’s policy is now to deter those fleeing violence and persecution and to threaten those who help them to file their claims. These actions are not only illegal, they are cruel, and they are human rights violations.

“Seeking asylum is not an ‘abuse of our generous laws,’ as Mr. Houlton would have us believe. It is a fundamental human and legal right and a last resort for those seeking safe haven. Above all, families fleeing with children should not be separated. This separation of families is barbaric and causes irreparable harm to children, families, and their potential asylum case. The administration is turning child protection laws on their head and undermining the rule of law while endangering children.

 “The administration is not only violating our immigration and child welfare laws with these practices, they are also threatening those who seek protection or represent asylum seekers in exercising their legal rights. To this we respond—we are watching you.”