Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act

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Act would heighten standards for asylum, endangering women and children fleeing harm in home countries

Washington, DC - Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 391, the “Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act,” a bill now sponsored by Rep. Johnson (R-LA). The bill includes countless harmful provisions that make it more difficult for asylum seekers, particularly women and children fleeing gender-based and gang violence, to access asylum or find protection in the United States. The bill severely limits access to the asylum process for those who seek protection at our borders, heightening the threshold for an initial interview that an individual would have to meet before they are even allowed to proceed with an asylum claim. Asylum seekers who do establish a possibility of a fear of return would be far less likely to be released from detention on parole and would instead face prolonged detention in remote detention centers with little access to legal counsel as they navigate their case. The bill includes numerous other provisions that would also dramatically limit access to protection and justice for those seeking protection in the United States.

Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Judge Watson’s Ruling on Travel Ban

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Washington, DC - On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu, Hawaii ruled that President Donald Trump's interpretation of  “ close familial relationship” was too narrow and that the temporary ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries cannot be implemented to bar grandparents and other relatives of United States citizens from entering the country, according to Reuters. This interpretation stemmed from Trump's March 6th executive order banning travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and refugees for 120 days.

Women’s Refugee Commission Supports American Immigration Council’s Lawsuit Challenging CBP Turnbacks

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Washington, DC - This afternoon, the American Immigration Council (AIC), the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Lantham and Watkins, LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the Trump Administration, challenging Customs and Border Protection's(CBP) unlawful practice of turning back asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. The term “turnback” describes a situation in which CBP officials refuse to allow individuals, who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S. southern border and assert their intention to apply for asylum or a fear of returning to their home countries, to seek protection in the United States. These asylum seekers are refused entry and access to our protection system and forced or left with no other option other than to exit the port area, returning to Mexico where their lives are in danger. These actions are illegal: under U.S. law and U.S. obligations under international law, arriving persons with protection needs must be provided access to a protection mechanism and may not be turned away at the border for any reason.

Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to DHS Funding Bill

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Washington, DC - Today, the House Appropriations Committee Homeland Security Subcommittee approved its proposed fiscal year 2018 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill. Among other provisions, the bill includes $1.6 billion in funding for the Trump Administration’s proposed border wall and $4.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and removal programs. This would fund 44,000 immigration detention beds, representing nearly 5,000 more than were funded for FY 2017 and a roughly 30 percent increase over the 34,000 detention beds that Congress has funded in recent years. The bill also includes funding to hire 1,000 new ICE officers as well as 500 new Border Patrol agents.

Humanitarian Settings a Key Focus At Family Planning Summit

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2017 Family Planning Summit Marks First Time Humanitarian Settings is Elevated as a Specific Area of Focus

London, UK – Marking five years since the inaugural 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, donors, governments, NGOs, agencies, and advocates to London gathered in London today to assess progress on the original goal to empower 120 million additional women and girls in the 69 lowest income to use modern contraception by 2020.

While progress has been made – since the original commitment 30 million additional women and girls are using modern contraception – current progress is not on track to achieve the 2020 goals. According to providers, implementers, and advocates, one of the areas where family planning services have not been prioritized by donors and governments is in humanitarian settings.

Women's Refugee Commission Responds to ICE Raids Apprehending Undocumented Sponsors of Unaccompanied Children

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Washington, DC - Yesterday, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) confirmed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is conducting raids targeting parents and other sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children. WRC stands firmly against these cruel and morally outrageous actions which are also bad policy. The affected sponsors--parents, family members, guardians--care and provide for children while they wait for their asylum claims to be heard, helping them overcome trauma and covering the costs associated with their care. Stripping these children of their support will only heighten their vulnerability to predators and pave a path for human traffickers seeking to exploit unaccompanied children.

Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Flores Ruling

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Washington, DC - A federal district court judge issued an order yesterday requiring the government to comply with the longstanding Flores Settlement Agreement. Originally settled in 1997, the agreement governs the treatment and practices toward migrant children in U.S. immigration custody.  The court confirmed in a 2015 decision that the settlement agreement clearly apply to all children in immigration custody, regardless of whether they arrived unaccompanied or accompanied by a parent and that conditions in border patrol stations and the Department of Homeland Security’s use of family facilities to detain children was in violation of the agreement. In her decision yesterday, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. Central District of California found that many aspects of current border custody conditions in which children are detained remain completely inadequate, and reaffirmed the settlement’s requirements that children in custody should be assessed for and released where possible, or, when applicable, held in non-secure and licensed facilities appropriate for their care.

Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Anti-Immigrant Bills

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Washington, DC - This week, the House of Representatives will vote on two vehemently anti-immigrant bills. Led by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” threatens to strip federal funding for so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions" and coerce cities, counties, states, and local jurisdictions to violate the Constitution. This legislation would make communities less safe, by restricting critical public safety services and by making immigration communities afraid to come forward to report crimes to police, including in cases where an individual is a survivor of domestic violence or rape. “Kate’s Law” would expand the prosecution of illegal reentry cases, heighten the associated penalties, and severely impede access to due process. This would include prosecution of individuals seeking protection at U.S. borders for humanitarian reasons as well as those seeking to reunite with their families, putting asylum seekers and families at risk and violating international protection law.

SCOTUS Uphold Portion of Trump Travel Ban

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Women’s Refugee Commission Issues Statement 

NEW YORK – The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) today cleared the way for a portion of the Trump administration’s travel ban to take effect. The travel ban – which targets Muslims and many predominately- Muslim countries – was put on hold by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland. Today’s ruling allows the ban to apply to, “foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” and sets the Court up to rule in October on the rest of the ban, which means that until then, those individuals with pre-existing commitments and relationships allowing them to enter the U.S. will still be able to do so.

Women’s Refugee Commission Supports World Refugee Day Resolutions Reaffirming U.S. Commitment to Displaced Men, Women, and Children

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Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced resolutions in honor of World Refugee Day. These resolutions shine a light on the challenges – often life threatening – that refugees and displaced individuals face every day, and urge Congress to reaffirm the bipartisan commitment of the United States to promoting the health, safety, and well-being of the 65.6 million individuals fleeing persecution, conflict, and human rights violations around the world. Women’s Refugee Commission applauds these lawmakers for acknowledging the courage, strength, and determination of women, men, and children forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, and persecution, and for recognizing the vital benefits provided by the United States refugee resettlement program to millions of vulnerable individuals.