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  • As Sequestration Looms, It’s Time to Look at Alternatives to Immigration Detention

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    New York, NY, February 28, 2013—As sequestration looms, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a controversial move, has released low-risk immigration detainees across the country to save money.

    “While this move has set the Internet abuzz with criticisms, the reality is that this is the right time to be questioning how we will pay for maintaining more than 34,000 immigration detention beds at an average cost of $164 per night during a fiscal crisis,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “The U.S. spends almost $2 billion a year to detain thousands of individuals who are not a public safety risk and who could be managed more efficiently and humanely through much cheaper alternatives. Perhaps this crisis will finally move Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to do the right thing and stop using an outdated penal detention system when humane alternatives exist that are also more efficient and just as effective.”

    Immigrant Women’s Advocates Celebrate Passage of Violence Against Women Act

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    Group is hopeful protections for immigrant survivors will be expanded

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) celebrates the House’s passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill provides much needed new protections for immigrant women and girls, including protections from rape and sexual assault for detained children through the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Though the bill does not include an expansion of U-visas that was a part of earlier versions of the bill, it represents a long overdue step forward in the effort to protect survivors of violence. The bill also provides important new protections for LGBT and Native American survivors.

    Women’s immigrant advocates encouraged by commitment to comprehensive reform

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    Much work remains to ensure policies support women immigrants, their health and their families

    Feb. 12, 2013, WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Coalition for the Immigrant Women’s Rights, which released a Statement of Principles on Women and Immigration Reform last month, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s remarks on immigration policy reform during the State of the Union address:

    “We’re encouraged by the President’s continued support for the comprehensive immigration policy reform our country desperately needs. Tonight the President, whose guests included members of our community fighting for reform, like a young activist, a Latino service member, an Asian American hero, a Filipino nurse and a naturalized citizen from Haiti, called for stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger America.

    Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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    Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee

    The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. As the Committee considers a commonsense approach to immigration reform, it is imperative that women and children be afforded opportunities, protections and pathways equal to those of men. Reform cannot be comprehensive unless it addresses the lived realities of all migrants in the United States.

    Migrant women and children are too often omitted from public discourse around immigration reform, even though they comprise a significant proportion of the total immigrant population. They come to the United States in search of opportunity, freedom, family unity and safety from violence in their home country. However, they have unique vulnerabilities that our immigration laws do not sufficiently address. Women and children are more likely to face exploitation and danger both at the border and in the interior. In addition, because women often lack access to higher education, they may not be able to avail themselves of the same opportunities for employment-based migration and suffer disproportionally from the backlogs in our family-based system. Families are too often separated by immigration enforcement practices that threaten women’s custody of their children. And migrant children, many of them unaccompanied, have no access to legal pathways through employment-based migration and limited access to counsel and critical social services. Furthermore, they experience emotional trauma and instability as a result of limited discretion and due process in our immigration laws. 

    Más de 200 Defensores Ofrecen Principios para una Reforma de Inmigración que Funcione para los Niños

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    7 de febrero de 2013, Washington, DC — Más de 200 organizaciones que representan a los niños, inmigrantes, académicos, tradiciones de fe y derechos civiles publicaron este martes pasado un conjunto de principios para la legislación de una reforma de inmigración que cumpla las necesidades de los niños. La organización bipartidaria de defensa de los niños First Focus y la Women’s Refugee Commission lideraron los esfuerzos para desarrollar estos principios, que también han sido apoyados por el National Latino Children’s Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center, la Conferencia Católica de Obispos de los EE.UU., MomsRising, el Centro de Leyes Nacionales de Inmigración y un total de 205 organizaciones. La Campaña por los Niños de First Focus instó a los miembros del Comité Judicial de la Casa de Representantes de los EE.UU. a tomar estas consideraciones en cuenta durante la audiencia sobre la política de inmigración del día de martes el 6 de febrero.

    200+ Advocates Offer Principles for Immigration Reform that Works for Children

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    Current immigration law largely ignores and often explicitly disregards the interests of children. "The priorities of children need to be included in immigration reform—we cannot, yet again, compromise their basic rights to due process and protection," said Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    200+ Advocates Offer Principles for Immigration Reform that Works for Children

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    February 5, 2013, Washington, D.C. – The Women’s Refugee Commission in partnership with the First Focus Campaign for Children published a press release outlining a set of principles for immigration reform legislation that meets the needs of children.

    Read the press release here.

    Immigration Reform: Don’t Leave Women and Children Behind

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    January 29, 2013, Washington, D.C. – The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds President Obama and the Senate “Gang of 8” for taking a bold first step toward creating a commonsense immigration system that works.

    “It is clear that the President and the bipartisan Senate coalition understand that Americans urgently want immigration reform,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrants Rights and Justice Program. “The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes this first step, and looks forward to working with Congress and the President to turn these blueprints into reality.” 

    Women's Refugee Commission Mourns the Death of Founding Chair Catherine O'Neill

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    The board and staff of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children expressed their great sadness today on the news of the death of Catherine O’Neill on December 26 after a long illness.

    Catherine founded the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children (now Women's Refugee Commission) in 1989, along with Liv Ullmann and other women at the forefront of refugee issues. As founder and chair of the board, she used her passion to attract a large number of prominent women from the media, academia and the humanitarian community to the organization. A tireless advocate, she traveled to refugee settings around the world to listen to refugee women and children to learn firsthand about their needs. On Capitol Hill, at the United Nations, in the pages of major newspapers and on radio and TV, she encouraged decision-makers and humanitarian workers to change policies and practice to ensure that refugee women, children and young people got their due.

    Children Rally on the Hill to Keep Families Together in A Wish For the Holidays Campaign

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    Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard Joined Dozens of Children Who Delivered Over 10,000 Letters Calling on Congress to Stop Deportations

    Washington, D.C., December 12, 2012 –Dozens of children gathered on Capitol Hill to deliver thousands of letters as part of a campaign called A Wish for the Holidays. The letters came from 27 states written by children as young as four years old. The letters express one shared wish to Congress: stop deportations and keep families and communities together. The campaign highlights the negative impact of U.S. immigration policies on children and families.

    “These brave kids have traveled from across the country carrying thousands of letters that all bear the same incredibly important message,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). “If we claim to value families; if we acknowledge that children shouldn’t be needlessly separated from their parents; if we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at the American dream; then we should end the policies that have shattered so many families and get to work on reforming our broken immigration system.”