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  • New, More Humane, Civil Detention Center For Immigrants Opens in Texas

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    WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Women's Refugee Commission welcomes, with reservations, the opening of the Karnes County Civil Detention Center in Karnes, Texas—the first Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility built under a less penal model. The 608-bed facility, which opened on March 13, will house male immigration detainees and will be operated by the private, for-profit GEO Group. It is the first facility that ICE has built since the agency’s 2009 announcement that it would reform the immigration detention system and move away from jail-like facilities to house immigration detainees. Individuals at the facility will have less restrictive conditions, which are more appropriate for those detained under ICE’s civil authority, including more outdoor and indoor recreation, freedom of movement and contact visits with their families. There is also more natural light throughout the center than at other detention facilities.

    Conditions at ICE facilities have been notoriously inhumane in the past. These reforms strive to improve conditions to meet basic human rights standards.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Recognized on Top 50 List of Ideas and Solutions Improving the Lives of Girls and Women Worldwide

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    Women Deliver Features Grassroots and Global Initiatives that Promote a Better World for Girls and Women

    Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization, announced the “Women Deliver 50,” a compilation of the 50 most inspiring ideas and solutions that are delivering for girls and women across the globe. After receiving hundreds of online nominations from 103 countries, a selection committee chose 125 finalists to be voted on by the public. More than 6,000 individuals participated in the online voting. The Women's Refugee Commission’s project “Reducing Maternal Mortality through Disaster Risk Reduction Policy and Planning” is honored to be among the winning selections.

    Open Letter in Response to the Closing of the Berks County Family Shelter Care Center and Solicitation of New Family Detention Beds

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    Attention John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

    In November of 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the Berks County Family Shelter Care Center in Pennsylvania will be closing. The Obama Administration took positive steps in rolling back family detention in 2009 by releasing families from the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Taylor, Texas, and canceling a solicitation for three new family detention centers. The closure of the Berks facility is an excellent opportunity for the administration to continue to demonstrate its commitment to detention system reform by ending the practice of detaining families.

    Women's Refugee Commission Welcomes US National Action Plan on Women, Peace & Security

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    The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds the release of the first ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and the accompanying Executive Order signed by President Obama that directs government agencies to implement it.

    “In producing a National Action Plan, the United States is making a vital public commitment to support the full engagement of women in peace building and conflict prevention processes,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The pledge in the National Action Plan to provide women and children with safe and equitable access to humanitarian assistance is also an essential building block for peace and stability."

    Keeping Families Together This Holiday Season

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    Call for Immediate Change in Immigration Enforcement Policies and Practices

    The Women’s Refugee Commission stands in solidarity with the more than 5,000 children who have written letters to President Obama and Congress asking them to end immigration enforcement practices that separate children from their parents. Current policy makes it difficult—or impossible—for detained immigrant parents to make decisions about their children’s well-being, and many of these children are put into the overburdened foster care system.

    Protecting Immigrant Detainees from Sexual Assault

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    Contact:   Michelle Brané
    (646) 717-7191
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

     Protecting Immigrant Detainees from Sexual Assault
    Applying PREA Standards to Immigration Detention


    In the wake of PBS Frontline’s recent reporting on the prevalence of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities, the Women’s Refugee Commission will join the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Just Detention International and the National Immigrant Justice Center for a Congressional briefing on the importance of applying the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to all facilities in which immigrants are detained.

    Three Strong Women Leaders Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

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    New York, NY—The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) welcomes the news that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia, and pro-democracy campaigner Tawakul Karman of Yemen have been awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Each of these women has been working tirelessly to bring peace and stability to her country. They are shining examples of women’s vital role in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peace-building.

    Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict urges U.S. administration to stop rewarding child soldier recruiters by waiving penalties

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    The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict today urged the Obama administration to reverse its decision to waive the penalties for governments using child soldiers. The decision, announced October 4, undermines the U.S. Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, which sanctions these governments by denying them access to U.S. foreign military financing, military training and other forms of military assistance.

    The Violence Against Women Act: Building on Seventeen Years of Accomplishments

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    As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee consider the remarkable accomplishments of seventeen years of implementation of the Violence Against Women Act’s groundbreaking provisions for victims of abuse, crime and violence, the Committee must also consider the gaps that remain to be filled in order to protect one of the most vulnerable and frequently forgotten group of victims: immigrant women. Despite continued efforts to promote the rights of victims of abuse and violence in the United States, immigrant victims still face an impossible choice. If they come forward to report violence or abuse, they must conquer their fear of detention, deportation and separation from their children and loved ones. Or, if they choose not to come forward, they must face the painful silence of enduring assault, abuse and rape.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Welcomes Reintroduction of Act to Protect Children of Immigrants

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    New Legislation Would HELP Keep Families Together

    Washington, D.C.—The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA) for reintroducing the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act (S. 1399/H.R. 2607). This legislation—originally introduced during the last Congress—would reduce the number of children who are needlessly separated from their parents as a result of immigration enforcement measures.