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    The Tragic Cost of Family Detention: Sexual Abuse and Assault

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    The Administration's recent expansion of family detention comes at a tragic and horrific cost. This week, allegations of sexual abuse and assault were revealed inside Immigration and Customs Enforcement's new family detention center. I wish I was surprised, but unfortunately, this isn't the first time we have heard this. Rampant sexual assault inside detention facilities has been documented and reported for more than fourteen years.

    tags: Detention

    Who Profits From Plans to Lock Up More Immigrant Families? Private Prison Companies

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    "Many of these women and children have claims to protection and asylum here in the United State. To respond by locking them up in centers that are remote, far away from legal services.... It just doesn't make any sense," said Katharina Obser of the Women's Refugee Commission.

    New U.S. migrant detention center to be run by firm criticized by advocates

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    Refugee advocates decry the detainment of the immigrants, many of whom they say have strong cases for asylum.

    "People seeking protection are being put in conditions we know are damaging," said Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission's migrant rights and justice program.

    tags: Detention

    Human rights groups sound alarm on immigrant detention policy

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    "We are very concerned to see the continued expansion of family detention, which we know does not work," said Katharina Obser of the human rights group Women's Refugee Commission.

    Love and Loathing in North Texas Amid Child Refugee Crisis

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    Refugee policy and legal experts...believe President Obama's funding request largely misses the point by emphasizing harsh deterrence and increased security measures rather than providing much-needed funding for humanitarian aid and addressing the root causes of the current influx. Read the article by Candice Bernd, Truthout.

    Obama aides were warned of brewing border crisis

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    "I think the administration was dealing with it at a minimal scale, putting a Band-Aid on something they should have been thinking about holistically,” said Michelle Brané, Director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women's Refugee Commission. Read the article by David Nakamura, Jerry Markon and Manuel Roig-Franzia in the Washington Post.

    Why the Central American Children Migrants Need Full Adjudication of Their Protection Claims

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    A series of recent reports have identified multiple causes [for the humanitarian disaster], including the threat of gang, cartel and domestic violence; official corruption in sending states; criminal impunity; poverty and lack of opportunity; and the strong desire for family unity. Read the article by Donald Kerwin, Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies, on Huffington Post.

    The real failures of immigration policy

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    Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission, says it's like using threats to keep people in a burning house. Read the full article by Steve Chapman in the Washington Examiner.

    Michelle Brané on Immigrant Children

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    Parents have told Michelle Brané, WRC's Director, Migrant Rights and Justice; "I would rather see my child die trying to get to safety than to see them die on my doorstep." Watch on ComCast.

    Why Are Immigration Detention Facilities So Cold?

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    "I've talked to children who took the toilet paper they got and laid it on the floor and laid down on that, because it's one barrier between them and the cement floor," says Jennifer Podkul of the Women's Refugee Commission. Read the article by Molly Redden in Mother Jones.

    Send Them Home. Save Their Lives. Jail Their Mayors. 9 Child-Migrant Solutions

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    Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer at the Women's Refugee Commission says; "Children who have just survived a harrowing journey should not be forced to recount some of the most painful experiences of their lives to a border patrol agent wearing a uniform and a gun. Read the full article by Esmé E. Deprez on Bloomberg News.

    What’s leading immigrants to leave home?

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    Michelle Brané, WRC Director of Migrant Rights and Justice, appears on MSNBC to explain what's driving children to cross the US border, and what should be done about it. Watch the interview on MSNBC.

    The Children of the Drug Wars: A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis

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    "If a house is burning, people will jump out the window," says Michelle Brané, Director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women's Refugee Commission. Read the op-ed in the New York Times.

    Putting A Face On Immigration Surge: Unaccompanied Minors Have Difficulty Navigating The System

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    Children and their legal rights simply have not been part of the immigration equation up till now. Read the story, which featured Michelle Brané, Director of Migrant Rights and Justice and appeared on Fox News Latino.

    Obama heads to Texas with no plans to visit border

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    For President Barack Obama, the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is increasingly becoming a political liability, giving Republicans a fresh opportunity to question his administration's competence and complicating the debate over the nation's fractured immigration laws.

    Still, Obama is resisting calls to visit the border during his two-day fundraising trip to Texas, where he arrives late Wednesday afternoon....

    Even immigrant advocates, who say Obama's response has been too focused on enhancing enforcement and deportation, said he would benefit from witnessing the influx first hand.

    "It would have been nice for him to see and speak to some of these children and some of these mothers with children who've come -- to find out first hand why they're coming," Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women's Refugee Commission, said Wednesday. "I think that would make a difference in how he sees this problem."

    Read the AP story that appeared in the Washington Post.

    The horrors driving thousands of Central American kids to take the dangerous journey to the U.S.

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    Before the 15-year old girl said goodbye to her uncle on that early April night, before she crossed El Salvador's border, before she negotiated the serpentine and danger-studded road north, she thought of plastic bags. And whether she, like the others, would end up inside one.

    A local gang member had said he "liked" her, she told the United Nations refugee agency. And in a country like El Salvador, where gangs recruit in schools, target girls for "sexualized killings" and have pushed the state to the brink of collapse, getting "liked" by a gang member is the last thing anyone would want. "The guy who liked me was going to do me harm," she said. "In El Salvador, they take young girls, rape them and throw them in plastic bags." Her uncle took her aside and told her she must flee — so she did....

    "In El Salvador, there is a wrong — it is being young," a young boy told the Women's Refugee Commission. "It is better to be old."

    Read the full article in the Washington Post.

    A Humanitarian Crisis, Not a Political One

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    Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer, migrant rights & justice program, was one of six experts invited to participate in a New York Times "Room for Debate" on "How to Stop the Surge of Migrant Children." Read Jennifer's contribution. Read the entire debate here.

    Voices: Why deportations won't stop the border deluge

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    REYNOSA, Mexico – It took Brian Soler Redondo seven months to get from his home in Comayagua, Honduras, to this city on Mexico's northern border with Texas.

    Along the way, the 14-year-old hitchhiked, walked for miles, dodged thunderstorms, jumped from a moving train to avoid roving gangs, had his money stolen by unscrupulous border police, witnessed a pregnant woman thrown under a train and killed, begged for bus fare, and felt more hunger, thirst, fear and fatigue than most people feel in a lifetime.... 

    Sending so many back has done little to discourage the steady flow of migrants, many of whom are fleeing rampant violence or economic despair in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The threat of being deported from the U.S. pales in comparison to a looming gang kidnapping or the prospect of another day without dinner.

    "You can close the door of a burning house, but people are just going to jump out the window," says Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission. 

    Read the article in USA Today.

    Obama Border “Surge” Restarts Family Detention, Fast-Tracks Deportation Of Children

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    President Barack Obama on Monday made two major immigration-related announcements that rights groups and immigration advocates say are not only incongruous but could violate multiple international rights obligations….

    On the other hand, the president formally pushed lawmakers to grant him some $2 billion in additional border-enforcement funding, as well as new authorities to significantly speed up a deportation process that has already reached record levels under the Obama administration.

    “The fact is there is no way to humanely detain families,” Michelle Brane, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, a rights group, told journalists on Monday.

    “Further, using detention as a deterrent is a violation of international law and has never been shown to work … International law also doesn’t allow [victims of violence] to be sent back to their tormenter. Yet the U.S. government is not mentioning that these children need protection.”

    Read the article on MintPress News.

    Children at the Border Raise Question of Who Is a Refugee

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    Many of the children and families arriving at America's southern doorstep, overwhelming shelters and navigating an already clogged system, are fleeing unrelenting violence or economic destitution.

    But does that make them refugees? Not in the eyes of the law....

    "The overall focus on stemming the flow and reinforcing borders along with this very strong message to children and families that they should not come because they will sent back really raises concerns of violations of international law," said Michelle Brané, director of the migrant and justice program at the Women's Refugee Comission, a non-profit.

    She said one of the basic tenets of refugee law, solidified after the Holocaust with the Refugee Convention, forbids rendering of a true victim of persecution or torture to their persecutor.

    Read the article on NBC News and watch the second video clip.