Go to Press Releases library
Press Releases

In Advance of State of the Union, WRC Urges Biden to Prioritize Afghan and Ukrainian Women and Girls, Uphold the Rights of Families Seeking Safety at US Border with Mexico

Washington, D.C. – President Joe Biden will deliver the State of the Union tonight, where he is expected to address, among other things, the conflict in Ukraine and the current situation at the U.S. border with Mexico.

In advance of the address, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), issued the following statements:

“Ukrainian women, children, and other marginalized populations have had their lives upended – with 5.59 million people internally displaced and even more pushed across borders. One year into the conflict, they still face daily threats to their well-being,” said Gayatri Patel, vice president of advocacy and external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We know that they are at high risk of experiencing gender-based violence, including trafficking and sexual assault. Despite the herculean efforts of Ukrainian and other local women’s groups and front-line responders, there is insufficient support for the sexual and reproductive health needs of women, youth, LGBTQI+ individuals, and others across the region. Those in the LGBTQI+ community are facing discrimination in getting the services they need and people with disabilities continue to struggle with accessing critical support. We also know that this conflict has ripple effects well beyond Europe, impacting food security and livelihoods of people worldwide. We urge President Biden to prioritize lifesaving humanitarian services as he considers his 2023 foreign policy agenda.

“Additionally, WRC remains deeply concerned about Afghan women and girls and the gender apartheid being imposed upon them by the Taliban,” said Patel. “Following the fall of Kabul, the Taliban wasted no time obliterating women’s rights across the country. Afghan women have been pushed out of work and government positions, and have been subjected to public flogging, sexual violence, and forced marriage. Just this December, they banned women from attending university and from working at NGOs. These bans cut off opportunities and lifelines for internally displaced women, children, and youth throughout the country. We urge President Biden to live up to his promise not to abandon Afghan women and prioritize the restoration of their rights.”

“For too long President Biden has failed families seeking safety at the U.S. border with Mexico,” said Savitri Arvey, senior policy advisor for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at WRC. “He has expanded Title 42 to expel Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans without the opportunity to apply for asylum. And he is expected to resurrect a Trump-era transit ban that would have a catastrophic effect on people seeking asylum.

President Biden’s disturbing border policies have resulted in women and children being stuck in dangerous settings in Mexico, while waiting to access their legal right to request asylum,” said Arvey. “There they face kidnappings, extortion, and assault. I have traveled to Mexico repeatedly in recent weeks and heard directly from brave mothers trying to keep their families safe – they are terrified and feel betrayed. We urge the president to change course in order to uphold U.S. and international refugee laws and welcome with dignity.”