• Rights & Justice

    Refugee Women Seeking Safety in Europe Risk Sexual Abuse, Violence

    "Those most at risk of sexual abuse and violence include single women traveling alone or with children, pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, unaccompanied children and early married children."

    Women and girls caught in refugee crisis lack protection

    "There are not adequate protection services on the ground to both identify and prioritize women’s needs," said Executive Director Sarah Costa.

    Feds imperiled many migrant kids during surge

    "They sped up reunification procedures that they had in place for years," said Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer at the Women's Refugee Commission. Over two dozen children have been severely abused since the safety checks were discontinued.

    No Safety for Women Along the Refugee Migration Route

    The risk of violence for women, girls and other vulnerable groups is present at every stage of the European refugee migration; and at every point where risk could be mitigated, the opportunity to do so is squandered, according to an assessment by the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    AP INVESTIGATION: Feds' failures imperil migrant children

    In 2012, caseworkers followed a stringent process before releasing children to sponsors. Later,"so many kids were piling up at the Border Patrol stations they sped up reunification procedures that they had in place for years," said Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer at the nonprofit Women's Refugee Commission.

    In Today’s Refugees I Am Finding My Mother’s Memories

    "We heard cases of pregnant women about to deliver who declined medical attention so they could keep moving. In some instances, it was the husbands who pressured their wives against seeking medical help," says Jurate Kazikas, a board member of the Women's Refugee Commission. 

    Refugees Fleeing Mortal Danger in Central America Face Daily Fear of Deportation in US

    This is not a question of strict border security. These are kids and women who are essentially turning themselves in. They’re not sneaking over a fence, rather, they’re presenting themselves to the border and asking for protection, said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission.

    Raids on asylum seekers must stop

    The influx of Central Americans coming to the U.S. is a refugee crisis, not a border security issue. We are not a country where people should be frightened to answer knocks on their doors, according to Michelle Brané in this op-ed in The Hill.  

    How Mexico Became Tougher Than The United States On Migrants

    “The traditional routes had mechanisms for protecting migrants," said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Since the migration patterns are new, they aren't established, so that really these populations are that much more at risk to all the horrible things we already know they faced.”

    U.S. refugee agency put Central American kids at risk, GAO report says

    Government procedures have endangered children seeking asylum in the United States. A drastically increased caseload "showed weaknesses in the system. It was like a magnifying glass," explains Jennifer Podkul of the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    House Members Introduce Legislation to Protect Asylum Seeking Children

    Statement by Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program

    Under current law, there is no right to appointed counsel in immigration removal proceedings, even if the respondent is a child. We find this out of step with our moral and legal obligation to protect refugees.

    Closing Balkan Borders to Refugees is Ineffective

    Statement by Sarah Costa, Executive Director

    We are disturbed by the Balkan states' closing of their borders against refugees who have fled terrible violence and persecution. This action will not deter desperate people from making the perilous journey to Europe, it will only increase the already elevated risk of violence to women and girls as more and more refugees are trapped in overcrowded and unsafe transit centers in Greece. We hope that today's summit will restore unity and that the governments of Europe will work toward solutions for the more than one million refugees seeking safe haven.

    Is the U.S. “Failing” Migrant Children Fleeing Violence?

    A string of agencies are charged with ensuring children are properly screened for refugee or asylum claims, and ultimately transferred to safe homes until their cases can be heard in court. But the crush of arrivals has strained the system.

    Women And Kids Now Driving Migration Wave Into Europe

    "Europe parallels some of the same issues that Central American women and children face when they make the dangerous trek into the United States. [There], a Women’s Refugee Commission report found that children reported sexual abuse by smuggling guides."

    This Is Why Europe’s New Deal On Refugees Could Put Women At Risk

    “When women feel they have no option, or when their usual protections break down, they do whatever they have to do to survive. And that means from Turkey, some women are selling their bodies for passage," said Deni Robey, director of strategic communications.

    Mina Jaf, a Voice of Courage for Refugees in Europe

    Mina Jaf was a refugee from the day she was born – in the midst of a chemical gas attack on her village in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1988. She fled with her family over the mountains to Iran and over the next 11 years, they went back and forth between the two countries, often spending no more than one night in the same place.

    Pretending to be asleep, the young Mina listened to refugees from Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda tell their horrific stories of rape and domestic violence. She understood that they risked stigmatization and shame if their experiences became common knowledge.

    Mina grew up determined to fight for the rights of all refugee women.

    Detaining Immigrant Kids Hasn’t Worked. The US Wants to Try Something New.

    As the Obama administration shifts family detention facilities toward other populations, it remains to be seen whether this signals the end of family detention or merely a new incarnation. But there is cause for hope: "If the numbers continue the way they are, there’s no reason to have half-empty facilities," said Michelle Brané, director of immigrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    The Shackle: A private government contractor's tracking device for non-documented immigrants is drawing fire

    GPS tracking devices offer "a wrongheaded "solution" to something that was not a problem in the first place."

    Immigrant students blocked from enrolling in school

    "U.S. law is clear on this point — no child in the United States should be excluded from public education. That doesn't always play out in practice," said Mikaela Harris, a co-author of a study issued by the Women's Refugee Commission and Georgetown University.

    WRC Responds to Administration's Planned Raids and Deportations of Central American Women and Children

    Statement by Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program


    The Women's Refugee Commission is deeply disappointed at the Obama Administration’s plan to conduct raids on and deport women and children who have fled persecution and extreme violence in Central America. Some of those targeted are reported to be children who arrived in the U.S. without a parent and have now turned 18. The administration is prioritizing them for deportation to three of the most dangerous countries in the world.