• Rights & Justice

    Call Them Refugees

    It’s time for the U.S. government to treat these families as refugees rather than “criminal aliens” and a “national security threat,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The U.S. government has spent huge amounts of money on detention and deterrence, and it isn’t working. The money should go to the courts and the asylum process so we can enforce the rule of law. Right now the asylum court backlog is five years.”

    The Obama administration’s response to Central American refugees is wrong

    We cannot and should not stop people from fleeing violence to save their children’s lives, but we can ensure that the process through which they reach safety is orderly and efficient and complies with fundamental American values.

    Seeking asylum in U.S. immigration courts is a lot like playing roulette

    Katharina Obser at the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York said that eliminating immigration detention altogether could make it easier for asylum applicants to find an attorney and prepare for the legal process.

    “To [go through the process] alone, without the assistance of an expert immigration attorney, it’s nearly impossible,” Obser said. “It is such a complicated process that, often, people are forced to navigate on their own without speaking English and without having access to even basic legal information, let alone being able to prepare a legal case in front of an immigration judge where there is opposing counsel.”

    Illegal Immigration Is Changing. Border Security Is Still Catching Up

    Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights at the Women's Refugee Commission, says the administration's push to discourage people from coming to the United States has, instead, backfired. Federal courts soon chipped away at the scope of the administration's immigrant family detention practices.

    And according to Brané, the new border statistics only confirm that Central Americans will continue to find a way to the United States, no matter what stands before then.

    "If you're in a burning house, you're going to find a way out no matter how many obstacles are put in your way," Brané said.

    Immigration agency is expanding family detention facilities

    “I don’t know what they’re thinking, to be honest with you,” Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program for the Women’s Refugee Commission, said of ICE’s renewal of the Dilley contract. “I find it odd, and it certainly is not setting things up for the new president in any way, whoever that is, to move forward with their own plan.”

    VIDEO: The Needs of Refugee Women and Children in the Global Humanitarian Crisis

    In this powerful talk, executive director Sarah Costa explains the work of the Women's Refugee Commission, and discusses the current crisis. The numbers are staggering: one in 122 people across the world have been forced to flee, and the majority are women and children. The average length of displacement is 20 years. What can be done to help?

    We Stand With Refugee Women and Girls

    At a time when violence has forced record numbers of people to flee their homes, the Women’s Refugee Commission urges the incoming Administration and Congress to maintain strong bipartisan support for life-saving humanitarian assistance and unwavering leadership on the protection of human rights, including the right to asylum.

    Immigration And Border Security Top President-Elect Trump's To-Do List

    Donald Trump told CBS he plans to build a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. Adding he's not going to round up all unauthorized immigrants as he vowed during the campaign — just the law breakers.

    Calls for Obama to FREE thousands of asylum seekers from Central America so Trump can't deport them when he becomes President

    Immigration advocates are calling on Barack Obama to free around 4,000 Central American families currently detained in the US while seeking asylum. The advocates want the families to either stop being detained altogether or for them to be released with a notice to appear before a judge, Bloomberg reports. Representatives from groups such as the Women’s Refugee Commission and the American Immigration Lawyers Association met with White House officials last week to discuss the issue. The Central American women and children are currently being kept in low-security jail-like conditions in Texas and Pennsylvania.

    A Woman Alone

    In a recent, damning report, the Women’s Refugee Commission—an independent think tank focusing on problems that affect displaced women—called for a dramatic boost to financial, material, and human resources to specifically safeguard female asylum-seekers trapped in Greece and to remedy “a policy of delay, discrimination and despair.” According to the WRC report, more than 50 percent of the refugees stranded in Greece are women, and they face unprecedented threats to their physical and mental well-being.

    According to the WRC, since the EU-Turkey deal was struck in March, there has been an increase in reports of gender-based violence among refugees in Greece: “[G]aps in security expose women and girls to numerous threats, including [gender-based violence], trafficking and even kidnapping of children.”

    Five Reasons Why Disability Matters in a Crisis

    As social and community structures break down during a crisis, protection threats build up. In these scenarios, people with disabilities are at a much higher risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, in part because they are often more isolated and have less access to protection services. Research from the Women’s Refugee Commission shows that women and girls with disabilities are particularly at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. However, they may not be able to access support for survivors due to difficulties in reaching services and communicating their needs, or for fear that their accounts will not be taken seriously.

    5 Ways Women's Issues Were Ignored in 2016

    2016, a year many predicted would end with a shattered glass ceiling and female president-elect, has not been great for women.

    The year, of course, undoubtedly had its high points: To name a few, 50+ companies have signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge, Samantha Bee emerged as a much-needed female voice in late-night television and President Barack Obama's administration finalized a rule prohibiting states from withholding federal funding from organizations that perform abortions. 

    But 2016 has also left many women feeling disenfranchised and vulnerable, and vital issues like equal pay, paid family leave, reproductive rights and equality for the LGBT community are even more at risk under the impending Donald Trump presidency.

    Though it's a tough list to narrow down, here are just five of the ways women's issues were ignored in 2016.

    NGOs Call for Better Protection for Female Refugees in Europe

    This year more than 170,000 people have risked their lives attempting to reach Europe from Turkey via Greece. Their journeys are perilous and they face uncertain futures when they reach Europe. But for women, the risks are amplified because of inadequate facilities at reception centers. Yet governments and humanitarian organizations are failing to meet their specific needs.

    “It is traumatic for women to stay in a variety of places and detention centers. It can be unsafe and they are unable to get access to protection and services,” Sarah Costa, executive director of the WRC, tells Equal Times.

    WRC, along with other women’s rights organizations, are pressuring the EU to change its approach. In June, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) partnered with the WRC to launch #WomensVoices, a campaign to raise awareness of the situation facing the women and girls in Europe who are fleeing conflict. The aim is to influence decision-makers, through a series of recommendations, events, and members’ networking across Europe, to put violence against refugee women on the European political agenda.

    Women’s Marches Flood Cities Worldwide on Trump’s First Day

    Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in cities across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday for massive protests a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a signal of discontent with America’s new leader that threatened to upstage his first days in office. The Women’s March on Washington, billed as a response to Trump’s surprise election victory, eclipsed Trump’s swearing-in as the most widely attended political event in the capital this weekend. It was mirrored by large rallies across the U.S. and in international capitals including Berlin, Paris and Ottawa.

    MEDIA ADVISORY: Immigrant, Arab-American, and Refugee Advocates to React to President Trump’s Potential Executive Orders on Immigrant Refugee Policies

    Washington, DC--Today, January 25 at 11 AM Eastern, leaders from America’s Voice Education Fund, Women’s Refugee Commission, NILC, United We Dream, and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee will gather on a press call to offer thoughts on a range of Trump’s forthcoming Executive Orders on immigration and refugee policies.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Decries President Trump’s Executive Order Targeting Refugees, Families, and Youth

    Washington, DC--The Women’s Refugee Commission stands in firm opposition to President Trump’s Executive Orders that further endanger and violate the rights of refugees and asylum seekers coming to the United States. The act of turning asylum seekers and refugees away before they reach U.S. soil is reprehensible, as these men, women, and children are fleeing life-threatening situations. These new policies risk returning asylum seekers and refugees to danger and even death. The Women’s Refugee Commission is similarly concerned over the impact that increased immigration enforcement will have on immigrant families in the United States. For too long we’ve documented the trauma and harm on parents and their children when immigration enforcement actions separate them, sometimes indefinitely, with little recourse. 

    Today’s Executive Orders focused on building a wall at the Southern border of the United States, expanding immigration enforcement efforts by increasing the number of border patrol agents, closing the border to those seeking asylum at the Southern border by processing their requests and holding their immigration hearings from Mexico, and massively expanding detention practices. 

    Some support Trump's immigration moves, others decry them

    President Donald Trump’s first actions on immigration validated his supporters’ expectations and stirred those who advocate for immigrants, refugees and Muslims to respond with messages of strong opposition. Trump signed executive actions Wednesday that start work on the border wall, increase immigration enforcement and take away federal grant money from “sanctuary” cities that don’t help with immigration enforcement. He is also considering taking action to bar refugees from countries with large Muslim populations from coming to the United States.

    Muslims, Latinos unify over Trump's immigration, border plan

    Many U.S. Muslim and Latino advocates have joined forces in opposing changes to immigration rules by President Donald Trump, bolstering an alliance between them as they mull the prospect of aggressive restrictions.

    In joint press conferences and rallies across the country, they are decrying an action Trump signed to jumpstart construction on a southern border wall. Trump is expected to take steps to stop accepting Syrian refugees, suspend the United States' broader refugee program for 120 days and suspend issuing visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.

    Trump poised to temporarily shut U.S.'s door to most of the world's refugees and start 'extreme vetting'

    President Trump is poised to temporarily halt the nation’s refugee program and usher in the most sweeping changes in more than 40 years to how the U.S. welcomes the world’s most vulnerable people. Trump’s actions, which could come as soon as this afternoon, would block all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and suspend the acceptance of refugees from war-torn Syria indefinitely.

    Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration are Harmful, Ineffective, and Un-American

    President Trump’s executive orders that calls for building a wall on the Mexican border, aggressive new actions to deport immigrants who lack legal status, and temporary or indefinite bans for some refugee populations is extremist, xenophobic, and misguided.

    In one fell swoop, Trump has taken a wrecking ball to our immigration system by ending a decades-long program that has granted refuge to the world’s most vulnerable people. Globally, the number of people displaced globally by crisis and conflict is at its highest since World War II. There are more than 65 million refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs), and approximately half of them are women and children.