Migrant Rights and Justice

Migrant Rights & Justice

All individuals have the right to seek asylum and protection from persecution. We develop practical solutions and tools for accessing protection and creating resilient communities, advocating for fair, accessible, and humane refugee and migrant policies and practice. 

Child Welfare Sign-On Letter thumbnail

Child Welfare Sign-On Letter

Child Welfare Groups Oppose Plan to Separate Migrant Families

On January 23, 2018, more than 200 child welfare, juvenile justice, and child development organizations sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen calling on the administration to reverse course on plans to separate migrant children from their parents at the U.S. border. This policy proposal was first discussed publicly by then Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in March 2017, when he indicated that he was considering separating families in an effort to deter them from seeking asylum. Despite considerable pushback from the letter signatories and many other groups, Secretary Nielsen refused to rule out implementing the proposal when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 16, 2018.

The letter notes that, "there is overwhelming evidence that children need to be cared for by their parents to be safe and healthy, to grow and develop...[and that] separating children from their mothers or fathers leads to serious negative consequences to children’s health and development." It also notes that a policy of separation would undermine children's ability to make a protection claim and would erode principles of family unity that are fundamental in our state and federal laws.

Joint Complaint on ICE Raids Targeting Sponsors of Unaccompanied Children thumbnail

Joint Complaint on ICE Raids Targeting Sponsors of Unaccompanied Children

On December 6, 2017, the Women’s Refugee Commission and seven other immigrant rights organizations filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of Inspector General on behalf of some of the 400 people swept up in a DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “surge initiative” from June to August 2017. The complaint details how ICE officers misrepresented their objectives and role within the sponsorship process, as well as coerced parents and family members in order to detain them and frustrate the reunification process.
Joint Complaint on ICE Detention and Treatment of Pregnant Women thumbnail

Joint Complaint on ICE Detention and Treatment of Pregnant Women

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the American Immigration Council (Council), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of women who are or were pregnant and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The complaint’s findings include reports by currently and formerly detained women that illustrate ICE’s failure to implement its own policy limiting the detention of pregnant women; inhumane detention conditions; and inadequate medical care.
Detention Expansion Standards Letter thumbnail

Detention Expansion Standards Letter

Letter to Secretary Kelly Urging Him to Abandon Any Plans to Pursue This Costly Expansion

The Washington Post has reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is actively seeking to expand the immigration detention system so it has the capacity to lock up over 60,000 immigrants. This bid for more detention beds and facilities comes at the same time that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly seeks to slash the few protections in place to protect the safety and civil rights of individuals who are detained. We urge Secretary Kelly to abandon any plans to pursue this costly expansion. We further urge Secretary Kelly to strengthen rather than lessen standards and monitoring of a system that already endangers the lives and due process rights of asylum seekers and immigrants.
Family Separation Sign On Letter thumbnail

Family Separation Sign On Letter

Letter to Secretary Kelly Opposing Plan to Separate Migrant Families at the Border

On March 22, 2017, nearly 200 national, state and local organizations sent this letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly expressing opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed plan to separate migrant families at the border. Secretary Kelly has now twice remarked that he is considering such a move in order to deter families from seeking protection at our borders. The letter calls on Secretary Kelly to “reverse course on any policy proposal that would seek to tear apart families or otherwise inflict trauma and harm.” It also notes that separating families undermines their ability to seek asylum, a right protected by both U.S. and international law.
Letter to DHS and ICE To Recognize Immigrant Communities Deserve Safety and Justice thumbnail

Letter to DHS and ICE To Recognize Immigrant Communities Deserve Safety and Justice

On March 8, 2017, Women's Refugee Commission as well as over 560 other national, state and local organizations sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John F. Kelly and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan calling on DHS to recognize that immigrant communities deserve safety and justice.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holds hearing on access to asylum in the United States thumbnail

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holds hearing on access to asylum in the United States

Letter to Secretary of State Tillerson Urging US to Reaffirm Commitment to Protect and Defend Human Rights

WRC requested and participated in a thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the autonomous human rights body of the Organization of American States (OAS), during its 161 Period of Sessions (Mar. 15-22, 2017) on measures taken by or at the request of the United States that impede access to asylum in the United States and interfere with the right to family life and other core human rights protections.
Separation of Immigrant Families in U.S. Immigration Custody  thumbnail

Separation of Immigrant Families in U.S. Immigration Custody

As the numbers of family units migrating together rises, so have the instances of arbitrary and harmful family separation, both before and upon reaching the U.S. border. Family unity must also be a respected principle in enforcement and removal operations by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The EU-Turkey Agreement Fails Refugee Women and Girls thumbnail

The EU-Turkey Agreement Fails Refugee Women and Girls

The closure of the Balkans route and the subsequent European Union-Turkey agreement to reduce the flow of refugees into Europe is nothing short of a protection and legal disaster for refugees, particularly women and girls.
Family Detention & the Flores Settlement Agreement thumbnail

Family Detention & the Flores Settlement Agreement

In the summer of 2015, a court ruled that government practices of detaining asylum-seeking families violate the 1997 Flores Settlement for unaccompanied children. The government’s should immediately reverse their family detention policies, dismantle the facilities, and release children and their parents.
One Year Later: Where are the refugee mothers and children? thumbnail

One Year Later: Where are the refugee mothers and children?

In June 2014, President Obama referred to the unprecedented numbers of children and families fleeing violence in Central America as an “urgent humanitarian situation.” Since then, these asylum-seekers have been detained in prison-like detention facilities.

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