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  • Rights & Justice

    200 Refugees Are Crossing Mexico to Escape Violence—and to Confront Trump

    At this moment, a group of 200 refugees fleeing violence and gangs in Central America are heading north through Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum when they reach the US border later this week. The caravan, which has been planned with a coalition of Mexican and American organizers, is meant to raise awareness of the perils facing migrants in Mexico as well as the Trump administration's efforts to prevent refugees from legally entering the United States.

    Tightening of Borders Makes Women Invisible Along Balkan Refugee Route

    As borders have tightened along the western Balkan route to Europe, more lone female refugees are arriving in Serbia having experienced violence and trafficking. Many who want to continue their journeys are using even riskier routes and never appear in official data.

    Trump Administration Won’t Routinely Separate Families At The Border After All

    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Wednesday he is not planning to routinely split up children and mothers at the U.S.-Mexico border, after previously alarming immigrant advocates by suggesting such a policy would help deter illegal border crossings.

    Speaking before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Kelly said he would separate families apprehended at the border “only if the situation at that point in time requires it” ― for example, if a mother is sick or addicted to drugs. He said he “can’t imagine” doing it unless there is reason to believe a child is in danger.

    "Trauma on Trauma on Trauma": For Refugee Children, the Journey Is Only the Beginning

    Adele's* 7-year-old daughter cries often. She cries at home and at school, whenever she thinks about the gang-perpetrated assassination she and her mother witnessed in their home country of El Salvador, and the death threats that soon followed. She also cries when she remembers the abuse inflicted on her mother by her mother's partner that, combined with the gang violence, caused her and her mother to flee to the US in May.

    "They wanted to kill me," Adele told Truthout, speaking through a translator, about why she chose to leave El Salvador with her child to seek asylum.

    Adele and her daughter were arrested at the border and were held for 45 days in the immigrant-family jail in Karnes City, Texas. Now, Adele worries the two of them will be reincarcerated, or be deported back to El Salvador. She worries more about her daughter's constant fear of the same. Even if they aren't deported, she worries that the trauma and fear that her young daughter has experienced will haunt her for the rest of her life.

    Democratic House Members Hold Forum on Impact of Trump Immigration Policies on Children and Families

    This afternoon, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), the Co-Chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, held an immigration forum at the U.S. Capitol to discuss the impact of Trump Administration immigration policies on children and families.  The forum placed particular focus on the harm of separating children from their parents, whether those separations occur at the U.S. border or within the United States itself.

    Inside Trump's Border Crackdown on Women and Kids

    Despite President Donald Trump's dire warnings of "bad hombres" and drugs flooding into the United States from Mexico, the most urgent issue along the border has been the influx of Central American families and unaccompanied children, many of whom are fleeing gang-fueled violence in their home countries. And the latest statistics from the border show that one of the main goals of the White House's immigration crackdown is being realized: targeting and deterring these asylum seekers from heading to the United States in the first place.

    Stranded in Greece, Women Refugees Live With Fear and Hunger

    As Germany starts sending newly arrived refugees back to Greece, we speak to Marcy Hersh of the Women’s Refugee Commission about the tens of thousands of women refugees stuck in Greek detention centers, suffering from violence, unsanitary conditions and food shortages. 

    It’s been almost a year since border closures and a controversial European Union deal with Turkey shut out refugees fleeing to Germany and Scandinavia. Today, more than 60,000 refugees remain stranded in Greece and other parts of Eastern Europe – almost half of them women. Many of them had hoped to reunify with male family members who had traveled ahead, making the harrowing journey across Europe.

    Syria: Seven Years, 11 Million People, No End in Sight

    In March, the Syrian conflict enters into its seventh year. This protracted war has created nearly 5 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).  In Lebanon, one in five people in the country are Syrian refugees; there are more than 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan; and there are more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

    Since 2013, the WRC has been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to research and develop guidance for the women, children, and youth refugees affected by the Syrian crisis.

    Undocumented Parents Could Be Separated From Their Children at the Border

    Earlier this week, secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told CNN that the United States is considering separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents if they show up to the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization, as a way to deter border crossings. This proposal to separate families was quickly met with sharp criticism, condemned by UNICEF as "cruel and traumatic," and described by Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray as "an attack against the integrity of the fundamental unit of social life that is family," The Hill reports. 

    Women's Refugee Commission at CSW61

    Women's Refugee Commission will be participating in the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

    This year’s theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with an additional focus on empowering indigenous women.

    The sessions begin on Monday, March 13 and will run through March 24, 2017.

    Immigrant Families Are Separated At US Border As Form Of Punishment, Groups Say

    The Trump administration has said it considering separating illegal immigrant families at the border as a deterrent, but authors of a new report say agents are already engaged in the practice as a form of punishment.

    The women detainees who are invisible every day

    People across the United States marked International Women’s Day on Wednesday as a day of action to recognize the sacrifices made by women and those who have been marginalized by society. But one group who did not show up at rallies or protests across the country were the female immigrant detainees who are consistently denied dignity and do not enjoy adequate rights.

    Protecting Women Refugees as Part of International Women’s Day

    International Women’s Day, is a global celebration of women everywhere. It is a rallying call—both for reflection on how far we’ve come, and for accelerating momentum towards gender equality. Core to achieving our agenda is the prevention of all forms of violence against women. Despite notable progress over the decades, thousands of women have recently been dealt a serious and potentially deadly setback: The women who are refugees and asylum seekers looking to the U.S. for safety and protection.

    Protecting Women Refugees As Part Of International Women’s Day

    International Women’s Day, is a global celebration of women everywhere. It is a rallying call—both for reflection on how far we’ve come, and for accelerating momentum towards gender equality. Core to achieving our agenda is the prevention of all forms of violence against women. Despite notable progress over the decades, thousands of women have recently been dealt a serious and potentially deadly setback: The women who are refugees and asylum seekers looking to the U.S. for safety and protection.

    Violence against women is still endemic, and this is particularly the case in humanitarian crises. It cannot be overstated: Women who are fleeing conflict and persecution face heightened risks of gender-based violence, including sexual assault, early and forced marriage, female genital cutting, trafficking and exploitation. Such pervasive violence incurs very high costs for individual women, their families, and their communities. It stymies progress to achieving gender equality and internationally agreed upon development goals.

    On the campaign trail, President Trump promised to “protect women” and stated, “I love women. I respect women. I cherish women.”

    I beg to differ on at least five fronts:

    Homeland Security’s plan to break up families would have terrible consequences for kids

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly confirmed Monday that his agency plans to separate Central American children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, to serve as a deterrent for future border-crossers.

    Children Will Continue to Flee Danger, Expert Says

    In all her years working with Unaccompanied Alien Children, one interaction in particular stands out for Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice for the Women’s Refugee Commission. She was interviewing a young boy from Central America (she no longer remembers the country). He had fled to the U.S. seeking asylum. She never forgot what he said during the interview. He looked at her and said, “In my country, it’s a crime to be young.”

    These Are Children, Not Bad Hombres

    Last year 7-year-old Kendra Cruz Garcia and her 10-year-old-brother, Roberto Guardado Cruz, crossed the Rio Grande alone. When their tiny boat reached the shore, they started walking into Texas.

    The Border Patrol agents who soon caught the Salvadoran siblings deemed them “unaccompanied” because no parent was with them. Children with this designation are granted special, well-deserved protections.

    They aren’t subject to quick deportation and are entitled to a full hearing before an immigration judge. They can’t be held for long periods in immigration jails. Instead, they are transferred to child-friendly shelters operated by Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, and released, usually within a month, to a parent, relative or sponsor while their court hearings proceed. Instead of facing cross-examination by adversarial prosecutors, children are interviewed by an asylum officer trained to gently probe whether they qualify to stay in the country legally.

    In other words, they are treated with kindness and decency by our government because they are innocent children.

    Why President Trump's Immigration Plan Could Tear Families Apart

    Most people may have missed the story of an Arizona mother who was deported and forced to leave behind her two U.S.-born children earlier this month, but it sent ripples of fear across the country and drove many immigrant families underground. Teachers quickly grew worried that immigrant kids were no longer showing up to school. Lawyers noticed that fewer families were appearing for their court dates.

    President Donald Trump’s immigration plan is already taking a heavy toll on undocumented immigrants across the country, particularly for parents looking out for their loved ones. Not only do the administration’s actions threaten to tear up families, but new directives have been designed to actively punish undocumented parents for their efforts to provide for their children.

    DHS memo proposed using up to 100,000 Guard troops to round up immigrants

    An internal Department of Homeland Security memo from last month proposed calling up as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants, an agency official said Friday. But DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said the memo, dated Jan. 25, was an early draft document that was not seriously considered.

    How Trump’s Executive Order Harms Women Refugees

    In the midst of the uproar over President Trump’s executive order (EO), entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” an important element missing from the debate is the disproportionate impact it will have on women. While the federal government provides limited data on women refugees, the State Department reported that in fiscal year 2016, over 72 percent of refugees resettled in the U.S. were women and children.