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  • Unaccompanied Children

    Women’s Refugee Commission Supports Bill to Grant Legal Representation to Unaccompanied Children

    Washington, DC – Today, Senator Mazie Hirono (D- HI) introduced a bill, the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, which would grant legal representation to unaccompanied children.

    ‘Will They Take Me, Too?’

    More than a thousand children are counting on Nora Sandigo to become their guardian if their undocumented parents are deported. How many of those promises will she now have to keep?

    Complaint Accuses DHS Of Increasingly Separating Families At The Border

    “Forcibly separating vulnerable women, children, and families at the US border is both unnecessary and un-American,” said Katharina Obser a senior policy adviser with the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The current practice of family separation, as documented in the complaint, does not make America any safer, but instead punishes those who are fleeing violence and lawfully seeking access to protection.”

    Women's Refugee Commission and Immigrant Rights Advocates Demand Civil Rights Investigation into ICE Raids that Targeted 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 operation sought information about the immigration status of parents and other relatives who came forward to sponsor unaccompanied children. Officers then used that information to locate or lure family members to ICE offices, where they were arrested and detained. 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.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns Termination of Central American Minors (CAM) Program

    Washington, DC. – Last night, the Trump administration officially terminated the Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program with an announcement that it would no longer accept applications to the program as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday night.

    Trump’s Immigration Proposal Could Make It Radically Harder to Get Asylum

    The president is demanding tougher asylum rules as part of any legislation to protect Dreamers.

    J. Potashnik and Associates Offers Immigration Fraud Defense to Asylum Seekers

    A substantial number of the U.S. public organizations have signed a joint letter opposing the bill. This list includes Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Social Workers, the Episcopal Church, Women's Refugee Commission and many more nonprofits.

    ACLU Files Complaint Against ICE For Detaining Pregnant Women Against Their Own Policy

    The American Civil Liberties Union has become one of the most consistent thorns in the side of President Donald Trump. In just the first month of the administration, the group sued the president over his travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries and won (though a more limited version of the ban was eventually implemented). Later in the administration, they sued over Trump's attempt to ban transgender individuals from the military. And on Tuesday, the ACLU filed an administrative complaint against ICE for detaining pregnant women.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Strongly Condemns President Trump’s Decision to End DACA

    Washington, DC – Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on behalf of the Trump Administration, announced the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    Trump Administration Ends Immigration Program for Central American Kids Fleeing Violence

    On August 16, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security cancelled the Central American Minors (CAM) program, a federal immigration option created in 2014 under the Obama Administration's guidance. This program offered U.S. entry to minors fleeing violence in Central America's "Northern Triangle," the tri-country region doused in rampant gang violence and corruption (in just the past two years, 33,000 people have been murdered in the region).

    ICE Has Arrested More Than 400 In Operation Targeting Parents Who Pay Smugglers

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested more than 400 people in an operation targeting undocumented parents and guardians who allegedly paid smugglers to bring their children to the U.S., putting them in grave danger. An ICE spokesman tells NPR the domestic phase of its Human Smuggling Disruption Initiative concluded on Friday. He said the "surge initiative" will now shift its focus to the transnational smuggling organizations that bring the children to the U.S.-Mexico border.

    MEDIA ADVISORY: Women’s Refugee Commission to Call for Protection of Women and Children Seeking Asylum at Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing

    11:30 AM TOMORROW, MARCH 21:
    WRC to Call for Protection of Women and Children Seeking Asylum at Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing

    Washington, DC -- Tomorrow, the Women’s Refugee Commission will present at a hearing convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to review and report on U.S. policies that are preventing women and children at the border from accessing critical protections.

    MEDIA ADVISORY: Press Call Releasing New Report on Family Separation at the Border

    12:30 PM TODAY: Press Call Releasing New Report on Family Separation at the Border

    Washington, DC -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly’s recent statements that he is considering separating migrant parents from their children to deter them from coming to the United States to seek safety   is a new low that shows the Trump Administration’s lack of concern for basic child protection and willingness to transform and expand a cruel practice into formal policy.

    Over 560 Organizations Call on DHS and ICE to Ensure Immigrant Survivors of Violence Can Access Safety and Protections

    Washington, DC--Today, 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.

    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.”

    Hearing Request to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Turnarounds of Asylum Seekers at U.S. Southern Border and Other Immigration Issues

    Washington, DC —This week, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), along with 13 partner organizations*, submitted a hearing request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to provide testimony during its 161 Period of Sessions on measures taken by the United States that impede access to asylum and interfere with the right to family life and other core human rights protections.

    The testimony would address several issues, including turnarounds to Mexico of Central American and other migrants arriving to the U.S. southern border to legally seek asylum, the separation of asylum-seeking families after entry into the US, abusive conditions within Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities, and the expansion of immigration detention of asylum seekers, in some cases for prolonged periods of time, as a deterrent to future asylum seekers. 

    The requesting organizations believe that this hearing is necessary to bring a number of illegal, unjust, and harmful policies and actions against asylum seekers to light. 

    ICYMI: “U.S. border officials are illegally turning away asylum seekers, critics say”

    Washington, DC — Yesterday, an article in the Washington Post by Joshua Partlow revealed that U.S. border officials are illegally turning away asylum seekers. This accusation is corroborated by a number of personal narratives of asylum seekers being turned away or indefinitely put on hold at the border, with little or no hope of attaining asylum.

    The Women’s Refugee Commission is deeply concerned that the United States is not complying with its obligations under international human rights and refugee law, which are longstanding commitments incorporated into U.S. law.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Reacts to John Kelly Nomination

    As the nomination process for John Kelly proceeds, the Women’s Refugee Commission is concerned that the potential head of Homeland Security may not be aware of or understand the stakes involved with deterring people from seeking protection at our borders.

    Left Behind: Trump’s Immigration Plans Could Spur Uptick in Foster Care Numbers

    President-elect Donald Trump made clear in a recent interview that he plans to deport between two and three million undocumented immigrants, a drastic increase from current practice under which about 235,000 were sent away in 2015.

    Many of the people being deported will be parents of children who are U.S. citizens, born into the rights and protections of this country. Child welfare and immigration reform advocates fear that the surge in deportation will prompt a spike in foster care admissions for children in this circumstance.

    Women’s Refugee Commission Re-Releases Resources for Families Facing Deportation and Separation

    Washington, DC -- This morning, the Women’s Refugee Commission re-released guides for safety planning and child welfare for families facing deportation on Facebook and Twitter. The documents provide tools for preventing family separation, resources for families caught between the immigration and child welfare systems, and a comprehensive approach to the question on the lips of every mother facing deportation: "What about my children?"

    The safety planning document, parental interest fact sheets, and toolkit for the detained or deported can be found at the links below: