Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. government grapples with the humanitarian crisis surrounding the number of children, families and asylum seekers crossing the southern border, Human Rights First today released a comprehensive blueprint detailing how lawmakers and policymakers can tackle challenges related to the increase in requests for asylum and protection along the border. The blueprint, “How to Protect Refugees and Prevent Abuse at the Border,” is based on the organization’s extensive research and visits to key border points, border patrol stations, and immigration detention facilities in Arizona, California, and Texas.
“There is broad bipartisan agreement that protecting those who flee persecution is an important American value,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer, an author of today’s blueprint. “This Blueprint details pragmatic and fiscally prudent solutions that reflect American values. Effectively addressing these challenges should be a top priority for both the administration and Congress.”
“How to Protect Refugees and Prevent Abuse at the Border” examines the increased use of expedited removal over the years and the rise in the number of requests for protection within the expedited removal process. It also outlines the various pressures on the refugee protection system, including the escalation of violence and impunity in countries south of the border. In order to deal with the challenges posed by the increase in asylum seekers requesting U.S. protection at the border, today’s blueprint includes the following key recommendations for policymakers:
• Address the resource imbalance by properly funding the protection screening interviews that are part of expedited removal and reinstatement of removal, as well as immigration court removal hearings, to reduce backlogs and vulnerability to abuse. DHS should request and Congress should appropriate funds to conduct timely in-person credible fear and reasonable fear screenings without diverting staff from affirmative asylum interviews, and address multi-year immigration court backlogs.
• Tackle the deficit of accurate information about the asylum process by expanding legal orientation presentations. DOJ should request and Congress should appropriate funds to expand the cost-efficient Legal Orientation Program to all detention facilities to be presented to asylum seekers and other immigration detainees within a few days of detention, and facilitate access to counsel.
• Strengthen – rather than weaken – protection safeguards. Steps include: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should end or at least limit telephone interviews and revise flawed language in the new Credible Fear Lesson Plan; CBP should improve conduct of its interviews and implement recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
• Launch a nationwide initiative with increased capacity to use cost-effective alternatives to detention for border arrivals who are released to other parts of the country and are determined to need appearance support. Congress should support this nationwide initiative. If additional supervision is needed for some families, DHS should build on models of community-based alternatives, such as the pilot projects already in place with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
• Enhance tools for detecting and investigating abuse and criminal activity. DHS should utilize multiple tools for detecting abuse and criminal activity, and refer fraudulent schemes or criminal activity for investigation and prosecution.
• Address triggers of flight. The administration should broaden inter-agency attention to confront impunity and rule of law challenges contributing to flight from Central America and Mexico, support legal assistance for displaced victims in countries of origin and carefully assess any informational campaigns or enforcement proposals for consistency with refugee protection and human rights commitments.
Human Rights First’s research identified a number of ways in which the challenges at the border have led to changes that undermine access to asylum. Many asylum seekers, especially in the busiest areas such as south Texas, are interviewed in chaotic and crowded conditions at U.S. Border Patrol stations, often by telephone, with little privacy, following difficult or traumatic journeys. After transfer to immigration detention, the majority of credible fear interviews are conducted by telephone. Asylum seekers face a range of challenges in seeking release from detention, including bond levels that have risen so steeply in some places that indigent asylum seekers cannot afford to pay them. Many are detained in jail-like conditions for weeks, months or sometimes longer. Throughout the process, there is an overwhelming lack of accurate legal information and lack of counsel.
“U.S. policies can set an example for the rest of the world. The United States has a strong interest in maintaining its global leadership in protecting the persecuted,” Acer noted. “Our nation should strengthen, rather than weaken, its commitment to protecting those who face persecution and other serious human rights abuses.”
Human Rights First has issued a fact sheet outlining the key findings from today’s report. For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.
Saguaro Christian Church in Tucson, AZ. recently began holding daily prayer vigils in support of separated children and families. See and join them in prayer…Read more >
Please see here a video of Disciples—including RIM Director, Capitol Area Regional Minister, and other Disciples clergy—assisting children, adults, and faith leaders in yesterday’s action…Read more >
Washington, D.C., June 13, 2018 — Speaker Paul Ryan has promised his caucus they will vote on at least two anti-immigrant bills next week, as…Read more >
In recent days, deeply offensive rhetoric has again been issued against immigrant communities by President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Disciples…Read more >
The Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, spoke on a…Read more >
In a letter delivered to the administration on April 27, 2018, 122 faith-based organizations and 518 faith leaders from across traditions stand united in calling…Read more >
“With timing that has painfully come the very day following the devastating earthquakes in Nepal three years ago, we stand as faith partners together with…Read more >
Washington, D.C. – Faith leaders held a footwashing service in the shadow of the White House this afternoon.The biblical practice of footwashing is part of…Read more >
“I continue to be deeply disturbed by the random choices that this administration makes in removing TPS and other protected statuses. Last night’s decision to…Read more >
The current designation of “Deferred Enforced Departure” (DED) that is currently protecting nearly 4,000 Liberians in the U.S. is set to expire on MARCH 31st. …Read more >
Today, seven Disciples affiliated clergy, Rev. Linda McCrae, Rev. Carolyn Higginbotham, Rev. Jim Higginbotham, Rev. Jon Barnes, Rev. Dawn Barnes, Rev. Sandra Gourdet, and Rev….Read more >
On this day when the President proclaimed DACA protections would end unless a Congressional decision was reached, dreamers remain insecure in the absence of a…Read more >
On Jan. 8, 2018, DHS terminated TPS for El Salvador, effective Sept. 9, 2019. As communities of faith, we urge the administration to reinstate TPS…Read more >
Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, was among the participants on a press call January 4, to urge the Department of Homeland Security to extend Temporary Protected Status…Read more >
Thank you for your partnership in acting to support refugees and immigrants in 2017–and join us in ongoing actions for justice in 2018!! Sign up…Read more >
Disciples are among Christian leaders and activists who held hands and sang in an unlawful demonstration inside of the Russell Senate office building in Washington,…Read more >
Prepare now to plan Dream Sabbath Events! Check out these resources for ways you can participate.Read more >
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, October 17th at 11 a.m., local interfaith clergy will host a rally to call on the Trump administration to preserve Temporary…Read more >
The Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea traveled to Italy to participate in “Living and Witnessing the Border.” An International Conference on Migration, Borders and Reception, September 29…Read more >
Join the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for this webinar to learn how communities of faith can participate in “Dream Sabbath” events that lift up the stories,…Read more >
CONGRESSWOMAN SCHAKOWSKY, FAITH LEADERS, AND REFUGEES URGE CONGRESS TO STOP TRUMP FROM SHUTTING THE DOOR ON REFUGEES On morning of the Trump administration’s consultation with…Read more >
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the U.S. administration announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that has protected children brought to…Read more >
Please sign the faith letter & call your leaders today & tomorrow to urge DACA not to be ended, join our DACA & TPS Emergency…Read more >
On Monday, July 10th, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries’ Director joined with Immigration Legal Counsel, the National Benevolent Association, the Central Pastoral Office office of…Read more >
RIM’s Director (a board member with Southeast Asian Resource Action Center) was grateful to join this a.m. in speaking at Press Conference outside the White…Read more >
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2017 CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.733.5151 FAITH LEADERS STAND AGAINST SCOTUS RULING ON REFUGEE AND MUSLIM BAN EXECUTIVE ORDER Call on…Read more >
Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Rev. Dr. Ronald Degges, President, Disciples Home Missions “Disciples are a…Read more >
“The courts have spoken yet again in favor of justice and humanity. As CWS has maintained since January, President Trump’s ill-advised travel ban should never…Read more >
The Disciples RIM Staff celebrates the 4th Circuit Appeals Court ruling in Richmond, Va. on May 25 that upheld a lower court ruling which had…Read more >
Please deliver to, scan and email, or mail your national, state, and local legislators these postcards that indicate your support for refugees, and share how…Read more >
Call on DHS Secretary Kelly to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haiti for another 18 months WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 2, 2017) — CWS and Catholic…Read more >
In the beginning of Holy Week, marking the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, his suffering and his death, we watch with sadness and grief the…Read more >
Disciples and United Church of Christ Holy Season Statement on Violence in the Middle East and Refugees In the beginning of Holy Week, marking the…Read more >