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Office Hours: Immigration Experts Discuss Trump’s Latest Attack on Asylum, Immigration

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A recording of the call is available here.

Earlier today immigration experts and advocates discussed the latest developments on immigration, border and asylum policy.

Reports have surfaced that a new proposed asylum rule from the Trump administration, if announced, will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, fail to address the underlying causes of migration, and put thousands of migrants’ lives in danger. This latest attack on our asylum system comes as Trump also announced a new tariff on Mexico in an attempt to curb immigration and stop migrants from exercising their legal right to asylum.

Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel said, “It was another week of President Trump and his administration failing on immigration in an effort to divide and distract the American people.  Instead of effective and humane solutions that focus on an infusion of resources for efficient asylum application processing, greater use of alternatives to detention, a focus on root causes and in-region refugee resettlement, this administration is seeking to fund more of the same failed military and enforcement strategies, seeking to lock up more children and families for longer periods of time.  Let’s not forget – this administration has tried a long list of policies:  family separation, multiple regulations, threats to close the border, the wall, military at the border, tear gas, Remain in Mexico, ending foreign aid to Central America, government shutdown, and the list goes on.  The result – increasing numbers of people coming to our borders in search of safety, agonizing stories of inhumanity, deaths of children in CBP detention that we haven’t seen in more than a decade. It’s more than obvious that the Trump approach has failed and it’s time for a new approach.”

Kerri Talbot, Director of Federal Advocacy at the Immigration Hub commented, “The Central America Reform and Enforcement Act includes the key elements needed to solve this problem. This legislation would provide necessary aid to Central America that would address the conditions that these migrants are fleeing. The bill would also improve the U.S. asylum system by providing counsel for children. These are solutions the administration could be pursuing but instead they’re wasting time pursuing policies that don’t work and are designed to rile up his base of political supporters. Trump’s new tariffs on Mexico will just hurt the economy rather than addressing immigration issues. This administration has a concerning obsession with using refugees as a political talking point and they continue to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis at the border.”

Jennifer Quigley, Director of Refugee Advocacy for Human Rights First said, “Of the 25+ million refugees who have been forcibly displaced in the world, less than half of 1 per cent get resettled globally. When we talk about the numbers at the border, they are high for the border in comparison from this year to last- but it’s still not a number that’s quite as large compared to global numbers. This administration refuses to recognize that many countries, including Mexico, are not equipped to handle the number of refugees that traverse their territory seeking safety. Mexico has received over 60,000 asylum applications in the past year, numbers that have double year over year for the past three years. Trump Administration policies to cut of access to safety in the U.S. will make the lives of affected individuals demonstrably worse. Killing, rape, torture, exortion, robberies of migrants in Mexico have been reported- they simply do not have the safety conditions needed to protect all refugees that apply for asylum. Implementing a second asylum ban to deny refugees who transit through Mexico access to safety in the U.S. is not only illegal but cruel. Through their tariffs threats, this Administration has put a gun to Mexico’s head in an attempt to force them to accept a safe third country agreement to prevent any refugees from coming to the U.S. through Mexico. These threats and illegal asylum ban are an attempt to stir up fear and hate towards vulnerable refugees who seek nothing but safety for their families.”

Ursela Ojeda, Policy Advisor at the Women’s Refugee Commission said, “DHS has known of these dangerous and inadequate conditions in CBP custody  for months and has not yet resolved them. This is unconscionable. Congress has allocated DHS hundreds of millions of dollars to care for those arriving at our border seeking protection but CBP facilities continue to be dangerously overcrowded and children keep dying in CBP custody. I want to be perfectly clear: there is no excuse for these inadequate and inhumane conditions and for CBP’s failure to address them. Failing to adapt to changing demographics at the border, failing to hire children welfare workers, and failing to meaningfully engage with experts and the NGO community on how to meet the humanitarian needs of those in its custody demonstrate that DHS is intentionally mismanaging this situation to score political points.

“It is long overdue for the government to invest its existing funds in a comprehensive, legal, and humane approach to reception and processing at our borders. If DHS does not take immediate steps to stop limiting and restricting access to asylum at ports of entry, reduce overcrowding in CBP custody, and start using proven and cost-effective alternatives to detention rather than focusing solely on enforcement, conditions will only continue to deteriorate, putting more people at risk. We can and must do better to meet our legal and moral obligations to those seeking protection at our Southern Border.”

Shaw Drake, Policy Counsel, ACLU Border Rights Center, said, “The latest report from the Inspector General found that a detention facility in Paso Del Norte was housing between 700-900 migrants, despite being built to only hold 125. Migrants are being held for days and weeks in these conditions. Based on this report and the ongoing documentation of detention conditions, such as extreme overcrowding, forcing migrants to sleep in the dirt and brave thunderstorms and inclement weather, it’s clear that CBP must act now to correct these situations and make sure others don’t suffer. We should be outraged by the report , and we must ensure that CBP provides basic medical care and humane conditions for those held in detention. CBP must immediately comply with its own rules and beyond ensure immediate access to medical professionals  and social workers, and other necessary personnel. CBP has proven time and time again that they are unable and unwilling to provide humane conditions, they need to take immediate action to prevent any further suffering.”