Sign the petition: Protect access to asylum and hold this administration accountable.

 
 

Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi:

Thousands of families from Honduras and other Central American countries began a brave and treacherous journey to the US in search of safety from extreme conditions in their home countries, as so many others before them. The situation at the border requires humanitarian and compassionate solutions that reflect the values of this country.

We believe it is important that we provide these individuals with meaningful and timely access to asylum and ensure that they are afforded due process. 

Already, thousands of refugees have been waiting at the border for the opportunity to apply for asylum—a right that is protected under both international and federal law. Despite this, the administration's response to these brave refugee families arriving at the border has been appalling and inhumane. In a political stunt before the election, Trump ordered more than 5,000 troops to the border. Then, after the nation issued a referendum on his policies in the recent elections (when he sought to politicize the issue), he signed a proclamation to cut off access to asylum for people arriving between ports of entry. Already a federal judge has blocked these efforts. Agents at the border released tear gas on mothers and children, an unconscionable response that must be stopped. Most recently, Customs and Border Protection was responsible for the death of a 7-year-old migrant girl, who reportedly was denied needed medical attention under their custody, as well as the tragic death of an 8-year-old boy on Christmas Eve.   

We are outraged at the actions this administration has taken to undermine the integrity of the asylum system and limit access to due process. We call on Members of Congress to protect access to asylum and hold this administration accountable for its actions.

We are specifically asking our leaders in Congress to do the following:

Reject additional funding for the Department of Homeland Security's enforcement agencies

Instead, direct the Department to divest from ICE and CBP operations and instead invest funds in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to allow for expanded adjudication of asylum applications. The Department of Homeland Security has proven, repeatedly, that their enforcement agencies are driven by this administration's anti-immigrant agenda. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have consistently violated human rights in their treatment of immigrants at the border and in the interior of our country. We reject the notion of further funding to DHS, and specifically to these agencies. Instead, Congress should examine how current dollars are allocated within the department and ensure that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection are funded in a way that the agency is able to meet its demands for fair and humane processing and adjudication. 

Ensure that DHS allocates the necessary resources to stop engaging in the practice of metering or outright denying asylum seekers the ability to seek asylum.

Our government has implemented a practice of ensuring that individuals are not able to seek Asylum by presenting themselves at very specific ports of entry in which an unofficial metering system is being used. Individuals that are most vulnerable should not have to continue to risk their lives and have to wait for their “turn” to seek Asylum. Rather DHS, should increase their capacity and ensure that Asylum seekers can be processed at all ports of entry. 

Require more transparency from DHS in relation to asylum processing.  

Currently, the administration has released only partial, haphazard information about the situation at the border that do not represent the full scope of families applying for asylum. There is not a clear picture of: individuals processed at each port of entry or those detained, individuals being released with notices to appear or alternatives to detention programs, a credible fear interview outcomes or overall processing times. Without this knowledge, it is almost impossible for there to be any oversight of this important process and to make sure that families are being afforded due process and meaningful access. DHS must produce regular numbers of asylum seekers, applications processed and processing times. Having current information will not only help provide some clarity at the border but may also highlight where extra capacity to process applications is needed.

Call for the reversal of Matter A-B, as decided by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and support expanding the standards for asylum.

In June, former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions used his authority to further his anti-immigrant agenda in the decision in Matter of A-B. This decision was a reversal of a ruling from a lower court of appeals and a major blow to asylum seekers. Sessions ruled that domestic violence and gang violence were acts of “private violence” and should not qualify a person to receive asylum protections. This ruling is incredibly damaging to immigrant women who are fleeing domestic violence and families who are fleeing rampant gang violence. We are encouraged by recent developments in the lawsuit against this policy change, with a federal judge striking the policy down citing a violation of federal immigration law. We ask that Congress work with the Department of Justice and the Attorney General to reverse this decision. Additionally, we request that Congress work to expand the eligibility for asylum to allow more individuals to apply for protection.  

The egregious actions at our Southern Border are not new but over the last several weeks they continue to be outrageous and an outright rejection of refugee families and undermine of our country's asylum system. As a country, we are better than our recent actions at the border.  In fact, these actions are in direct contrast with our history of welcoming and processing asylum seekers.  For decades, we have welcomed those seeking asylum in large and small numbers alike. This moment is no different. Today, we should focus on improving and expanding this historic system, not crippling it until it becomes unworkable and unrecognizable. Instead of turning our back on refugees, we should follow the law and provide them with a meaningful opportunity to apply for asylum. We ask that you stand with us and call on this administration to ensure these families are able to have fair and timely access to the asylum process and the opportunity to seek safer lives in our country.  

Thank you, 

Refuge for Families