WASHINGTON, D.C., November 27, 2013 – Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled "Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Sexual Abuse." The report examined the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) data system for sexual abuse and assault allegations in immigration detention, whether DHS has provisions to address such charges, and to what extent DHS monitors field office compliance with said provisions.
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has left unknown numbers of children separated from their families. Once the initial relief phase has ended, we will likely find that some of these children have been orphaned. United Nations and international relief agencies are now conducting registration and tracing to facilitate family reunification where possible, and to determine how best to meet the needs of unaccompanied children.
New York, NY, November 13, 2013--Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on November 8, has affected an estimated 11.3 million people.More than 800,000 have been displaced. Among the two million people who need food aid, nearly 300,000 are pregnant women or new mothers. According to the most recent national census, nearly one million children under age 19 years live in the hardest-hit areas of Tacloban City and Leyte Province; of these, nearly 200,000 are adolescent girls (10-19), a sub-population that faces unique risks to their health, safety and well-being.
As humanitarian agencies act to support affected communities, ensuring the most effective and accountable response requires that equitable attention be paid to the needs and risks of the most vulnerable.
New York, NY, September 23, 2013--The Women’s Refugee Commission is pleased to take part in the High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD). We commend the UN, Member States and civil society groups for coming together and organizing this important event around the theme “The way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” WRC looks forward to this unique opportunity to engage in discussions, information sharing and the identification of new ways to ensure that disability concerns are embedded in the post-2015 agenda.
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 19, 2013 – Yesterday, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard [D-CA] introduced the Protect Family Values at the Border Act, legislation aimed at improving the standards of treatment for individuals apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). The bill focuses in particular on preventing practices that separate families and threaten the safety of women and children at the border.
"Based on reports of human rights abuses on the border, it is critical to establish clear standards for the humane treatment of migrants and give the Department of Homeland Security the flexibility it needs to keep families together. This bill will help institutionalize a culture that treats individuals with fairness, dignity and respect and reflects our values as Americans," said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2013 —The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) long-awaited and critical Parental Interests Directive, which was issued today.
The Parental Interests Directive will not reduce the number of immigration enforcement actions taking place across the country and does not change the fact that thousands of families are separated due to our broken immigration system, but is an important step forward in the effort to protect the parental rights of those in immigration custody.
The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) is honored to have the opportunity to participate as an Observer in the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It commends all Member States that have ratified the Convention since the last meeting of States Parties and calls on all others to ratify as soon as possible. WRC welcomes the theme, “Ensuring adequate standard of living: empowerment and participation of persons with disabilities within the framework of the CRPD” and the sub themes: “Economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies”; “Disability-inclusive development in national, regional and international processes”; and “Community-based rehabilitation and habilitation for inclusive society.” We look forward to hearing from the distinguished panelists on each of these important topics, which are so critical to the well-being of persons with disabilities, including those displaced by conflict and crises.
Washington- Today Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard and Representative Ros-Lehtinenintroduced the Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act, legislation to improve conditions and protections for unaccompanied children detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CTVPA was included in Senate immigration reform legislation (S.744). The introduction of this legislation today will give the House of Representatives the opportunity to debate the importance of protection of children in the immigration system.
“Tens of thousands of children arrive at our border each year having endured harrowing journeys from their home countries,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “Along the way, many are trafficked and suffer horrendous abuses, including sexual assault. Unfortunately, despite the billions we spend on border security, these vulnerable kids aren’t always afforded the care and compassion they deserve. The Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act will deploy trained child welfare experts to our border stations to ensure we are effectively identifying child trafficking victims and that all children in CBP custody are treated with basic kindness and dignity.”
Contacts: Ed Walz, First Focus, 202-657-0685
Diana Quick, Women’s Refugee Commission, 212.551.3087
Washington – Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced today the Help Separated Families Act, legislation to improve the likelihood that children taken into state custody following immigration enforcement actions against their parents can ultimately reunify with their parents. Similar language has been included in Senate immigration reform legislation (S. 744), so today’s introduction of House legislation sets the stage for a House debate over the impact of immigration enforcement policies on children and their parents.
Washington, DC, June 27, 2013 -- The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds the U.S. Senate in its historic passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. This comprehensive immigration reform legislation is a long overdue victory for human rights and due process that would put millions of women, children and families on a pathway to citizenship.
“Today, the Senate has demonstrated its broad commitment to sensible, humane and lasting immigration reform that includes many protections for women, children and families,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC). “While the bill is not perfect, and the road through the House of Representatives will be difficult, today’s Senate vote is a big step forward for immigrant rights.”
UNICEF press release announces launch of 2013 State of the World's Children Report. WRC's Emma Pearce, Senior Program Officer, Disability Program, spoke on a panel at the NYC launch.
Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole
Da Nang, Viet Nam, 30 May 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
For immediate release: May 20, 2013
TELEPRESSER: Experts to Discuss Effects of Senate Immigration Bill & Amendments on Families, Women
Women’s & Immigrant Rights Leaders to Join Deported Mother, Child Separated from Parents to Discuss Needs of Families in Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
***Press briefing to be held by phone on Tuesday, May 21, 2:00pm EST***
What: National telephone press briefing on the impact of immigration policies that separate parents from their U.S. citizen children
Who: We Belong Together, Women for Common-Sense Immigration Reform
When: Tuesday, May 21, 2:00pm EDT / 11:00am PDT
To participate: Dial in to 805-399-1000. Access code 188849#.
For Immediate Release: May 9, 2013
Contact: Ed Walz, First Focus, 202-657-0685
Diana Quick, Women’s Refugee Commission, 212-551-3087
Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children and the Women's Refugee Commission today applauded U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for filing an amendment to strengthen protections for children in the Senate “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration reform bill. The amendment is also cosponsored by Democratic Senators Chris Coons (DE), Dianne Feinstein (CA), and Mazie Hirono (HI), and by Republican Senator John Cornyn (TX). The Franken-Grassley amendment would keep families together whenever possible and help mitigate harm to children, including preventing children from entering foster care when immigration enforcement results in the detention or removal of their parents.
Washington, DC – More than 180 women’s rights, immigrant rights, labor, faith, LGBTQ, and other organizations from across the United States have submitted a statement for the record to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging the Committee and all members of Congress to ensure that women’s priorities are at the forefront of the immigration debate and are specifically addressed in resulting legislation.
Women’s Refugee Commission Applauds the Introduction of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
Washington, D.C., April 17, 2013 – The Women's Refugee Commission applauds the introduction of S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act in the Senate and commends the bipartisan “Gang of 8” for its renewed commitment to fixing a broken immigration system.
Women's Refugee Commission urges that displaced persons with disabilities be recognized for their capacities and determination to overcome the odds
New York, NY, April 16, 2013 – The Women's Refugee Commission is honoring refugees with disabilities from two of the world's hotspots – Somalia and South Sudan – at its 2013 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 2 in New York City. The Government of Australia and its overseas aid program, AusAID, will also be recognized for their leadership supporting initiatives that develop the capacity of displaced persons with disabilities to lead full lives and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
WASHINGTON D.C., March 18, 2013— The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes an historic hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee entitled “How Comprehensive Immigration Reform Should Address the Needs of Women and Families. The hearing coincides with a month-long advocacy campaign, March for Immigrant Women: A Month of Action for Citizenship, Families and Justice.
Immigrant women are integral building blocks of thriving and successful communities in the United States, are vital to this country’s economy and contribute significantly to its growth. Historically, however, immigration law has disproportionately disadvantaged women, and by extension their families. Family is a core value for women. The desire to be with family, and to make a better life for their family, is one of the primary reasons why women come to the United States.
“Our immigration policies once placed great value on family unity, and this focus contributed to the development of strong communities and a successful and diverse country,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “Regrettably, family unity has been eroded in recent years by inefficiencies in the family-based visa system and overly zealous immigration enforcement that is tearing families apart. It is paramount that efforts to reform our immigration laws restore the primacy of family unity and provide women and their families with opportunities to contribute to the common good now and in the future.”
WASHINGTON D.C., March 18, 2013— The Women’s Refugee Commission, as a member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR), has helped organize the March 18 Rally for Immigrant Women, Youth and Families. Immigrant women, youth and movement leaders will be in attendance demanding immigration reform that works for women and families, as well as advances in equality, health, education, family unity and justice.
“Approximately 5 million undocumented women and 1 million undocumented children currently live in the United States, yet our immigration laws and policies have historically been—and continue to be—unfair to both groups,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “The reality is that we have a broken immigration system that disproportionately marginalizes women and children. If we’re seeking immigration reform that is truly comprehensive, we must include solutions that specifically address their needs.”
To raise awareness and generate new ideas to address the plight of displaced women working to support their families across the world, J.P. Morgan Social Finance recently hosted a panel discussion featuring leaders from The Women’s Refugee Commission and UN Women timed to coincide with the 2013 Commission on the Status of Women.
More than 50 guests, ranging from various government missions to the UN to a director from the MacArthur Foundation to a Member of Afghanistan’s Parliament, attended the panel discussion. Titled “Creating Safe and Effective Livelihoods for Women in Crisis-Affected Settings,” panelists described approaches to involve women in setting economic policy as well as creating paths for safe, sustainable employment.
Americans for Immigrant Justice and the Women’s Refugee Commission welcome the House Appropriations Committee’s oversight hearing on Immigration Enforcement. The Committee’s consideration of the implications of the recent decision by the Immigrant and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to release hundreds of low-risk immigrant detainees as a pre-sequester, cost savings measure is well-timed. Given the fiscal crisis now facing the United States, it is prudent to examine whether a Congressional mandate to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fill an explicit number of immigration detention beds on a daily basis is appropriate. In addition to the opportunity to implement a more fiscally sound detention policy increasing the use of cost effective and efficient alternatives, this is an historic opportunity for Congress to realign the immigration detention system with our national values of treating all humans with dignity and respect.
New York, NY, February 28, 2013—As sequestration looms, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in a controversial move, has released low-risk immigration detainees across the country to save money.
“While this move has set the Internet abuzz with criticisms, the reality is that this is the right time to be questioning how we will pay for maintaining more than 34,000 immigration detention beds at an average cost of $164 per night during a fiscal crisis,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “The U.S. spends almost $2 billion a year to detain thousands of individuals who are not a public safety risk and who could be managed more efficiently and humanely through much cheaper alternatives. Perhaps this crisis will finally move Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to do the right thing and stop using an outdated penal detention system when humane alternatives exist that are also more efficient and just as effective.”
Group is hopeful protections for immigrant survivors will be expanded
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) celebrates the House’s passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill provides much needed new protections for immigrant women and girls, including protections from rape and sexual assault for detained children through the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Though the bill does not include an expansion of U-visas that was a part of earlier versions of the bill, it represents a long overdue step forward in the effort to protect survivors of violence. The bill also provides important new protections for LGBT and Native American survivors.
Much work remains to ensure policies support women immigrants, their health and their families
Feb. 12, 2013, WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Coalition for the Immigrant Women’s Rights, which released a Statement of Principles on Women and Immigration Reform last month, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s remarks on immigration policy reform during the State of the Union address:
“We’re encouraged by the President’s continued support for the comprehensive immigration policy reform our country desperately needs. Tonight the President, whose guests included members of our community fighting for reform, like a young activist, a Latino service member, an Asian American hero, a Filipino nurse and a naturalized citizen from Haiti, called for stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger America.
Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee
The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. As the Committee considers a commonsense approach to immigration reform, it is imperative that women and children be afforded opportunities, protections and pathways equal to those of men. Reform cannot be comprehensive unless it addresses the lived realities of all migrants in the United States.
Migrant women and children are too often omitted from public discourse around immigration reform, even though they comprise a significant proportion of the total immigrant population. They come to the United States in search of opportunity, freedom, family unity and safety from violence in their home country. However, they have unique vulnerabilities that our immigration laws do not sufficiently address. Women and children are more likely to face exploitation and danger both at the border and in the interior. In addition, because women often lack access to higher education, they may not be able to avail themselves of the same opportunities for employment-based migration and suffer disproportionally from the backlogs in our family-based system. Families are too often separated by immigration enforcement practices that threaten women’s custody of their children. And migrant children, many of them unaccompanied, have no access to legal pathways through employment-based migration and limited access to counsel and critical social services. Furthermore, they experience emotional trauma and instability as a result of limited discretion and due process in our immigration laws.
7 de febrero de 2013, Washington, DC — Más de 200 organizaciones que representan a los niños, inmigrantes, académicos, tradiciones de fe y derechos civiles publicaron este martes pasado un conjunto de principios para la legislación de una reforma de inmigración que cumpla las necesidades de los niños. La organización bipartidaria de defensa de los niños First Focus y la Women’s Refugee Commission lideraron los esfuerzos para desarrollar estos principios, que también han sido apoyados por el National Latino Children’s Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center, la Conferencia Católica de Obispos de los EE.UU., MomsRising, el Centro de Leyes Nacionales de Inmigración y un total de 205 organizaciones. La Campaña por los Niños de First Focus instó a los miembros del Comité Judicial de la Casa de Representantes de los EE.UU. a tomar estas consideraciones en cuenta durante la audiencia sobre la política de inmigración del día de martes el 6 de febrero.
February 5, 2013, Washington, D.C. – The Women’s Refugee Commission in partnership with the First Focus Campaign for Children published a press release outlining a set of principles for immigration reform legislation that meets the needs of children.
Read the press release here.
January 29, 2013, Washington, D.C. – The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds President Obama and the Senate “Gang of 8” for taking a bold first step toward creating a commonsense immigration system that works.
“It is clear that the President and the bipartisan Senate coalition understand that Americans urgently want immigration reform,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrants Rights and Justice Program. “The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes this first step, and looks forward to working with Congress and the President to turn these blueprints into reality.”
The board and staff of the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children expressed their great sadness today on the news of the death of Catherine O’Neill on December 26 after a long illness.
Catherine founded the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children (now Women's Refugee Commission) in 1989, along with Liv Ullmann and other women at the forefront of refugee issues. As founder and chair of the board, she used her passion to attract a large number of prominent women from the media, academia and the humanitarian community to the organization. A tireless advocate, she traveled to refugee settings around the world to listen to refugee women and children to learn firsthand about their needs. On Capitol Hill, at the United Nations, in the pages of major newspapers and on radio and TV, she encouraged decision-makers and humanitarian workers to change policies and practice to ensure that refugee women, children and young people got their due.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard Joined Dozens of Children Who Delivered Over 10,000 Letters Calling on Congress to Stop Deportations
Washington, D.C., December 12, 2012 –Dozens of children gathered on Capitol Hill to deliver thousands of letters as part of a campaign called A Wish for the Holidays. The letters came from 27 states written by children as young as four years old. The letters express one shared wish to Congress: stop deportations and keep families and communities together. The campaign highlights the negative impact of U.S. immigration policies on children and families.
“These brave kids have traveled from across the country carrying thousands of letters that all bear the same incredibly important message,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). “If we claim to value families; if we acknowledge that children shouldn’t be needlessly separated from their parents; if we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at the American dream; then we should end the policies that have shattered so many families and get to work on reforming our broken immigration system.”
Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes announcement and calls for response from the Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, D.C., December 7, 2012—This week, the Department of Homeland Security released long-awaited draft regulations that detail the agency’s plan to satisfy the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). PREA, the first legislation that intended to create a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and assault in all confinement facilities, passed unanimously in Congress in 2003. Enactment and implementation of the regulations has been repeatedly delayed. When the Justice Department (DOJ) issued its draft regulations in June 2010, immigration detention was specifically excluded on the basis that DOJ regulations could not apply to the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) or Health and Human Services (HHS) in whose jurisdiction immigrants are confined.