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.
Washington, D.C., November 15, 2012—The Women's Refugee Commission welcomes the Detention Watch Network’s “Expose & Close” campaign calling for the closure of 10 of the worst immigration detention facilities nationwide. The campaign highlights the inhumane conditions in immigration detention centers ranging from large, privately operated facilities dedicated exclusively to detaining immigrants to some of the worst county jails in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) maintains bed space for immigration detainees.
New York, NY, November 14, 2012—The Women's Refugee Commission welcomes the publication today of the United Nations Population Fund’s State of the World Population 2012 report, “By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development.”
* There will be a press briefing on Monday, Oct. 15 at 11:00 Eastern Time.
Conference Call: (888) 327-8914, Pass code: 9667817.
A press kit is available at http://womensrefugeecommission.org/forced-from-home-press-kit
New York, NY, October 15, 2012—Violence in three Central American countries is the primary reason behind a dramatic upsurge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border into the United States, and until conditions in these countries change substantially, this trend will be the new norm, cautions the Women’s Refugee Commission in Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America, a report released today.
Beginning in October 2011, an unprecedented number of unaccompanied alien children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras began migrating to the United States. From October 2011 to April 2012, U.S. immigration agents apprehended almost twice as many Central American children as in previous years. The Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency tasked with the care and custody of these children, had a record 10,005 unaccompanied children in its care by April 2012.
October 12, 2012, New York, NY—The Women’s Refugee Commission marks International Disaster Risk Reduction Day today, and commends the focus on women and girls as a force of resilience as this year’s theme.
Humanitarian emergencies have a disproportionate effect on the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly women and children.
“Involving communities, and working directly with women and girls, not only helps to identify their specific vulnerabilities, but allows us to work together to leverage their strengths and ultimately reduce the gendered impact of disasters,” said Jennifer Schlecht, senior program officer, sexual and reproductive health. “Women and girls can be a crucial force of resilience.”
Women’s Refugee Commission urges that the rights of refugees with disabilities be recognized in human rights monitoring mechanisms
New York, NY, September 12, 2012—As the fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities gets underway, the Women’s Refugee Commission calls on all parties to ensure that in implementing the Convention, they recognize and ensure the rights of refugee and other displaced women and children with disabilities, who face particular risks. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities aims to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, including those who have been displaced because of conflict or natural disaster.
“Displaced persons with disabilities remain invisible in more ways than one,” said Emma Pearce, Program Officer, Disabilities, for the Women's Refugee Commission. “Not only are they socially isolated and separated from their communities, but they are rarely consulted when humanitarian programs are designed and implemented.”
Missouri Judge Upholds Decision to Terminate Parental Rights of Encarnación Bail Romero
New York City, July 18, 2012—In a legal battle that has focused national attention on the urgent need for immigration reform, a Missouri judge has ruled against Encarnación Bail Romero, whose son Carlos was adopted by an American couple against her wishes. Carlos was just an infant when his mother, a young woman from Guatemala, was arrested during an immigration raid at the poultry processing plant where she worked. He is now five and has been living with his adoptive parents, who renamed him Jamison, for most of his life. Ms. Bail Romero is expected to appeal Judge David Jones’s decision.
Women’s Refugee Commission Supports Legislation to Keep Families Together by Protecting the Rights of Immigrant Parents
The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes the introduction of the Help Separated Families Act of 2012 (HR6128). This landmark legislation, introduced today by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), represents a long-overdue step forward in the effort to protect children’s well-being and family unity when parents become involved with the immigration enforcement system.
Women’s Refugee Commission Commends International Family Planning Summit and Calls for Attention to Displaced Populations
New York, NY, July 9—This week, global health leaders are convening in London for a summit that is mobilizing efforts to expand access to contraceptives to an additional 120 million women in the poorest countries. Hosted by the UK’s Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the summit aims to rally international agencies, governments and organizations to make political and financial commitments to meet this goal, enabling more women and girls to have control over their lives and futures. The Women’s Refugee Commission welcomes this global movement and calls for greater consideration of some of the most vulnerable women and girls: the millions displaced because of political conflict and the millions more displaced by natural disasters. This population is currently severely underserved with little access to family planning.
NEW YORK, NY, June 20, 2012—The Women’s Refugee Commission, with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Permanent Missions of Sweden and Liberia to the United Nations, will host a reception to mark World Refugee Day on Wednesday, June 20. Speakers include H.E. Mr. Mårten Grunditz, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations, H.E. Madam Marjon Kamara, Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations, Udo Janz, Director, UNHCR, New York, and Joan Timoney, Director of Advocacy and External Relations, Women's Refugee Commission. Congolese sisters Sandra Uwiringiyi’mana and Adele Kibasumba will perform a song they wrote to portray the experience of refugees, “Nzamuye Amashimwe” (“I Raise My Thanks”).