If refugees can’t reach their destinations — and declare asylum there — legally, smugglers will help them to do it illegally, according to Jennifer Podkul at the Women's Refugee Commission.
"That refutes this concept that (the refugees) are just coming to the United States for work, that this isn't a refugee crisis, that they're just trying to take advantage of Obama's policies," said Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice for the Women's Refugee Commission. "They're clearly trying to flee anywhere they can go."
"We were not very pleased that the contract ended up going to GEO Care, that is affiliated directly with a company that had prison ties," says Michelle Brané, director of migrants and justice.
“If someone is going after a young man who is refusing to join a gang, they’ll threaten their mother, sister, or girlfriend. Women also face threats of rape, domestic violence, and there are no shelters or places to keep them safe," said Michelle Brané, of the Women’s Refugee Commission.
According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, all 51 countries experiencing some form of conflict since 1986 also reported high levels of sexual violence against adolescent girls.
Fleeing violence in Central America, unaccompanied children enter a thicket of inconsistent deportation laws. "A more straightforward approach would be to adopt an immigration law that considers a child’s best interest," said Jennifer Podkul of the Women’s Refugee Commission.
"You can lock people inside a burning house, you can close the front door, but they will find a way out," says Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. "The U.S. doesn’t want to recognize this as a refugee situation. They want Mexico to be the buffer, to stop arrivals before they get to our border."
Alternatives to detention "less harmful and less expensive," said Michelle Brané, so they are are good first step. However, "we are disappointed that it went to a company that focuses more on corrections and prisons."
"Helping these people is first and foremost a humanitarian imperative," said Stephanie Peters, a commissioner for the Women's Refugee Commission.
"The U.S. could and should be doing more. The silence of the White House on this is unacceptable," said Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission.
“The Court gave Immigration and Customs Service 60 days to end the immoral detention of children and we see no reason why the Administration should not act immediately,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program.
World Humanitarian Day (August 19) "should also be a day to remember the populations living in crises. A Global Evaluation launched last week by the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Reproductive Health in Crises, found that only 43% of the funds requested for reproductive health to served displaced communities had been filled. (IAWG is a group of 18 international organisations including the Women's Refugee Commission.)
Efforts to provide safe abortions in countries hit by conflict or disasters are being held back by a lack of information and funding.
"The vast majority unaccompanied minors are not getting a chance to show they fear persecution if they’re returned to their home countries"--a legal requirement under U.S. and international law.