Reform of the United States' immigration system is long overdue. Our current immigration system is badly broken. It tears thousands of families apart every year; fails to protect unaccompanied children who find themselves in this country alone and unprotected; and fails to recognize the unique contributions and protection needs of immigrant women. Migrants deserve to be treated humanely when arriving to our country. The incredible amount of money allocated towards enforcement must be spent with care to ensure efficient use of government resources, adequate oversight and training of Border Patrol agents, and respect for basic human rights.
Many women who come to the United States seeking asylum have suffered great harm. They flee their countries of origin because they've been persecuted on account of their race, religion or political orientation. They are often survivors of domestic violence, rape and trafficking. These women come to the U.S. seeking protection, but upon arrival, many are held in detention facilities where they are subjected to additional neglect and abuse. Additionally, each year thousands of children come to the U.S. seeking protection and safety or to join their families. Many of these children are unaccompanied, often traveling alone or with groups of strangers when making the long journey to reach the U.S. An increasing number of these children have become victims of traffickers and smugglers. Many have escaped violence, sexual abuse or abandonment in their home country, and are extremely vulnerable to rape and assault as they travel to the United States.
The Migrant Rights and Justice program has been working to ensure the rights and protection of vulnerable migrants for almost 20 years. Our team is located in Washington, D.C., advocating to the U.S. government for legislation and policy that protect the rights of families impacted by immigration enforcement, ensure unaccompanied children's safety and well-being, and guarantee that child welfare practices respect parental rights and do not discriminate against parents on the basis of their immigration status or cultural background.
We promote the use of alternatives to detention and advocate against the government's current policy that makes detention mandatory for all arriving immigrants awaiting their asylum hearings or deportation. We work to make sure that those immigrants who must be detained, including detained women, are held under humane conditions that meet international human rights standards.
Family Unity: Our report Torn Apart by Immigration Enforcement: Parental Rights and Immigration Detention was the first report to highlight the problem of parents losing their rights to their children be-cause of immigration enforcement, detention and removal. We have done extensive research, advocacy and training on this issue. Our work has contributed to key policy changes. Resources for parents, child welfare professionals and immigration attorneys are in development.
Women in Detention: WRC has long advocated for protections, access to justice and due process for women and other vulnerable migrants in detention, ensuring that they have access to appropriate medi¬cal care, advocating for meaningful protection and recourse for victims of sexual assault and encouraging release and the use of alternatives to detention.
Reform and Alternatives to Detention: WRC has been at the forefront in policy and legislative reform for migrants seeking protection, advocating for the use of immigration detention only as a case of last re-sort and advocating for stronger and more meaningful transparency, oversight and accountability mecha-nisms in U.S. immigration detention, including expanded access to detention facilities for independent oversight. WRC and our partners have also been instrumental in advocating for a wide variety of alterna-tives to detention and stronger screening measures to promote the release of migrants into the community or support programs instead of unnecessary and costly immigration detention.
Border Rights: WRC works to protect women and children migrants and to preserve family unity along the U.S. border. Together with organizations and coalitions both in Washington, D.C., and along the bor-der, we advocate locally, nationally and internationally to ensure that U.S. officials respect the rights of mi¬grants, implement meaningful screening practices for vulnerable populations and hold accountable those officers who violate U.S. and international law.
Unaccompanied Children's Project: For over a decade, WRC has advocated for the rights and best interests of unaccompanied minors both in and out of federal immigration custody. We continue to monitor conditions and recommend policies that align with international human rights standards.
International Human Rights: WRC continues to work closely with international partners and with United Nations bodies to protect vulnerable migrants from unnecessary detention.