CGRS Calls on the Incoming Congress to Protect Refugees

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) congratulates the new members of the 116th Congress and calls on them to stand up for refugees, including women and children who come to our southern border seeking protection.

For decades, our government and legislative leaders have supported the proud American tradition of leading by saving lives, through welcoming people seeking asylum from persecution and violence and supporting smart and generous humanitarian action around the globe.

In this Administration’s first two years, there has been a sustained assault not only on refugees but also on our own legal system, including the federal Refugee Act of 1980 and the international treaty we ratified over 50 years ago, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The American people want a practical, humane, and legal response to people seeking protection in the United States. Congress should pass legislation to undo Matter of A-B-, an unlawful decision by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that attempts to undermine asylum for women based on domestic violence and gender-based persecution. The decision also targets families and children fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Central America. At a minimum, Congress should pressure the Administration to rescind Matter of A-B- following Sessions’ resignation.

On September 12, 2018, 118 Members of the House of Representatives called on the Attorney General to:

  • Reverse his decision in Matter of A-B-;
  • Direct law enforcement and border authorities to stop impeding access by asylum seekers to U.S. ports of entry;
  • Stop prosecuting the misdemeanor of improper entry by asylum seekers who enter the U.S. between ports of entry and who voluntarily surrender to U.S authorities; and
  • Direct USCIS to recall its July 11 guidance that incorrectly instructs asylum officers to deny domestic violence and gang-related claims as a matter of course, rather than on a case-by-case review.

CGRS thanks the 118 Members of the House who signed that letter for their leadership and calls upon the new Congress to continue to advocate for refugees through legislation and oversight. We want to work with you. Seeking asylum is not a crime regardless of whether it is done at a port of entry, between ports of entry, or in the interior of the country.

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies brings deep expertise and a long history with these issues to the fight. The Salvadoran domestic violence survivor at the heart of the Matter of A-B- case is a CGRS client. We continue to litigate her case against the Trump Administration every step of the way and are doing all we can to ensure that others caught in the same situation have access to asylum.