CGRS Decries Draconian Policies Against Asylum Seekers and Immigrant Communities

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies decries the two Executive Orders on immigration enforcement issued yesterday. The Orders inhumanely punish and exclude asylum seekers at our borders while also targeting our long-standing immigrant and refugee communities.

The Executive Order on border enforcement massively scales up detention of asylum seekers, even though individuals fleeing persecution have a right under our laws to seek protection. The harms of detaining traumatized asylum seekers, including women and children, have been well-documented, and hundreds of civil society organizations and over a thousand faith groups and leaders have condemned the practice as deeply inhumane and misguided. The Order further directs scarce resources to building a border wall, which the Administration’s own Secretary of Homeland Security has testified would be costly and ineffective. Together, these draconian border policies impermissibly punish asylum seekers. They violate our domestic and international obligations to refugees, and contravene our deepest principles of liberty and justice. It is simply not American to shut our doors to asylum seekers and incarcerate them.

The second Executive Order, targeting immigrants within the United States, seeks to tear apart our communities while failing to uphold even basic due process protections. The Order designates as a deportation “priority” immigrants who are merely charged, and not convicted, for a criminal offense—and even those who have not been charged but are simply believed to have committed a “chargeable criminal offense.” Such sweeping, indiscriminate “priorities” will undoubtedly result in racial profiling and other human rights abuses. The Order also purports to strip federal funding from so-called “sanctuary” cities and states that lawfully exercise their right to serve their immigrant populations while declining to use their own employees to enforce federal immigration law. Our Constitution, however, prohibits the federal government from attempting to punish states and cities and commandeer their resources in this way.

Immigrant and refugee communities are vital to the fabric of our nation, and they are here to stay. CGRS honors these communities and condemns the misuse of executive authority to sow fear, separate families, and scapegoat immigrants. We strongly support our state and local leaders who have refused to condone such draconian measures and who have stood by immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. We call upon all members of our government, including the Administration and members of Congress, to reject the egregious, unjust policies outlined in these orders.