CGRS Denounces White House Immigration Principles, Calls for Clean Dream Act Now

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The White House on Sunday presented to Congress its “Immigration Principles and Priorities,” a list of hardline policy proposals demanded in exchange for a legislative solution to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) denounces the proposed policies, which mark the Trump Administration’s latest attempt to scapegoat and criminalize immigrants and refugees, including children.

If enacted, the White House’s proposed immigration policies would severely undermine access to refugee protection in the United States, imperiling the lives of those fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. Among other things, they would:

  • Restrict asylum eligibility to preclude from protection many individuals with meritorious claims;
  • Prevent the release of detained asylum seekers, subjecting survivors of violence and persecution to the retraumatizing conditions of prolonged immigration detention;
  • Chip away at protections for unaccompanied children seeking protection at our borders, curtailing essential screening processes and placing child asylum seekers in adversarial immigration court proceedings; and
  • Eliminate critical custody standards for child immigrants and asylum seekers held in government-run shelters and immigration detention facilities.

The Trump Administration justifies its extremist platform with a myriad of false claims about immigrants and asylum seekers. For example, the White House attributes increases in asylum applications to weak legal standards and the proliferation of fraudulent asylum claims, and claims that legal loopholes have driven the recent uptick of unaccompanied Central American children at our Southern border. Well-documented crisis levels of violence in Central America, however, underpin the flight of children and the increasing numbers of asylum applications from the region. Indeed, since 2009, the numbers of Central American asylum claims have gone up drastically in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama—reflecting that a regional humanitarian crisis, and not U.S.-based “fraud,” explain the increase. Moreover, it remains difficult to secure asylum in the U.S., even for those with strong claims, and allegations of widespread asylum fraud are unfounded.

CGRS Co-Legal Director Blaine Bookey stated: “The White House’s policy proposals fail to address any of our immigration system’s actual shortcomings, instead unconscionably furthering an anti-immigrant, white nationalist agenda.” And she added, “These proposed policies would undeniably result in the deportation of countless asylum seekers to countries of origin where they face grave harm, flying in the face of our most cherished values of due process and protection for refugees.”

“CGRS calls on our leaders in the House and Senate to reject this extreme, anti-immigrant platform,” said CGRS Director Karen Musalo. She continued: “the public overwhelmingly favors just, humane immigration reform. Congress must move forward with a clean Dream Act that provides a permanent solution for the 800,000 young recipients of DACA, without endangering and scapegoating immigrant and refugee communities.”