It’s Time to Take a Stand

Child from HondurasIt’s time to stand for welcome and to raise your voice to meet the critical needs of children and families seeking refuge. Your voice is needed to ensure that children and families seeking refuge retain access to compassion and justice.

A bill introduced this week in the U.S. House, if passed, would be devastating for children, asylum-seekers, families, refugees, and other vulnerable migrants. On Tuesday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) introduced his Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5230) to address thousands of children and families fleeing violence in Central America and seeking safety in the United States.

The funding measure is a wholly inadequate response to address children and families seeking refuge in America and fails to live up to our legacy as a nation of welcome for those fleeing persecution. International human rights standards require the United States to ensure that everyone seeking safety at our borders is met with the real opportunity to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution.

It is incumbent upon Congress to approve increased funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that protects refugee services, ensures adequate funding for the Department of Justice, and rejects the harmful practice of family detention.

The House is poised to vote on this bill as early as today, Wednesday.

Among other troubling provisions, the House proposal would:

  • Drastically underfund the ORR, the government agency responsible for serving resettled refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and other vulnerable populations as well as providing shelter and care to unaccompanied children in the United States.
  • Roll back critical legal protections for children included in the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008.
  • Increase the number of mandatory detention beds to keep vulnerable families with children behind bars
  • Expedite processing that will result in individuals with fear of persecution falling through the cracks.
  • Order the Department of Justice to rely more on videoconferencing in immigration courts and temporary Immigration Judge teams instead of increasing access to justice.

Your action is urgently needed
Make a difference for these children and families. Urge the House to oppose H.R. 5230 and instead, shelter and protect the children and families fleeing violence, persecution, and torture.

Contact your Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or find their direct office lines on their websites at

Tell them:

  • As your constituent in [city, state] and a person of faith, I care about refugee children and families. Therefore, I urge you to oppose H.R. 5230, a funding measure that would have a devastating impact on vulnerable persons.
  • The Office of Refugee Resettlement must receive at least $1.2 billion for 2014, far more than this bill would provide
  • The Department of Justice also must receive funding sufficient to provide children with access to legal services
  • I am also deeply opposed to imprisoning children and families who have arrived at our borders seeking refuge
  • Finally, I urge you to oppose any changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008—children fleeing violence and seeking refuge deserve compassionate treatment, not detention, and meaningful access to protection and legal relief

Contact Michele Garnett McKenzie at and look at The Advocates’ resources on the issue.

Stay tuned
The Senate will consider its own supplemental funding measure in the next couple of days. We will keep you posted as the situation unfolds.


Execution in Arizona Takes 2 Hours


“‘Joe Wood is dead, but it took him two hours to die,’” Troy Hayden of Phoenix’s KSAZ-TV and an eyewitness to the execution of Joe Wood was quoted as saying in a July 23 NPR story. “‘And to watch a man lay there for an hour and 40 minutes gulping air, I can liken it to, if you catch a fish and throw it on the shore, the way the fish opens and closes its mouth.’”

“The Arizona Department of Corrections began the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III at 1:52 p.m. At 1:57 p.m. ADC reported that Mr. Wood was sedated, but at 2:02 he began to breathe. At 2:03 his mouth moved. Mr. Wood has continued to breathe since that time. He has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour. At 3:02 p.m. At that time, staff rechecked for sedation. He is still alive. This execution has violated Mr. Wood’s Eighth Amendment right to be executed in the absence of cruel and unusual punishment,” stated the emergency motion filed by Wood’s attorney to stay the execution on the grounds that it violated Woods’ constitutional rights. The motion called for reviving Woods, but he died within an hour of the papers being filed.

States’ experiments with new, untested lethal injection protocols are real-life — or real-death — demonstrations of what can go wrong when governments are allowed to execute people using untested and dubious execution methods. “The experiment using midazolam combined with hydromorphone to carry out an execution failed today in Arizona,” said Dale Baich, one of Wood’s attorney, in the NPR report. “It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breath for about an hour and forty minutes. We will renew our efforts to get information about the manufacturer of drugs as well as how Arizona came up with the experimental formula of drugs it used today.”

Read the full story from NPR News, “Arizona execution of inmate takes nearly 2 hours” (July 23, 2014).

Read more about the death penalty in the United States from The Advocates Post:

 Bring Back the Firing Squad (July 22, 2014)

End “Tinkering with the machinery of death”  (June 18, 2014)

Another Botched Execution (April 30, 2014)

Lives on the Line: Will Supreme Court Hold U.S. Accountable for the Death Penalty? (April 3, 2014)

“I did not want to live like an animal…,” death row exonoree tells U.S. Congress (February 28, 2014)

Dennis McGuire’s Execution: A Real-Life—or Real-Death—Example of Cruel and Inhuman Punishment (January 17, 2014)

Was Executed 14-Year-Old Innocent? (November 8, 2013)

Two Percent of U.S. Counties Responsible for Majority of Executions (October 14, 2013)

By: Ashley Monk, development & communications assistant at The Advocates for Human Rights

“Bring Back the Firing Squad”

“If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all,” wrote Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Federal Judge Alex Kozinski in a dissent released Monday. Kozinski dissented from a Ninth Circuit decision dismissing Arizona death row inmate Joseph Wood’s lawsuit seeking information about the drugs to be used in his execution. Kozinksi was quoted by Adam Serwer in his commentary, “Judge’s modest proposal: Bring back the firing squad,” posted on MSNBC’s website on July 22, 2014.
Read more about “mystery drugs” and the secrecy behind their use:


If we fail them, “their hell will increasingly become our own”

Child from Honduras“. . . [T]wo superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union — chose our region [Central America] as a place to work out their disputes. They were eager to help Central America transform students into soldiers,” Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, wrote in the July 18 Washington Post. “They were eager to provide the weapons while we provided the dead.”

“When Central America’s leaders found a way to end those conflicts, I thought that our achievement would be rewarded with aid and with support to help us make the transition from war to peace, to get our young people back in school, to retrain soldiers and to rebuild families,” Arias wrote. “However, once the bullets stopped flying, the two superpowers lost interest.”

“All of us — the United States and its neighbors to the south — are paying the price for this lost opportunity. In Central America’s Northern Triangle, soldiers and guerrillas have been replaced by gang members. Civil wars have been replaced by street wars. Mothers no longer cry because their children are marching off to battle. They cry because their children are falling victim to another kind of violence or because they have to send them in search of a better life.”

Read more of the opinion article written by  Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica (1986-1990 and 2006-2010) and 1987 Noble Peace Prize recipient:


Taking Stock of U.S. Involvement in Central America

Child from Honduras

“Today, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are horrifyingly dangerous places. Children are fleeing. The response from much of Congress and the tea party has been to argue for the repeal of immigration laws so that the U.S. can quickly deport the children back to their devastated home countries,” reports Ryan Grim in a July 18, 2014 HuffingtonPost article, “Here’s How the U.S. Sparked a Refugee Crisis on the Border, in 8 Simple Steps.”

But that is an abdication of responsibility, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, Texas, told Grim. “Just on basic humanitarian grounds we should do the right thing by these kids and accept them as refugees — or the legal term is ‘asylum seekers’ — but we also own this problem, we have culpability in it, whether it’s our involvement with thuggish governments there in the past, or whether it’s the fact we are the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs that are transited through these countries, or whether it’s the war on drugs that we’ve foisted upon these countries,” he said. “All of those things contribute to the destabilization, the insecurity, the failed governance, the lack of civil society development. So, one, we should help now that we’ve done so much to create this situation and, two, we should work constructively with regional partners to rebuild these societies to the best that we can.”

Read “Here’s How The U.S. Sparked A Refugee Crisis On The Border, In 8 Simple Steps,” written by Ryan Grim and printed on HuffingtonPost, July 18, 2014.

We Should Be Better Than This

Child from Honduras

“This is not the best face of a great nation. This is the underside of a great stone, which when lifted sends creepy things slithering in all directions. We are better than this. We are more compassionate than this. We are more honorable than this.”

Read more of The New York Times’ Charles M. Blow’s powerful essay