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 www.house.gov.

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 mmckenzie@advrights.org 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.

 

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