Washington, May 1, 2019 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) reacts today to the Trump Administration’s latest round of restrictions on already-beleaguered asylum seekers fleeing persecution, pervasive violence, and harm. These restrictions compound the hardships they face in exercising their legal right to seek safety, will only exacerbate problems with an already backlogged immigration system, and will place women, children, and families in greater jeopardy. The IRC urges the administration to back away from these newly announced policies, focus on addressing the root causes of the problem, and provide adequate resources to the immigration system it has overwhelmed.
President Trump’s newly issued policies impose application fees for those seeking asylum and restricts their ability to work. These measures impose an economic bar to filing an asylum case and deny asylum seekers any option but poverty and dependency. These policies make safety unreachable for many and run contrary to the fundamental American principle that justice should be available to all, including the poor.
Furthermore, the Administration’s order mandates that all cases be closed within 180 days--a near impossibility within a system that already has a backlog of 800,000 asylum cases and has been deprived of resources necessary to safely, humanely, effectively and efficiently process asylum seekers. This policy will undermine the due process rights of asylum seekers and risk returning people to harm. Instead of further burdening the beleaguered immigration and asylum system, the administration should prioritize common-sense policies, such as investing in infrastructure at the ports of entry, increasing the number of immigration judges and asylum adjudicators, and investing in life-saving and effective foreign aid.
Nazanin Ash, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the IRC, said -
“Once again, the Trump Administration has put multiple hurdles in the path of people fleeing for their lives, with the effect of harming women, children and families, instead of focusing on life-saving and cost-effective policies that work.
“These policies run counter to US values and interests. Americans believe that the U.S. should protect those fleeing violence. They believe in justice, fairness, and equal status before our courts. And they respect hard work. Denying families safety, expecting them to pay to access justice, and constraining their ability to work are fundamentally un-American."
Republican and Democratic administrations have demonstrated that the US can humanely and fairly process the claims of people seeking asylum, including at the peak of cross-border traffic in 2000 where the number reached 1.6 million annually.
Today in the U.S. border region, the IRC has provided emergency humanitarian assistance through a collaborative shelter operation in Phoenix to 2,000 children and parents since March 8th, providing warm meals, clothing, emergency short-term shelter, travel coordination to help them reach their final destination in the US, and legal orientations and referrals in destination locations. Since summer 2018, the IRC in Arizona has provided a wide range of support directly and through partners, reaching approximately 10,000 asylum-seeking children and parents. In California and Texas, we are working alongside partners to respond to asylum seekers’ urgent needs.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.