IACHR Report Blasts U.S. Immigration Detention Practices as “Disproportionate” and Inappropriately “Punitive”
On March 17th the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released its “Report on Immigration in the United States: Detention and Due Process” which contains heavy criticisms of the United States government for its often unnecessary reliance on detention and its holding of immigration detainees in jails and jail-like facilities that impose “unacceptable” conditions and “employ disproportionately restrictive penal and punitive measures.” The report addresses many of the ways in which the U.S. detention system for immigrants and asylum seekers is – despite some recent reform efforts – inconsistent with international human rights standards.
- Read the report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
- Read Human Rights First’s statement and fact sheet on the IACHR report
Human Rights First Organizes Congressional Briefing on LGBTI Refugees
On April 6th Human Rights First in partnership with a coalition of NGOs from Uganda, Lebanon, Turkey, Kenya, and the United States hosted a Congressional briefing on the protection challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) refugees. Throughout the world LGBTI persons are targets of persecution and experience death threats, torture, detention, assaults on their person, or other acts of bias-motivated violence committed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The expert panel educated members of Congress and their staff about the particular challenges faced by LGBTI refugees and provided suggestions of ways the United States can address those challenges systematically, including by establishing an expedited resettlement process so that refugees at imminent risk of danger in their countries of first asylum can be promptly brought to safety in the United States.
- Read the Civil Society Declaration on U.S. Protection of LGBTI Refugees (PDF)
- Read Human Rights First’s Paper, “Persistent Needs and Gaps: the Protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Refugees.”
Immigration Courts Overwhelmed and Overburdened as Backlogs Grow
An April 10th article in the Associated Press, “How to Fix the ‘Massive Crisis’ in Immigration Courts,” details the myriad of problems in the immigration courts’ administration of justice, including staggering case loads, an increasing backlog, lack of respondents represented by counsel, inadequate training and oversight, and lack of judicial independence. Recognizing the significant impact these problems have on the adjudication of asylum cases, Human Rights First is advocating for improving training and oversight at the immigration courts, increasing funding and staff for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), expanding the Legal Orientation Program (LOP), eliminating the one year asylum filing deadline – which unnecessarily contributes to the court’s backlog and prevents asylum cases from being adjudicated on their merits – and other reforms to improve the quality of justice administered in U.S. immigration courts.
- Read the article, “How to Fix the ‘Massive Crisis’ in Immigration Courts.”
- Read a letter signed by 66 organizations and 34 individuals supporting expansion of the Legal Orientation Program. (PDF)
- Read Human Rights First’s report, “The Asylum Filing Deadline: Denying Protection to the Persecuted and Undermining Governmental Efficiency.”
- Read Human Rights First’s paper, “Renewing U.S. Commitment to Refugee Protection,” which includes recommendations on ensuring fair and effective adjudication of asylum cases.
Despite Humanitarian Crisis, the Obama Administration Continues to Deport Haitians
On April 15th the Obama Administration deported a second group of Haitian nationals to Haiti where they face life threatening conditions of imprisonment, a cholera epidemic, continued social unrest, mass displacement, and instability in post-earthquake Haiti. In December 2010, ICE announced it would be resuming deportations to Haiti, which were halted for almost a year following the 7.0 earthquake that devastated the country on January 13, 2010. On January 20, 2011, ICE deported the first group of Haitians. All 27 were jailed upon deportation in horrid and unsanitary conditions. Several of them fell ill and demonstrated “cholera-like symptoms” but received no medical care. In this group was 34 year-old Wildrick Guerrier who just over a week after his deportation, tragically died in a Haitian jail.
Click here for more information or to take action.
Read the article in the Huffington Post, “Deportations to Haiti Still a Death Sentence,” by Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Read the NGO statement calling on the Administration to immediately halt deportations to Haiti.
Ride for Human Rights!
One of our long-time pro bono attorneys is hitting the road—by bike—at the end of April to raise money for Human Rights First and our work helping refugees win asylum in the United States. Jeffrey Heller will be riding 1400 miles from New York City to Iowa!
Our asylum work saves lives. A refugee with a lawyer is three times more likely to win asylum than one without representation. Yet most refugees go without this vital assistance. Our network of pro bono attorneys provides high quality legal help, for free. Make your pledge now to help victims of persecution find safety and build a new life—100% of the proceeds will go to support our refugee protection work.
We are very grateful to Jeffrey for using his enormous energy to benefit Human Rights First. If you too are interested in supporting Human Rights First by riding (or by any other creative method!), please contact Lauren Trinka at TrinkaL@humanrightfirst.org for more information.
Follow HRF’s Refugee Protection Program on Twitter! www.twitter.com/HR1stRefugees