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May 23, 2017

President’s Budget Request Would Harm Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Washington, D.C.— Human Rights First today called on Congress to reject President Trump’s budget proposals that target refugees and asylum seekers. The president’s proposed budget that was submitted to Congress today would support a decrease in overall refugee admissions, major cuts to refugee assistance, and a dramatic increase in funding for border agents, immigration detention, deportation, and the construction of a wall on the Southern border.

“President Trump’s budget proposals send a dangerous message that refugees are not welcome in the United States and will not be supported,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley. “We urge Congress to defend America’s reputation as a leader in providing refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution by rejecting cuts to refugee assistance and resettlement." 

The president’s budget proposal includes cuts to the Migration and Refugee Assistance Account, the International Disaster Assistance Account, and the Refugee and Entrants Assistant Account, all of which provide vital funding for refugees and victims of violence and persecution seeking safety. Additionally the Health and Human Services budget states that funding will be provided to support the resettlement of 50 thousand refugees in fiscal year 2018, a drastic reduction from the 85 thousand refugees resettled in FY 2016.

The budget also calls for increased funding for immigration enforcement and border security, including funding that would lead to increased detention of asylum seekers and additional barriers to asylum. This includes $300 million for 500 additional Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers and 1,000 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, $1.5 billion for detention and deportation of immigrants, and $1.6 billion for border wall.

“This is not what American leadership looks like. A massive overuse of immigration detention and erecting multiple barriers to entry fly in the face of U.S. legal and treaty obligations to provide access to protection to refugees seeking asylum,” added Quigley.

Emboldened by the administration’s strong anti-refugee rhetoric, CBP officers have been illegally turning back asylum seekers at the border. A recent Human Rights First report “Crossing the Line,” documents dozens of incidents at seven points of entry along the Souther border where CBP agents illegally turned away asylum seekers without referring them for the required protection screening.

For more infomation or to speak with Quigley contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org.