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July 08, 2014

Coalition Letter Urging President Obama to Protect the Children at the Border

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
Washington, DC

July 3, 2014

Dear President Obama:

We, the undersigned immigration, civil and human rights, faith, labor, anti-violence, and community organizations, urge you to reconsider the plan to expedite the deportation of Central American children to the dangers they escaped in their home countries. The administration’s recent statements have placed far greater emphasis on deterrence of migration than on the importance of protection of children seeking safety. At a time when the region is confronted with a major humanitarian crisis, our nation cannot compromise on fundamental principles of compassion, fairness, and due process, nor on our international refugee protection obligations.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has found that almost 60 percent of children fleeing to the United States from Central America are asylum seekers.i The United States is not alone in seeing higher than normal migration flows – according to UNHCR, other countries in the region have experienced a sharp increase in the number of asylum applications filed by Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans since 2008. From 2008 to 2013, the number of such applications filed in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize increased by 712 percent.

We are deeply concerned that the administration will circumvent the protections of the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008 and remove the children apprehended at the border through a non-judicial process. Instead of affording these children proper screening for trafficking and persecution, as well as the opportunity to receive fair and full consideration of their legal claims before an immigration judge, the administration appears to propose to quickly deport them, without access to legal counsel, following cursory screenings that have already proven entirely inadequate to identify genuine refugee claims among Mexican children.

Congress gave consideration to the unique circumstances of children when it enacted the TVPRA. The law includes protections such as the facilitation of counsel and the appointment of child advocates that help ensure that unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries receive proper care and that their requests for asylum and other legal relief are processed fairly and in a way that is consistent with their age and development. As it stands, the proposed plan would appear to place at risk these existing legal protections, jeopardizing the lives of children seeking safety in the United States. Undermining due process and protection under the law is not the right answer, and certainly will not appease the criticisms of those who have been calling for more punitive and aggressive enforcement. The cost of pushing vulnerable children back into dangerous or deadly situations is simply too high.

Now is the time for America to demonstrate its international leadership and commitment to refugee protection and due process. We oppose any plan to amend the TVPRA to weaken the protections afforded to children from Central America, and we urge you to ensure that the rights and safety of these children are guaranteed.

Sincerely,

18MillionRising

9to5

Advancement Project

Alliance for Children and Families

American Civil Liberties Union

American Immigration Council

American Immigration Lawyers Association

America’s Voice Education Fund

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Border Action Network

Catholic Charities

Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC)

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Center for Popular Democracy

Church World Service

Detention Watch Network

Farmworker Justice

First Focus

HIAS

Hispanic Federation

Human Rights First

Immigrant Defense Project

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

KIND

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

NAFSA – Association of International Education

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC)

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza

National Disability Rights Network

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

NETWORK – A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

The Advocates for Human Rights

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United We Dream

United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Women’s Refugee Commission

Adrian Dominican Sisters

Alliance for a Just Society

Alliance of Baptists

Alliance San Diego

American Association of University Professors - AFT

American Friends Service Committee - Miami

American Gateways

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles

Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence

Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council

ASISTA Immigration Assistance

Border Angels

Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition

California Immigrant Policy Center

California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition

Casa de Esperanza: National Latina Network for Healthy Families and Communities

CASA de Maryland

CASA de Virginia

Catholic Migration Services

Center for Active Nonviolence & Peacemaking

Center for Employment Training

Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law

Center for Public Policy Priorities - Texas

Center for the Human Rights of Children, Loyola University Chicago

Central American Resource Center of Northern California (CARECEN)

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.

Coalicion de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)

Coalition on Human Needs

Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking

COFEM - Council of Mexican Federations

Comite VIDA

Conflict Alternatives

Dominican Sisters of Houston

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

Dream Defenders

East Bay Immigration Coalition - EBIYC

Ecumenical Peace Institute – Clergy and Laity Concerned

Educators for Fair Consideration

El Quinto Sol de America

Empire Justice Center

Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project

Fellowship Congregational UCC

Filipino Migrant Center

First Friends New Jersey & New York

Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

Florida Coastal Immigrant Rights Clinic

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Franciscan Action Network

Freedom Network USA

Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission

Friends of Broward Detainees

Fuerza Del Valle Workers’ Center

Futures Without Violence

Gainesville (Florida) Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

GetEQUAL Action

Global Justice Institute

Guatemalan Maya Center

Human Development Resources of Westchester

Humane Borders

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Immigrant Detainee Accompaniment Program

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

Immigrant Survivors Legal Assistance

Immigration Center for Women and Children

Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition

Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (CLUE-CA)

International Association of Forensic Nurses

Jewish Women International

Jesuit Social Research Institute – Loyola University New Orleans

Justice Strategies

Kentucky Equal Justice Center

Korean Community Center of the East Bay

La Raza Centro Legal

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC)

Latinas Educating and Empowering Communities

Maxwell Street Legal Clinic

Metropolitan Community Churches

New York Legal Assistance Group

North American Dominican Justice Promoters

North California Coalition of Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

North Carolina Immigrant Rights Project

Northwest Health Law Advocates

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Oklahoma Policy Institute

OneAmerica

Out4Immigration

Pacific Islander Cancer Survivor Network

Pax Christi USA

Peace Action

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Public Counsel

Public Justice Center

Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition

Research Action Design (RAD)

Rural Women’s Health Project

Service Employees International Union Local 87

Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)

SHARE El Salvador

Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality

Sistas and Brothas United

Sisters of Good Shepherd, New York

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Sisters of St. Joseph-Baden

Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester

Social Justice Collaborative

South Texas Civil Rights Project

Street Level Health Project

Students Working for Equal Rights

Texas Appleseed

The Voices and Faces Project

TODEC Legal Center

Transgender Law Center

Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry

University of California, Davis School of Law Immigration Law Clinic

University of Miami School of Law, Immigration Clinic

United Families

United Methodist Women

Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates

Victim Rights Law Center

Virginia Coalition for Latino Organizations

Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Voices for Utah Children

We Own the DREAM

WeCount!

Women Against Military Madness

Women of Color Network

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farm Worker Ministry (YAYA-NFWM)

YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc.

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