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Home / Event / Criminal Prosecutions for Migration Offenses and the Punishment of Refugees Seeking U.S. Protection

Criminal Prosecutions for Migration Offenses and the Punishment of Refugees Seeking U.S. Protection

November 14, 2018 - 8:30am to 10:00am

Men, women and children seeking refuge in the United States have been targeted for criminal prosecutions, family separation, and lengthy detentions. In addition, they may soon face attempts to bar them from asylum or lock them up in “tent cities.”  Efforts to punish and penalize asylum seekers have escalated over the last year even though the Refugee Convention and Protocol make clear that the United States should not penalize refugees for their manner of entry in seeking protection. 

While much public attention has focused on the separation of families under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, less attention has focused on the related policy of subjecting asylum seekers and migrants to prosecutions in the criminal justice system through en masse proceedings known as “Operation Streamline.”

This breakfast briefing will examine the criminal prosecution of asylum seekers and migrants in federal courtrooms along the southern border and discuss other ways in which asylum seekers are being penalized for their manner of entry or decisions to seek refuge in the United States.  Where and how are these prosecutions conducted?  What are the due process concerns?  What is the impact on the criminal justice system? Do criminal prosecutions, detention, family separation and asylum bans constitute prohibited penalties under the Refugee Convention and Protocol?  What can bar associations and the legal community do to shine a light on these legal issues? What are the alternatives? How should these cases be handled?

November 14, 2018, 8:30 am to 10:00 am

WilmerHale, 1875 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC

The panel will include: 

Moderator: Samuel Witten, Counsel, Arnold & Porter; Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

Alejandro Almanzan, Attorney at Law, El Paso, Texas;

Judy Perry Martinez, President-Elect, American Bar Association; 

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Partner, WilmerHale; Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and Former United States Attorney for the Central District of California; 

Eleanor Acer, Senior Director, Refugee Protection, Human Rights First