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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Urges U.S. to Reassert Global Leadership in Protecting the Rights of Refugees
June 20, 2020

Human Rights First Urges U.S. to Reassert Global Leadership in Protecting the Rights of Refugees

WASHINGTON - On World Refugee Day, Human Rights First calls on U.S. leaders and policymakers to restore U.S. leadership in protecting the human rights of refugees: 

As we mark World Refugee Day this year, we honor the courage and strength of refugees. Here, in the United States, we are thankful for the commitment of refugees to American communities. Many of our refugee clients, after being granted asylum, are working in essential roles, even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Some are medical professionals, essential workers in the food industry, home health aides or health care workers conducting COVID-19 testing.

After World War II, the United States helped lead efforts to develop treaties and laws to safeguard refugees from returning to persecution and to protect their rights. But the Trump administration has trampled on U.S. refugee law. The United States is delivering asylum-seekers to kidnappings and assaults, denying asylum to refugees with well-founded fears of persecution, using the pandemic as a pretext to expel asylum-seekers without regard for their eligibility for refugee protection, and jailing others for months in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention – leaving asylum seekers to suffer in these crowded facilities as the virus spreads.

The United States must reject these harmful and illegal policies and once again lead the world in protecting persecuted people. Refugees and asylees are a valuable, enduring part of the American story. Today, we celebrate their survival and encourage our country to reclaim its spirit of welcome so all people who seek safety can find it.


World Refugee Day falls just one day after Juneteenth. We join in solidarity with the many asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants who have protested in support of Black lives, including hunger strikers at the Mesa Verde ICE detention center in California. Human Rights First knows that Black lives matter and has criticized police killings and condemned the Trump administration’s militarized response to protests, including by organizing a letter from former military officers condemning the administration’s proposal for the U.S. military to play a leading role in responding to protests.

In the past month, Human Rights First has issued a series of reports documenting the Trump administration’s latest illegal and harmful policies targeting asylum seekers – including on the Pandemic as Pretext to Eliminate Asylum at the Border, Asylum Grant Rates Plummeting, False Claims Used to Block Asylum, and a Timeline of COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Centers.