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October 12, 2017

Sessions Spreads Lies about U.S. Asylum System

Washington, D.C.—In response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s speech today on the U.S. asylum system, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer has released the following statement:

“Attorney General Sessions remarks today were a mere continuation of the administration’s efforts to falsely paint asylum seekers and refugees as threats and frauds. Between today’s speech and the White House ‘principles’ released over the weekend, it is clear that this administration is focused on decimating and violating this country’s moral and legal obligations to those seeking asylum. As one of the nation’s largest providers of pro bono legal counsel to refugees seeking asylum, Human Rights First knows that these individuals are not criminals and frauds; they are mothers, teenagers, and children desperate to escape violence and persecution.

“Sessions failed to even mention the refugee and displacement crises stemming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Venezuela that are prompting so many to flee their homes. This omission makes clear just how disingenuous and false his assertions of rampant abuse of the system are.  

"The real crisis is a crisis of leadership. Instead of effectively and humanely addressing the challenges that come with escalating refugee situations, the administration is seeking to prevent refugees from accessing the U.S. asylum system and punishing those who do with prolonged detention in jails and correctional facilities. The Trump Administration’s ‘principles’ are just the opposite: unprincipled. They are extreme policy proposals that have been rejected by Congress. This is yet another attempt to slam the door on refugees seeking U.S. protection.”

Human Rights First also notes that Attorney General Sessions misrepresented the credible fear screening pass rate as nearly 90 percent. In fact the credible fear pass rate in fiscal year 2016 was only 78.6 percent, and fell to 68 percent in June 2017 following the Trump Administration’s executive orders targeting refugees and asylum.  

For more information see Human Rights First’s fact sheet: Credible Fear Screening and Fraud Safeguards. To speak with Acer contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.