The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Stop the Raids on Families Seeking Asylum
January 8, 2016
Tell DHS: stop the raids
The recent tactics of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — raiding people’s homes and rounding up Central American asylum seekers — are a thinly veiled effort to drive fear within immigrant communities and to further traumatize children and adult asylum seekers who seek safe haven and protection in the United States.
Even more appalling, we have heard from our partner RAICES that some women with cases still pending have been visited for potential roundup and deportation. These cases do not fall within the so-called DHS enforcement priorities. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has described the roundups as part of a strategy meant to deter further migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. However, the government has been told it cannot use deterrence to institute prolonged detention of these asylum seekers, so it is unclear why they believe they can use this to round up people who have not been given due process to pursue their asylum claims.
The main issue is whether these women and children have been given adequate screening and due process to determine their eligibility for international protection and asylum in the United States. In many cases, the government has hindered their access to legal counsel, denying them the chance to seek humanitarian protection in accordance with international law. A recent exposé by Politico found that between July 18, 2014, and Auguse 31, 2015, nearly 2,800 removal orders were issued by immigration judges for children who were afforded no defense lawyer and only a single hearing. In at least 40% of these cases, the defendant was 16 or younger.
Consistent with the 1980 Refugee Act and the U.N. Convention against Torture, the U.S. government must ensure that all adults and children arriving at the U.S. border who express a fear of serious human rights violations, persecution, or torture be given due process and the opportunity to articulate their fear of return before an asylum officer. The U.S. government stands to violate international legal principle if these women and children have not been afford these opportunities.
How you can help
RAICES is looking for people to help recently arrived refugees find support services. Priority cities are: Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Charlotte, Memphis, Orlando, Miami, New Orleans, NYC, Chicago, Arlington, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.
Come to Texas and volunteer to end family detention. The UU College of Social Justice is seeking skilled volunteers, including fluent Spanish speakers, lawyers, law students, and paralegals, to work with families currently in detention this upcoming summer.