The Crisis at the Southern Border: Principles and
Although we may differ on the problems we address and our proposed solutions, we agree on the following principles regarding the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees who come across our southern border. We call upon all members of Congress and candidates for Congress to consider these principles when devising legislative approaches to fixing the humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
Children should not be locked up in detention centers.
Children should not be separated from their adult family members, or used as bait in immigration enforcement actions.
For-profit private prisons or detention centers should not be used to detain asylum seekers or refugees. Any immigrant in a detention facility should receive adequate food, water, medical care, soap, toothpaste, bedding and access to legal representation. They should be protected from sexual abuse.
Alternatives to incarceration should take priority for families and other asylum seekers who pose no risk to the community. Bring back and expand the Family Case Management Program started as a pilot program under the Obama administration.
Invest in infrastructure and develop new ways to streamline processing of asylum seekers and refugees. Follow international and U.S. laws on treatment of asylum seekers and refugees and ensure they are treated fairly and receive due process.
Provide aid to countries like Guatemala and Honduras to help them address the problems that cause their citizens to flee their homes.
Proposed legislation on the crisis at the southern border:
Immigration Court Improvement Act of 2019 - Would establish immigration judges as independent judges so that they are not under the Department of Justice, which prosecutes immigration cases. Read the details of the Act here.
Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2019 - Would require legal counsel for indigent asylum seekers, children, and other vulnerable groups who cannot afford a lawyer. Read the details of the Act here.
For further information:
National Immigration Forum: Working Paper: Addressing the Increase of Central American Migrants, updated May 2, 2019
Migration Policy Institute: Policy Solutions to Address Crisis at Border Exist, But Require Will and Staying Power to Execute, April 2019
Bipartisan Policy Center: Policy Proposals to Address the Central American Migration Challenge, July 26, 2019
Human Rights First: Testimony of Michael Breen, President and CEO, Human Rights First at the Hearing Entitled: “Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border” before the House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Note: There are many other pertinent articles at Human Rights First.
American Civil Liberties Union: Immigrants’ Rights and Detention
NPR: ACLU: Administration Is Still Separating Migrant Families Despite Court Order to Stop,
July 30, 2019
Southern Poverty Law Center: No End in Sight, October 3, 2018
WOLA: Beyond the Wall: A Campaign Defending Human Rights and Migrants in the Trump Era and Migration & Border Security
Note: There are many useful resources at WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America),
with up-to-date analyses of new Trump Administration policies. WOLA advocates for
human rights in the Americas.