Human Rights First President & CEO Mike Breen Testifying Today on Abuse of Refugees and Migrants at Southern Border

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First President and CEO Mike Breen will testify today before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform about the Trump Administration’s cruel and inhumane policies towards refugees and migrants at the southern border. In his testimony, Breen will draw upon observations from his visit this week to El Paso and Juarez, where he met with refugees forced to remain in Mexico for the duration of their asylum proceedings, and offer recommendations for how the humanitarian crisis can be dealt with efficiently, compassionately, and in line with U.S. laws and values.

“There is indeed a crisis at the border, albeit one that is substantially self-inflicted. It is a human rights and humanitarian crisis, and our government could and should resolve it with principled leadership that upholds America’s laws and ideals,” Breen wrote in his testimony submitted to the committee. “This is not a problem that money alone can address. A major shift in policies is needed.”

Just yesterday Breen returned from a trip with Human Rights First researchers to El Paso and Juarez, where he met with families staying in a migrant shelter in Mexico because they’d been illegally forced to wait in Mexico to seek protection in the United States. He spoke to individuals who have faced horrors during the wait, including a mother who was left in Mexico by U.S. officials only to be kidnapped along with her young daughter within sight of the border crossing.

“The Trump Administration uses its own dysfunction on the border as a pretext for reducing protections for refugees and migrants,” added Breen in his prepared testimony. “Whether by keeping people unnecessarily detained, restricting processing at ports of entry, stranding asylum seekers in Mexico, manipulating asylum law, or undermining efforts to solve the problems forcing people to flee, the administration is exacerbating a crisis it could, if it wanted to, resolve by adhering to American laws and ideals.”

Human Rights First, in partnership with more than a dozen refugee and regional human rights organizations, released a new blueprint offering concrete steps to manage the humanitarian crisis at the border and to address the damage the Trump Administration’s mismanagement of it has caused.



Published on July 10, 2019


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