Human Rights First Report Details Recommendations for Managing the Increase in Families and Protection Requests at Southern Border
Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. government responds to the influx of families, unaccompanied children, asylum seekers and other migrants at the southern U.S. border, Human Rights First today released a report detailing specific steps that the Obama Administration and Congress should take to manage the rise in families and protection requests at the U.S. – Mexican border. Today’s report comes as the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the increase in unaccompanied children crossing the border and the extraordinary challenges posed by the increase.
“The Obama Administration and Congress already have the tools to confront complex challenges at the border, including the increase in families with children,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Dealing with this crisis will require policymakers to prioritize solutions that are fiscally prudent, effective, and reflect American ideals. The United States should not put families with children in immigration detention facilities, particularly when more fiscally prudent and humane alternatives to detention have been proven effective.”
Today’s recommendations are informed by Human Rights First’s research along the border, including visits to key border points, border patrol stations and immigration detention facilities in Arizona, California and Texas. That trip was followed by Human Rights First’s June 2014 comprehensive blueprint outlining the steps the United States government should take to address the increase in requests for protection at the border. These recommendations are also found in a statement for the record submitted to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of its hearing today. Recommendations for Congress and the administration include:
- Maximizing the use of alternatives to detention for cases determined to need additional measures to assure appearance rather than putting families with children into immigration detention;
- Increasing access to legal information presentations and counsel;
- Strengthening, rather than weakening, protection safeguards; and,
- Reducing the delays in immigration court and asylum cases without rushing them forward.
“The United States has a strong interest in maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of its immigration and asylum systems.” said Acer. “As the U.S. government looks for ways to address the influx of families at the border, we shouldn’t lose sight of our nation’s historic commitment to refugees and asylum seekers.”