Human Rights First Responds to COVID19’s Impacts by Joining #GivingTuesdayNow

Washington, D.C. – While the world’s focus is on COVID19, those affected by the disease, and the economic impacts of the pandemic, the issues that Human Rights First targets remain profoundly important.

Around the world, autocrats and would-be autocrats are using threats to public health to violate democratic norms and amass further powers.

Here at home, the current administration is using the crisis to further its aims of unfairly shutting down our southern border and limiting rights of asylum-seekers and refugees.

In the face of these global threats to human rights, our work makes a difference.

On April 13, a federal court in California released four of our clients, asylum-seekers particularly vulnerable to COVID19.  In New Jersey, lawsuits filed by Human Rights First and our pro-bono legal partners prompted the release of seven clients from ICE detention, notorious COVID19 hotspots.

We continue to press the Department of Homeland Security, as well as governors responsible for managing the detention centers, to release people from facilities where the disease can so easily spread.

Jennifer Mellen says, “This crisis deeply impacts a population we work with on two levels – as both a health and human rights emergency.  This is a constituency that has very little access to power, even in the best of times.  It’s our job to help them, especially now.”

Mellen continues:  “At the same time, the pandemic is affecting Human Rights First as it has so many nonprofits.  Our organization is stretching itself thin to respond to world-wide impacts as the economy itself falls into crisis.  An event like Giving Tuesday can help shape our response to these crises in a profound way.”

About a third of Human Rights First’s budget comes from contributions from individuals.  To contribute to Human Rights First on Giving Tuesday, please go to, and stay in touch with our efforts using the hashtags #PuttingHumanRightsFirst and #GivingTuesdayNow.

#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 – in addition to the regularly scheduled Dec 1, 2020 #GivingTuesday – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. The day is designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.

At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people of all races, faiths, and political views together across the globe. Generosity gives everyone the power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on.


About Human Rights First 

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that has been challenging America to live up to its ideals for more than forty years. We continue to believe that American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights, so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability, and justice.  We aim to make not merely a point or a statement, but a tangible difference in the lives of people around the world and in the United States. Whether we are protecting refugees, combating torture, or defending persecuted minorities, Human Rights First gets results.


About GivingTuesday 

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give. GivingTuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity and equity around the globe.

#GivingTuesdayNow is organized by GivingTuesday, in partnership with its global network of leaders, partners, communities and generous individuals. GivingTuesday is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.


Jennifer Mellen, Senior Vice President of Development
Human Rights First


Published on April 30, 2020


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