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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 22, 2017

On February 20, 2017, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly issued two memoranda that implement President Trump’s January 25 and 27 executive orders. These memoranda not only reinforce the orders’ major shift in immigration policy away from protection and toward detention and deportation at all costs, but also expand upon them.

The Tahirih Justice Center yesterday issued an analysis of the additional provisions of the memoranda that could have significant, negative impacts on survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as human trafficking. This analysis references a summary Tahirih published on the earlier executive orders.

Some of the especially concerning provisions of the memoranda include:

  • Vast expansion of expedited removal, a much-maligned procedure for quick deportation that can make it impossible for victims of violence to obtain relief for which they are eligible under existing law;
  • Holding asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims for protection are decided, requiring American judges to remotely hear sensitive cases involving testimony about sexual and domestic violence and making it impossible for applicants to obtain legal counsel;
  • Deputizing local police with the ability to enforce complex immigration laws inside the U.S. and at the border, making it very possible that women and children seeking asylum will not be properly screened for protection;
  • Rescinding the critical “victim witness memo” of 2011 which offered some protection from removal for anyone known to be a victim or witness of a crime, including domestic violence.

“The January 25 and 27 orders signed by President Trump sent shockwaves of fear, confusion, and chaos through immigrant communities, advocacy groups, and even DHS agencies,” said Archi Pyati, Chief of Policy and Programs at Tahirih.

“With so little warning, the entire nation struggled to comprehend such significant shifts in immigration policy. These new DHS memoranda make vivid the reality of how present the danger is for immigrant women and children fleeing violence,” she said.

The Tahirih Justice Center, which has provided legal defense to over 20,000 immigrant women and children fleeing violence over the last twenty years, is concerned that the orders and memoranda will keep thousands who merit legal protection under our laws from accessing it.

Tahirih will continue to monitor policy shifts that impact women and girls fleeing gender-based violence and advocate for the United States to honor its legal obligations to protect those fleeing human rights abuses.

Archi Pyati, Chief of Policy and Programs, or Layli Miller-Muro, Chief Executive Officer, are available for comment on this topic. Please contact rebekahs@tahirih.org to arrange an interview.