Letter to the White House: The Impact of Proposed Asylum and Immigration Policy Changes on Immigrant Survivors of Gender-Based Violence
The Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual & Domestic Violence sent a letter to President Biden expressing their deep concern about proposed permanent changes to the U.S. immigration system that would drastically limit eligibility for asylum seekers and have a disproportionate impact on immigrant survivors of gender-based violence.
Download the full letter below.
Tahirih Statement on Recent Anti-Immigrant Legislation in Texas
The Tahirih Justice Center is dismayed by the recent Texas legislation that targets immigrants, people seeking asylum, and Texans of color for arrest, deportation, and further criminalization. These new laws – SB4 from the 3rd Special Session adding a penalty enhancement for smuggling, and SB3 and SB4 from the 4th Special Session, on appropriations and unlawful entry, perpetuate racist and xenophobic narratives about immigrants. These laws will also have a devasting and disproportionate impact on immigrant survivors of gender-based violence by cutting off access to the U.S. asylum system, enabling law enforcement officers to deport survivors of crime rather than provide assistance, and creating conditions in which immigrants are increasingly vulnerable to violence.
Enacting these policies will exacerbate the risk of gender-based violence along the U.S. southern border, as women and girls are left vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in increasingly precarious conditions. The impact of these laws will be felt statewide and will serve to cultivate a climate of fear among survivors of gender-based violence seeking asylum in the U.S. while undermining protections guaranteed to survivors under federal law.
Texas has a legal and moral obligation to protect all asylum seekers and immigrants, particularly women, children, and all who experience gender-based violence, from further harm. The Tahirih Justice Center calls on Texans to join in solidarity with immigrant survivors of gender-based violence to support humane and trauma-informed immigration policies.
Tahirih Urges the Administration & Congress to Reverse Course on Gutting Asylum Protections
The Tahirih Justice Center is outraged by the news that the administration appears willing to play politics with human lives. These attacks on immigrants and people seeking asylum represent not simply a broken promise, but a betrayal and we urge the President and Congress to reverse course.
“I am gravely concerned that, if passed, these policies will further trap and endanger immigrant survivors of gender-based violence. Selling out asylum seekers and immigrant communities under the guise of ‘border security’ in order to pass a supplemental funding package is absolutely unacceptable,” said Casey Carter Swegman, Director of Public Policy at the Tahirih Justice Center. “And we know the impact of these cruel, deterrence-based policies will land disproportionately on already marginalized immigrants of color. I urge the White House and Congress not to sell out immigrants and asylum seekers for a funding deal.”
Every day, people fleeing persecution – including survivors of gender-based violence – arrive at our border having escaped unspeakable violence. Rasing the fear standard, enacting a travel ban, putting a cap on asylum seekers, and expanding expedited removal nationwide (to name just a few proposals that have been floated in recent days) will do nothing to solve the challenges at the southern border and serve only to create more confusion, narrow pathways to humanitarian relief, increase the risk of revictimization and suffering, and punish immigrants seeking safety and a life of dignity.
These kinds of proposals double down on the climate of fear that many immigrants in this country already face on a day-to-day basis and will disproportionately impact Black, Brown and Indigenous immigrant communities. Immigrants should not be met with hostile and unmanageable policies that violate their humanity as well as their legal rights. We can and must do better.
Senators Must Reject Attacks on Asylum in Funding Negotiations!
As a bipartisan group of Senators negotiate a supplemental funding deal that includes harmful changes to asylum law, Casey Carter Swegman, Director of Public Policy at the Tahirih Justice Center, issued the following statement:
“These proposals are a non-starter. What is being discussed – policies akin to an asylum ban – create near impossible barriers to apply for and receive asylum and put immigrant survivors of gender-based violence at great risk of further harm and trauma. These changes would have devastating consequences for the many people seeking safety in our country.
“The deterrence-based proposals on the table would uniquely harm immigrant survivors of gender-based violence, who face increased risk of re-victimization on their perilous journey to the U.S. Every day, immigrant survivors of gender-based violence arrive at our border having escaped unspeakable violence and Black, Brown, Indigenous, women and LGBTQI refugees are particularly vulnerable. They should not be met with hostile and unmanageable policies that violate their humanity as well as their legal rights.
“The Tahirih Justice Center urges Senators to swiftly reject any attempts to condition the success of a supplemental funding package on these harmful anti-immigrant policy proposals and instead work towards real solutions rooted in our legal and ethical obligations to those seeking refuge from gender-based violence and persecution.”
What a Service Seeker Can Expect When They Call Tahirih
Based on generous input from Tahirih clients, staff, and external partners and more than a year’s worth of program planning, we are now excited to roll out a new centralized intake line and case acceptance process across all five of our offices starting November 2023. Through this new centralized intake line, all service seekers will be able to reach Tahirih using one number and will be able to experience the same high-quality, survivor-centered, and holistic service delivery, regardless of their location. We know that it takes a lot of courage for survivors to make the first call to ask for help, and our goal is to be timely and trauma-informed to all our callers, who may only get one chance to reach out for help.
Learn more about what service seekers can expect when they call us in this handout.
Comment Filed: BIA Rule on Appellate Procedures and Administrative Closure
On September 8, 2023, EOIR published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that largely rescinds a deeply problematic 2020 rule that eviscerated due process protections for noncitizens in the appellate process. The 2020 Rule was enjoined in federal litigation in which Tahirih was a party. This new Proposed Rule reverses the harmful 2020 Rule and clarifies the availability of administrative closure and termination for certain noncitizens. Tahirih welcomes this Proposed Rule and urges its prompt finalization in order to promote clarity for immigration advocates and due process for noncitizens in removal.
Feedback on USCIS Policy Alert PA-2023-19, Application Support Center Reschedule Requests and Missed Appointment
USCIS recently published guidance regarding rescheduling biometrics appointments. Biometrics are required for most immigration benefits, and the new guidance provides clarity on how to reschedule these appointments and the consequences of failure to timely reschedule. The Tahirih Justice Center submitted feedback encouraging USCIS to consider and account for the disparate impact of the guidance on survivor applicants for immigration benefits.