The Tahirih Justice Center is concerned about recent anti-immigrant rhetoric, not based in fact, seemingly being used to justify upcoming policy shifts that would undermine U.S. obligations under international and domestic law.
Recent reports indicate that there are groups of migrants, called caravans, traveling from Central America through Mexico to the United States to seek asylum. In response, the Administration has sought to deploy armed forces and announced that it would suspend or restrict entry of migrants at the southern border. However, there is no evidence that the migrants pose any risk to national security. In fact, the majority are enduring an arduous journey in order to find safety for themselves and their children.
Another myth is that the low national approval rates for asylum claims indicates that most applications are fraudulent. This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the process and law of asylum. Those applying are often unrepresented by lawyers. They may not be familiar with the law of asylum or how to make a claim. They may not speak the language in which the hearing is conducted. And they may be deeply traumatized yet unable to access mental health care. All of these factors may make is so that a person with a qualifying claim will not succeed. In addition, some who are legitimately afraid to return home may still not meet the stringent criteria for asylum under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This in fact is proof that the law is quite exacting, and the process deeply problematic. It shows nothing about the veracity of the claims being put forth.
Finally, it is a myth that separating families and detaining asylum seekers will deter migrants from entering or seeking help. In fact, those who have no choice but to flee for their lives will continue to do so. Instituting such policies simply traumatizes asylum seekers for no reason, while flying in the face of domestic and international law, and costing American taxpayers millions unnecessarily. In many cases, due to the location of detention centers, asylum seekers do not have adequate access to social, mental, and health services, nor to legal counsel. Alternatives to detention exist and are much more cost effective and humane.
Congress has created laws concerning the process of seeking asylum and mandated that asylum seekers may apply for asylum anywhere in the United States. In fact, it is illegal to bar access to asylum. It is critical that any reforms to the asylum system be undertaken trough a careful and considered process, not by executive fiat.
Tahirih, with its partners, has compiled talking points focused on these potential policy changes and their likely impact on survivors of violence.