This week, wide-spread concern has been expressed throughout the country about the treatment of refugees under recent Presidential Executive Orders. Unfortunately, most are unaware of the worst of the policies contained in these Orders and the fact that the majority of their content impacts people currently living in the U.S.
Because the Orders are so complicated, I made several videos to explain them. The bottom line is this: every single current and prospective Tahirih client will be affected, as will over 11 million people already living in the United States.
There are so many people who need help, the voices of immigrant women particularly vulnerable to these new Orders must be raised, and our public policy advocacy must increase. We must do more, and quickly!
I write today to ask for your partnership in creating a $500,000 Emergency Fund to help the Tahirih Justice Center address three critical challenges:
- Every Tahirih case now has new complexities. Every woman and girl now has new questions about how to proceed, what new risks she needs to avoid, and how family members at different stages of the immigration proceedings will be affected. Will she be separated from her children? Will protections she has already been granted be rescinded? Will she be ensnared by provisions of the Orders that call for deportation of anyone with a chargeable offense if she responds to an attack in self-defense? She is afraid, and the effort needed to serve her and others who are reaching out has increased dramatically.
- The need for policy advocacy with Congressional and Federal lawmakers is unprecedented. Resources previously dedicated to serving clients are now being siphoned off to understand what the new laws mean, and to advocate with lawmakers and the media – showing up at airports, recruiting legislators to speak up and take action, researching and communicating the legal impact of the Orders, and keeping up with the interpretation of them that is changing on an hourly basis.
- The media is missing the largest part of the story: that most of the Orders are not temporary and impact over 11 million people living in the U.S., making us all less safe. Intensive advocacy is needed to highlight what the orders really do, including the fact that they:
- Prioritize raids and mass deportation of, not just convicted criminals, but others who will be swept up in broadly-worded categories that can include human trafficking victims, domestic violence survivors, and other victims of crime;
- Penalize local police who want the immigrant community to be able to dial 911, work with law enforcement to report crime and assist in prosecutions, without fear of deportation;
- Mandate the expensive and long-term incarceration of women and children, who have valid claims for asylum and relatives to live with;
- Shift judicial resources to detention centers, ignoring the national backlogs, which will result in a dramatic increase in delays throughout the immigration judicial system (even when it can already take 5 or more years to have a first hearing scheduled); and
- Institute a hiring freeze that makes it impossible for immigration officers and staff to carry out their jobs.
Tahirih is the only national, multi-city organization providing both policy leadership and direct, on the ground services to immigrant and refugee women and girls fleeing violence. We are uniquely positioned to elevate our clients’ voices to address the vast consequences of the Executive Orders, but it also makes the challenge of keeping up with the volume of need especially great at this moment in time.
We urgently need your help to raise $500,000 for an Emergency Fund to rise to this time-sensitive challenge. Your partnership matters, now more than ever. We cannot – we must not – turn our backs on courageous women and girls seeking freedom from gender-based violence.