Washington, DC – Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will prosecute all individuals apprehended at the Southwest Border, including adults with children, under a zero tolerance policy. This policy will result in increased family separation, a failure to identify asylum seekers, and the unjust prosecution of asylum seekers.
Refugee Council USA reminds policymakers that under U.S. law individuals fleeing persecution have the right to seek asylum in the United States or at U.S. borders, irrespective of how they enter the country. This is not a loophole, but a carefully developed system for ensuring the safety of persecuted individuals and for maintaining our international commitments to protect refugees. The United States has an orderly process for seeking asylum that includes in-person interviews, immigration court hearings, and a variety of security checks.
Mary Giovagnoli, Executive Director of RCUSA notes, “People seeking asylum should be given that opportunity. The United States is a nation based on the rule of law, and our law is clear that those seeking asylum may be permitted to remain in the U.S while their claim is considered. They should not be barred from entry or forced to wait outside the United States for days. And they should not be threatened with possible prosecution or the loss of their children. We have a system in place that assesses and adjudicates asylum applications. Determining whether or not someone is fleeing persecution based on the horrific violence in many parts of Central America is a difficult and fact-intensive exercise that takes time—that is not a flaw in the system, but recognition of the important issues at stake. Asylum-seekers are frequently victims of violence and terror who have turned to the United States as a last resort. Asylum is not a loophole—it is one of the most important responsibilities we have to the world to protect those who cannot protect themselves. The last thing anyone wants is a humanitarian crisis on our borders. There is a simple way to ensure that doesn’t happen: follow the law.”
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Contact: Danielle Grigsby, Associate Director, RCUSA, email@example.com