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    Asylum-Seekers Keep Getting Sent Back To Mexico Without Their Children Based On Unreliable Information

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    As Border Patrol agents started separating Miguel from his then-12-year-old son, the indigenous Guatemalan man begged that they instead be kept together.

    “That’s not an option,” Miguel said an agent told him. “Your son can’t go where we’re taking you. We’re taking him to a safe place.”

    It’s unknown how many parents sent back through the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy have also been separated from their children or if immigration authorities are tracking those cases. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declined to comment. But it’s clear that Miguel isn’t the only one.

    A complaint filed by the Women’s Refugee Commission in August with two DHS watchdog agencies detailed 20 cases where families were separated by CBP at the border and at least some members were sent back to Mexico under MPP.

    The abandoned asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border

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    Mere feet from the US-Mexico border, thousands of asylum seekers have been forced to live in squalid conditions in some of the most dangerous parts of Mexico. They are under threat from drug cartels and dependent on American volunteers for even the most basic necessities.

    “Several thousand families are living in the most deplorable, the most horrid conditions imaginable,” Ursela Ojeda, an attorney with the Women’s Refugee Commission, said.

    In addition to Vox, this story also appeared in MSN News (US), MSN News UK, and MSN News Australia.

    Blocked at the border: Young families, pregnant mothers struggle for asylum

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    Like most others in the encampment that's just a stone’s throw away from U.S. soil, Melissa and her family had crossed the southern border to seek asylum, only to be returned to the Mexico side where they would have to wait.

    The family found themselves caught at the center of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy — a Trump administration initiative that has forced tens of thousands of Central Americans to wait outside the U.S. for their chance to appear in immigration court.

    Immigrant advocates, however, argue that there are safer alternatives to the policy that would give migrants more access to the legal services they need to make an effective claim.

    One frequently cited example is the Obama administration's Family Case Management Program, for which more than 99% of families who participated showed up for their court hearings and appointments with ICE, according to data from the Women's Refugee Commission.

    Report: US to send asylum seekers to Honduras, blocking them from making a claim in America

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    A migration deal will allow immigration authorities to send asylum seekers to Honduras and prevent them from reapplying in the United States, according to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

    The Department of Homeland Security announced the agreement in September, but the Times on Monday was the first to report that the deal would block seekers from applying in the U.S. if Honduras or another country rejects their asylum claims.

    The U.S.-Honduras deal has also drawn criticism since it was announced in September. Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women's Refugee Commission, said the deal endangers families and undermines human rights.

    In addition to USA Today, this story was published in Yahoo! News, the Wisconsin State Farmer, the Argus Leader, the Naples Daily News, and the Visalia Times Delta

    Early reports warned migrant kids suffered from separations. Trump ramped up practice anyway.

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    Internal emails, documents illustrate a chaotic attempt last year to track traumatized migrant children seized from parents.

    The materials were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to Health and Human Services by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. All have experience providing legal services for migrant children.

    The Trump administration knew migrant children would suffer from family separations. The government ramped up the practice anyway.

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    Newly obtained government documents show how the Trump administration’s now-blocked policy to separate all migrant children from parents led social workers to frantically begin tracking thousands of children seized at the southern border and compile reports on cases of trauma.

    Internal documents show Health and Human Services staff members were unprepared for the unprecedented number of suffering young children transferred to their custody.

    Materials were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to Health and Human Services by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project. All have experience providing legal services for migrant children.

    REUNITED AT LAST: Father and son, separated at border, now together in Providence

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    PROVIDENCE — The air was dry and heavy with heat in El Paso, Texas, on May 26, 2018, as U.S. Border Patrol agents lined up Nery Ernesto Ortega Lima, 44, and other men who had been apprehended crossing the southern border.

    His son, Nery Osbeli Ortega Yanis, 15, and other children were placed before the adults.

    Though the Trump administration said the Flores Agreement forced its hand in separating families, critics such as The Women’s Refugee Commission argue that families can be released together into the community while their immigration cases are pending.

    Pregnant immigration detainees spiked 52 percent under Trump administration

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    WASHINGTON - U.S. officials jailed approximately 2,100 pregnant women for immigration violations in 2018, including hundreds who were held for weeks or months, a 52 percent increase since President Trump took office, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

    Lawyers for pregnant women say it is unfair to force women to remain in jail, fighting nausea and other pregnancy symptoms, while pleading their asylum cases. Some women have fled domestic violence in Central America and others were raped on their journeys through Mexico to the U.S. border.

    The Women’s Refugee Commission and other advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General and the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Office in 2017 citing inadequate medical care and reports of women who had suffered infections, stress and in some instances, miscarriages in detention.

    A New Report on Family Separations Shows the Depths of Trump's Negligence

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    Last week, on the afternoon before Thanksgiving, the D.H.S. Inspector General quietly issued another report with still more revelations. In early May, 2018, just as the zero-tolerance policy was taking effect, D.H.S. shared an estimate with the White House that more than twenty-six thousand migrant children would be separated from their families over the course of that summer.

    “This report just shows that they did not even plan to reunify,” Michelle Brané, of the Women’s Refugee Commission, told me. “They do not see this population as human.”

    Why We Will Never Know Exactly How Many Immigrant Families Were Separated

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    Last year, the Trump administration ripped apart thousands of immigrant families despite knowing it did not have a tracking system in place that would ensure they could be reunited, according to a new report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

    As a result, the public will likely never know how many immigrant children have been separated from their parents.

    “It just confirms that the real policy and attitude of dehumanization of this population,” said Michelle Brané, the director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    Mexico Government Must Ensure the Safety and Well-Being of Asylum Seekers Returned to Mexico under “Migrant Protection Protocols”

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    The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), together with more than 160 organizations and individuals from the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere, including the Women's Refugee Commission, sent a letter to the Mexican government expressing profound concern for ITS failure to ensure the safety of asylum seekers returned to Mexico under the Trump administration’s so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP).

    President Trump’s misleading spin on the border crisis

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    Trump’s claim that the situation at the border is “much better” now than it was under Obama is misleading. Poor conditions at Border Patrol holding facilities have continued or worsened since 2014. More unaccompanied minors were detained in fiscal year 2019 than any other year on record, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    “I believe this administration is intentionally creating an overcrowding and chaotic situation to deter people from coming in. What we’ve seen is that it doesn’t work,” said Michelle Brané, senior director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

    2nd annual Lantern Tour at NYC’s Town Hall

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    For the second consecutive year, the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Lantern Tour held benefit concerts in Washington, DC, and New York (Nov 5 and 6) in support of the Commission’s efforts. Separating children from their parents at the border and failures at our immigration centers sparked fierce protests over the summer, but when the news cycle moves on, watchdog groups like the Women’s Refugee Commission continue monitoring the situation and advocating for immigrant families.

    Tickets on sale for Lantern Tour II, benefitting migrant, refugee families

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    Tickets for The Lantern Tour II: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families have gone on sale.

    Performances by Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Amy Ray, Jackson Browne, and Buddy and Julie Miller will benefit the Women's Refugee Commission and its work on behalf of migrant and asylum seeking families.

    New Trump rule puts LGBTQ asylum seekers at greater risk

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    LGBTQ asylum seekers from Central American countries stuck at the Mexican border at San Diego’s San Ysidro district are being placed at greater risk of persecution and violence through the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, immigrant advocates say.

    A source with CBP indicated to the Los Angeles Blade that a percentage of those returned to Mexico under the MPP program had failed to make the required appearances at the CBP Border Station for hearings. That’s because, Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission told The Guardian UK last month, of the sheer number of violent crimes occurring in the border towns.

    Sheryl Crow, Amy Ray to Join Emmylou Harris at Lantern Tour II Concert

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    The Lantern Tour II will get underway in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening with performers including Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, and Steve Earle. A winter 2020 concert in Nashville has been added to the itinerary, with Sheryl Crow and Amy Ray also joining the bill.

    Like its inaugural 2018 version, the Lantern Tour II is being organized by the Women’s Refugee Commission and will benefit the work that organization is doing to aid migrant and asylum-seeking families. The group has been especially active in documenting human rights violations along the southern U.S. border in the Trump era.

    Sheryl Crow, Amy Ray Join 'The Lantern Tour II: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families'

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    As The Lantern Tour II prepares to kick off its nationwide tour tonight at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., tour organizers announced the winter 2020 date and full lineup, which will feature Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Jerry Douglas, Steve Earle, Buddy and Julie Miller and Amy Ray.

    The Lantern Tour II reunites Grammy-nominated and award-winning musicians Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, and Steve Earle for the concert series to benefit the Women's Refugee Commission and its work on behalf of migrant and asylum-seeking families.

    Trump is overwhelmingly abandoning vulnerable LGBT migrants to face abuse at Mexican border

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    Vulnerable LGBT+ migrants are being kept in Mexican border cities to face violence and abuse, despite the fact that they are supposed to be excluded from Trump’s Remain in Mexico program.

    Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission, told The Guardian: “When you see people not showing up for their court hearing in Remain in Mexico, you have to wonder what happened to the people who aren’t there.

    She raised her niece like a daughter. Then the US government separated them at the border

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    The six-year-old girl on the other end of the line tells Alexa she fears they will never be together again. In another 15-minute phone call, she questions if Alexa still loves her. She asks Alexa to pick her up from the family she’s staying with in New York. Alexa hears the girl say the words in Spanish: “You are my mom, I want to be with you.”

    Alexa wishes she could go get her. But Alexa’s locked up 2,400 miles away, at an immigration detention center in Arizona.

    A federal judge in San Diego ordered the Trump administration in the summer of 2018 to reunite families and stop separating most parents and children. But the court order does not apply to non-parents, and the administration keeps separating people like Alexa – aunts, grandparents or older siblings who commonly step in as guardians without formal paperwork – from the children they’re traveling with, without any procedure to reunite them.

    Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, says when these caregivers are separated from children at the border, it’s not even “necessarily noted in the file anywhere that this separation occurred or who the adult is that brought the child in”.

    She raised her niece like a daughter. Then the US government separated them at the border

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    Children who arrive at the border without a parent or legal guardian – even if they come with an adult relative – are considered “unaccompanied” and are sent to child shelters, according to a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson.

    But some advocates say the government should broaden its definition of legal guardian to include longstanding adult caregivers. Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, is disappointed the government has so far refused to take that step. “Because really the whole point of all of this is to do what’s in the best interests of the child,” Brané says.