Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On Discrimination Against Dominicans of Haitian Descent

I have traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and am familiar with the history of racial tensions between the population of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent, and other citizens of the Dominican Republic.

These problems are by no means unique to these two neighboring countries, nor are there easy solutions. In addition to race there is competition for land, social services, and jobs. But while this situation should not be oversimplified, the way the Dominican government is dealing with it is unfortunate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Panel Discussion: Legal Challenges Facing Central American Asylum Seekers

Join us for a panel discussion on July 16 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Click here or on the image to RSVP now.

Join us for a panel discussion on July 16 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. 

Join us for a panel discussion on July 16 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Public Declaration from Civil Society organizations on the Situation in the Northern Triangle

summit

VII Summit of the Americas Public Statement

Panama 2015

Public statement by the Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration (RROCM); Jesuit Network for Migrants, The Children’s Shelter (Guatemala), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), participants at the Forum for Civil Society and Social Actors in the Framework of the VII Summit of the Americas, developed in Panama.

Faced with the challenges that the new reality of migration has presented to us in the countries of origin, transit, destination, and return, social organizations that work to defend and promote the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, displaced persons, and children and adolescents, call on all the States present at the VII Summit of the Americas, to dialogue and remain conscious of the situation of migrants and the need to maintain full respect for their human rights.

Conscious of the ways in which the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees have been gravely violated, we urge the States to implement a comprehensive approach, rather than a response confined to economic considerations, or that relies on deportations, security infrastructure and arbitrary detentions.

While it is true that the population of migrant workers and the remittances contribute to development, all the same, without dignified work, respect and a guarantee of their economic, social and cultural rights, these people and their families cannot fully integrate into their home countries or the countries where they arrive. Read the rest of this entry »

Ruling by Dominican Republic Constitutional Court threatens access to international justice for victims of human rights violations 

Washington, D.C. (November 5, 2014) — Kerry Kennedy and Santiago A. Canton, on behalf of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (Robert F. Kennedy Center), condemn a ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic invalidating the State’s acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In particular, they express profound concern for the impact this ruling will have denying access to international justice for all Dominicans, including most recently hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent who have looked to the international community and the Inter-American human rights system for protection.

“The Dominican Republic had an opportunity to demonstrate bold human rights leadership by protecting the rights of its most vulnerable citizens,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center. “Instead, the Dominican Constitutional Court has not only failed to protect them, but also pretends to deny all Dominicans the possibility of appealing to international law to protect their fundamental rights. The Constitutional Court is playing politics at the expense of the very people it is obliged to protect.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Central American refugees flee violence

Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — has risen steadily as violence has increased. Mary Small of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Shaina Aber of the United States Jesuit Conference explain what is driving people to flee for their lives.

Learn more at jrsusa.org

Youth gang violence has intensified in the last decade, and as drug trafficking routes have shifted to Central America, violence associated with the drug trade has risen as well. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in world; from 2005-2012, murders of women and girls have increased 346% while murders of men and boys are up 292%. In all three countries, rates of impunity are over 90%.

Child advocates, especially from Honduras and El Salvador, report accounts of children and teenagers subject to assaults and intimidation from gangs, and of children being forcibly recruited by gangs who have “join or die” polices. In a survey conducted by UNHCR of 404 Central American children detained at the border in 2013, UNHCR found that 58% of the children might be in need of international protection.

Faith groups urge U.S. to protect child refugees

Read more on our website: http://bit.ly/1lDiUVF

Read more on our website: http://bit.ly/1lDiUVF

Jesuit Conference President Fr. Thomas Smolich S.J., far right, a member of the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Board of Directors, participated in a discussion July 24 with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left,  and other Democratic congressional representatives on how the U.S. should respond to the humanitarian situation in Central America. Mary Small, back right, JRS/USA Assistant Director for Policy and Shaina Aber, back left, Policy Director for the National Advocacy Office at the Jesuit Conference, also took part in the meeting.

On the day of the meeting, more than 300 faith-based organizations delivered a letter to President Barack Obama and Members of Congress urging protection, care and legal counsel for the thousands of Central American children who have fled escalating violence, conflict and exploitation in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Aber said the Conference has been working on human rights issues and tracking issues of migration and violence in Central America, particularly in Honduras, for the past three years. They began to notice the migrants arriving at shelters run by the Jesuits in Mexico were getting younger. “They weren’t looking for economic opportunity but for safer lives outside of gang-ridden neighborhoods,” Aber said.

“The rhetoric we’ve been hearing recently from Congress and the administration has been disturbing,” said Aber. “They are talking about cutting down on protections the children are currently due under the law … at a time when we think Congress should be looking at what the driving factors are that are leading kids to have to flee their communities. They should be looking for ways in which we can protect these children in the tradition we have welcomed and protected other refugees in the past.”

The Jesuit Conference and Jesuit Refugee Service were two of the organizations that led the efforts in drafting the letter, which was signed by 40 national faith organizations and 269 regional and local groups from 42 states.

Read more on our website: http://bit.ly/1lDiUVF

Obama Administration Includes Arbitrary Number of Detention Beds in FY 2015 Budget

Detention Watch Network Urges Congress to End the Quota and Reduce Wasteful Spending on the Incarceration of Immigrants

(Washington, D.C.) March 5, 2014 — Yesterday the Obama Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. The proposal includes $ 1.8 billion for detention and maintains funding for 30,539 beds. In response to release of the FY 2015 budget proposal, Silky Shah, Interim Executive Director of Detention Watch Network (DWN) states:

“DWN is disappointed to learn that the Obama administration continues to prioritize the mass detention and deportation of immigrants. The request to fund an arbitrary and predetermined number of detention beds underscores the use of a quota and is an obstacle toward true reform of a detention system that is rife with abuse.  While the Administration reduced the number of detention beds from its FY 2014 budget request, it is disappointing that President Obama has continued to fulfill the detention bed quota.  DWN calls upon Congress to eliminate the detention bed quota for FY 2015.

DWN notes that the President’s budget also requests $94.1 million in funding for Alternatives to Detention. However, it is currently unclear whether the expanded funding for Alternatives to Detention would reduce the detention population, which should be a priority.”

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The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.