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.

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Senators urge President Obama to allow more Syrian refugees to resettle in the U.S.

(Washington, D.C.) May 21, 2015 — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today led a group of fourteen senators in calling on President Barack Obama to significantly increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed to resettle in the United States. The Syrian conflict has led to the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis and the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

“Our nation’s founders came to our shores to escape religious persecution and the United States has a long tradition of providing safe haven to refugees,” the senators wrote. “The United States traditionally accepts at least 50 percent of resettlement cases from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However, we have accepted only approximately 700 refugees since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, an unacceptably low number. While the United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, we must also dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees that we accept for resettlement.”

Full text of the senators’ letter follows:  Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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.

NGO alliance warns sequestration cuts will cost lives

WASHINGTON (March 1, 2013) – NGO alliance InterAction urged members of Congress and the administration to restore support for life-saving foreign assistance programs in continued budget negotiations, warning that sequestration cuts that take effect today will cost lives.

Under sequestration, programs that provide food aid, support for refugees, HIV/AIDS treatment, primary school education and other poverty-focused and humanitarian assistance will be cut by approximately 5.3 percent – a move that not only risks lives, but turns back the clock on years of investment and progress, said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction.

“These cuts to foreign assistance programs, which make up less than 1 percent of the budget, are not going to address the federal deficit,” Worthington said. “But they will translate into real human suffering, at a time when crises in Syria, Mali, Sudan and elsewhere desperately need our attention. The U.S. government would be hard-pressed to respond to any unexpected crises that might erupt during the 2013 fiscal year.”

More people are displaced around the world by conflict now than at any other point in the last 15 years. In Syria, one in five people needs food, heat and other humanitarian assistance as the situation continues to deteriorate and the number of refugees in neighboring countries nears one million, according to the United Nations.

The sequestration cuts also mean:

•   2.1 million fewer people would have access reduced or denied to lifesaving food aid.

• 605,625 fewer children who will receive nutritional interventions designed to save their lives and help prevent the irreversible damage to their brains and bodies caused by malnutrition.

• 1.2 million fewer insecticide-treated mosquito nets will be procured, leading to over 3,200 deaths due to malaria; 2 million fewer people will receive treatment.

• 67,200 fewer HIV-positive pregnant women will receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, leading to nearly 12,800 infants being infected with HIV.

“Congress needs to take the responsible path here. People’s lives depend on it, both here and abroad,” Worthington said.

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Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 190 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. Visit www.interaction.org.

U.S. NGOs urge administration and Congress to increase humanitarian funding

InterAction logoWASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2013) – Current funding levels for Fiscal Year 2013 for international humanitarian assistance are insufficient to meet escalating humanitarian needs, said leading NGOs in letters sent this week to U.S. lawmakers and the administration.

“With more people displaced by conflict around the world than at any other point in the last 15 years, we simply cannot afford to roll back our humanitarian assistance programs now,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction. “As the administration continues to negotiate the continuing resolution and sequestration with Congress, it is critical that humanitarian accounts are not only protected, but increased. Without additional funding, U.S. agencies that oversee humanitarian response may be put in the impossible position of having to choose between saving lives in one country over another,” added Worthington.

Syria continues to descend into chaos, reaching new depths of human suffering as more communities are uprooted and displaced. As of this month, nearly 770,000 people have poured into five neighboring countries, with the total expected to rise to over one million by June. This is up from 70,000 refugees last May.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jesuit Refugee Service

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (jrsusa.org) is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.

As one of the ten geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS/USA serves as the major refugee outreach arm of U.S. Jesuits and their institutional ministries, mobilizing their response to refugee situations in the U.S. and abroad. Through our advocacy and fund raising efforts, JRS/USA also provides support for the work of JRS throughout the world.

JRS/USA gives help, hope, ear and voice to vulnerable people on the move by being present to and bearing witness to their plight; by relieving their human suffering and restoring hope; by addressing the root causes of their displacement and improving international responses to refugee situations.

In addition, JRS/USA inspires the Ignatian family and others to respond together to the needs of refugees and displaced persons worldwide and forges strong partnerships with like-minded institutions and agencies devoted to the cause of refugees and displaced persons.

JRS works in more than 57 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.

JRS provides primary and secondary education to approximately 170,000 children, and undertakes advocacy to ensure that all displaced children are provided with a quality education.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. jrsusa.org/donate.cfm?LID=201