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African Human Rights Coalition is a proud signatory to a letter, in coalition with CGRS, tASISTA, the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Tahirih Justice Center, and over 180 other organizations which was sent today to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, calling on DHS to immediately rescind its policy of expelling asylum seekers at the border. The letter notes that this policy places survivors of domestic and sexual violence at particularly high risk of harm.

To date, this policy has resulted in the expulsions of upwards of 7,000 asylum seekers, with no legal process whatsoever. The groups’ letter points out that this practice places survivors of domestic and sexual violence at particularly high risk of harm.

“The current COVID-19 crisis only compounds the barriers that survivors of gender-based violence face seeking asylum in the United States,” the groups write, noting that shelter at home orders have led to a worldwide surge in domestic violence in recent weeks. “Within the last few years, the U.S. Department of Justice has all but closed the door on women seeking asylum from their abusive partners … The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have now cited the pandemic as justification to close our borders to asylum seekers entirely.”

“If we do not implement reasonable precautions at our border to ensure both public health and the protection of refugees, and instead continue to shut the door to the most vulnerable, we will fail those who turn to us for protection, as well as U.S. domestic and international law obligations, and our own best traditions,” the groups continue. “We urge [DHS] to rescind this flawed policy and replace it with targeted, reasonable, and proportionate measures to protect public health and ensure that women and children fleeing domestic violence and other refugees are not returned to persecution.”


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