Congress Must Put an End to Administration’s Prosecution and Detention of Asylum Seekers

Three men and a woman facing large metal structure separating the U.S. and Mexico
Photo By: BBC World Services

Congress Must Put an End to Administration’s Prosecution and Detention of Asylum Seekers

InterAction and over 80 member organizations issued the below statement to leaders of both parties in Congress on June 21 in response to the White House’s policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and detaining children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border:

“We write today to urge Congress to take immediate and decisive action to end the administration’s policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and detaining children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Any such action should also immediately reunify children who were separated from their parents by previous Administration orders. Mass detention of families is unconscionable, regardless of the legal status of migrants, and prosecuting asylum seekers is a direct violation of their legal rights under U.S. law and treaties to which the U.S. is a ratified party.

InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based development and humanitarian nonprofits organizations and as organizations who have supported or directly delivered assistance to displaced persons and other vulnerable populations overseas, we know both the unique challenges and responsibilities that host governments and communities face. Based on our experience, we believe there is no challenge that could possibly justify mass detention of migrant families. The U.S. has spoken out against very similar practices by other countries. This cruel and inhumane practice undermines our moral standing internationally – particularly with other countries that are hosting refugees and asylum seekers.

The trauma caused to children and families seeking refuge in our nation by these policies will have ramifications for generations to come. On an individual level, children who undergo detention or have been forcibly separated from their families experience toxic stress that can profoundly and permanently impact their mental, physical, and emotional development. Any remedial action taken by the administration or Congress should also seek to address the psycho-social support needs of children and families traumatized by such separation and detention.

Over 2,000 families were forcibly torn apart in the past six weeks. Thousands of separated children are still being held in tent cities or other deplorable detention facilities by U.S. authorities. Asylum seekers have been prosecuted in direct violation of U.S. law and treaty commitments. Ending separation of new arrivals only addresses one aspect of this cruel and inhumane policy while allowing others to continue.  If the administration fails to immediately end and remediate its unacceptable policies, it is up to Congress to stop these injustices that undermine our identity as a nation.”

  1. Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Executive Director, 1,000 Days
  2. Andrea Tamburini, Chief Executive Officer, Action Against Hunger
  3. Jonathan Duffy, President, ADRA International
  4. Steven J. Smith, President and CEO, Airlink
  5. Melanie Greenberg, President and CEO, Alliance for Peacebuilding
  6. Robert Bank, President and CEO, American Jewish World Service
  7. Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO, Americares
  8. Robert Kelty, Executive Director, Amref Health Africa  US
  9. Emily Arnold-Fernandez, Executive Director, Asylum Access
  10. Elana Berger, Executive Director, Bank Information Center
  11. Dan Stoner, Board Chair, Basic Education Coaltion
  12. Chris Palusky, President and CEO, Bethany Christian Services
  13. Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World
  14. Debra Boudreaux, Executive Vice President, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
  15. Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO, Build Change
  16. Amy Coughenour Betancourt, Chief Executive Officer, Cadasta Foundation
  17. Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA
  18. Polly Byers, Executive Director, CDA Collaborative Learning
  19. Serra Sippel, President, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
  20. J. Daryl Byler, Executive Director, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University
  21. Nancy Press, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Child Aid
  22. Anne Lynam Goddard, President and CEO, ChildFund International
  23. Colleen Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Concern Worldwide US
  24. Lisa Hilmi, Executive Director, CORE Group
  25. Osman Dulgeroglu, Chief Executive Officer, Embrace Relief Foundation
  26. Robert W. Radtke, President and CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development
  27. Carol Miller, Founding Partner, Five Heads Strategic Communications
  28. Gary Edmonds, President and CEO, Food for the Hungry
  29. Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, Foreign Policy for America
  30. Chris Collins, President, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  31. Karina Weinstein, Program Director, FXB USA
  32. Sean Lawrence, Executive Director, Giving Children Hope
  33. David A. Weiss, President and CEO, Global Communities
  34. Dr. Rebecca S. Hage Thomley, Chief Executive Officer, Headwaters Relief Organization
  35. James Mitchum, Chief Executive Officer, Heart to Heart International
  36. Kathy Spahn, President and CEO, Helen Keller International
  37. Raza Farrukh, Chief Executive Officer, Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD)
  38. Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS
  39. Jeff Meer, US Executive Director, Humanity & Inclusion
  40. Thomas Dente, Chief Executive Officer, Humentum
  41. Judith A. Hermanson, President and CEO, IHC Global
  42. Dr. Linda Pfeiffer, President and CEO, INMED Partnerships for Children
  43. Samuel A. Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, InterAction
  44. Victoria M. Sheffield, President and CEO, International Eye Foundation
  45. Daniel Wolf, Executive Director, International Lifeline Fund
  46. Barry La Forgia, Executive Director, International Relief Teams
  47. David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee
  48. William S. Reese, Chief Executive Officer, International Youth Foundation
  49. Sharif Aly, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Relief USA
  50. Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
  51. Charles J. Hooker, IIII, President and CEO, Keystone Human Services
  52. Amb. Daniel V. Speckhard (rt.), President and CEO, Lutheran World Relief
  53. J. Ron Byler, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
  54. Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
  55. Umar al-Qadi, President and CEO, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
  56. Joel R. Charny, Executive Director, Norwegian Refugee Council USA
  57. Abby Maxman, President and CEO, Oxfam America
  58. Steve Davis, President and CEO, PATH
  59. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO, Plan International USA
  60. Ester Neltrup, President and CEO, Planet Aid
  61. Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President and CEO, PCI (Project Concern International)
  62. Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness, Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Minstry, Presbyterian Mission Agency
  63. Dr. Tom Kenyon, CEO and Chief Medical Officer, Project HOPE
  64. Eric Schwartz, President, Refugees International
  65. Nancy E. Wilson, President and CEO, Relief International
  66. Joanne Carter, Executive Director, RESULTS
  67. Rod Brooks, President and CEO, Rise Against Hunger
  68. Emily Vargas-Baron, Director, RISE Institute
  69. Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children
  70. Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center
  71. Mishelle Rudzinski, Executive Director, SPOON
  72. Clint Borgen, President, The Borgen Project
  73. Suzanne Mayo Frindt, President and CEO, The Hunger Project
  74. Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, Director, Transnational NGO Initiative, Syracuse University
  75. Eskinder Negash, President and CEO, U.S.Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  76. Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, UNICEF USA
  77. Roland Fernandes, Treasurer, United Methodist Committee on Relief
  78. Chris Whatley, Executive Director, United Nations Association of the United States
  79. Anne-Marie Grey, Executive Director and CEO, USA for UNHCR
  80. Dianne Calvi, Chief Executive Officer, Village Enterprise
  81. Michael Deal, President & CEO, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)
  82. Lynn Malooly, Executive Director, Water for South Sudan
  83. Sarina Prabasi, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid
  84. Elizabeth McGovern, Executive Director, WEEMA International
  85. Diana DuBois, Executive Director, WellShare International
  86. Emily Bove, Executive Director, Women Thrive Alliance
  87. Sarah Costa, Executive Director, Women’s Refugee Commission
  88. John Lyon, President, World Hope International
  89. Anita Shafer Aaron, Executive Director and CEO, World Institute on Disability
  90. Carol Bremer-Bennett, Executive Director, World Renew
  91. Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.
  92. Halil Demir, Executive Director, Zakat Foundation of America