Every day, organizations worldwide are engaged in a collective two steps forward, one step back march toward improved immigration services and policies. What hard-earned lessons are these nonprofits, and the foundations that support them, learning from their persistent efforts? This collection of evaluations, case studies, and lessons learned exposes and explores the nuances of effective collaboration, the value of coordinated messaging, the bedrock of ongoing advocacy efforts, and the vital importance of long-term and flexible funding.

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Featured

Protection Denied: Humanitarian Consequences at the U.S. Southern Border One Year Into the Biden Administration

January 14, 2022

On February 2, 2021, less than two weeks after taking office, the Biden administration issued a series of presidential actions regarding immigration, including an executive order to provide safe and orderly processing of asylum seekers at the United States border. The executive order promised to restore and strengthen the U.S. asylum system through safe, orderly, and humane reception and processing of asylum seekers at the border, noting that immigrants have made the U.S. stronger and better for generations and that policies enacted under the Trump administration contravened U.S. values and caused needless suffering.One year into the Biden administration, however, some of the most severe Trump-era policies that have decimated access to asylum — commonly known as "Title 42" and "Remain in Mexico" — remain in force. These measures effectively "externalize" asylum beyond U.S. borders, making U.S. territory unreachable to foreign nationals who do not have permission to enter – even if they are exercising their human right to seek asylum – and require Mexico and other countries to carry increasingly challenging burdens to meet humanitarian needs.This report provides an update on continued externalization of asylum and the resulting humanitarian impacts at the U.S.-Mexico border. The first year of the Biden administration has demonstrated the real dangers of border externalization — both to vulnerable migrants in need of protection and to the humanitarian organizations working to protect their rights and meet their basic needs.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers
Featured

On the Frontlines of the Climate Emergency: Where Immigrants Meet Climate Change

December 8, 2021

Extreme heat waves, droughts, fires, hurricanes, and floods surging in the United States and across the globe are wake-up calls to the reality of a climate-altered world. While climate change affects everyone, the damage is compounded for countries and communities that are made vulnerable by restrictive immigration policies, patriarchal beliefs and systems, structural racism, and by economic stress and exploitation.This report seeks to inspire justice-oriented funders to invest at the nexus of the climate and immigrant justice movements, with a particular eye to the unique vulnerabilities and contributions of immigrants. Philanthropic investment at this pivotal juncture would help build a healthy and collaborative ecosystem across movements and is both a moral and strategic priority. This can enable forward planning of legal pathways for people who lose their homes; protections and opportunities for workers and communities who are striving to build resilience; and the power to win and implement urgent, equitable, and effective responses to climate challenges. 

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

A Shameful Record: Biden Administration’s Use of Trump Policies Endangers People Seeking Asylum

January 13, 2022

Now nearly one year into President Biden's term, his administration continues to implement and expand illegal and deadly Trump administration policies that prevent people from seeking asylum at U.S. ports of entry and along the border and turn them away to grave, widespread dangers. The administration's use of these policies – known as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico – has perpetuated their inherent cruelty, disorder, and the racist tropes in which they are rooted. The result is a shameful record of human suffering. Since the Biden administration took office, Human Rights First has tracked over 8,705 reports of kidnappings and other violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers blocked in and/or expelled to Mexico by the United States government.Despite lifting other pandemic-related international travel restrictions, the Biden administration continues to embrace Stephen Miller's policy of misusing Title 42 of the U.S. Code to block asylum seekers from requesting protection at U.S. ports of entry and to expel people seeking refuge without access to the U.S. asylum system. The administration is defending the expulsion policy in federal court, with the next hearing in a lawsuit challenging expulsions of families at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals set for January 19, 2022. The Biden administration bears full responsibility for its rampant use and continued defense of the illegal Title 42 policy, which it is has wielded now for longer and to expel more people than President Trump.For this report, Human Rights First researchers conducted in person and remote interviews with migrants and asylum seekers, attorneys, shelter and other humanitarian staff, Mexican government officials, and legal monitors. Researchers monitored the implementation of RMX in Ciudad Juárez in person in December 2021 and interviewed 18 of the individuals returned under RMX. Additional interviews of migrants and asylum seekers blocked in or expelled to Mexico due to Title 42 were conducted by telephone between December 2021 and January 2022 and in person in Tijuana in November 2021. The report draws on data from an electronic survey of asylum seekers in Mexico conducted by Al Otro Lado between September 2021 and December 2021, data and information provided by Mexican migration officials, legal complaints, media sources, and other human rights reports.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

The psychological effects of forced family separation on asylum-seeking children and parents at the US-Mexico border: A qualitative analysis of medico-legal documents

November 24, 2021

The U.S. government forcibly separated more than 5,000 children from their parents between 2017 and 2018 through its "Zero Tolerance" policy. It is unknown how many of the children have since been reunited with their parents. As of August 1, 2021, however, at least 1,841 children are still separated from their parents. This study systematically examined narratives obtained as part of a medico-legal process by trained clinical experts who interviewed and evaluated parents and children who had been forcibly separated. The data analysis demonstrated that 1) parents and children shared similar pre-migration traumas and the event of forced family separation in the U.S.; 2) they reported signs and symptoms of trauma following reunification; 3) almost all individuals met criteria for DSM diagnoses, even after reunification; 4) evaluating clinicians consistently concluded that mental health treatment was indicated for both parents and children; and 5) signs of malingering were absent in all cases.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Fulfilling America’s Promise: Options to Make U.S. Humanitarian Protection Pathways Viable for At-Risk Afghans

November 9, 2021

In this report, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), InterAction, and Human Rights First lay out several options available to the Biden Administration to provide at-risk Afghans viable humanitarian pathways out of Afghanistan and third countries and into the U.S.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Biden Administration’s Dangerous Haitian Expulsion Strategy Escalates the U.S. History of Illegal and Discriminatory Mistreatment of Haitians Seeking Safety in the United States

September 21, 2021

This fact sheet from Human Rights First and Haitian Bridge Alliance (the Bridge) examines the response of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Biden Administration toward the predominantly Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers who crossed into the United States near Del Rio, Texas in August/September 2021. It also compares the current situation to the approach the United States has historically adopted toward Haitian immigrants and asylum seekers.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Does Refugee Resettlement Impact State and Local Finances? The Fiscal Effects of the Refugee Resettlement Program

September 3, 2021

Over forty years ago, the people and government of the United States chose to provide refuge and dignity to those who need it through the bipartisan U.S. Refugee Act of 1980. In recent years, our refugee resettlement system has suffered increased restrictions and the lowest refugee acceptance numbers in the history of the program, particularly under the Trump administration.In the first months of his presidency, President Biden proposed increasing the refugee resettlement ceiling and signed Executive Order 14013 to review, rehabilitate, and enhance the U.S. refugee resettlement system. Additionally, as a result of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was expanded for thousands of Afghan nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government. Similarly, the Biden administration expanded the Priority 2 (P-2) refugee resettlement program for other at-risk Afghans. Building and capitalizing upon local support will be key to successfully rebuilding refugee resettlement and supporting refugees and SIV holders once they have arrived.This local support is hard won, however, as some perceive refugees to be an economic or fiscal burden on local communities. In a recent survey of local officials in receiving communities, 40 percent mentioned the economic impacts of refugees, compared to only 25 percent who mentioned refugees' cultural fit. This policy brief examines the fiscal impacts of refugee resettlement on states and local communities, using Virginia as a case study to provide more insight into resettlement's implications for state and local fiscal health.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Human Rights Travesty: Biden Administration Embrace of Trump Asylum Expulsion Policy Endangers Lives, Wreaks Havoc

August 24, 2021

More than seven months since President Biden took office, the U.S. government continues to turn awayand block people seeking protection at U.S. ports of entry along the southern border and to expel manyasylum seekers to growing danger in Mexico. For this report, Human Rights First researchers conducted in person and remote interviews with migrantsand asylum seekers, government officials in the United States and Mexico, attorneys, academicresearchers, humanitarian staff, and other legal monitors. Researchers spoke with 65 migrants andasylum seekers in person in the Mexican cities of Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras, and CiudadAcuña in August 2021 and more than 50 additional interviews with migrants and asylum seekers inMexico were carried out by telephone between July and August 2021. Interviews were conductedprimarily in Spanish with a limited number in English. The report draws on data from an electronic surveyof asylum seekers in Mexico conducted by Al Otro Lado between June and August 2021, as well asinformation from U.S. and Mexican government data, media sources, and other human rights reports.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Pushing Back Protection: How Offshoring And Externalization Imperil The Right To Asylum

August 3, 2021

The 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Refugee Protocol created the framework for asylum law at a global level. Key to this framework is the principle of non-refoulement, which prevents countries from returning asylum seekers to places where they may face persecution or torture. Most nations, including affluent countries such as the United States, Australia, and European Union Member States, ratified these treaties, incorporating the core principle of non-refoulement into their domestic laws. However, in recent decades, with the goal of preventing asylum seekers and migrants from reaching their borders, these nations have chipped away at the principle, claiming compliance with legal obligations while in practice rendering safety elusive for refugees fleeing harm.These nations turned to two mechanisms to achieve their goals: offshoring or transferring asylum seekers to other nations for processing or detention under tenuous bilateral agreements; and/or externalization or interfering with the journey of asylum seekers and seeking to halt their arrival through pushbacks by public or private proxy entities.This report traces restrictions on the ability of vulnerable people to seek asylum across three continents in recent history and describes the deadly impact these policies have had on people seeking protection around the world. The U.S.-based authors of the report conclude with recommendations for the United States government to draw from these global lessons.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Families in Limbo: What the Biden Administration Can Do Now to Address Unreasonable Delays in Refugee and Asylee Family Reunification

March 9, 2021

This report outlines how the "Follow-to-Join" process has been hampered by actions taken by the Trump Administration and how the Biden Administration can improve the process. It  compiles information that IRAP has learned in litigation, as well as through individualrepresentation of clients in the refugee admissions process, engaging in policy advocacy, and pursuingFreedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Investing in Black Leaders in the Immigrant and Racial Justice Movements

February 19, 2021

Four Freedoms Fund (FFF), a collaborative fund of NEO Philanthropy, is proud to honor Black History Month this year with the release of its recommendations on how philanthropy can strategically and broadly strengthen the Black immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker organizing ecosystem. The recommendations are based on interviews with Black-led immigrant, refugee and asylum seeking organizations building the movements for immigrant and racial justice.  These Black-led organizations have played an outsize role in pushing the immigrant justice movement to center racial justice, as well as being visionaries pushing the boundaries for a more just and equitable future in our country.FFF makes seven strategic recommendations for how funders can support Black immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeker-focused and led organizations in building their own power toward self-determination and equity. 

Refugees & Asylum Seekers

Roadmap to Recovery: A Path Forward after the Remain in Mexico Program

January 13, 2021

For years, the U.S. government allowed individuals applying for asylum to physically remain in the United States while their cases were adjudicated. However, in January 2019, the Trump administration introduced the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the "Remain in Mexico" program, which fundamentally changed this process by forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration court proceedings. This change has created incalculable suffering to asylum seekers along the border. Upholding the United States' commitment to a humane and compassionate asylum system demands not only the immediate cancelation of the program, but a detailed plan to repair the damage it has caused.The following recommendations outline actions the new administration should take before asylum seekers can enter the United States, how asylum seekers should enter the United States, and what procedures should occur after asylum seekers enter the United States to remedy the harm they suffered under the Trump administration's policies. The report also includes recommendations for longer-term actions to eliminate discriminatory asylum regulations and policies in the future.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers