Asylum & Refugee Advocacy | Center for Victims of Torture

Asylum & Refugee Advocacy

CVT's core policy initiatives focus on advocating for access to fair asylum and refugee systems for survivors of torture seeking protection in the United States. To do this, CVT's Policy team uses multiple strategies to shine a light on the real-life experiences of asylum seekers and refugees before Congress and before the public.

Here are recent actions by the CVT Policy team and suggestions for ways you can get involved.

Don’t let the Trump administration shut down the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Ask your elected officials to sign a joint letter to President Trump calling on him to allow at least 95,000 refugees into the U.S. next year.

Updates from El Paso

Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos, senior policy counsel, spent a week meeting with asylum seekers in El Paso detention facilities. Read her article here and check out her daily video logs below:
DAY ONE: Monday, May 13, 2019
DAY TWO: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

DAY THREE: Wednesday, May 15, 2019
DAY FOUR: Thursday, May 16, 2019


Over more than three decades, CVT has witnessed extraordinary healing, courage and resilience among clients, while at the same time we have seen confusion and misunderstanding from many in the public about the lives and challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers. To help clarify misconceptions and shed light on the realities of the lives of torture survivors, CVT has published eight facts that we hope will help dispel some of the myths about who refugees and asylum seekers really are. Read all Eight Facts about Refugees and Asylum Seekers here.

Partnerships: Check out this summary of CVT's asylum advocacy partners.



CVT’s digital ad strips away the rhetoric surrounding asylum and features children answering a simple but powerful question: Should we help asylum seekers? Watch it here.
Read the press release here.


CVT Statements, Media Clips, Letters & Publications

CVT Statement: Supreme Court
Sept. 12, 2019
CVT issued this statement objecting to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a ban on asylum seeking to the United States for those who traveled through a third country.

Letter to Congress: DHS Appropriations
Sept. 12, 2019
CVT joined more than 200 NGOs in calling on Congress to cut the detention, enforcement and border militarization portion of the Department of Homeland Security budget, and put in accountability measures.

Letter with National Consortium: Presidential Determination
Sept. 9, 2019
CVT and torture rehabilitation organizations call on the U.S. to admit at least 95,000 refugees next year.

CVT Article: A visit to Stewart Detention Center
Sept. 5, 2019
On her visit to the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, Andrea Cárcamo, CVT senior policy counsel, wrote about finding hope despite exceeding low asylum grant rates.

CVT Article: Georgians speak up for refugees
Aug. 26, 2019
Darlene Lynch, head of external relations, CVT Atlanta, writes about a successful Day of Action event.

CVT Statement: Indefinite Detention of Children
August, 21, 2019
CVT pushed back in this statement as the Trump administration moved to eliminate protections that were intended to protect children’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Letter to Members of Trump Administration: Presidential Determination
August 19, 2019
CVT joined over  170 organizations in this letter calling for a Presidential Determination to admit 95K refugees in FY 2020.

Public Comments - Department of Homeland Security (USDHS): Interim Final Rule (IFR) Unlawful and to Adversely Affect Torture Survivors
Aug. 15, 2019
CVT opposes proposed changes to asylum eligibility criteria and procedural modifications.

Letter to U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security: "Assisted voluntary return" program concerning
Aug. 2, 2019
CVT is one of 30 organizations expressing grave concerns about the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) “assisted voluntary return” program for migrants subject to the Remain in Mexico policy. 

CVT Statement: Graham Bill
July 31, 2019
CVT issued this statement calling Senator Graham’s “Secure and Protect Act” bill a travesty for torture survivors.

Letter to Judiciary Committee
July 31, 2019
CVT signed this letter opposing Senator Lindsey Graham’s “Secure and Protect Act.”

News Media: Common Dreams
July 30, 2019
This article includes a quote from Scott Roehm, director of the Washington office, from CVT’s recent statement. The story and quote were also picked up here, by Raw Story.

Letter to Republic of Guatemala:  Reject Safe Third Country
July 25, 2019
CVT signed this letter  urging Guatemala to reject a safe third country agreement. Read the letter in Spanish here.

News Media: Washington Post
July 23, 2019
Vice President Walter F. Mondale, CVT National Advisory Committee member, published this op ed titled “Walter Mondale: We are once again in a humanitarian refugee crisis. We must stem this misery.”

Letter to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights
July 23, 2019
CVT signed onto this letter requesting a site visit at the U.S. southern border regarding human rights violations.

Press Release: U.S. expanding “expedited removal”
July 23, 2019
CVT issued this release with tips for those who will be affected by the increased fast-track deportation process in the U.S.

News Media: NBC News
July 23, 2019
CVT joined U.S. foreign policy experts, human and civil rights groups, faith leaders, scholars and lawmakers in a letter to Secretary Pompeo opposing the State Department’s Unalienable Rights Commission. NBC News covered the news in an article, “Human rights groups lead chorus of alarm over new Trump administration commission.”

News Media: Common Dreams
July 19, 2019
Scott Roehm, director of the Washington office, was quoted regarding reports of the Trump administration considering zeroing out the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, saying “"This is not about safety, or security, or economics; it’s xenophobia-fueled politics. Closing our doors to some of the world’s most vulnerable people, many of them torture survivors, is as un-American as it is appalling.” This story was also picked up in Raw Story.

CVT Statement: Zero Refugee Admissions
July 18, 2019
CVT issued this statement in response to reports that the Trump administration is considering zeroing out the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in fiscal year 2020.

Letter to State Dept & Homeland Security: Assisted Voluntary Return
July 18, 2019
CVT signed this letter expressing profound concern about the assisted voluntary return program.

CVT Statement: New Barrier to Asylum
July 15, 2019
CVT released this statement denouncing the Trump administration’s new attempt to ban individuals from seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border.

Statement for the Record: Family Separations
July 12, 2019
CVT and the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program submitted this statement, “The Trump Administration’s Child Separation Policy: Substantiated Allegations of Mistreatment,” ahead of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s hearing on family separations.

News Media: MinnPost
July 11, 2019
Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos, senior policy counsel, wrote this article titled, "Asylum Seekers at our Southern Border Face Egregious Human Rights Violations Daily."

CVT Article: LGBTQ+ Immigrants in U.S. Custody
June 28, 2018
Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos writes about the outcomes of policies that permit jailing individuals who seek protection, including LGBTQ+ immigrants and asylum seekers. 

Letter in Spanish on Safe Third Country Agreements
June 20, 2019
CVT joined fellow organizations in signing a letter denouncing proposed “safe third country agreements” with Mexico and Guatemala.

Blueprint Offering Solutions to the Humanitarian Crisis at the Border
June 17, 2019
CVT is among the refugee and human rights organizations that partnered with Human Rights First on a “blueprint offering concrete steps to manage the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border and to address the damage the Trump Administration’s mismanagement of it has caused.” A news release announcing the release of the blueprint includes CVT among the partnering or endorsing organizations.

Letter to Attorney General: Opposing New Asylum Restrictions
June 5, 2019
CVT signed this letter to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, urging the administration to refrain from adopting new regulations which would erode protections for asylum seekers.

Letter to Mexican Government: Reject the Safe Third Country Agreement
June 5, 2019
CVT signed this letter urging Mexico to reject the Trump administration’s proposed third-party country agreement that would create a new barrier for asylum seekers.

CVT Article: CVT at the Southern Border
May 30, 2019
From May 13-17, Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos was in El Paso meeting with asylum seekers in detention facilities. In this report she writes, “If you aren’t willing to listen to individual stories, you won’t get the truth.” 

CVT Article: Opposing use of CBP officers in the role of asylum officers
May 9, 2019
Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos wrote this article titled, “CBP Cannot Act as Both Captor and Confidant.”

Letter to Congress: Opposing rollbacks to the TVPRA and the 1997 Flores settlement
May 6, 2019
CVT joined more than 70 organizations in sending this letter opposing rollbacks to the TVPRA and Flores to House and Senate leaders and relevant congressional committees.

CVT Administrative Rulemaking Comment: Opposing Changes to Fee Waivers
May 6, 2019
CVT submitted a comment opposing a proposed rule by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. The proposed change would limit the ability of refugees and asylees to apply for residency and citizenship because it would limit their ability to qualify for a fee waiver. This fee can be the difference between their ability to become residents or to feed their families. 

Press Release: Reject Supplemental Funding That will Harm Asylum Seekers
May 2, 2019
CVT issued this press release in response to the White House’s request for an additional $4.5 billion for detention and immigration-related expenses.

CVT Statement: Barr’s New Asylum Restrictions
May 1, 2019
CVT issued this statement in response to Attorney General Barr’s action to impose fees and additional new restrictions on asylum seekers.

CVT Statement: Indefinite Detention at Border
Apr. 17, 2019
In response to Attorney General Barr’s decision permitting indefinite detention, Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos, senior policy counsel, issued this statement, writing, “At CVT, we know all too well that detention has devastating effects on survivors of torture.”

Letter to Congress: End the Muslim Ban
Apr. 8, 2019
CVT joined a diverse coalition of close to 400 civil rights, faith, national security & community organizations in this letter in support of the #NoBanAct, a historic civil rights bill that would end the Muslim Ban and prevent faith-based discrimination in immigration.

CVT Article: Closure of USCIS Offices
Apr. 8, 2019
Curt Goering, CVT executive director, wrote this article titled, “Trump’s Latest Attack on Refugees: Closure of Overseas Immigration Offices.”

Framework of Investments
Apr. 5, 2019
CVT signed on to this framework of Five Investments in Our Immigration System to Address the “Crisis” at the Border.

Letters to Congress
Apr. 1, 2019
CVT participated as a member of Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) in writing these letters to the House and to the Senate, recommending funding levels to support refugee protection and welcome in the FY20 budget.

Letter to Congress: USCIS Offices
Mar. 28, 2019
CVT joined 30+ organizations in this letter to Congress, urging them to prohibit closure of the USCIS Int’l Operations Division, which provides critical services to U.S. citizens, refugees & asylees, as well as key roles in the legal immigration system.

CVT Statement: Override the Veto
Mar. 15, 2019
Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos wrote this statement calling on Congress to override President Trump’s veto of a resolution that would block his national emergency, saying, “Time and again, the facts have been made evident: There isn’t a national security emergency at the border.”

News Media: The Hill
Mar. 13, 2019
Linda Chavez, director of the Becoming American Initiative, and Scott Roehm, CVT director of the Washington office, wrote this op ed, saying, “Congress needs to terminate the ‘emergency,’ summon the courage to override a veto if necessary, and then turn sustained focus to the real border crisis.”

Letter to Secretaries Nielsen and Pompeo
Mar. 13, 2019
CVT is proud to join more than 200 organizations in this letter requesting that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelan nationals due to extraordinary conditions, humanitarian and political crisis. TPS would protect 70,000 Venezuelan nationals and their families.

Statement for the Record: Border Security
Mar. 4, 2019
CVT submitted this statement for the record as the House Homeland Security Committee prepares to hold an oversight hearing on the Trump Administrations’ border policies. CVT expresses concern for people who are seeking safe haven being profoundly impacted by cruel practices, including being forced to remain in Mexico and subject to family separation.

CVT Statement for the RecordFamily Separation
Feb. 26, 2019
CVT submitted this statement for the record in advance of the House Judiciary Committee's oversight hearing on the Trump Administration’s family separation policy, which created an actual crisis at the U.S. southern border.

Press ReleaseTrump's Declaration Creates an Emergency
Feb. 14, 2019
CVT Says Trump's Declaration Doesn't Respond to an Emergency; It Creates One. “This is a transparent abuse of power driven by politics, not facts, and it sets a dangerous precedent,” said Curt Goering. “There is no national security emergency at our Southern border. There is, however, an ongoing humanitarian tragedy fueled by the president’s policy choices.”

CVT Article: Two Years After the Muslim Ban: Is Discrimination Our New Normal?
Jan. 25, 2019
Curt Goering writes, “This is not a climate that we can allow ourselves to accept or acclimate to; it can’t become the new normal.”

CVT Article: Congress Should Reject the “End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act”
Jan. 24, 2019
Andrea Cárcamo-Cavazos writes “Reopening the government at the expense of current U.S. legal obligations, longstanding American values, and the well-being of some of the world’s most vulnerable people is no solution at all.”

Press Release: CVT Files Objection to Asylum Ban
Jan. 9, 2019
CVT submitted formal comments on recent Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and White House actions which, taken together, constitute an asylum ban for many vulnerable people arriving at our southern border seeking protection.

CVT Administrative Rulemaking Comments: Asylum Ban
Jan. 8, 2019
CVT submitted comments stating that the Asylum Ban is unlawful and imposes needless, substantial harm on a population replete with trauma survivors.

CVT Administrative Rulemaking Comments: Protecting the Flores Settlement Agreement
Nov. 6, 2018
CVT submitted comments objecting to a new rule that would authorize indefinite detention of traumatized asylum-seeking children and their parents.

CVT Report: Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention
November 2013
This report describes the immigration detention experience for torture survivors seeking asylum protection in the United States. Download the full report.

How You Can Help

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