Protecting Refugees | Center for Victims of Torture

Protecting Refugees

In response to the largest global refugee crisis since World War II, CVT is calling upon the United States to demonstrate stronger leadership by increasing the number of refugees it resettles and continuing to provide robust humanitarian assistance to refugees and refugee host communities around the world.

In response to attacks on the U.S. refugee resettlement program, including the Trump Administration’s refugee admission goal of an historically low 45,000 for FY2018, Yasmine Taeb, senior policy counsel, sent this letter to the Senate and House of Representatives, asking them to speak out against derogatory rhetoric against refugees, meet resettlement goals, fully fund refugee funds, and work to reestablish the U.S. as safe haven for those fleeing violence and persecution.

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that suspended the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days; banned the arrival of Syrian refugees; and reduced the overall number of refugees who will enter the United States in 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000. While security is of the utmost importance, the process for screening refugees prior to arrival in the United States is already extremely rigorous, and often takes years to complete. Read details about the refugee vetting process here.

CVT strenuously opposed this Order, supporting legislation calling to rescind the Order, and asking elected officials to and supporters to voice their opposition and stand with refugees.

CVT also advocates for reforms to the U.S. asylum system that would address some of the dire challenges impacting survivors of torture as they attempt to navigate the complex and inefficient asylum process in the United States. The asylum process in the U.S. can take years. During that time, torture survivors are often separated from family members, who may remain in danger overseas, and continue to face the possibility of being returned to their torturers. In this state of limbo, survivors struggle with reaching a place of safety and stabilization through which their healing process can truly begin.

Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect

CVT's report Reclaiming Hope, Dignity and Respect: Syrian and Iraqi Torture Survivors in Jordan, the product of two years of in-person interviews and study, is based on the stories of 64 men, women and children who either faced torture in their home countries or had close family members tortured and are working to rebuild their lives.

The report recommends steps for local and international actors to bolster support for the humanitarian situation in Jordan—including ensuring that survivors in need have access to specialized trauma rehabilitation services, increased resettlement and taking steps to better integrate survivors into transitional justice process.

Download the full report here.

Reforming the U.S. immigration detention system

CVT and the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International released a report, Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention, estimating the U.S. government, from October 2010 to February 2013, detained approximately 6,000 survivors of torture as they were seeking asylum protection. To illustrate the personal and psychological impact of the detention experience, CVT and TASSC conducted interviews with asylum seekers and torture survivors who have been held in immigration detention facilities in the United States.

  • Read an op-ed in The Hill, “Tortured and detained,” by CVT's Director of the Washington Office, Annie Sovcik.


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