Logo for the Center for Victims of Torture

Asylum & Refugee Advocacy

Last updated: February 26, 2024
Several silhouettes of people coming together to form a crowd.

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 experiences of asylum seekers and refugees before Congress and before the public.

A staggering number of refugees and asylum seekers are torture survivors. While our clinicians work to heal their wounds, our policy team advocates for just and humane systems through which refugees and asylum seekers—and the survivors among them—can seek protection in the United States, consistent with their fundamental human rights and the United States’ legal obligations. The policy team’s public education and advocacy emphasize the real-life experiences of CVT’s clients.

CVT at the border

Video Playlist

Update from Tijuana
Andrea Cárcamo, former CVT senior policy counsel, visited the U.S. Southern border with colleagues, assessing ways to alleviate suffering among those seeking refuge from torture and persecution. In this video, she describes the difficult conditions experienced by refugees and asylum seekers who have been affected by the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

In May 2019, Andrea Cárcamo spent a week in El Paso meeting with asylum seekers in El Paso detention facilities. Read her article here and check out her daily video logs in the playlist.

Eight Facts about Refugees and Asylum Seekers

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 Statements, Media Clips, Letters & Publications

Letter to President Biden: Terminate Family Detention
March 15, 2023

CVT joined over 380 groups in this letter demanding that President Biden terminate family detention permanently. The authors write, “No version of family detention, whether referred to as a detention facility, short-term processing center, emergency family staging center, or by any other name, is acceptable. We call on you to stand by your commitment as President, to turn the page from the horrors of prior administrations and pursue humane policies that do not involve incarcerating families.”

Letter to President Biden: Reject New Asylum Limitations
Jan. 27, 2023
CVT joined partners in this letter to President Biden, calling on him to reject new proposed rules that will further limit access to asylum. The authors write, “Any rule that seeks to ban, disrupt, limit, or delay people from seeking asylum not only undermines both US and international refugee law but also goes against who we are as a nation and our core values.”

Letter to CongressRejectProposed Bills That Would End Access to Asylum
Jan. 12, 2023
CVT joined 250+ organizations in this letter to Congress to condemning an anti-immigrant agenda and urging them to reject the Border Safety and Security Act before it closes the U.S. borders to asylum seekers.

Letter to President Biden: Provide Safe Haven
Nov. 22, 2022
As a federal court strikes down use of the Title 42 ban to keep asylum seekers out of the United States, human rights and humanitarian organizations took action to ensure the ban is never used again.  Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO, joined 88 leaders in this letter to President Biden, urging his commitment to build a humane immigration system.

Letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Oct. 24, 2022
CVT joined non-governmental organizations in this letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in support of the case of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, who was killed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2010. The authors note that since that time, nearly 250 additional people have lost their lives in encounters with CBP. The authors write, “As the Anastasio case points out, the abuse and impunity in the United States are endemic to a justice system designed to protect law enforcement, not the communities they are sworn to serve.”

Letter to the Biden Administration: Strengthen the CAM Program
Sept. 21, 2022

CVT joined 100+ organizations in this letter urging President Biden and his administration to reform and strengthen the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee & Parole Program for families in need of reunification in the United States. The authors write, “Since the expansion of the CAM Program one year ago, out of all the newly eligible families only a few hundred have been able to apply. And as far as we are aware, not one has reunited through the CAM Program this year.”

Letter to DHS: End Mistreatment of Religious Migrants
Aug. 22, 2022
CVT joined more than 160 organizations in this letter calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end mistreatment of religious migrants and asylum seekers by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP). The authors write, “For years, advocates and the media have repeatedly raised concerns about the seizure of religious headwear and other articles of faith, as well as the denial of religious diets by CBP,” noting that these abuses have been allowed so long they seem to be standard practice.

Letter to Congress: Do Not Allow Codification of Title 42
July 15, 2022
CVT signed onto this letter to congressional leaders, with concerns about amendments to a spending bill that would codify use of Title 42, a policy used under the Trump administration to keep asylum seekers out of the U.S. under the guise of public health. The authors write, “Keeping Title 42 in place puts refugees at risk, exacerbates chaos at the border, and serves no legitimate public health goals.”

Letter to USCIS: Support Stateless People in the U.S.
July 14, 2022
CVT joined human rights organizations in this letter to Ur Jaddou, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, reminding him of promises made, but not yet kept, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The authors write, “Stateless people continue to live without a pathway to legal status, experience indefinite immigration detention, face financial insecurity, and suffer separation from family members, without recourse in U.S. immigration law.” 

CVT Statement: CVT Welcomes the End of Remain in Mexio Policy
June 30, 2022
CVT issued this statement as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration has the right to end the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings. CVT has been fighting against this cruel, Trump-era policy for a very long time. “It is long past time that the Remain in Mexico policy ends and asylum seekers are no longer forced to wait in Mexico, sometimes for years, while their asylum processes move ahead at an often-glacial pace,” said Scott Roehm, CVT Washington director.

CVT Statement: Title 42 Court Ruling
May 23, 2022
CVT issued this statement in response to the court ruling on Title 42, which will keep the ban on asylum seekers in place at the U.S. Southern border under the false pretense of public health. “For every day the Title 42 ban is continued, more and more lives are put at risk,” writes Jessica Douglas, external relations officer, CVT Georgia. “The U.S. must act now to restore a just and humane asylum system which reflects our values.”

Apr. 26, 2022
Letter to Elected Representatives: End Use of Title 42
CVT joined 205 civil and human rights organizations in this letter urging elected representatives to support ending the use of Title 42, a public health law that was used by the Trump administration as an excuse to keep asylum seekers out of the U.S. The letter was organized by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the authors write, “The misuse of Title 42 is one of the most urgent civil and human rights issues of our day, and we urge you to stand with immigrants and welcome all with dignity.”

Apr. 25, 2022
Letter to Department of Homeland Security: Responsible Public Charge Regulations
CVT joined 1,070 nonprofits in this letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to quickly finalize responsible public charge regulations to protect families. The authors write, “Safety net programs for health, nutrition, housing, and other basic needs help nearly half of Americans to make ends meet at some point in their lifetime. In an economy where, for millions, working full-time isn’t enough to pay the rent, take the children to the doctor, or put food on the table, getting help doesn’t make a person – citizen or not – a public charge. It makes them part of a typical family.”

Apr. 21, 2022
Letter to President Biden: End the Use of Title 42
Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO, joined leaders of humanitarian and human rights organizations in this letter to President Biden, requesting termination of use of Title 42, a public health law that was used by the Trump administration as an excuse to keep asylum seekers out of the U.S. The authors write, “Four decades ago, Congress unanimously committed to welcome those seeking refuge. The previous administration did its best to unravel that commitment; we implore you to ensure that this Administration and Congress do not finish the job for them.”

Apr. 7, 2022
Letter to President Biden: Continuing Harms of the Muslim Ban
CVT joined more than 70 organizations in this letter to President Biden, reminding him that discriminatory effects of the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban continue to harm refugees in the U.S. The authors urge action, writing “With the increase in humanitarian needs from the crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and elsewhere, now is the time to ensure that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is operating fairly, efficiently, and securely.”

Letter to President Biden: Expulsions of Venezuelan Asylum Seekers to Colombia
Feb. 2, 2022
CVT joined more than 100 organizations in this letter urging President Biden to end use of Title 42 to expel asylum seekers from Venezuela, and the torture survivors among them.

Rulemaking Comments: End Family Separation
Jan. 25, 2022
CVT submitted rulemaking comments to the Department of Homeland Security, detailing ways to minimize the separation of migrant parents and legal guardians and children entering the United States. Beyond previous policies that were used intentionally to separate families, Andrea Carcamo, senior policy counsel, notes that these recommendations span many “U.S. immigration policies and practices beyond the border—some that have been in place for decades—[that] also lead to the rupture of the parent-child bond. Those, too, must be addressed to ensure the U.S. treats asylum seekers and other migrants with dignity.”

How You Can Help

Help CVT continue our work in support of policies that support refugees and asylum seekers.
Donate – CVT relies on contributions from supporters to sustain our work.
Follow CVT on social media and share our messages with your networks – on FacebookTwitterInstagram