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USA

    October 15, 2019

    In response to the Trump Administration’s continued assault on the U.S. refugee resettlement program, 18 leaders from the nation’s leading faith and human rights organizations, as well as a former State Department official, were arrested on Capitol Hill as part of the first ever act of civil disobedience in the name of refugee resettlement. Those 18 arrested represented the 18,000 refugee cap set by the Trump administration - the lowest in the history of the resettlement program.

    Those arrested were joined by supporters holding 95 photographs of refugees, a nod to the historic average refugee cap of 95,000 per year. The arrests came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today meets with Members of Congress to consult over the historically low cap.

    Prior to being taken into custody by Capitol Police, a number of the arrested issued the following statements:

    September 19, 2019

     

    Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019.

    The awards ceremony took place in Washington D.C., USA, while further events were held in cities around the world, honouring Fridays for Future activists who represent the movement.

    Upon receiving the award, Greta Thunberg said:

    “This award is for all of those millions of people, young people, around the world who together make up the movement called Fridays for Future. All these fearless youth, fighting for their future. A future they should be able to take for granted. But as it looks now, they cannot.

    September 19, 2019

    Responding to news that Google has agreed to pay a record US$170 million to settle a complaint filed by US regulators, alleging that Google illegally harvested personal data of children on its YouTube platform, Joe Westby, Big Data and AI Researcher at Amnesty Tech, said:

    “Today’s record fine exposes the rotten core at the heart of Google’s business model, which relies on the harvesting and monetisation of personal data, in brazen contempt for privacy. A major problem is that online advertising practices are complex and secretive, so people are not able to give meaningful consent as to how their personal data is used. 

    September 17, 2019

    Alejandra Barrera, a transgender Salvadorian activist who had been held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017, was released September 6, 2019, as a result of international advocacy efforts, spearheaded by Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition, National Immigrant Justice Center, and dozens of members of the United States Congress.

    August 20, 2019

    Reacting to reports that Planned Parenthood will withdraw from Title X, the federal family planning program, rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that restricts what health providers can say about abortion, Tarah Demant, director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program at Amnesty International USA said:

    “The Trump administration's restrictions on Title X trample on sexual and reproductive rights, putting the lives of all pregnant people at significant risk, especially low-income women. Over four million people in the United States who depend on health care will be impacted because of these cruel policies aimed at Planned Parenthood.

    “The only people who should be making decisions about their pregnancies are those who are pregnant or can become pregnant. Any and all policies by a government should support and respect a pregnant persons’ reproductive autonomy and basic human rights - any policies that refuse to do that are illegitimate and unlawful.” 

    Background:

    August 07, 2019

    Amnesty International today issued a travel warning calling for possible travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis. It aims to hold up a mirror to the U.S. using the model of the United States Department of State’s travel advice for U.S. travelers to other countries.

    July 25, 2019

    The US government has announced it plans to resume federal executions for the first time since 2003. Five people have been identified as the first to be subject to this new lethal injection protocol. In response, Amnesty International USA executive director Margaret Huang issued this statement:

    “The Trump administration’s decision to restart federal executions after a 16-year hiatus is outrageous. It is the latest indication of this administration’s disdain for human rights."

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman punishment. It is a system flawed beyond repair and the federal government should not proceed with any executions. The use of the death penalty is out of step with both national and international trends. 21 states in the USA, and over half the countries around the world have already determined the death penalty disrespects human rights and has no place in their laws. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and will continue to fight to end this inhuman practice.”

    July 18, 2019

    Responding to reports that some in the Trump Administration are considering lowering the number of refugees to be admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to zero for the coming fiscal year, Ryan Mace, the grassroots advocacy and refugee specialist for Amnesty International USA, said:

    “The United States used to be a leader in providing refuge to those in need, all around the world. We can’t say that anymore. It is beyond shameful and a new low, even for this administration, to even consider accepting no refugees to the U.S. 

    “People are in need all over the world - families, children, human beings with unique stories and lives on hold. Zero will never be an acceptable number for any country let alone a country with so many resources and people willing to welcome new neighbors looking to rebuild their lives in peace and safety.

    “We call on every member of Congress and their community to speak out for those seeking safety and welcome refugees into their neighborhoods, schools, houses of worship, and homes.” 

    July 17, 2019

    Amnesty International is calling afresh on the Government of Canada to immediately suspend the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), in light of a new US Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security rule that will bar people from claiming refugee protection in the US, if they cross the southern land border and fail to apply for protection in a transit country. The new rule makes it unambiguously clear that the US refugee protection system in no way adequately guarantees the rights of those seeking to make claims in that country.

    July 16, 2019

    Responding to President Trump’s toxic tweets accusing four Democrat Congresswomen of hating the United States and suggesting they go back to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, said:

    “As President of the United States, Trump has demonized minority groups, whipped up hatred, fear and sowed division. Trump’s ugly targeting of these Congresswomen exposes the racism and xenophobia at the heart of his despicable policies – from imposing a travel ban on people travelling from Muslim majority countries to separating children from their parents at the Mexican border to denying the rights of people seeking asylum. His words prove that xenophobia, rather than the safety of the people of the United States, motivates these policies.

    July 15, 2019

    WASHINGTON, DC – The US government published a new interim rule that would prevent anyone at the US southern border who has traveled through another country on the way to the United States from seeking asylum here. This new rule would prevent anyone other than people from Mexico or Canada from seeking asylum in the United States.

    In response, Amnesty International USA advocacy director for the Americas Charanya Krishnaswami issued the following statement:

    “This rule is an outrageous violation of our obligation to protect families and individuals seeking safety. Once again, the Trump administration has shown the lengths it will go to deny people protection.

    “As US State Department reporting makes clear, people cannot access protection in the countries they commonly transit through on the way to the United States. Families and individuals who have fled violence and persecution could be turned away at our doors and left vulnerable to grave harm, all as a result of the administration’s agenda of fear and hate.

    July 12, 2019

    Responding to the announcement of thousands of raids planned for Sunday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Charanya Krishnaswami, the Advocacy Director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA said:

    "This announcement is an extension of President Trump’s relentless hostility to immigrants. It serves to encourage hate and discrimination toward immigrants and communities of color, creating a climate of fear for many people including those fearing racial profiling.

    "While it’s also concerning that we don’t know anything about what these plans will look like, it’s not unreasonable to be concerned that people facing deportation will not have adequate time or legal resources to protect themselves. Thousands of mixed-status families could be impacted, with U.S. citizen children at risk of being separated from their parents or guardians. A lack of due process in initial hearings could lead to the deportation of families and children who never had a meaningful chance to apply for relief, including asylum."

    July 02, 2019

    Since 2018, the US government has conducted an unlawful and discriminatory campaign of intimidation, threats, harassment, and criminal investigations against people who defend the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on the US–Mexico border, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    ‘Saving lives is not a crime’: Politically motivated legal harassment of migrant human rights defenders by the USA reveals how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have increasingly misused the criminal justice system to deter activists, lawyers, journalists, and humanitarian volunteers from challenging – or simply documenting – the systematic human rights violations that US authorities have committed against migrants and asylum seekers.

    June 19, 2019

    AI USA Release

    Ten candidates in the 2020 presidential race – including the president– responded to  a questionnaire on human rights issues provided by Amnesty International USA. The candidates submitted responses on a range of domestic and international human rights issues including refugees and asylum-seekers, gun violence, lethal force by police, arms sales, LGBTI equality, women’s rights, free expression, and national security.

    June 17, 2019

    When President Trump signed what has become known as the Muslim ban during his first week in office, he set into motion a series of events that continue to leave families in uncertainty and danger to this day, according to a new report by Amnesty International USA. In some cases, these families were cleared to come to the United States in late 2016 and early 2017, only to be stranded in countries where they face restrictive policies, increasingly hostile environments, and often lack the same rights as permanent residents or citizens.

    The new report, “The Mountain is in Front of Us and the Sea is Behind Us,” is based on nearly 50 interviews conducted by AIUSA with refugees currently living in Lebanon and Jordan. The report describes the desperate circumstances faced by families who continue to be locked in an impossible limbo because of discriminatory U.S. policies as they try to seek a safe new life and permanent home.

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