Banning Asylum Seekers and Indefinitely Detaining Families is Heartless and Illegal

November 1, 2018



Banning Asylum Seekers and Indefinitely Detaining Families is Heartless and Illegal

CWS demands the U.S. obey its own laws and meet international and moral obligations to protect asylum-seeking families

WASHINGTON, DC- This afternoon President Trump announced an asylum ban, barring any person who crosses between ports of entry from applying for asylum. He also announced that the administration will indefinitely imprison all immigrants, including vulnerable families fleeing violence and persecution, until their immigration court hearings, which may take years. Church World Service President and CEO Rev. John McCullough issued the following statement:

“Today is a tragic day in American history. Incarcerating asylum seekers and immigrant families and blocking people from their legal right to seek protection is extreme and heartless. Like the Muslim and Refugee Bans before it, this is a blatant attack on the world’s most vulnerable people, in violation of U.S. and international law, and is diametrically opposed to our deeply-held faith traditions to welcome the stranger.

“People have the right to seek asylum, regardless of where they are or how they enter the United States. There are many reasons families desperate for safety would find themselves between ports of entry, especially as the administration’s intentional processing delays and turnbacks at ports have left families with few options, languishing outside for days or weeks at a time.

“Imposing indefinite imprisonment of asylum seekers is unconscionable. Incarcerating immigrant families, especially children, for any period of time damages their mental and physical health with long-term adverse impacts. Court intervention and U.S. law have set minimum standards for the protection of children — which the the administration must uphold.

“These cruel and unnecessary policies violate the founding principles of our nation and the values shared by faith communities across the country to affirm the dignity of the sojourner. Central America is facing a severe humanitarian crisis that we cannot ignore. President Trump is condemning families in need of protection to immense danger. Lives will be lost.

“People of faith will not stand idly by as the Trump administration scapegoats and demonizes families who have taken great personal risk to escape violence and persecution. We will continue to advocate alongside these families and work to provide them with humanitarian assistance on both sides of the U.S. border. We will keep fighting to defend the right of all people to find a safe place to call home.”

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at