Human Rights Initiative Statement on Advance of Anti-Asylum Bill to Senate Floor

MEDIA RELEASE Contact: Kali Cohn For Immediate Release 214-855-0520 August 2, 2019

DALLAS – On August 1, 2019, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance S. 1494 to the Senate Floor. The bill would decimate the humanitarian protections of our immigration laws and codify much of the Administration’s assault on the system by, among other things:

  • Giving life or death asylum decisions unreasonably short timelines that would make it impossible for many people to find the evidence and representation necessary to prove their claims
  • Creating more difficult standards for asylum, likely resulting in the deportation of asylum seekers with well-founded fears of persecution
  • Effectively ending asylum protections in the U.S. for Central Americans, forcing them to apply for protection at refugee processing centers in areas that may still expose them to danger
  • Forcing detention of many asylum seekers, even when they’ve met the heightened standard and pose no public safety or flight risk
  • Authorizing indefinite family detention and prolonged detention of unaccompanied kids
  • Making it easier for immigration agents at the border to expel unaccompanied kids fleeing grave danger

“Where are the bills that solve the problems that have been plaguing our system for years, address the actual causes of this crisis and ensure that people fleeing persecution can find safety in the United States?” said Bill Holston, Executive Director of the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas. “Those solutions exist, but they are being ignored because demonizing asylum seekers and unaccompanied kids is more politically expedient. It’s time for our legislators to stand with moral courage. Our system is broken, but Senator Graham’s bill is certainly not the way to fix it.”

About Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Founded by social worker Serena Simmons Connelly and lawyer Elizabeth Healy, the Dallas-based Human Rights Initiative of North Texas has grown into an award-winning agency helping immigrant survivors of human rights abuses from all over the world. Our courageous and resilient clients are eligible to apply for legal status under the humanitarian provisions of U.S. immigration laws and policies: they are asylum seekers fleeing persecution; children who have been abandoned, abused, and neglected; and victims of family violence and violent crimes. HRI’s Legal team partners with a network of over 250 pro bono attorneys from top DFW firms and corporations to help clients access the U.S. immigration system, and our Social Services team offers transitional support and referrals to help address trauma and ease the hardships of profound displacement. At HRI, all of our services are free, and all are designed to help forge a path to safety, stability and opportunity. For more information, visit

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