President Donald Trump has promised to move quickly to implement his agenda for change in the US. Many of the policies and pledges made by Trump and his cabinet nominees pose profound threats to the rights of people both within the US and abroad. In the coming critical weeks, Human Rights Watch experts will provide rolling coverage and analysis of the rights implications as the new government’s agenda unfolds.
Expedited US Deportations an Affront to Due Process
Grace Meng, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch, on the Trump administration’s possible expansion of expedited removal procedures under new deportation rules:
“The deportation and expedited removal plans outlined in two memos under consideration by the Trump administration would allow immigration enforcement agents to shove due process requirements aside,” said Grace Meng, senior US researcher. We’ve investigated the use of expedited removal for years and found that these procedures harm the rights of long-term residents, many of whom have US-citizen family members, as well as of asylum seekers, including children, who are fleeing persecution and violence abroad.”
Leaks, Tweets, and Real Threats to Democracy
In at least one respect, Donald Trump is following in Barack Obama’s footsteps: his hyper-aggressive response to government leaks of information. But dealing with the fallout from public disclosures of information that doesn’t truly compromise national security is just part of the messy business of governing in a democracy. Trump should get used to it, writes HRW's Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno.
During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but more recently, he stated that DACA participants shouldn’t be “very worried.” At this point, the future for DACA recipients remains uncertain, writes HRW's Rebecca Chowdhury.
The crux of the constitutional challenge to President Trump’s executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program and barring entry to nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries is whether he intended to establish a preference for Christians and against Muslims in U.S. immigration and refugee policies, writes HRW's Bill Frelick.
I break down Trump quote saying US resettlement program is biased against Christian refugees--it is a baseless claim https://t.co/KiNq5aXzDt
The meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today and the Senate hearing on the nomination of David Friedman to serve as US ambassador to Israel tomorrow could shape the contours of US policy in the coming years, writes HRW's Omar Shakir.
On Thursday, Andrew Puzder will appear for his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Labor. Puzder’s track record as CEO overseeing Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s restaurants is almost completely at odds with the mission of the agency he has been nominated to run, writes HRW's Jo Becker.
Trudeau Should Raise Targeting of Muslims in Trump Meeting
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with US President Donald Trump with trade and job creation the expected focus. But given the chaos and uncertainties of Trump’s first weeks in office, Trudeau should also raise a fundamental issue he is well placed to speak to – the risk of alienating millions of peaceful and law-abiding Muslims globally by conflating Islam with violent extremism, writes HRW's Farida Deif.
Arizona Mother’s Arrest May Signal Start of Trump’s Deportation Machine
This week, US immigration authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, arrested Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, an undocumented mother of two US citizen children, and deported her. Garcia de Rayos was not in hiding. In fact, she walked into the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to check in, as she had every year for the past eight years. So what changed? The Trump administration’s executive order on immigration enforcement, writes HRW's Grace Meng.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lands in Washington, DC, today for an Oval Office meeting with US President Donald Trump. Abe is uniquely placed to weigh in with the new administartion on key issues, writes HRW's John Sifton.
Trump Updates - Court Refuses to Reinstate Ban; What Crime Wave?; Abe Visit
Good news: US Ninth Circuit rules against Trump administration’s reprehensible ban on travel. Also - troubling signs US deportations ramping up; Japan's prime minister visits Trump; Suspending rules on "conflict minerals" in US and Sessions misrepresents US crime trends.
We welcome the Ninth Circuit’s decision not to reinstate the Trump administration’s reprehensible ban on travel by people from seven mainly Muslim countries. It has already caused great hardship to countless people with no connection to terrorism. Although this is not the final decision, the Ninth Circuit’s clear statement that it has the power to review executive actions with regard to national security is an important declaration of judicial independence, which is crucial for checking harmful overreach by the president.
The executive orders President Trump signed today on criminal justice are premised on a distortion of reality that will ultimately be counterproductive. Smart public safety policies should be based on the realities that communities, law enforcement, and victims face, so that resources are used wisely. Far from soaring, overall crime rates have decreased steadily in recent decades, though homicide rates in several major cities have recently increased and require thoughtful attention. Police deaths have also dropped from a high of 181 five years ago to 140 in 2016, even as killings by police have increased, numbering over a thousand annually. Immigrants—both documented and undocumented—are actually less likely to commit crimes than native-born US citizens. Meanwhile, the tenor of these orders seems to portend a disastrous return to failed “tough on crime” policies of the past, such as increased mandatory minimum sentences, and a ramping up of the global “war on drugs,” which has in fact increased the profits of organized crime, and carried enormous human and financial costs.
After being sworn in today as US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions briefly identified areas he would focus on as the leader of the Justice Department. Sessions stated that crime is a “dangerous permanent trend that places the safety of the American people at risk”. All measures of crime, including known offenses reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies and the National Crime Victimization Survey, indicate just the opposite. Though there was a small increase in reported violent crimes between 2014 and 2015, the overall trend is one of a safer, less violent country. There is no “dangerous permanent trend” in violent or non-violent crime.
Trump Updates - Judge Slammed By President Over Travel Ban Ruling
In this week’s most shared tweets: The weekend began with widespread protests in the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending travellers to the US from some parts of the world. The fallout of the refugee ban reveberated throughout the week on social.
The hiring of Gina Haspel as deputy CIA director has raised eyebrows, thanks to her resume at the agency that reportedly includes a stint running a CIA “black site” in Thailand as part of a US program that used torture after the 9/11 attacks, writes HRW's Laura Pitter.
CIA leaders should denounce use of torture. Deputy CIA pick has troubling history with "enhanced interrogation" https://t.co/xQVBpDXE9m
It's no surprise that US President Donald Trump would suggest resurrecting the refugee deal the Australian government struck with the Obama administration in November. It may indeed go ahead—although the president criticised it, his press secretary said Trump would respect the arrangement. But that's by no means certain, and the only real surprise here would be if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia hadn't foreseen the risk that it might fall apart, writes HRW's Michael Bochenek in the IB Times.
Trump Updates - Fake News, CIA Appointment Draws Fire, Rebranding Extremism & More
Another day, another dozen difficult-to-digest pieces of news from the Trump White House... Let's begin with his senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway: in the absence of evidence that refugees pose a threat to the United States, she invented a "massacre" and blamed it on refugees to try to justify the Administration's Muslim Ban. This and more in today's Daily Brief.
Trump Dangerously Conflates Islam With Violent Extremism
Amid the uproar over President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, along comes yet another proposal in the same discriminatory spirit: to revamp a United States government program created to counter all violent ideologies so that it would focus solely on Islamist extremism, writes HRW's Letta Tayler.
Hundreds of Thousands of Constituents Will be Affected by Ban
Don't be fooled into thinking only a modest number of people will be affected by Trump's travel ban - the reality is hundreds of thousands will be impacted, writes HRW's Alison Parker.
Work or Breastfeed? Don’t Force US Women to Choose
Mr. Trump and Congress: what is your plan for health care if you eviscerate the ACA? And how will breastfeeding moms feed their babies if they can’t afford to buy a pump? Mothers have both the right to work and the right to breastfeed. Don’t make us choose one over the other, writes HRW's Andrea Prasow.
When I went to the Senate with my breast pump yesterday...Work or Breastfeed? Don’t Force US Women to Choose https://t.co/RS0YFQ28Au
In his first week as president, Donald Trump rushed to adopt policies that will deeply harm migrants, particularly asylum seekers. They will also fail to make the United States any safer, writes HRW's Clara Long in Progressive.org.
Donald Trump's Ban Puts Australia PM in Bind Over Refugees
Harmful. Discriminatory. Counterproductive. Wrong. Lots of words come to mind when thinking about US President Donald Trump's recent executive order to ban nationals from seven Muslim countries from entering the US, suspend the resettlement of refugees for months and Syrian refugees indefinitely, and then slash refugee resettlement to the US by more than half. Yet Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found no words at all, telling journalists "he would not run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries." In failing to denounce the executive order, he fails to serve Australia's broader interests in a global order responsive to humanitarian concern, writes HRW's Elaine Pearson in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Disgraceful that Australia's PM chooses silence over speaking up against harmful, counterproductive policies. https://t.co/7EqPH5xEma
Americans Brace for the End of the Affordable Care Act
Republicans in Congress spent much of January preparing their attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and many people across the United States are alarmed at the prospect, writes HRW's Megan McLemore.
Senator Grassley: Hold Sessions to Same Standard As You Did Yates
Two years ago Chuck Grassley, Republican senator from Iowa, urged Sally Yates, then a nominee to be deputy Attorney General to show "independence" and remember "it's the people...not the president" when it comes to carrying out her duties. Well, she did just that yesterday by instructing her staff not to defend President Donald Trump’s abusive immigration order – a move that was followed by her dismissal.
Mr. Grassley, you must demand the same standard from the next Attorney General that you set for Yates – that the nation’s top law official put the people before the president and let the law and the Constitution guide their actions.
Trump's actions yesterday showed utter contempt for the independence of the Attorney General. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, what are you going to do?
The Senate will soon vote on President-elect Trump’s nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General. Sessions has a record of opposing the very same laws and tools the Attorney General is called upon to use in defense of rights. As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, he would pose a grave threat to human rights. Contact your Senator and ask them to oppose the nomination.
HRW comments on UN reaction to Trump's Executive Order
Comment by Philippe Bolopion, HRW's deputy director for global advocacy, on UN reaction to Trump’s Executive Order on refugees and immigration,
“A few days ago, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced ‘a deeply troubling rise in extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim hatred,’ noting that ‘irrationality and intolerance are back’ and vowing to be on ‘the front line’ of the battle against hatred. With President Trump’s scare-mongering against refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, Guterres is now facing a major test. At a time when governments, civil society and business leaders are increasingly speaking out, it’s important that the UN’s message not come solely from the UN human rights chief. Secretary-General Guterres should take a clear stand that Trump’s executive order is a blow to refugees, reflects bigotry and will do little to address terrorism."
Chaos, and Show of Force at JFK Airport
At the center of New York's John F. Kennedy Airport's Terminal 4 stands the Central Diner, and its circa 1950s lunch counter dovetailed with the Mad Men aesthetic of the New York State Troopers present. Inside, a lone Reuters photojournalist sat eating eggs and grits, amid a few ragged travelers. Outside the diner, however, a more modern scene: An army of more than 40 immigration attorneys, interpreters, and volunteers were working on laptops and smartphones, preparing court filings challenging the detention of non-citizens detained inside the terminal’s pre-entry area. This is the scene as reactions to President Donald Trump’s abusive new immigration Executive Order continue.
The Abdullah family — a pseudonym — are refugees from Syria who arrived in the U.S. exactly one week before President Trump signed an executive order banning people like them, who'd escaped an unbearably brutal war, from starting new lives here. HRW's Jane Buchanan describes her meeting with the Abdullahs.
HRW Los Angeles staff were on the ground at Los Angeles International Airport on the weekend as thousands came out in support of refugees and against Trump’s executive order.
What the Trump Refugee Ban Means for an ISIS Survivor
HRW's Sarah Margon spent a damp, cold day this weekend at Khazir camp, about an hour outside of Erbil, which houses thousands of Iraqi civilians who have fled Islamic State control. There to learn more about the detention of many of these young men by Kurdish authorities, the immediate impact of President Donald Trump’s new executive order "hit me like a kick in the gut," she writes.
What the Trump refugee ban means for an ISIS survivor in Iraq - my short piece from Khazir camp https://t.co/2nB45BU2bO
Trump Ban Creates Chaos at Airports; Judge Issues Stay
President Donald Trump's execuitive order suspending the US refugee program for at least 120 days and banning entry of nationals from seven countries created chaos at airports, prompting protests. Late in the day, a New York judge issued a temporary stay preventing the deportation of some travellers already in the country, Reuters reports.
BREAKING: Federal judge grants emergency stay to temporarily allow people who landed in U.S. with valid visa to remain
Will Immigrants Personal Data Be Used To Help Deport Them?
A little-noticed provision in one of President Trump’s executive orders this weekstripped federal privacy protections from many immigrants, raising fears among advocacy groups that information people willingly submitted to the federal government during the Obama administration could now be used to help deport them, writes the Washington Post. “The U.S. shouldn’t do a bait-and-switch with sensitive personal data. We have to be able to trust that the government will use and share that data only in the way it said it would," ” says Sarah St.Vincent of Human Rights Watch.
Trump’s Refugee Scare-Mongering Has No Basis in Reality
In suspending the U.S. refugee resettlement program, President Donald Trump is turning his back on the very people who are most in need. Mr. Trump’s scare-mongering on refugees is out of all proportion to reality, writes Bill Frelick in the Globe and Mail.
United States President Donald Trump announced several policies that will cause tremendous harm to refugees and do little to address terrorism and other national security threats, Human Rights Watch said today.
"Trump Refugee Order "likely to hurt the people most in need"
President Donald Trump today signed an executive order that he claimed would clamp down on refugee admissions to the US. While the text has not been released yet, media reports suggest it will suspend the refugee program for 120 days and bar Syrian refugees indefinitely. The following quote can be attributed to
Grace Meng, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch comments:
"Trump’s latest executive order is likely to hurt the people most in need: those fleeing violence and terrorism, and on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less. Its decision to drastically curtail the refugee program would abandon tens of thousands to the risk of persecution or worse and cede American leadership on a vitally important issue."
Heartbreaking day. Instead of fighting terrorism, Trump's latest order hurts those fleeing terrorism & violence. #RefugeesWelcome
In an interview with ABC this week President Donald Trump repeated his position the US “should have taken the oil” from Iraq during the occupation of the country following the 2003 US-led invasion. But Trump’s position would violate US law and military regulations that go back to the American Civil War and longstanding US international legal obligations. HRW's Sarah Saadoun explains.
No Mr Trump, you can't "take" Iraq's oil. But you can thank Abraham Lincoln for law that stops you. https://t.co/L4S1MLtGzw
In an ABC News interview this week President Trump insisted that torture “works,” claiming his advisors told him so. That comes amid reports that Trump is considering executive orders that include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program and revise the Army Field Manual to determine whether certain “enhanced interrogation techniques” can be used. HRW's Fred Abrahams discusses the torture issue in an interview Brent Goff of DW News.
Jettisoning Women’s Rights: “Common Ground” for Russia and the US
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to speak on Saturday, the first call since the Russian leader called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory.
HRW's Janet Walsh, Acting Director, Women’s Rights Division, comments:
Trump and Putin will talk by phone this weekend about “common ground” for Russia and the US. Sadly, jettisoning women’s rights seems to be part of Trump’s and Putin’s common ground. Today, Russia’s State Duma voted to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence. That’s right: decriminalize. The US, through Trump’s executive actions this week, is putting women’s lives at risk around the world. Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, a pernicious and cruel policy that will limit women’s access to lifesaving reproductive health services, including abortion. And an executive order to gut US funding for international agencies, including those working to prevent maternal mortality, is in the works. Common ground, indeed.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with President Trump at the White House tomorrow. She has said being a female leader is the “biggest statement” she can make to the president about women’s rights when they meet. HRW's Amanda Klasing begs to differ.
Trump’s Immigration Actions to Harm Millions
The two executive actions, on immigration and border policy, that United States President Donald Trump signed today will severely harm millions of immigrants and US citizens, Human Rights Watch said. Read HRW's full analysis here.
No Mr. President, Torture Does Not “Work”
In an ABC News interview tonight President Trump insisted that torture “works,” claiming his advisors told him so. Despite torture being illegal under US and international law, the claim that it works flies in the face of the conclusions of the more than 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA torture program, which found, based on extensive evidence, that the program was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation. Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, reportedly told Trump he had “never found” waterboarding to be useful. And just a few weeks ago, a group of 176 retired generals wrote to Trump to tell him that torture was counterproductive to US national security and that “lawful, rapport-based interrogation techniques are the most effective way to elicit actionable intelligence.”
How many times does lesson have to get learned? Torture is an ineffective way to get useful intelligence, generates false leads and illegal! https://t.co/ouvMmBehFv
Media reports indicate US President Donald Trump is considering executive orders that include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program; revise the Army Field Manual to determine whether certain “enhanced interrogation techniques” can be used to allow coercive methods; and keeping open the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Some reports also made public a draft order directing a policy review that will recommend to the president whether to “reinstate” a program of interrogation of “high-value terrorists” abroad operated by the CIA.
Reaction from Laura Pitter, US national security counsel at Human Rights Watch:
The Trump administration should not even think about bringing back secret prisons or torture techniques, no matter what they call them. The CIA’s use of black sites, enforced disappearance and torture in the last decade was not only illegal but deeply damaging to the reputation and national security of the United States.
Scores of men were subjected to brutal interrogation methods that were not only illegal but also ineffective in gathering useful intelligence, and caused the US to waste resources by pursuing false leads. US law is clear that the Army Field Manual cannot be modified for at least two years, and even then only to ensure it complies with US domestic and international legal obligations. Even if the manual were modified to allow coercive techniques, these would still be illegal under longstanding US and international law. Anyone who engages in torture, as well as those who order or authorize it, also faces criminal liability.
Any order to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open would be a terrible mistake. Guantanamo is a potent symbol of injustice, inhumane detentions, and torture. The military commissions there are fundamentally flawed and have deprived the families of 9/11 victims of seeing justice done. US federal courts have proven very capable of handling these cases effectively and with respect for due process. The draft order cites misleading statistics on the number of those released from Guantanamo who have “returned” to the fight, which additionally conflate the number of those who are confirmed and suspected of having done so. Further, keeping individuals in Guantanamo due to the actions of others amounts to collective punishment and denies the men held there fair process. Trump should be working to close Guantanamo and fully restore the role of federal courts in terrorism cases, not sending more people to be unjustly imprisoned there.
A return to "enhanced interrogations"? Deeply troubling and illegal. Trump shouldn't even be entertaining the notion https://t.co/vwohihEJdC
Visa Ban Would be Discriminatory, Encourage Xenophobia
There are news reports that US President Donald Trump will issue an executive order banning some or all nationals of certain Muslim majority countries from entering the United States.
Reaction from Alison Parker, co-director of the US Program of Human Rights Watch:
The reported executive action to bar entry to nationals from Muslim-majority countries is based on the false presumption that certain predominantly Muslim nationalities are indicators of dangerousness. Policies based on such faulty and discriminatory assumptions are dangerous, and encourage xenophobia.
The reported executive action is also counterproductive. In 2002, President Bush initiated a registry for nationals of 25 countries, all but one of them majority Muslim. The program fueled discrimination and was completely ineffective in countering terrorism, resulting in no known criminal convictions. One former immigration official told the New York Times the agency “got nothing” out of the program.
President Trump’s possible executive action is likely to alienate Muslim-American communities inside the US, which will discourage cooperation with law enforcement in those communities, undermining public safety for all. It would undermine US interests in fighting terrorism at home and abroad. Such policies convey fear instead of courage and will send a message to leaders around the world that such broad, discriminatory, and isolationist actions are acceptable.
Trump Administration Set to Move on Refugee Ban
Media reports indicate that the Trump administration will announce a ban on admission of some or all refugees to the United States on January 25, 2017.
Reaction from Bill Frelick, Refugee Policy Director, Human Rights Watch:
President Trump’s possible executive order to suspend admission of refugees disregards the fact that refugees identified for US resettlement are, by US statute, people for whom the United States has found “a special humanitarian concern,” and who have been thoroughly and extensively vetted and screened. Refugees come from all over the world, from a diverse range of religious and economic backgrounds, but have in common that they are all fleeing persecution. If there are any questions whatsoever concerning a refugee’s background, that person is not admitted. In fact, many refugees who have been admitted to the US, whether Syrian or from elsewhere, are the victims of terrorism and other persecution. At a time when there are more displaced people around the globe than there have been since the end of World War II, a decision by the Trump administration to suspend the US refugee program would not only abandon the US’ leadership role on this issue but also reject the longstanding bipartisan nature of support for this initiative and undermine commitments to important allies, such as Jordan and Kenya, who host hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Suspension of US refugee program wld abandon US global leadership & reject longstanding bipartisan support 4 refs. https://t.co/BNAa3587zo
(For more information on our refugee work visit our refugee page)
Trump Puts Women at Risk by Reviving "Gag Rule"
Trump signed an executive order reviving a policy that prohibits United States international aid to groups which in anyway engage with abortion – providing it, offering counseling, advocating for abortion law reform, or providing referrals – even with non-US funding. Read more here