WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

7 Nov 2018 | News

WOLA’s Beyond the Wall Campaign: What We’ve Accomplished and What’s Next

Since the launch of the Beyond the Wall Campaign in spring 2017, WOLA has held the line on human rights, dispelled mistruths, blocked harmful U.S. policies, and broke ground with hard-hitting research and strategic communications. Over the year, we’ve:

Stopped funding for the border wall and saved U.S. funding intended to address the root causes of migration from Central America.

  • WOLA’s experts had dozens of meetings with congressional offices, helping them push back on “zero tolerance” policies and block funding for the border wall, the rushed recruitment of ICE and CBP agents, and beds for family prisons.
  • WOLA created shareable content that gave citizens the facts when most needed. And by breaking down the monstrous cost of every border wall mile, we helped illustrate just how wasteful and unnecessary a border wall would be.
  • WOLA kept up a constant stream of nuanced, fact-based analysis and rapid-response communications pieces to help journalists counter the administration’s lies and construct a more reality-based and compassionate narrative about the reasons Central Americans are fleeing their home countries. This work helped to shape a better public understanding of the conditions driving people to migrate, and the current reality at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Took a stand against the inhumanity of “zero tolerance” migration policies.

  • When President Trump’s push to criminally prosecute all migrants entering the U.S. illegally separated families and created a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, WOLA’s team went to the ground to investigate. We published a comprehensive series of reports that documented the incompetence, the shameful disregard for human rights, and the overall failures that characterized “zero tolerance.”
  • WOLA provided Members of Congress with the information they needed to support and respond to the massive grassroots opposition to these policies, helping maximize the impact of the public outcry here in Washington.
  • WOLA’s research and analysis have helped give context and shape the debate in top tier news outlets. Our experts and reports have been cited hundreds of times responding to and explaining the harmful impact of these policies.

Combated mistruths about migration and the migrant caravan. 

  • WOLA has fought back against the demonizing and fear-mongering rhetoric about the migrant caravan. Since news of the caravan broke, WOLA’s expert analysis has been cited by top tier press dozens of times. including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, the Washington Post, and HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which used our expert research in a segment on the border and family separation.
  • In these media appearances, WOLA used facts to combat the misleading idea that the United States is currently experiencing a migration “crisis” and that vulnerable migrants pose any real security threats to the United States.

Worked with partners in Mexico and at the U.S.-Mexico border to protect the rights of migrant in transit through Mexico and at the U.S. border.

  • In close connection with groups in Mexico, WOLA monitors and exposes crimes against migrants throughout their journey, helping to increase protections for migrants and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Supported the work of shelters and direct-service groups at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Supported lawyers in protecting the right to asylum.

  • Working with Temple University’s Law School and asylum lawyers across the country, WOLA is creating a first-of-its-kind resource to help immigration attorneys make strong and clear cases in court to help asylum-seekers fleeing violence.Now, the fight continues.

In the coming months, WOLA will continue to oppose inhumane policy proposals from Washington that threaten the human rights of asylum-seeking families. Here are just a few of the areas where WOLA will push back:

The separation and abuse of families, including the plan for indefinite family detention—essentially jailing families in inadequate tent cities along the border.

  • Trump has already said that the administration plans to build tent cities to hold asylum-seeking families indefinitely. Not only is this inhumane and damaging to the well-being of young children, but it is also incredibly costly and ineffective. We will continue to push back against these misguided policies, propose humane and sensible alternatives, and do all we can to protect migrant families.

The militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • The Trump administration is responding to asylum-seeking families with armed soldiers not trained to handle this humanitarian crisis. They have already deployed over 5,000 armed troops to the border, a monstrous response to a vulnerable population that includes many families with young children seeking refuge. WOLA will push back against this unprecedented military deployment to the border with high-level advocacy with congressional partners, coupled with strategic communications efforts.

The horrors of “zero tolerance” migration policies.

  • It is clear that the Trump administration will continue to undermine the essential right to asylum, as seen earlier this year when the Justice Department ended asylum for those fleeing domestic violence and gang violence. This is a major setback for human rights. WOLA is working to advocate against implementing this abuse of executive authority.
  • To provide much-needed support to the legal community, WOLA is leading a project to provide important resources to asylum lawyers, the Lawyers Asylum Workbook (LAW), giving them tools and information to win cases for their clients fleeing violence and seeking asylum.

Continued efforts to cut critical aid to Central America.

  • President Trump will keep attempting to slash critical aid to Central America. That foreign assistance funding, aimed at tackling corruption, impunity, and other root causes of migration, must be preserved if we are to address the violence.

Trump’s last-ditch attempt to get his wasteful border wall funded before the new Congress is seated.

  • This December, we expect President Trump to go all out requesting funds for his wasteful and unnecessary border wall. With the Democrats taking control of the house in January, this could be his last chance. We can’t back down.