ASAP assists refugee mothers who have crossed the border with their children to seek safety in the United States. Families are fleeing life-threatening physical and sexual violence, including repeated beatings, attempted murder, and rape. Most are from Central America, with others traveling from countries as far as Syria, Eritrea, and Brazil. Upon arrival, the U.S. government separates families, incarcerating mothers and minor children in border detention centers run by private prison corporations, while holding male partners in separate facilities. For refugee women who secure their family’s release, they must then navigate legal, medical, and education systems in an unfamiliar language and new country, all while continuing to pursue their asylum cases in immigration courts across the United States.
A shortage of pro bono attorneys has left thousands of refugees unable to find lawyers for their families. Nationwide, fewer than 2% of unrepresented families are successful in securing asylum, with thousands of refugees receiving deportation orders despite having strong claims. Many families are deported simply for not coming to court because they did not know about their hearing. Meanwhile, newspapers have reported the murder of refugees after their wrongful deportation from the United States.