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United States - Human Rights Committee - Migrants Rights Human Trafficking - September 2023

Date: September 12, 2023
Country: United States of America
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Asylum, Human Trafficking, Migrant Rights
Mechanism: UN Human Rights Committee
Report Type: Shadow/Parallel Report
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The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a report on U.S. compliance with human rights obligations relating to non-citizens and human trafficking in advance of the UN Human Rights Committee's 139th Session

Read the full report.

The United States fails to uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The United States' immigration system, while generous in many respects, is riddled with systemic failures to protect human rights and meet obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Although the U.S. government has made dramatic shifts in policy since January 2021, it continues to implement immigration policies that violate human rights principles.  The Human Rights Committee's review of the U.S. comes at a time when the Biden Administration is appealing a court decision that struck down its proposed ban on nearly all cases of asylum at the southern US border.

The Advocates for Human Rights recommends the United States take specific steps toward complying with its treaty obligations. These include:

NON-DISCRIMINATION (ICCPR Arts. 2, 9, 14 and 26)

  • Provide information on any special, remedial measures it is taking to address the harms caused Presidential Proclamation 9645 and take corrective action to ensure individuals harmed by Muslim Bans and other racially discriminatory programs receive adequate remedies and compensation to immediately process their cases.
  • Work to disentangle immigration and criminal justice systems by eliminating enforcement priorities and regulations that tie negative immigration decisions to criminal histories, including passing legislation such as the New Way Forward Act. 
  • Take immediate action to initiate termination of employment for any immigration officers proven to have violated equal protection laws and ensure all contracts are updated to include such provisions.    
  • Undertake a review of decision making about nationality-based immigration programs and issue regulations that ensure racially discriminatory or disparate impacts are considered and addressed. Conduct a thorough review of data showing detention and removal rates by race and update policies and trainings to ensure detention and removal decisions are not disproportionately impacting BIPOC communities.
  • Undertake a review of decision making about nationality-based immigration programs and issue regulations that ensure racially discriminatory or disparate impacts are considered and addressed.   
  • Conduct a thorough review of data showing detention and removal rates by race and update policies and trainings to ensure detention and removal decisions are not disproportionately impacting BIPOC communities.


  • Carefully review reported cases to better identify trends and areas for early intervention.
  • Strengthen networks between workers' associations, service providers, and law enforcement to improve identification of trafficking victims.
  • Ensure law enforcement agents are trained and held accountable for ensuring protections for trafficking victims equally and with an understanding of how trauma increases interactions with the criminal justice system.
  • Update law and policy to ensure interim benefits to victims of trafficking are mandatory, rather than discretionary by law enforcement.
  • Ensure funding is equally allocated to enforcement and victim services.
  • Update public benefits programs to ensure trafficking victims have access to healthcare, education, and employment to reduce trauma and risks of re-trafficking. Ensure trafficking victims are not re-victimized due to long delays in accessing benefits such as work authorization.
  • Review visa programs, especially H and J visas, for risks to trafficking and take into consideration lived experience of victims to update pre-departure, recruitment, monitoring and victim resources to address risks of trafficking.
  • Develop standards and monitoring to ensure that the Voluntary Work Program in ICE detention facilities is truly voluntary and complies with state and federal wage and hour laws.


  • End litigation defending the proposed changes to asylum that bans individuals from seeking protection based on manner of entry and third country transit in violation of the Covenant and other international standards.
  • Provide specific information about the training received by Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers regarding obligations prohibiting refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant.
  • Cease conducting fear interviews for individuals in CBP custody, instead waiting until such individuals are transferred to ICE custody and have had a meaningful opportunity to access counsel and prepare for the interview. Address concerns raised regarding due process and human rights protections in CBP custody for people claiming fear of persecution and torture.
  • Please provide specific information about how the U.S. Attorney's Offices in jurisdictions which continue to utilize the Streamline prosecution initiative will ensure that no individual is criminally prosecuted for illegal entry or re-entry which has resulted from their flight from persecution.
  • Provide age-appropriate information about rights and assistance to children to ensure they understand how they can seek protection in the United States at all stages of interactions with U.S. immigration officials.
  • Stop arbitrary detention by eliminating mandatory detention provisions, setting reasonable bond amounts, ensuring access to justice in custody review and bond proceedings, and updating ICE detention guidance and oversight to comply with international best practice.
  • Ensure due process in removal proceedings by providing counsel to indigent people facing removal and updating immigration judge guidance and training to include cultural sensitivity, trauma-informed processes, racial justice and due process consideration. 
  • Tie immigration judge retention to due process standards rather than case completion rates. 
  • Pass the Real Courts, Rule of Law Act and fund counsel for vulnerable individuals.
  • Take steps to use administrative fixes to correct violations of Covenant obligations, particularly those related to immigration detention.
  • Request federal budget allocations to fund pilot projects to provide legal representation to vulnerable persons in removal proceedings and expand legal representation and LOP program to all persons detained on civil immigration charges, including persons detained by Customs and Border Protection in short-term detention facilities and by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Redirect funds requested for border enforcement and detention to address due process concerns and asylum access.
  • Update law and policy to ensure no torture survivors are held in detention and that use of detention, especially solitary confinement, complies with the Mandela Rules. 
  • Monitor all facilities which hold people in immigration custody to ensure they meet standards outlined in the 2011 Operations Manual on ICE Performance-Based National Standards and terminate contracts for facilities which fail to meet standards.
  • Publish information about the use of solitary confinement in immigration custody, including the average number of days people were held in solitary confinement. Please include information about persons held under "administrative segregation," "disciplinary segregation," or other similar status.
  • Effectively investigate all reports of sexual violence of persons held in immigration custody and take steps to discipline and file criminal charges against alleged perpetrators. Ensure that victims are provided with appropriate services for survivors of sexual assault, including certification as crime victims for purposes of U-nonimmigrant status in the United States.