Every day, all over the world, people make the most difficult decision of their lives – to leave their homes in search of a better life.
Some are fleeing horrific violence. Others are escaping discrimination, persecution, or extreme poverty. All of them deserve to have their human rights respected, and that’s what Amnesty International helps ensure.
Refugees are people forced to flee their homes because their lives are in danger. Right now, we’re in the middle of the largest global refugee crisis in generations. Tens of millions of people – many of them children – have been forced from their homes in Syria, Central America, Africa, and other parts of the world.
Many refugees face violence and human rights abuses while trying to find safety, and then face discrimination and hostility when they finally begin to rebuild their lives in another country.
In the face of this humanitarian crisis, governments around the world are not doing enough to help.
Decades ago, countries of the world agreed to a set of basic principles for how refugees would be treated when they go to another country seeking asylum, or emergency protection from violence or persecution. The United States and other countries agreed to treat people with compassion and respect their human rights while their claims are considered.
The United States has not been living up to this commitment. People seeking asylum are sometimes imprisoned and held for many months without access to attorneys or translators. Children are sometimes imprisoned and separated from their families. Some people seeking asylum are deported without having their claims heard – and they are forced to return to countries where they may be tortured, imprisoned, or even killed.
Amnesty International has helped protect the human rights of refugees and migrants for decades – documenting the conditions they’re fleeing, ensuring that individual people are protected, and changing policies so that more people can rebuild their lives safely.
Fearing for her life, Sara Beltran Hernandez fled her home in El Salvador and came to the United States seeking asylum. Instead of having her case heard, Sara was put in jail in Texas, where she was held for more than 15 months. When Sara began having severe headaches and nosebleeds, the jail staff gave her aspirin. Finally, after weeks of pain, Sara was allowed to see a doctor – who diagnosed her with a large brain tumor.
Amnesty International launched a campaign to free Sara, and thousands of people called and wrote letters demanding her release. Just six days after the campaign launched, Sara was freed. She is now living in New York with her mother, getting health care, and waiting for her asylum claim to be heard.
Right after she was released, Sara stood with Amnesty International to demand that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security change its policies and stop putting people with asylum claims in jail.