The Biden administration gave an award to an official who previously worked for a George Soros-backed organization that advocated for ending the process of detaining asylum seekers.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday honored Adam Hunter, the agency’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Border and Immigration, who previously served as the executive director of Refugee Council USA. The organization urged the Biden transition team to “end the detention of asylum seekers,” according to a report for the Biden administration transition team. Illegal immigrants are routinely detained by immigration officials as they await court proceedings.
“Asylum seekers — including families — in the defensive asylum process have been increasingly incarcerated during the pendency of their cases due to DHS’s increased focus in deterring individuals from coming to the United States. This system is particularly cruel, since immigration violations are civil, and immigration custody was never intended by Congress to be punitive or carceral,” the report states.
“In the context of asylum seekers, even when they cross between ports of entry for the first time, they have not violated immigration laws,” the report states.
Refugee Council USA in 2019 urged the public to call on Congress to slash funding for the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Mayorkas gave Hunter and a team of officials an award for expanding immigration entry programs, according to a DHS statement on the event. Hunter received an award alongside Avideh Moussavian, chief of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) Office of Policy & Strategy, who tweeted in 2018 the hashtag “abolishICE,” saying the agency was “misleading the public and making our workplaces less safe.”
“This cross-component team collectively designed, developed, and implemented a new process to enable individuals who have U.S.-based supporters to be considered for and granted authorization to travel to the United States and seek parole at the port of entry,” DHS said in a statement regarding Tuesday’s award. “This innovative process required DHS to build a new system, and fuse new workflows across components, which bolstered the vetting process and provided an orderly procedure to allow those seeking parole to receive travel authorization and come to the United States,” DHS added in the statement.
Refugee Council USA is comprised of several dozen nonprofit organizations, including Church World Service (CWS), which has been tasked to carry out roles within the Biden administration, including leading a DHS program to monitor illegal immigrants awaiting their court dates in the U.S.
Refugee Council USA’s coalition of nonprofits includes Amnesty International, which advocates to release illegal immigrants from ICE detention and to “defund hate,” according to its website. It also includes Human Rights First, which seeks to have the U.S. “end this harmful policy” of immigration detention, according to its website.
CWS also appeared to fiscally sponsor Refugee Council USA under Hunter’s leadership, according to grants from left wing megadonor George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which gave $975,000 to support the group between 2017 and 2021. CWS is also listed as the manager of Refugee Council USA’s Facebook page.
CWS tweeted in 2021 the hashtag “AbolishICE.” It has also advocated to take funding away from ICE. The group is also part of a State Department refugee sponsorship program comprised of a consortium of organizations.
The group called for the Obama administration to not conduct ICE raids on illegal immigrant communities in the U.S. in 2016.
“We demand the Obama administration stop the structural sins of raids and deportations that tear families and communities apart. Instead, the administration should focus their resources on providing much needed legal assistance for these asylum seekers, ensuring due process is upheld, and committing humanitarian aid to address root causes of migration,” CWS said at the time.
DHS did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Jennie Taer on October 29, 2023