Opinion | Seeking Asylum at the Border: Victims, Not Criminals

To the Editor:

Re “Common Sense on the Caravan” (editorial, Nov. 4):

As a law student more than 20 years ago, I helped Fauziya Kassindja, a 17-year-old who fled Togo to avoid forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Upon arriving in the United States, instead of finding protection, Fauziya spent more than 17 months in detention.

Her case would go on to become a landmark ruling setting the legal precedent for gender-based asylum cases and led to my founding the Tahirih Justice Center.

Since then, our pro bono lawyers have represented thousands of women and girls like Fauziya seeking protection from gender-based persecution. Those protections and the vulnerable communities they serve are now threatened if the Trump administration turns away asylum seekers or incarcerates them indefinitely.

Seeking asylum at the border is not illegal and is in compliance with United States and international law dating back to the Holocaust. Women like Fauziya and countless others are victims, not criminals.

We must continue to uphold our values and be a bridge to safety for those who seek refuge and a chance to live safely and with dignity in the United States.

Layli Miller-Muro
Falls Church, Va.
The writer is chief executive of the Tahirih Justice Center.

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