January 27, 2017: The National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) has learned that President Trump plans to sign an Executive Order that suspends the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and bans the arrival of Syrian refugees.

The United States must protect its legacy as a generous and safe new home for refugees, especially now when global forced displacement is at record levels: over 65 million people have been forced from their homes. Care is needed for these survivors – research from the Center for Victims of Torture shows that up to 44 percent of refugees in the United States are survivors of torture and research from the NCTTP shows high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and major depression are likely for survivors (see

The NCTTP stands with refugees, for whom resettlement is often the only, and last, chance to reach safe haven after surviving the horrors of torture, war and displacement. Any announcement to pause resettlement would grind refugee processing to a halt, as each step of the security check process is time sensitive. A pause would force refugees who were set to arrive in the United States soon to instead wait months and even years as happened after September 11.  Moreover, others while still in danger will experience even more lengthy delays for fingerprinting, interviews, health screenings, and multiple security checks all over again.

3 ways to take action

1) Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with your 1 Representative and 2 Senators (you need to make 3 separate calls). Click here to find out who represents you

Sample Script: “I’m your constituent from [City, State], and I support refugee resettlement in the U.S. I am strongly opposed to the announcement expected from President Trump that would reduce refugee admissions, grind resettlement to a halt, stop resettling refugees from certain countries, and preference religious minorities. This discriminatory announcement is morally reprehensible, runs counter to who we are as a nation, and does not reflect the welcome for refugees I see in my community every day. Please urge President Trump to abandon this plan and do everything in your power to stop this announcement.”

Please also share a personal story about why refugee resettlement is important to you, your community, etc. Let them know the specific ways that refugees contribute and are welcomed into your community.

2) The White House public comment phone line is no longer taking messages; however, you may be able to reach an operator at the White House switchboard if you remain on the line: 202-456-1414.

3) You can also make your voice heard by commenting on a post on the White House Facebook page: or submit an electronic message at

Tweet @realDonaldTrump @WhiteHouse, and @ your Senators/Representatives: “.@[HANDLE], my community stands w/ ALL refugees! Support refugee resettlement & reject discrimination! #RefugeesWelcome


November 23, 2016: Kovler Center remains committed to the safety, protection, and rehabilitation of survivors. Read the statement from the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs calling for the President-Elect to provide torture survivors with access to rehabilitative care and asylum procedures that treat them with dignity.

July 2, 2014: The Office of Refugee Resettlement plans to reprogram $94 million away from refugee services in order to meet the needs of unaccompanied minors entering the country. Funding to ORR needs to be increased by $200 million for Fiscal Year 2014 in order to continue to provide services to both refugees and unaccompanied minors.

Tell your members of Congress what you want them to do by calling the Capital Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or find their address on their websites at or Spread the message on social media by sending a message to your Representative’s and Senators’ Facebook pages and Twitter handles.

June 26, 2014: The Torture Victims Relief Act of 2014 was introduced into the House in honor of the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The bill would amend the 1998 act and authorize up to $25 million for domestic torture centers and increase money for the Office of Refugee Resettlement Torture Treatment Fund. It would also require training for Foreign Service Officers to spot torture survivors and requires a report on the number of torture survivors entering the United States as a refugee. Click here to read the bill.

Stay tuned for directions on how to support the act.

November 4, 2013: Tell U.S. Representatives from Illinois to pass immigration reform! The Senate did their job and passed a comprehensive bipartisan bill for immigration reform last June. Now it is time for members of Congress to do the same.  H.R. 15, similar to the Senate’s bill 744, contains a roadmap to citizenship as well as other human rights reforms important to asylum seekers such as removal of the one year filing deadline. Click on this link to the National Immigrant Justice Center to easily tell your members of Congress what you want them to do.

November 4, 2013:Today, the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) in partnership with the Torture Abolition Survivor Support Coalition International (TASSC) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) released a report, “Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention.”

To view the report, please visit CVT’s website

To read an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor by UUSC’s Executive Director, William Schultz

On January 18, 2012, Chicago became a torture-free city. In an historic vote, the Chicago City Council unanimously passed the Zero Tolerance for Torture resolution, which bans all forms of torture in Chicago. More than 3,500 signatures were presented at the hearing where senior director Mary Lynn Everson gave oral testimony and submitted written testimony from senior director Dr. Mary Fabri based on their work with torture survivors. Our hope is that survivors of torture who come to Chicago from all over the world will know there is a commitment from city officials to reaffirm this important civil and human protection.

The Illinois Coalition Against Torture formed in December 2009 to oppose torture in the City of Chicago, throughout the State of Illinois, and by the U.S government led this effort. For more information, please see

Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center signs on to the Refugee Protection Act of 2011 (S. 1202/H.R. 2185) as introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Lofgren (D-CA) ensuring the protection of refugees, asylum seekers, children and other vulnerable newcomers to the United States (June 2011)

Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center joins 33 agencies in support of the continuation of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law (December 2010)

White Paper by Physicians for Human Rights released: EXPERIMENTS IN TORTURE: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the “Enhanced” Interrogation Program (June 2010)

Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center joined 87 organizations urging support of the Restoring Protection to Victims of Persecution Act (HR 4800) to eliminate the arbitrary one-year bar to asylum (April 2010)

Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center joined 30 organizations in petitioning the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ)to issue regulations allowing the release of detained asylum seeker who pose no danger to the community and would face persecution if returned to their home countries (March, 2010)

Heartland Alliance and the Marjorie Kovler Center joined over 24 organizations in endorsing The Refugee Protection Action of 2010 (S.3113) to strengthen the country’s commitment to protecting refugees fleeing persecution or torture (March 2010)

Two-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Executive Order ensuring lawful interrogations and banning torture – January 22, 2010

Webcast of the first ever hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, entitled “The Law of the Land. U.S. Implementation of Human Rights Treaties”

Written testimony submitted by the Marjorie Kovler Center and submitted into the record (December 2009)

Advocacy Collaboration