How San Diego’s Torture Survivors are Affected by the Executive Orders

SOTIAdmin Advocacy, Healing, News

Dear friends, donors, and advocates,


Over the past week, our clients have expressed feelings of more uncertainty and insecurity. Clients who have not sought emotional support in years are requesting mental health services. Parents tell us that their children are scared and some are even being bullied in school. Families fear they will not be reunited with loved ones not yet in San Diego.


  • In 2016, forty three percent of our new clients at Survivors of Torture, International were from one of the seven countries (Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan) would have been banned by the recent executive orders.
  • In 2016, seventy-two percent of new clients served at SURVIVORS were asylum seekers.
  • In 2016, nineteen percent of our new clients were asylum-seeking torture survivors who were detained at the immigration detention facility in Otay Mesa, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, now rebranded as CoreCivic.
The Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, released on January 25, 2017, mandates in Section 5 that “The Secretary shall take all appropriate action and allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate, or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.” We are very concerned that more arriving asylum seekers, who were persecuted in their home countries will now be subject to increased detention even though they have not broken any of our laws.

The United States must protect its legacy as a generous and safe new home for refugees and asylum seekers, 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 National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) shows high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression are likely for survivors. Recent executive actions will compound their symptoms, making healing even more difficult.


SURVIVORS remains committed to providing essential healing services to torture survivors and advocating for policies that support refugees and asylum seekers. They are assets to our communities. SURVIVORS recognizes that their protection and resettlement is part of the opportunity to demonstrate our global leadership as a nation.We cannot do this alone. Please, help us educate the public about refugees, asylum seekers, torture and its consequences by coming on a Journey to Healing tour of our office, spreading the word to your friends and social media followers, volunteering, and donating to support our mission.


Thank you for your support.