(New York) – A year after a US election marred by divisive rhetoric, thousands of families have been torn apart and millions are living in fear because of cruel and ineffective deportation policies, Human Rights Watch said today. Americans who want to push back should ask their representatives to oppose the Trump administration’s funding request for these harmful policies by participating in a campaign called “Immigrants Are US.”
“Congress should develop a real plan to reform our broken immigration system that protects immigrants with deep ties to the US and affords everyone due process,” said Alison Parker, US Program director at Human Rights Watch. “Lawmakers need to hear from voters who think it should reject President Trump’s immigration agenda, and deny increased funding to a broken system that already does so much harm.”
An animated film by Molly Crabapple and narrated in English by comedian Samantha Bee and in Spanish by actor Demián Bichir was released today by Human Rights Watch as a part of the campaign, which also marks the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s election. The film highlights how rhetoric conflating illegal immigration with crime is dangerous and divisive, fueling policies that destroy families and harm communities. Human Rights Watch is urging people in the United States to mark November 8, 2017, by wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Immigrants Are US.”
The current immigration system is broken, Human Rights Watch said. Under its rules, a man who has lived in the US for more than 20 years, has a US-citizen wife, and is the primary caretaker of his severely disabled stepson can be deported with no consideration of the impact it will have on his American family. An Afghan who was an interpreter for the US military, and who sought asylum in the US believing it values human rights, can be locked up for nearly a year in an abusive immigration detention system. A 10-year-old boy from El Salvador who witnessed the murder of his father by gang members and later was threatened by the same gang can face complex deportation proceedings without an attorney. A US Army veteran, whose mother was born in the US, can be deported because of a conviction linked to his struggles with drug dependency.
As a first step, Human Rights Watch urged Congress to pass a “clean” DREAM act to provide legal status to young undocumented people who were brought to the US as children. In addition, the organization called for new legislation to create a fair legalization program for all immigrants with strong family and other ties to the US and ensure that all immigrants in deportation proceedings get a fair hearing before an impartial judge. The US should also repeal harsh laws that make the US immigration system resemble an extension of the criminal justice system, by detaining hundreds of thousands in jail-like conditions and imposing severe immigration penalties on people with convictions for even minor or old offenses.
“The worst aspects of US immigration enforcement policies do not make the country stronger or safer,” said Parker. “The Trump administration’s latest immigration proposal does nothing to address the serious abuses inherent in the US immigration system, and instead seeks to weaken some of the few existing protections for such vulnerable groups as people fleeing violence and persecution, including children.”