On International Migrants Day, December 18:
U.S. Immigrant Rights Groups Urge An End to Detentions & Deportations,
Cite High Human Cost to Immigrant Families
(Oakland, CA) As we approach International Migrants Day (December 18), U.S. immigrant rights groups urge the U.S. government to take immediate measures to end the detention and deportation of immigrant women, men and children, and its subsequent high human cost. 2011 marked a record year of deportations, coupled with ongoing detentions that separate and destabilize families and undermine community health, most recently highlighted by the DOJ's scathing report of Maricopa County's systemic human rights violations and DHS's decision to suspend 287(g) in the county.
“Despite the Obama Administration’s claims that they are only deporting so-called dangerous criminals, we witnessed the most deportations ever in the history of the U.S., including a record number of un-accompanied minors and long-term residents who are prosecuted for illegal re-entry,” declared Catherine Tactaquin, Executive Director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR). “Until there is an end to these punitive enforcement programs and practices, and concrete steps are taken toward durable solutions to regularize the status of undocumented immigrants, our communities will experience another generation of oppression and hardship.”
Earlier this year, NNIRR released a human rights report, Injustice for All: Rise of the Immigration Control Regime,which documented long-standing human rights abuses through existing policies and practices, such as “Secure Communities,” that result in the vile persecution of immigrant families, workers and communities.
“The recent ICE raid at Shogun Buffet, an Asheville restaurant, resulting in the detention and possible deportation of a dozen immigrant workers shows the Obama Administration’s strategy of ‘smart enforcement’ is more of the same under the Bush Administration. It is shameful that the Administration continues these punitive policies that crush families, tear parents away from their children, and subject them to emotional and physical trauma,” stated Laura Rivas, co-author of the report. “Every day this year, the U.S. commits grave human rights violations. By criminalizing an entire class of people due to their immigration status, perceived or real, our government has also made them more vulnerable to abuse, discrimination and economic exploitation.”
As this year’s International Migrants Day comes on the heels of the 5th Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Geneva, Switzerland, NNIRR called attention for global governance to respond to the human rights crisis facing migrants around the world.
“The U.S. has now taken leadership within the GFMD process,” commented Colin Rajah of Migrants Rights International (MRI), which has been organizing parallel civil society forums and actions in conjunction to the GFMD, “But after half a decade of dialogue, it is time for action as we witness ever-worsening conditions for migrants around the globe. We urge the U.S. to set an example with relief for undocumented immigrants from persecution within the U.S. And the U.S. can play a stronger role in shaping global governance to protect the human rights of all migrants, regardless of status or their perceived economic value to a country.”
International Migrants Day was recognized by the United Nations in 2000 to commemorate the passage of theInternational Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families(commonly referred to as the Migrant Workers’ Convention) on December 18, 1990. NNIRR is renewing its call to the U.S. to ratify this critical Convention and commit to ending punitive enforcement policies and practices.
NNIRR is also joining a global day of action against racism and for the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced people, in which dozens of actions are being taken up around the world.
Immigrant community groups around the U.S. are also marking International Migrants Day with marches, press conferences, candle-light vigils, cultural events, art-exhibits, film-screenings in cities such as Honolulu, HI; Tucson, AZ; Oakland, CA; Chicago, IL; Asheville, NC; and New York, NY.