Atheists and Humanists Condemn Human Rights Crisis at the U.S. Border and Nativist Attacks against Undocumented Immigrants

US/Mexico border fence near Campo, California, USA. Photo by poendl / 123RF US/Mexico border fence near Campo, California, USA. Photo by poendl / 123RF

The influx of Central American families and unaccompanied minors at the U.S. border has escalated into a human rights crisis which some have exploited to make xenophobic, racist and nativist attacks against undocumented immigrants and refugees.

Over the past few months, thousands of underage youth fleeing violence and instability in their native countries have been warehoused in substandard Homeland Security facilities. According to the ACLU some have allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of border officials. This week, angry protestors stormed and turned away buses full of predominantly women and children detainees in Murrieta, California. These attacks will only increase, as they are part of a national climate of hatred, hostility and discrimination against undocumented individuals and their families (which are often of mixed citizenship status) and communities. These attacks have been encouraged by the U.S. House of Representatives’ refusal to pass a comprehensive humane immigration bill that is informed by the progressive legacy of civil and human rights resistance forged by disenfranchised communities in this country.

As humanists and atheists of conscience, we find this climate of demonization morally and politically reprehensible. We categorically condemn the anti-“illegal” immigrant and anti-human rights vitriol promoted by people like California Congressman Darrell Issa who has called for the Obama administration to rescind its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. We fundamentally oppose the Obama Administration’s escalation of deportation on the grounds that it is inhumane, breaks up families, and exposes both undocumented and citizen youth to sexual exploitation, foster care placement, homelessness and incarceration.

As humanists and atheists of conscience, we strongly support the administration’s DACA policy, as well as regional efforts to ensure equity, access and opportunity for undocumented youth in education and employment. We support humane efforts to resolve the refugee crisis at the border peacefully—including providing unaccompanied youth with just legal representation, immigration relief and humanitarian protection—while respecting the dignity and human rights of unaccompanied youth and their families.

Recently, the Obama Administration expressed a willingness to bypass the obstructionists of the House on immigration reform. As humanists and atheists of conscience we believe that the administration’s commitment must address the climate of racist demonization that prevails in this country, as well as equitably uphold democratic rights for undocumented and other disenfranchised communities.

To view a list of signatories to this statement, which includes the American Humanist Association, click here.

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  • Hanrod

    As a long time member, I am sorry you supported this. We cannot solve the world’s problems for all people of all nations, concurrently. We can only take care of making a good example of our own Country, and then CAREFULLY AND ECONOMICALLY, assisting other countries that would like to do the same. Further, this kind of effort is not really about non-theist humanism, it is an effort to create, idealistic and unrealistic “New Age” gods to replace the dead, never existing, one.

    • Tracie Holladay

      Yes, there are perfectly logical reasons to carefully restrict crossings of our national borders, not the least of which is simply that the US is no different from any other country that establishes a border and protects it with immigration law and officers to enforce it.

      One of the things I resent is the implication that I do not have compassion for people because I don’t want to see our border flooded in this way – but I do have compassion. It is for my fellow American citizens, such as myself and my husband (himself a military veteran who served this country during the Cold War), and for the children of our friends who face a very uncertain future if this is allowed to continue unchecked. I do not see why they should be asked to make sacrifices in their future that they did not bargain for.

  • Catherine Meza

    It is certainly convenient for your rhetoric that the current invasion of our sovereign nation by illegally present aliens consists of those who are ethnically different from the minority population. However, I see too much evidence of the displacement of native-born citizens of Michigan, both black and white, in construction, landscaping, and restaurant work by those illegally present to cease opposing more of them. If it happens here in this mostly white/black/Arab northern state, how much great is the impact elsewhere. If more think like you, this will be a pushover nation indeed. You’re wrong.

    • Ella

      I couldn’t agree more with the above comments. You, apparently, do not live in Texas where billboards are springing up all over the place in Spanish. Like Michigan, my former home, many people here have been displaced. In this case, in restaurants and landscaping. We do not need comprehensive immigration reform. We need massive deportation.

      • Hannah Craswell

        I’m not sure I understand what is wrong with having signs in Spanish. In quite a few places here in CA signs have English, Spanish, and sometimes Indian or Mandarin depending on the area. I’ve never had a problem with that… I’m curious why it bothers you so much? Things like this usually happen when an area is heavily concentrated with people who speak the language. Stores cater to their audience, this is nothing new. IMO, it’s no different than when a coffee shop decides to have sales on iced coffee during the summer.

        We clearly need to focus on making American’s more accepting and empathetic of other people. Empathy is what I think the issue is here. While we definitely do need to make sure that our Country stays strong, we also need to make sure that we do not get too used to being comfortable when others are suffering.

        While I’m not sure if it is our country’s job to protect other countries, it is most certainly our job as individuals to protect other people.

      • Tracie Holladay

        I currently live in Florida but my origins are in Washington DC. In the summer of 2006, I took my husband to DC so we could visit the monuments and museums, something that he, a patriotic American who had served the nation in the Army, had never seen before. When we got there, I noticed that many signs all around the city were in two languages – English and Spanish. This was not the case when I moved from the DC area to Florida in 1991.


  • Maxx

    Indeed, this position is not a very well thought out one. The real issues here are much more complex. First off this is not a race issue. It would not make bit of difference if they were Lilly white refuges. The concern of disease is REAL because these people have not been vaccinated for diseases that we have long ago made rare in our country. Second, local communities are being forced by the Federal Government to provide labor, money, housing, and other public services to people who are not their responsibility. Third, we should not help & encourage Human Traffickers who exploit women & children . As to Human Rights you must keep in mind that we do not have unlimited funds & facilities for these people coming here. Finally, the focus on helping these immigrants has allowed the flow of illegal drugs into our country on a massive scale.

    • Tracie Holladay

      I second your comments here.

  • Euroyank

    The comments entered here make me ashamed to be an American.

  • Lucas Prater

    The POTUS should lead talks with the Presidents of Mexico and other Latin/South American countries to improve conditions in their home countries. I haven’t heard one word in regard to any push for this.

  • fictionp2z

    If all is going right in your world have some compassion for those that are trying to seek a better life.

    Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men. -Confucius

  • SteveMunday1949

    What are atheist groups doing to actually help these people, i.e., food, shelter?