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.