Not one more child detained, not one more life lost. A call for global solidarity

The vicious and calculated escalation of abuses and deaths of children at the U.S. border over the last months

have horrified millions across the globe. We have collectively witnessed an unprecedented scale of separation of

children from their families; mass imprisonment of children in squalid detention camps; sexual and physical

abuse of children, and the tragic deaths of families at the border, in journey and in detention.

 

As U.S.-based members of the Global Coalition on Migration, we express anguish and outrage at the inhumane

border militarization policies and child detention camps that have already taken the lives of seven children in

custody in the last year. Today, as thousands demonstrate in vigils taking place across the United States, we call

on all global and regional allies to send messages of solidarity and echo our call to end these policies that

separate children from their parents and place them in detention — eliminating all options for people fleeing

violence and conflict to exercise their fundamental human right to seek asylum.

 

On July 8th, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet stated she was “deeply shocked” by the

overcrowded and unsafe conditions migrant children are facing in detention facilities — clearly underscoring U.S.

violations of international human rights law and obligations regarding child detention and the separation of

families and mistreatment, including lack of adequate conditions and medical care.

 

The Trump Administration policy of separating children at the border has unabashedly been described by former

Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a border deterrence policy. Increasingly pushing people back at the border, the

U.S. is in violation of the International Refugee Convention by funneling asylum-seekers at official entry-points,

forcing many to risk their lives at dangerous river and desert crossings to seek asylum. The U.S. is conducting

mass deportations back to risk in countries of origin, extending its southern border to Guatemala via pressure on

Mexico, incarcerating asylum-seekers and expansively rejecting many asylum cases linked to gangs and domestic

violence. The latest move to force asylum seekers to “remain in Mexico” while their cases are considered

undermines access to due process and will result in more deaths of those who seek protection. The U.S. should

commit to welcoming more — not fewer refugees and asylum seekers — and roll back the barriers that have been

imposed on access to asylum.

 

As U.S. citizens have mobilized solidarity, bringing needed supplies to detention centers in acts of compassion,

we must also mobilize to end the practice of detention itself. “Scarcity” is an intentional policy of so-called

“deterrence” by creating intolerable conditions. There should be NO detention of people seeking humanitarian

protection, particularly children. Border-crossing should not be criminalized.

 

The xenophobic and racist threats continue to mount as the Administration announces plans to conduct mass

raids of undocumented migrants across the country beginning on July 14th, threatening to detain and deport

tens of thousands. The threats to migrants — including a deliberate practice of separating children from their

families, a consequence of deportations — go well beyond the border.

 

The current crisis in Central America and the massive exodus reflects a legacy of U.S. economic, military and

political presence in the region for over a century. As such, the U.S. has an even greater role to welcome those

fleeing the consequences of violent and exclusionary policies. Likewise, this is not only about those who officially

qualify as asylees. Many are fleeing economic and climate-related situations which are not contemplated by the

Refugee Convention but which are nonetheless life-threatening. We reject a false dichotomy of “legitimate”

asylum-seekers vs. “illegitimate” migrants. Those who are forced to migrate should not be criminalized for not

fitting into a particular category.

 

The devastating image of 23-month old Valeria Ramirez, lying dead in the Rio Grande alongside her father less

than a month ago brings painful remembrances of the image of Aylan Kurdi on the Mediterranean shores in

2015. Along with the countless stories in between of migrants losing their lives at international borders and in

journeys, “death by policies” of border closures and militarization is now a global reality, particularly mirrored

across the U.S., European Union and Australia.

 

We call on all those who share our shock and outrage at this dehumanization of people seeking humanitarian

protection, including children, to take action- by speaking out both about current US policy, and how this is

echoed globally.

 

We call on governments to stop prosecutions of human rights defenders who are providing life-saving assistance

and aid to migrants, whether in the desert, at sea or in the journey.

 

We must build a different future now — one that affirms respect for human rights policies at international

borders and upholds the fundamental human rights of children, of migrants and of all people seeking protection.

No one seeking humanitarian protection should be placed in detention.

 

Signed,

U.S. members of the Global Coalition on Migration:

Alianza Americas

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR)

Priority Africa Network

South Texas Human Rights Center (NNIRR member)

 

Read here: http://gcmigration.org/2019/07/not-one-more-child-detained-not-one-more-life-lost-a-call-for-global-solidarity/