The following is a statement from Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
We are witnessing a human rights crisis in real time, the magnitude of which should shake us to our core.
As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down. And Donald Trump has failed and corrupted the system from top to bottom, emboldening an already out of control agency, and advancing policies and actions that are resulting in a callous disregard for basic humanity and exacting a terrible toll that is now laid bare for all to see.
What happens when you pursue cruelty as a matter of policy and misguided politics? Men, women, and children die in our custody and because of our policies; CBP officers feel emboldened to match disgusting and dehumanizing online screeds with disgusting and dehumanizing treatment of people; DHS leaders like Kevin McAleenan lie through their teeth to perpetuate more cruelty and pretend that concerns about the treatment of our fellow human beings in detention are ‘unsubstantiated.’
As the New York Times editorialized today, we are seeing ‘conditions that Americans would condemn if they were in another country.’ Watch and reflect on the comments of a 12-year-old Central American girl who arrived with her 6-year old sister to seek asylum and spent two weeks inside the Clint, Texas detention center. She said the children were mistreated by the personnel, did not get enough food, were not able to bathe, were forced to sleep on the floor and did not get medical treatment. ‘They said they’d take them to hospital, but they didn’t. Some children, like the age of my sister, they would cry for their mother or their father, they cried for their aunt, they missed them. Some children did not sleep, almost. It was ugly in there.’
As women in America’s care are forced to drink from toilets and remain in overcrowded facilities, and as children are forced to sleep on the floor in the same clothes they arrived in days or weeks ago, Trump will be playing with tanks and airplanes on the National Mall putting together a show about the toughness of America that he thinks makes America great. Enough is enough.
As America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry detailed in a recent USA Today op-ed, we need to advance a fundamental overhaul of our immigration system, while pursuing a sane and humane strategy to confront the humanitarian and refugee crisis that Trump’s cruelty-and-chaos approach has created. As Sharry wrote:
[A]t the border, Democrats need to propose pragmatic solutions of their own. Among the elements: Hire enough adjudicators and lawyers so Central Americans seeking asylum have fair, orderly and efficient hearings — a fair chance, not a free pass. Launch a regional refugee resettlement initiative — away from the border — to rescue eligible refugees through an orderly application, acceptance and admissions program. And address the root causes of migration from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador so that over time, it is safer for families to stay home than to risk the dangerous journey to America.
Meanwhile, we also need to “proudly advocate” for a 21st century immigration system:
This would involve putting the nation’s 11 million hardworking undocumented immigrants on a path to legal status and eventual citizenship by creating a line and establishing requirements; improving and making more flexible a legal immigration system that reunites families and meets legitimate labor demands at all skill levels, within clear and adjustable annual limits; and in addition to smart and accountable border security, focusing enforcement on bad actors, from criminal smugglers to public safety threats to unscrupulous employers.