United States citizens have so many freedoms for which to be grateful. We are free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. We are free to worship Jesus, Allah, or Mother Nature. We are free to say what we want about our leaders, and we’re free to campaign against them when we don’t agree with what they’re doing.
However, it’s easy for us, as citizens whose freedoms are guaranteed by law, to overlook our nation’s treatment of non-citizens who are not offered the same protections when they’re on our soil. In fact, I imagine that a majority of Americans would be surprised to learn that the United Nations Human Rights Council just adopted a scathing report listing 348 recommendations regarding U.S. human rights violations. A major area of criticism in this report? Our country’s treatment of immigrants.
When you think about it, the idea that we have been flagged by the UN for our poor treatment of our neighbors is strange. It seems to be incongruent with the personal and national identity of so many of our citizens, who think of themselves as good Christians and our country as “one nation under God.” Of course, in actuality, our nation rests on a foundation of religious freedom and separation of church and state. Even so, a majority of Americans want our nation to espouse Judeo-Christian values.
How do these Americans reconcile our treatment of immigrants with these Biblical injunctions:
It is the same with your grape crop — do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. – Leviticus 19:10
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. – Leviticus 19:34
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:14
The Golden Rule sums it up: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
– Matthew 7:12
With so many people in our country who identify as Christians, you would think their would be an uprising, an outcry, over the idea that we have been publicly called out for the way we treat people who didn’t happen to be born in this country. “Well, they’re poor and take advantage of us,” may be one excuse a person would make for this problem. But that’s nothing but a poor excuse. First, so many immigrants contribute to this country in a beautiful variety of ways. Second, how did Jesus treat the poor? How would Jesus want the poor to be treated? Certainly not in a way that earns us human rights violations.
What, specifically, are we are doing to immigrants that’s so bad, according to the UN Human Rights Council? Sweden authored this recommendation regarding U.S. immigration: “Halt the detention of immigrant families and children, seek alternatives to detention and end use of detention for reason of deterrence.” We are destroying families, dividing them across borders. We are detaining (jailing) immigrants when it’s unjustified, even when they’ve come to us to save their families from dangerous and horrible home situations such as persecution, gang or domestic violence, or war.
In addition, the report included recommendations to address police brutality and excessive use of force as well as ending racial profiling against minorities and immigrants. Mexico recommended that the U.S. “adopt measures at the federal level to prevent and punish excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against members of ethnic and racial minorities, including unarmed persons, which disproportionately affect Afro American and undocumented migrants.” Such actions are considered human rights violations by the UN.
We must stop doing these things to our neighbors. Regardless of what we think about immigration to our country, there is no good reason to treat immigrants with cruelty. We must find a better way to treat strangers in our land.
The Obama administration has until September to respond to the 348 recommendations, at which time the administration will let the world know which of the recommendations will be implemented over the next four years. Let the President know how you feel about these issues by contacting him via email – contact the President.
How do you think we can change our systems to better protect human rights? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and ideas regarding our treatment of immigrants.
If you or someone you know needs the help of an immigration attorney, please contact us today to schedule your consultation.