Cultural Survival Condemns the Trump Administration’s Zero-Tolerance Policy

June 22, 2018

Migrants and asylum seekers are protected by international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law. We believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what their country of citizenship, their country of residence, their legal status, ethnicity, or their economic conditions. International human rights law was created to protect the most vulnerable populations, and the United States has a moral and legal obligation to uphold those standards and to treat with dignity any human beings fleeing conditions of violence and economic injustice. 

Today, the vast majority of those crossing the US-Mexico border undocumented are coming from Central America, countries whose populations include high numbers of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples in Central America disproportionately experience extreme poverty and marginalization, and make up a large majority of those who choose to migrate. Among the Central Americans arriving at our borders today are asylum seekers: Indigenous women and children escaping domestic violence, teens fleeing gang violence and recruitment, human rights defenders fleeing repercussions from oppressive governments. We deplore the Trump administration’s dehumanizing and disparaging language categorizing people who are migrating as drug dealers, rapists, murderers, and animals, and denounce Trump administration’s decision to treat migrants as criminals.

Trump’s recent executive order to end his administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant families likely will not apply to the more than 2,300 children who have already been taken from their parents, and will now result in the indefinite incarceration of innocent children with their criminalized parents. It fails to recognize non-nuclear family relationships, meaning that aunts, uncles, grandparents and siblings many continue to be separated.

“Once again, the ideology of conquest, racism, greed, and difference fuels our government policy-making against those seeking freedom, justice and equality and the rights that every human being should be accorded no matter where they are. We only have to look at the history of this country building walls, fences, internment camps, concentration camps and slavery to understand the deep seated and dark side of power, racism, and control that we have yet to move beyond, and the reality of it happening again,” stated Cultural Survival Executive Director Suzanne Benally (Santa Clara Tewa/ Navajo).

Human rights go beyond politics as they are universal and recognize the inherent dignity and equality of all humans. They are universal, interdependent, and inalienable. We all have a moral obligation to uphold human rights for everyone, especially vulnerable populations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reminder of rights and responsibilities that we all have.

As citizens, we can hold governments accountable for their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. The duty to fulfill human rights extends equally to individuals, organizations, corporations, government, and all other institutions.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Article 14 states:“(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

Article 25 states:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

We call on everyone to continue to ask questions about how all children will be reunited with their families and demand answers to the continued incarceration of families in detention centers. We ask that you continue to put political pressure on political leaders to end the human rights abuses, and the unjust and inhumane policies and practices towards undocumented migrants.


Photo courtesy of  BBC World Service