Immigration: A Human Rights Issue, Not a Political Issue

By Aida V. Nieto,  Bill Archer Fellow for Amnesty International USA

On November 5th, the United States appeared before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to review its human rights record.  As a follow up, a Town Hall was held for activists and nongovernmental groups to ask questions and offer their criticism and recommendations regarding the U.S.’s human rights record.  During this meeting a topic that continued to come up throughout the ninety-minute discussion was the lack of human rights protection in programs designed to enforce federal immigration law.

Programs such as the controversial 287 (g) agreement and Secure Communities, a measure recently making headlines were widely criticized as they have proven to provide a venue for racial profiling.  After the public exposure of the lack of human rights protections for immigrants and people of color in the United States, I hope that people and the government realized that immigration is a human rights issue, not a political issue.


Tell Your Senators to Support the DREAM Act!

This Tuesday Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would include the DREAM Act in a defense authorization bill.  The DREAM Act will help thousands of committed students and military officers to legalize their status in the United States.  Currently, they face unique barriers to higher education, are unable to work legally in the U.S., and often live in constant fear of exposure to immigration authorities.

The DREAM Act would provide certain conditional legal status, if students attend college or join the military. It would also allow immigrant students access to higher education by returning to states the authority to determine who qualifies for in-state tuition. Amnesty International supports the DREAM Act because it upholds significant human rights goals including the right to education and the right to family life and unity.

This is an incredible opportunity to fulfill the human rights of young immigrants in the United States. Urge your Senator to support passage of the Dream Act now!

Call the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121

Passage of the Dream Act will support a variety of human rights obligations including:

1. Right to Education:
Currently, undocumented children in the US are constitutionally guaranteed the right to access public education. However, their ability to complete high school, as well as the opportunity to pursue university studies, is undermined by their lack of legal status. Undocumented children are ineligible for federal financial aid for higher education and, in most states, for in-state tuition at public universities.

Education is a right worthy of protection itself. It is also an indispensable means of realizing other human rights. All children, without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of their status or the status of their parents, have a right to education. General Comment No. 13 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights establishes that states are obliged to ensure that education is accessible to everyone, without discrimination, within the jurisdiction of the state. Accessibility includes non-discrimination, physical accessibility, and economic accessibility.