Immigrant Human Rights in the United States of America


SEATTLE — All people, citizens and immigrants alike, are entitled to their basic human rights in the United States of America. Since the foundation of the USA, human rights have always been prioritized and integral to American thinking. The Bill of Rights, which restricts government power and guarantees individual liberties, makes up the first and foremost 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Therefore, under U.S. law, everyone is guaranteed certain freedoms and protections – even undocumented immigrants. Yet in reality, immigrants in the U.S. often have their basic rights infringed upon and violated.

Immigrants in the U.S. today may experience discrimination or intimidation not only in the workplace, but also in everyday society. In the post- 9/11 world, racism and prejudice against immigrants have increased and become more vocal.

Frequently, the general rhetoric is so extreme as to elicit concern for immigrants’ personal safety. According to the FBI, between 2003 and 2006, hate crimes against Latinos increased 34 percent, demonstrating the rise in overall threat to immigrants human rights in the United States of America.

Immigrant women represent a particularly vulnerable group who are often victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Migrant women may be hindered by social isolation, financial dependence, language barriers or fear of deportation, all of which stop them from reporting abuses to the authorities.

The fourteenth amendment, which grants the right to due process of law and equal protection under the law, is one of the rights most routinely violated for immigrants. Since 2001, more than 1,000 immigrants have been detained in unacceptable conditions for investigation for months on end. In these months the immigrants were never given access to an attorney nor charged with a crime.

Between 2012 and 2015, 18 immigrants died in U.S. custody. The Human Rights Watch analyzed the reports of these deaths to find inadequate medical care in 16 cases which contributed to seven of the deaths.

In 2017, the U.S. still detains asylum-seeking children and mothers from Central America. The detention of children and their mothers has been moderately reduced since 2015 reforms, yet families still find themselves detained for long periods of time. The Human Rights Watch has investigated and documented the grave psychological toll that this experience has on asylum seekers.

In the eight years of the Obama administration, a record 2.5 million immigrants were deported with a focus on those with criminal records. The newly elected Trump administration has made promises to build a wall on the southern U.S. border and to rapidly deport or detain another three million migrants with convictions. According to Human Rights Watch, a push to hastily deport millions of immigrants at once would certainly overwhelm and worsen the conditions of the detention facilities that are already poorly overseen.

Overall, more needs to be done to protect, respect and fulfill immigrant human rights in the United States of America. As a global leader, it is imperative the U.S. holds itself to the standard it set in the eighteenth century and adhere to international human rights law.

Catherine Fredette
Photo: Flickr


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