The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
May 15, 2013
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and as the new immigration bill moves forward, there’s been increasing fear mongering toward immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers.
One of the things I appreciate most about UUSC and our supporters is how we stand firm for our basic values. Even in the face of difficult events, UUSC’s activists have been steadfast in affirming that human rights are fundamental and cannot be compromised.
Last week, UUSC supporters sent more than 1,200 e-mails to Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for the protection of asylum seekers. These e-mails, in addition to follow-up phone calls from UUSC supporters, made an impact. On May 9, two amendments that would have harmed asylum seekers were rejected.
But our biggest challenge during this markup period is still ahead. Sen. Chuck Grassley has introduced amendments that would eliminate humane alternatives to detention, remove protections for stateless people, and make it possible for the United States to jail asylum seekers for even longer periods of time. He’s even proposed delaying certain sections of the bill until one year after an investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing!
UUSC’s offices are in Cambridge, Mass., and the marathon bombing was close to home for us, both physically and emotionally. But at UUSC, we do not believe that safety and respect for human rights are mutually exclusive.
And we reject the idea that immigrants should automatically be treated as criminals. Instead we believe that the law should encourage due process and protections for vulnerable populations. Immigrants should “be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person,” as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This respect is upheld in the principles of many Unitarian Universalist congregations.
Contact Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today. Ask him to oppose the Grassley amendments that would weaken or eliminate protections for refugees and asylum seekers in the new immigration bill. The pace at which this process will move is hard to predict, but right now it looks like Grassley’s amendments could be considered as soon as Thursday, May 16.
You can also call the Senate Judiciary Committee by dialing 866-940-2439.
We can’t let fear mongering derail the best chance we’ve had in years to protect survivors of torture and others fleeing persecution. Please act now.