By Rev. Kathleen McTigue on July 2, 2019
We have been relieved to finally see momentum building around the United States to stop the awful practice of locking up children in detention centers. UUSC has been organizing around this issue for years, and many of our members have advocated, marched, protested and volunteered to help us close these centers. With all of the media attention in recent weeks on the appalling conditions the children are suffering, we may finally be approaching a tipping point that will force the administration to change this cruel practice.
As we continue with this part of the struggle, we also want to raise awareness around two aspects of the larger struggle in which we’re involved. First, remember that migration is a human right, and that seeking asylum is legal. Migrants are not criminals, and they are not “aliens.” They are our fellow human beings, pursuing their rights under international law to leave places of violence and hunger in search of a safe place for them and for their children. No person should be imprisoned simply for migrating.
And second, remember that the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from Central America are not leaving their homes and their ancestral lands on a whim. They know how dangerous the journey will be and they know how slim their chances are right now for asylum. They continue to flee in such high numbers because the corrupt and failed states under which they live make it impossible for them to remain at home.
In Honduras, for instance, over the past month there have been scores of demonstrations all over the country, demanding an end to the corrupt government of Juan Orlando Hernández. These peaceful demonstrations have been met with lethal force. As the state violence escalates, resistance to it grows – but so does the surge of refugees seeking safety through migration. The problems we confront here at our own borders have long roots, tangled up with our own nation’s oppressive history in Central America and its current policies.
On June 26, we received an update from one of our key Honduran partners, Radio Progreso, detailing the escalating violence and the explicit threats against the safety of their founder, Padre Melo, and their journalists (you can read their report here). Even as we continue with the struggle against child detention, and against the practice of locking up refugees, we want to remember that migration justice can’t be solved without turning sustained and constructive attention toward the roots. People have a right to stay safely at home; and until we guarantee that right, they will continue to leave home in search of the safety that should be the birthright of every one of us.
Photo Credit – Mark Coplan
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!