Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

← News & Stories

Fulfilling the Promise of Open Doors

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity to reflect on the past and the lives lost during the Holocaust, as well as to take action in support of human beings seeking asylum and the right to do so.
art of displacement

January 27, 2023

Friday, January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. As we reflect on the aftermath of the holocaust, the lives lost, the families torn apart, the many people displaced from their homes, we invite you to remember that seeking safety when you are being persecuted is a human right. Today we invite you to bear witness to U.S. immigration policy and take action in support of human beings seeking asylum and of our right to do so.

Reflecting on the Past

In the brutal aftermath of the Holocaust, nations were ashamed of how their immigration policies discriminated against and led to the violent deaths of millions of human beings. Dozens of countries committed to keeping their doors open and never again denying safety to people fleeing persecution. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol — codified into U.S. law in 1980 — asylum-seekers have a right to ask for safety and authorities must not return them to a country where they face a significant threat of persecution. 

In violation of international law and of its own never again commitment, the United States has been expelling asylum-seekers ever since the implementation of Title 42 without having their asylum claim heard and even ignoring the principle of non-refoulement . In a report released on January 19, 2023, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) names the many ways the Title 42 exclusions of asylum-seekers is a misuse of power and reports that asylum-seekers expelled under Title 42 have reported being subjected to physical and sexual violence in Mexico; extremely high levels of mental illness (including post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety); and lacking access to medical care, food, and housing. LGBTQ+ individuals and Black people have experienced higher expulsion rates and face risks of extreme harm if they wait in Mexico to be able to make an asylum claim when the Title 42 policy changes. 

When we deny the humanity of anyone, we deny the humanity of everyone. Let’s reclaim our humanity! Defend our human right to seek asylum.

You have the power to take action!

The Immigration Justice Campaign, a collaboration of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council, has two priority actions that you can participate in to support asylum-seekers at this crucial moment in migration justice. 

UUSC’s CAPAS program (Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum-Seekers) works with congregations and immigration justice partners to provide solidarity and accompaniment to asylum-seekers throughout their journeys. Learn how you and your congregation can get involved in this critical work. 

Together we can hold open the doors our ancestors and elders pledged would never again be shut.

Image Credit: Rick (Adobe)

Read This Next