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UUSC in the News

Recent news coverage of UUSC and our human rights work in the areas of crisis response, displacement, and criminalization.

2021

Biden is letting tourists cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Why is he keeping out asylum seekers?
UUSC’s Rachel Gore Freed and Josh Leach discuss the Biden administration’s opening of the U.S.-Mexico border while still using the dangerous Title 42 public health policy to detain and deport immigrants.

It’s time for Biden to eliminate one of Trump’s worst immigration policies, The Hill, October 2021
UUSC’s Josh Leach explores how the Biden administration’s defense of the “Title 42” immigration policy, which was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic under President Trump, is misguided and does not support immigrants nor public health.

Biden’s abusive and incoherent approach to Haitian migrants is all-too familiar, Houston Chronicle, October 2021
UUSC’s Rachel Gore Freed and Josh Leach discuss how the US immigration system continues to fail asylum-seekers, and result in abusive displays such as what recently happened at Del Rio, Texas, to Haitian asylum-seekers.

Climate Change Is Triggering a New Refugee Crisis—Inside the US, Common Dreams, September 2021
UUSC’s Salote Soqo and Josh Leach write about how climate-forced displacement is becoming a major issue, even within the United States, as a variety of storms impacted communities across the country this summer.

Decolonizing Culture and Experiencing the Fullness of Life, Cultural Survival, September 2021
UUSC spoke to our partners in Guatemala, Asociación Pop No’j, who work with Indigenous Maya communities to support their health, culture, and way of life.

Pushing for a progressive approach to climate-forced displacement, Climate Home News, August 2021
UUSC Senior Partnership Officer for Climate Justice and Crisis Response, Salote Soqo, discusses how the Biden administration and the United States government can support efforts to protect those displaced by climate change, particularly Indigenous communities.

Biden’s plan for Central American kids is no substitute for asylum, The Hill, June 2021
UUSC’s Public Policy and Communications Strategist Josh Leach co-authored this op-ed at The Hill with Rachel Schmidtke of Refugees International, examining the Biden-Harris administration’s asylum and immigration policies six months into their term.

“Let Us Be Heard”: Indigenous Youth Speak on Climate Justice, Cultural Survival, June 2021
UUSC’s Associate Director of Strategic Communications, Mike Givens, alongside UUSC staff Salote Soqo and Meghan Finn, spoke to UUSC partner the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition to interview several youth leaders about the climate crisis and the need to follow youth leadership and wisdom.

Biden should restore asylum protections in full, Orange County Register, May 2021
This op-ed by UUSC Public Policy and Communications Strategist Josh Leach was picked up by the Southern California News Group and syndicated across papers in California, as it examines issues of key regional and social importance for immigrants and asylum-seekers in California, and across the country.

Biden’s policies are causing a ‘crisis’ at the border — just not the way conservatives think, Roll Call, March 2021
UUSC Public Policy and Communications Strategist Josh Leach looks at how the Title 42 “public health” policy of expelling migrants, which was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic under President Trump, is contributing to a buildup of unaccompanied youth at the border, which the Biden-Harris administration could help solve by ending this policy.

Biden’s approach to kids and families at the border is both better and worse than Trump’s, The Hill, March 2021
UUSC Public Policy and Communications Strategist Josh Leach examines immigration policies under the Trump administration versus what President Biden has done so far in office.

Defending the Sacred in South Texas: Christa Mancias, Cultural Survival, March 2021
UUSC’s Associate Director of Strategic Communications, Mike Givens, spoke to Christa Mancias, Tribal Secretary of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, to learn more about how the Tribe is defending their land from oil and gas developments and other exploitation.

Reversing Myanmar’s Coup Isn’t Enough. Here’s How to Build a Better Burma, Common Dreams, February 2021
UUSC Vice President and Chief Program Officer Rachel Gore Freed penned this op-ed looking at the recent military coup in Burma/Myanmar and how the military must be held accountable for human rights abuses.

Biden Promised to Help Asylum Seekers. He Should Start by Repealing Title 42., Truthout, January 2021
UUSC Public Policy and Communications Strategist Josh Leach looks at how the incoming Biden Administration must undo the damage of the Title 42 public health law that the Trump Administration has used during the COVID-19 pandemic to unlawfully expel asylum-seekers from the United States.

2020

A Lenca Voice of Resistance Against a Culture of Extractivism: Donatila Girón Calix, Cultural Survival, December 2020
UUSC Researcher Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez spoke to Donatila Girón Calix, leader of the Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz Honduras (MILPAH) and president of the Indigenous Caucus of the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights 2019-2020, to discuss Indigenous resistance to corporate extractivism projects in Honduras.

Anti-protest laws across America are only created to criminalize and disenfranchise, The Tennessean, October 2020
UUSC Policy Analyst Josh Leach examines the harsh anti-protest laws being pushed by corporate-backed politicians to criminalize dissent, particularly in climate change-related protests against corporate development, that would result in people losing their right to vote if convicted of felonies.

UUSC Responds to October 2020 Raid on No More Deaths Aid Camp

After Border Patrol brutally raided a No More Deaths aid camp for the second time in three months in Aravaca, Arizona, detaining volunteers and taking migrants into custody, UUSC President & CEO Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, and VP and Chief Program Officer Rachel Gore Freed, were interviewed and quoted in a series of media pieces.

The Work Is All Of Us, Texas Observer, October 2020
UUSC Researcher Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez is quoted in this piece about UUSC partners Living Hope Wheelchair Association and their work as members of the undocumented and disabled communities in Houston, Texas.

Climate Hopes and Fears for a Post-Pandemic World, Cultural Survival, September 2020
UUSC Researcher Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez interviewed six Indigenous leaders from around the world about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their ways of life and their hopes for global climate action.

‘This Is Terrorism’: With No Face Masks and No Warrant, Border Patrol Agents Raid Humanitarian Aid Station in Arizona and Detain 30 Migrants, Common Dreams, August 2020
UUSC’s statement condemning Border Patrol’s August 2020 raid on No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid stations is quoted in this piece, another incident after the case involving Dr. Scott Warren over the past few years.

Protecting freedom from domestic violence and the right to asylum, Open Global Rights, July 2020
UUSC Chief Program Officer & VP Rachel Gore Freed and Policy Analyst Josh Leach co-authored this piece looking at how strategic litigation has helped survivors of domestic violence seek asylum in the United States, despite the Trump Administration’s hostile policies.

Supreme Court upholds DACA, Tucson Sentinel, June 2020
UUSC President & CEO Rev. Mary Katherine Morn is quoted in this piece which examined responses from justice advocates to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Trump Administration acted unconstitutionally in ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Pacific Islanders Unite to Fight COVID Amidst Extreme Climate Change Events, Cultural Survival, June 2020
UUSC Senior Partnership Officer Salote Soqo shares her perspective on returning home to Fiji to survey how Pacific Islanders are responding to the intersection of impacts from climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

We Mustn’t Allow Migrant Children to Stay Behind Bars Indefinitely, Morning Consult, April 2020
UUSC staff discusses the laws surrounding the detention of migrant children, an issue that has taken on even more urgency during the pandemic.

Opinion: Coronavirus makes detention centers even more dangerous for migrant children, Austin American Statesman, April 2020
UUSC VP & Chief Program Officer Rachel Gore Freed and Policy Analyst Josh Leach authored this op-ed about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on migrant children who are still detained in centers.

We Have Been Here Since Time Immemorial: Demanding Climate Action, Cultural Survival, March 2020
UUSC collaborated with our partner Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe in coastal Louisiana to tell the story of her experience with her community in facing the climate crisis.

UN Special Rapporteur Complaint

UUSC was proud to work with tribes in Alaska and Louisiana to help publicize their complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur about the U.S. government’s inaction on climate change. Read a selection of press clips about the issue below.

April 1, 2020: Tribal nations demand response to climate relocation; High Country News
January 28, 2020: 5 U.S. Native Tribes File A UN Climate Change Complaint; WBUR, Boston Public Radio
January 24, 2020: America’s Climate Refugees Are Pleading for Help. The Government Has No Answer; New Republic
January 17, 2020: Louisiana, Alaskan tribes file UN climate change complaint; The Associated Press
January 16, 2020: Louisiana tribes file complaint with United Nations over U.S. inaction on climate change; The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate
January 16, 2020: Tribal leaders appeal to UN for help; WWNO, New Orleans Public Radio
January 16, 2020: Native Americans hold US government to account on climate change; PRO Bono Australia
January 16, 2020: Tribes say feds’ climate inaction violates human rights; E&E News (PDF)
January 16, 2020: Unpublished denunciation of indigenous people against the United States before the UN for not acting against climate change (in Spanish); Euro News

2019

Jury Acquits Aid Worker Accused Of Helping Border-Crossing Migrants In Arizona, NPR, November 21, 2019
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, President & CEO of UUSC, is quoted in response to the verdict that Scott Warren was not guilty for helping migrants in the desert, a victory for humanitarian aid and human rights.

Jury Acquits Arizona Border Aid Volunteer Scott Warren of Harboring Charges, Arizona Republic, November 21, 2019
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, President & CEO of UUSC, is quoted in response to the verdict that Scott Warren was not guilty for helping migrants in the desert, a victory for humanitarian aid and human rights.

UUs Protest Homestead Child Detention Center, UU World, June 28, 2019
Hundreds of protesters, including fifty UU ministers and UUSC’s Director of Activism and Justice Education Rev. Kathleen McTigue, came together for an interfaith protest against the largest child migrant detention center at Homestead.

Wayfair Should Not Be in the Business of Detention, The Boston Globe, June 27, 2019
UUSC’s CEO and President Rev. Mary Katherine Morn wrote a letter to the Boston Globe editor condemning Wayfair’s involvement with furnishing migrant detention facilities that sparked a protest from employees and human rights organizations and allies.

The Criminalization of Humanitarianism, Keeping Democracy Alive podcast, May 17, 2019
UUSC’s Senior Grassroots Organizer Hannah Hafter speaks to Keeping Democracy Alive host Burt Cohen about the issues at stake with the trial of No More Deaths’ Scott Warren as he faces felony charges for helping migrants in the desert, in contrast to Border Patrol’s callous enforcement methods.

2018

Yorker Volunteers Near Border as Hundreds of Asylum-Seekers Arrive Daily, York Dispatch, November 23, 2018
Inspired by her local Unitarian Universalist congregation and UUSC’s calls to the border, volunteer Carol Stowell of York, Pennsylvania, joined other faith-inspired volunteers at Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, to assist with the influx of asylum-seekers at the border who are in need of food, shelter, and connections to their friends and family in the United States.

What Is Driving The Honduran Migrant Caravan To The US?, Rising Up with Sonali, October 22, 2018
UUSC’s own Senior Grassroots Organizer Hannah Hafter and Rising Up host Sonali Kolhatkar discuss the reasons behind the Honduran migrant caravan of asylum-seekers fleeing violence and President Trump’s threats to Central American governments as the caravan passes through their countries.

Climate Activists Say Snowy Alaska and Sunny Kiribati Share ‘One Story’ of Climate-Forced Displacement, ABC Radio Australia, October 5, 2018
The First Peoples’ Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement brought together people from communities in Alaska, the Pacific Islands, and more to discuss their shared struggle in preserving their cultures and ways of life in the face of rising sea levels and changing climate.

This Woman Came All The Way to Alaska From the Pacific Islands to Talk About Climate Change, KTOO Public Media, October 3, 2018
Climate-forced displacement threatens low-lying communities across the globe, from the Pacific Islands to Alaska. Pelenise Alofa of Kiribati in the Pacific Islands shares her story of coming to Girdwood, Alaska for the First Peoples’ Convening on Climate-Forced Displacement.

Arizona Clergy Call Activists To Support Migrants On Border, Associated Press, August 3, 2018
The Sunday gathering comes just a week after the U.S. Border Patrol detained a group of 95 Central Americans, including at least one infant, in the same general area near the border where the heat regularly exceeds 100 degrees during the summer.

No More Deaths Aid Workers Accuse Feds Of Targeting Their Work On Border, The Fronteras Desk, August 2, 2018
Volunteers with UUSC partner No More Deaths have lived in an uneasy coexistence with federal law enforcement since the group started trying to save the lives of undocumented border crossers in the desert almost 15 years ago.

Community Shows Support for Separated Families at Border, Observer, July 2, 2018
A sea of white formed in Washington Park in Dunkirk, N.Y., as people carried signs and sat in quiet solidarity with groups from all over the nation, protesting the separation and detainment of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mesch to Step Down From Women’s Philanthropy Institute; Other People News, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, May 18, 2018
Mary Katherine Morn, chief development officer at the Unitarian Universalist Association, has been named president and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

Trump’s Department Of Homeland Security Is Cruelly Separating Asylum-Seeking Families, HuffPost, March 21, 2018
A 2015 study of Texas family detention centers commissioned by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee said such separation can cause parents to re-experience past traumas associated with the fear of not being able to protect their children.

U.S. Border Agents Routinely Locking Up Families with Young Children in ‘Freezing Cells’ for Days, Report Says, Newsweek, February 28, 2018
A 2015 report published by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee identified time in holding cells as the “most difficult and traumatic” period of detention for people apprehended by U.S. immigration authorities.

2017

How Can We Combat Wage Theft And Protect Immigrant Workers? Common Dreams, November 27, 2017
Wage theft, which costs America’s low-wage workers an estimated $50 billion each year, comes in different forms.

Seeking Asylum from Credible Fear, UU World, November 1, 2017
After several days as a volunteer Spanish-language translator in a federal detention center in Texas, Judy Elliott thought she could no longer be shocked.