ACLU Statement on Public Reaction to Plight of Immigrant Children
The following statement is made by the ACLU of California, a collaboration of the three ACLU affiliates covering the entire state, based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
This country was founded as a beacon of hope for people seeking freedom. Our nation’s core values center on fairness, equal opportunity, and the defense of human and civil rights for all.
Our immigration system is broken. The ACLU joins millions of Americans in calling on our representatives to fix it in a way that stays true to those values.
However, with gridlock in Congress and a new wave of refugees fleeing sharp escalations of violence in their homelands, the current dialogue on immigration reform has taken an ugly turn. This week, scores of protesters blocked buses transporting women and children on their way to being processed at a Border Patrol station in Murrieta, California. The protesters blocked the road for hours, pounding on the buses, shouting obscenities and waving signs. The week before, hundreds of residents spoke against a proposed shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in Escondido, California.
Many have recognized the current influx of unaccompanied children at our southern border as a humanitarian crisis. The ACLU is working to ensure that those children, and all other asylum seekers, are treated fairly and humanely, and in accordance with U.S. law and international human rights standards.
Our nation’s refugee laws were created in the aftermath of World War II to ensure that we would never again turn away refugees fleeing death in their home countries. They require that everyone who legitimately fears persecution must receive a fair opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge, who can decide each case on the facts presented. We also wish, though no law requires it, that refugees fleeing truly terrible conditions in their home countries would be greeted with sympathy rather than fear and xenophobia.
The ACLU is the nation’s staunchest defender of free speech—especially including the right to protest. We believe that the remedy for offensive speech is more speech, not less. That is why we are adding our voice to the debate, to call upon our fellow residents of California to respect the rights of these children, and all others fleeing horrific conditions in their home countries, to seek asylum in our country.
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