"To end violence we need sanctuary, not walls"
Today, President Donald Trump announced sweeping executive actions that target immigrants and perpetuate racist sentiment. The actions would expand border enforcement including the wall, cut federal funding to sanctuary cities, increase the number of people Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target for deportation, and expand immigrant detention. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for 100 years – denounces these policies as dangerous and cruel.
President Trump said today, "When it comes to public safety there is no room for politics." We agree, and vehemently condemn attacks on the security of migrants, who have been the overwhelming victims of violence due in part to U.S. policies. This action is a conversion of the anti-immigrant bigotry that permeated the presidential campaign into government action and perpetuates the racist and false association of migrants with violence.
The executive order directs additional federal money toward the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico, triples the number of immigration enforcement agents, and grows U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff by 5,000.
Walls already stretch along much of the U.S. southern border and have contributed to the deaths of thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence that are forced to cross through deadly terrain. This is a human rights disaster that will only be exacerbated with more miles of border walls and excessive, unaccountable enforcement. In San Diego and across the border region, we work with community partners to hold border agencies accountable for their actions.
Border enforcement has also caused the militarization of neighborhoods as far as 100 miles inland where Border Patrol agents can racially profile anyone to question them on their immigration status. Increasing border enforcement will increase the targeting of these vulnerable groups. Southern border communities should no longer bear the brunt of reckless and irresponsible policies.
The president’s action on sanctuary cities would cut funding to cities, counties, and states that have chosen not to tear apart communities and families by collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
During the past several years, more than 350 jurisdictions across the country have enacted policies that prohibit local officials from activities like asking people about their immigration status, holding people so ICE can detain them, or sharing information with ICE. Police and other community members have pushed for these policies to protect themselves and their neighbors, and also because they realize it’s crucial that everyone in the community, regardless of immigration status, trust local officials and service providers. Cooperation with ICE is potentially unconstitutional and could open jurisdictions up to lawsuits.
However, there is only so much the president can do on his own. AFSC is joining with many communities in engaging members of Congress to oppose increased funding for the border wall and enforcement and any legislation that would punish sanctuary cities.
AFSC stands with all communities being targeted by state repression now and in the days ahead. We will continue to work for a world in which “That of God” is recognized in everyone, and to uphold the basic principle that everyone should be treated with dignity, regardless of their immigration status or where they live.