Washington, DC (November 1 2018): In a speech today, President Trump continued to vilify migrants, particularly those participating in the current migrant caravan. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization that has worked with migrant communities for 101 years, spoke out against increased border militarization, the attack on asylum, and indefinite immigrant detention.
AFSC staff in San Diego spoke out against sending troops to the border.
“Treating our communities like war zones by deploying additional military personnel to the southern border is a heavy-handed approach that endangers the rights of migrants and residents of border communities, wastes taxpayer dollars, and does nothing to make us safer,” said Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s U.S./Mexico Border Program.
AFSC also opposes the call to criminalize asylum seekers.
“We call on the U.S. government to respect the human right to migrate and seek asylum,” said AFSC policy advocacy coordinator Kathryn Johnson. “People fleeing violence in Central America should be able to present themselves to immigration authorities to express their fears, not criminalized for entering between ports of entry to seek asylum.”
Johnson will be traveling to Mexico on Sunday to support the caravan.
AFSC vehemently opposes any increase in immigrant detention and deportation, including President Trump’s call to keep people in detention indefinitely.
“AFSC calls for an immediate end to the detention and deportation of immigrants,” said AFSC Human Migration and Mobility program director Kristin Kumpf. “Detention and deportation places immigrants in inhumane conditions, and subjects them to enforcement systems that do not provide fair hearings or protect due process. It is crucial to instead protect those seeking refuge, and to provide services and direct assistance to migrating people.”
Rather than using the caravan to vilify and divide people, AFSC believes this moment is an opportunity to greet migrants instead with generosity and kindness.
“The caravan is made up of peaceful people and families who seek better living conditions,” said Pedro Rios. “We hope that the people of the U.S. will recognize our shared humanity and be inspired to respond to the caravan with generosity, and that our politicians will stop dehumanizing and using the suffering of thousands of people for political gain.”
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.