VII. Continuous Tragedies for Immigrants
The U.S government used slanders and violence against immigrants. Inhumane immigration policies forcibly separated migrant children from their parents. Women and children seeking shelter and asylum were suffering from abuses and sexual assaults. Death incidents of children were appalling. All these practices of the United States drew strong condemnation from the United Nations and the international community.
Slander and violence against immigrants. The Atlantic website reported on December 12, 2018 that the U.S. government began in 2017 pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries, alleging that these immigrants were "violent criminal aliens." The Washington Post reported on November 26, 2018 that the U.S. authorities fired tear gas on multiple occasions at the U.S. border with Mexico to stop immigrants from Central America, causing many injuries.
On November 28, 2018, UN experts including Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children and Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, jointly issued letters to voice their concerns about the racist and xenophobic languages and practices used by U.S. authorities, which fly in the face of international human rights standards. The letters said that the official response in that country stigmatises migrants and refugees, equating them with crime and epidemics, which also fuels a climate of intolerance, racial hatred and xenophobia against those perceived as non-white, creating hostile emotional environments.
Immigration polices separating children from parents. The New York Times website reported on May 12, 2018 that the U.S. government introduced a new "zero tolerance" policy, calling for criminal prosecution of everyone who enters the country illegally, in April. Minor children must be taken from the parents who are in custody in the process. As a result, more than 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents. The Guardian website reported on June 16 that according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security figures, a total of 1,995 minors were forcibly separated from their families between 19 April and 31 May 2018 at the U.S. southern border. This policy had drawn waves of strong criticism and protests from the U.S. society and the international community. An article on The Guardian website on June 23 quoted Anne Longfield, the children's commissioner for England, as saying that separating children from their parents is cruel and deeply distressing for them. In some it will cause long-lasting emotional damage. Laura Janner-Klausner, a leading British rabbi, drew a parallel between the policy and historical trends that have led to genocide.
Women and children seeking asylum suffered from abuses and sexual assaults. The website of The Independent on May 23, 2018 said there has been a startling increase in the number of instances where US Border Patrol officers have abused children seeking shelter in the United States. It quoted a previous disclosure from the American Civil Liberties Union that detailed 116 incidents where officers were alleged to have physically, sexually, or psychologically abused children between the ages of five and 17. The Texas Tribune website reported on June 20, 2018 that children held at the Shiloh Treatment Center, a government contractor south of Houston that houses immigrant minors, were subdued with powerful psychiatric drugs. The children were forcibly injected with medications that made them dizzy, listless and afraid of people and caused some long-term side effects. According to a report on the American Immigration Council website on August 30, the Atlanta City Detention Center, used by the U.S. authorities to holdindividuals in immigration proceedings, were found to have problems such as unsanitary environment and rampant use of lockdown and isolation (immigrationimpact.com, August 30, 2018).
The New York Times website reported on November 12, 2018 that Esteban Manzanares, a Border Patrol agent in Texas, driven three women, including two teenagers, who crossed border to seek shelter, to an isolated, wooded area 16 miles outside the border city. There he sexually assaulted one girl and viciously attacked two others and left them, finally, to bleed in the brush. The report said that over the past four years, at least 10 people in South Texas have been victims of murder, kidnapping or rape by Border Patrol agents. According to a report by the CNN on December 26, 2018, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala, died December 8 in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fewer than 48 hours after CBP detained her. Another 8-year-old Guatemalan boy, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, died late Christmas Eve in the agency's custody.
Strong condemnation of the U.S. immigration policies from UN institutions. A report of the UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 35/3, criticized the populism and the racist and xenophobic languages to describe immigrants used by the U.S. administration as well as practices to separate children from their parents. It said these practices had imperiled the immigrants' human rights, including their rights to life, dignity and liberty (UN document A/73/206). A report by The Guardian website on June 5, 2018 quoted Ravina Shamdasani, a UN human rights official, as saying that "the use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent [against illegal immigration] runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The US should immediately halt this practice." She noted that the United States was the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She called on the United States to fully respect children's rights.
On June 22, 2018, a group of UN experts, including Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Chairperson of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, jointly issued a statement saying that forcibly separating thousands of migrant children from their parents and holding them in detention violated international human rights standards. It said detention of children is punitive, severely hampers their development, and in some cases may amount to torture. "Children are being used as a deterrent to irregular migration, which is unacceptable."
VIII. Unilateralism is Losing Ground
The United States shirked international responsibilities, carried out the unilateralist America First policies unscrupulously, repeatedly withdrew from international organizations, bullied the weak, and caused human rights disasters in its overseas military operations, and became a "trouble maker" that the international community widely condemned.
Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council. After withdrawing from international treaties such as the Paris Climate Agreement and international organizations including the UNESCO, the United States brazenly announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council on June 19, 2018. Just a day earlier, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the United States for forcibly separating children from their parents after they crossed the border into the U.S. According to a report released by The Atlantic on June 20, 2018, human rights expert said that one of Trump's most likely, and most insidious, arguments for the move was to prevent the United States from being called out on its own alleged human-rights abuses.
Reduction of humanitarian aid. The State Department announced on August 31 that the United States would no longer contribute to the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees, and threatened to cancel the assistance programs to Palestine worth over 200 million U.S. dollars in the West Bank and Gaza, aggravating the already serious humanitarian situation in the area (www.washingtonpost.com, August 31, 2018; edition.cnn.com, August 31, 2018).
Refusal to close Guantanamo military prison. Despite years of strong condemnation and appeal from the international community, the United States decided to break its promise and keep the notorious Guantanamo military prison in Cuba open. Most of the prisoners were without trial (www.aljazeera.com, February 1, 2018). Los Angeles Times reported on its website on July 26, 2018 that a Pakistani, mistaken for an extremist, was imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo for as long as 14 years without trial, resulting in serious physical and mental damage.
Civilian casualties as result of overseas military operations. According to a CNN report on April 14, 2018, the United States and its allies, without concrete evidence or UN Security Council authorization, launched a strike on Syria in the name of striking Syrian chemical weapon facilities. The Guardian reported on November 28 that at least 30 Afghan civilians, including women and 16 children, were killed in U.S. air strikes in the Afghan province of Helmand. The United Nations said the number of civilian casualties from air strikes in the first nine months of 2018 was already higher than in any entire year since at least 2009 (www.theguardian.com, November 28, 2018; www.latimes.com, November 30, 2018).
Associated Press reported on November 14, 2018 that the United States had been engaged in a drone war in Yemen for 16 years, causing a large number of civilian casualties. At least 30 civilians were killed in a drone strike in 2018. Statistics showed that the United States had launched 176 drone strikes in 2017 and 2018, leading to 205 deaths. CNN reported on December 16, 2018 that a war-torn Yemen was in the midst of mass famine and cholera outbreak, with more than 22 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and protection. An estimated 85,000 children under the age of 5 in Yemen may have died from starvation and disease. Chris Murphy, a U.S. senator, said "US is enabling war that has made Yemen a hell on earth for civilians." "There is a US imprint on each of these civilian deaths."