Washington Week on Human Rights: January 23, 2017
Today is the first full business day of the Trump Administration. The new president has promised to swiftly fulfill some of his campaign promises, including actions that may severely limit access to asylum at the U.S. Southern border and block refugee resettlement from several majority-Muslim nations. Experts agree that blocking refugee resettlement is counterproductive to national security and counter to American ideals. Refugees, who undergo screenings by national and international intelligence agencies, fingerprint and other biometric data checks against terrorist and criminal databases, and multiple rounds of interviews, are already vetted more rigorously than any other group of people allowed entry to the United States.
Human Rights First also notes that any actions to address immigration at the Southern border should not hinder asylum seekers’ access to protection. Many of the children and adults who arrive at the U.S. border are fleeing unabating violence and persecution in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, as well as persecution and harm in Mexico. Blocking access to asylum would violate U.S. human rights and refugee protection treaty commitments, and any effort to foist responsibility for hosting refugees or processing their claims to other countries would undermine U.S. global leadership and leave vulnerable people open to more exploitation and harm.
Pre-trail hearings in military commissions case against the alleged 9/11 attackers continue this week at Guantanamo Bay. On his last day in office, President Obama transferred four detainees, bringing the population of the detention facility down to 41. Obama also sent a letter to Congress lamenting actions they have taken to block to closure of the facility during his two terms in office: "There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress' insistence on keeping the facility open. Members of Congress who obstruct efforts to close the facility, given the stakes involved for our security, have abdicated their responsibility to the American people."
National security leaders and former government officials—including President George W. Bush, and other officials who helped set up the detention center—have supported closing Guantanamo because its operation continues to undermine our national interests.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“America was built on the promise of equal rights. Our history is defined by groups struggling to achieve full equality under the law. It’s long past time for us to recognize the equality of women in our fundamental governing documents."
—Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Slate writes about the shared desire for change at the heart of the Women’s March on Washington.
The Birmingham News covers a recent letter from 176 retired generals and admirals to President Trump about how the use of torture is un-American.
BuzzFeed reports that immigration court backlogs could increase dramatically if President Trump follows through on deportation plans.
Bloomberg Law writes about concerns about President Trump when it comes to immigration and the LGBT community.
Agence France Presse reports that executions in Bahrain are sparking violent protests.
WE'RE LISTENING TO
Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino on WBEZ Chicago’s Worldview talking about President Obama’s legacy on human rights.
ON THE HILL
Tuesday, January 24
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing to "Consider the Anticipated Nomination of The Honorable Tom Price to be Secretary of Health and Human Services." 10:00 AM, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 215.