“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” From a poem by Warsan Shire (Somali).
Throughout its history, the United States has been a sanctuary for people around the world who have fled persecution, genocide and terrible hardship. At the end of World War II, refugees and displaced persons sought asylum in this country. As the Vietnam War wound down, many thousands of refugees from that country and its neighbors were admitted and granted safe haven. As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the U.S. agreed not to return refugees to countries where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.
Notwithstanding these historic commitments, this country is turning away, deporting, arresting and detaining thousands of persons who present themselves at the border for asylum. The difference now is that the immigrants are from Central and Latin America. Tonight, thousands of beds in detention centers, many of which are operated by for-profit corporations, will be filled with individuals who are here because what’s at home is riskier than arrest and incarceration here. Continue reading