WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
12 Jan 2018 | WOLA Statement

WOLA: Trump’s Reported Comments on Haitian, Salvadoran Immigrants are an Affront to Human Dignity and Human Rights

Washington, D.C.—The president of the United States’ comments about Haitian, Salvadoran, and African immigrants, as reported by the Washington Post and New York Times, are unconscionable. They represent a profound affront to human dignity and human rights.  

It is this type of rhetoric and derogatory categorization of groups and countries that fuels societal divisions, pits people against each other, and leads to violence and conflict. Such sentiments coming from the highest level political official in the United States are extremely dangerous. They undermine the credibility and moral authority of the United States throughout the world.

The categorization of humans based upon a perceived economic benefit is wrong on a fundamental level. A human being’s value is not based upon whether he or she is useful towards an economic gain in the United States. Skilled and unskilled, uneducated and educated immigrants from the Caribbean and the Americas are all vital to this country. Racial and cultural diversity and multilingualism enhance the United States’ capability to engage the world, especially at a time of political and economic globalization.

Victims of violence, civil wars, natural disasters, those seeking refuge or access to economic and educational opportunities for themselves and their families in the United States must be respected and treated with due process. While the U.S. immigration system requires significant reforms, the manner in which the president is tackling this issue should be broadly condemned. The administration’s recent decisions on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) status for Haitians and Salvadorans are misguided and cruel, and do not reflect the values of this country. By disparaging Haiti and Haitians, the president shows a thorough ignorance of history. Haiti was the first country in the hemisphere to rebel against the transatlantic slave trade and uphold the principles of life, liberty, and equality.  

The president of the United States has created a crisis in this country by threatening to deport hundreds of thousands of young people and families who have lived here for decades and put their faith in the American system.  Now, he is on the verge of creating an international crisis with his intemperate statements. We must put an end to this divisive and disparaging rhetoric and get to work on a reasonable approach to provide protection for those who have come to this country seeking refuge and a chance for a better life.