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Putting the Spotlight on Human Rights in the United States

January 1, 2017

During The Advocates' UN Study-Advocacy Tour to Geneva in March, Jennifer Prestholdt and Veronica Clark each presented testimony to the UN Human Rights Council about the rise in hate crimes and incidents of targeted bias against racial, ethnic,and religious minorities in the United States. Prestholdt is Deputy Director of the The Advocates and Clark is a volunteer.

Statement by Jennifer Prestholdt:

The Advocates for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the rise in incidents targeting migrants, refugees, and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the U.S., as well as the proliferation of hate groups. Of greatest concern, however, is that some who have actively supported racist and xenophobic positions have assumed powerful leadership and advisory roles in the executive branch, lending an air of legitimacy to those views.Recent changes to immigration policy raise serious concerns about racial and national origin profiling by the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE "deports by attrition" by making undocumented migrants fearful of remaining in the U.S. Indeed, ICE arrests have in-creased sharply and we have received numerous reports of people being taken into custody outside courtrooms, in vehicles, and at their homes.Local law enforcement has turned over thousands to ICE following traffic stops or other encounters.To facilitate removal, ICE routinely interrogates these migrants without counsel, intimidating them into agreeing to be deported without a hearing.An estimated 75% of deportees waive all legal rights, including claims to asylum, protection under CAT, and claims based on family unity.These policies erode trust between immigrants and law enforcement, a trust many communities have worked to build in the interest of public safety. Yet the administration's January25 executive order on domestic immigration enforcement would bar federal funding to jurisdictions that adopt community policing policies.The Advocates for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the profiling and religious discrimination inherent in the administration's most recent attempt to ban entry of people from six majority Muslim countries and to halt the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. People who are or are perceived to be Muslim report facing additional scrutiny upon entry into the U.S. and their family members living abroad face an uncertain future. The Advocates for Human Rights encourages the Human Rights Council to keep this issue at the forefront of its agenda. Further,we call on all Member States, including the United States, to honor nonrefoulement obligations and ensure that national immigration policies, as well as law enforcement practices, do not discriminate based on race, national origin or other status.

Statement by Veronica Clark:

The Advocates for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the rise in hate crimes and incidents of bias targeting racial, ethnic and religious minorities in the United States. Hate crimes are recognized and prosecuted in the U.S. under federal and state laws.Yet 5,850 criminal incidents and 6,885 related bias offenses were reported in 2015. Fifty-nine percent of victims were targeted because of a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. Further, policies and practices and the federal, state,and local levels continue to disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities. Racial and national origin bias pervades the U.S. criminal justice system, including wide spread use of racial profiling and stark racial disparities in arrests, convictions, and sentencing. The Advocates for Human Rights encourages Member States, including the U.S., to take concrete action to:

Adopt at local, state and national levels comprehensive legislation prohibiting racial profiling;
Collect and publish statistics about police stops,searches, and abuse, to monitor trends regarding racial profiling and treatment of minorities by law enforcement;
Establish independent oversight bodies within police agencies, with real authority to conduct impartial investigations of all complaints of human rights violations;
Provide adequate resources to train law enforcement officials;Assess the disproportionate impact of mandatory minimum sentences on racial and ethnic minorities; and
Create a national commission to examine police tactics nationwide, including the use of excessive force, militarization of local police forces and policing of protests.