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United Nations: U.S. Immigration Policy Harms Children


Children from migrant families are vulnerable in this country to having their human rights violated, according to a report released last month by the United Nations. (Click here for the link to download the 27-page report, which is at the top of the list. Choose "E" for English.)

About a year ago, Jorge Bustamante, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants for the United Nations, visited the United States to investigate the effects of U.S. immigration policy and procedures on migrants, including children. (See my earlier posts, "New Yorker Reporter Writes about Hutto, From the Outside," and "U.N. Expert Will Look Into Rights, Conditions of U.S. Migrants.") Here's an excerpt from his March 5, 2008, report (which I just learned about):

The Special Rapporteur notes that the United States lacks a clear, consistent, long-term strategy to improve respect for the human rights of migrants. Although there are national laws prohibiting discrimination, there is no national legislative and policy framework implementing protection for the human rights of migrants against which the federal and local programmes and strategies can be evaluated to assess to what extent the authorities are respecting the human rights of migrants.

Mr. Bustamante makes a recommendation regarding treatment of unaccompanied minors (I wrote about this group of immigrant children for Education Week in November 2006). He says they should be removed from "jail-like detention centres and placed in home-like facilities."

He mentions education issues briefly in the report, saying that in some cases, migrants have "limited access to health and education." He notes how in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the presence of migrant workers in the Gulf Coast region has created tensions over language barriers and education.

Mr. Bustamante contends that U.S. immigration policies that result in the separation of family members are bad for children. He says that raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities have caused "social devastation" by separating children from parents. He adds that children whose parents are detained can suffer "trauma and severe loss from the sudden, prolonged, and sometimes permanent absence of that parent."

The United States delegation to the United Nations called the report "disappointing," according to a March 8, 2008, article in the Los Angeles Times. The article says the delegation pointed out the U.S. has one of the world's most generous immigration policies and that Mr. Bustamante's report presents "an incomplete and biased picture of the human rights of migrants" in the United States.


People should really be concerned about the costs financially and in human terms. It affects how other countries think about the United States and creates conflict with other countries. Immigration is an important part of this country and the day it stops is the day our economic growth stops with it. Immigration is a good thing and the people make very good Americans.

Immigration is major war zone for America. I am 4th generation American that is still waiting to be treated fair and egual in this country. America continues to hide and ignore basic opportunities that 1,2,3,4 generation americans have yet to see.
Until there is some sort of resolution to this matter, most miniority Americans will have an entitlement issue
and conflict with the perception of having a good life, once you make it to AAmerica.

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