UN Independent Expert on Rights of Migrants Continues US Fact-Finding Mission in FL

Submitted by tnjp on May 10, 2007 - 9:45pm.

United Nations Independent Expert on Rights of Migrants Continues U.S. Fact-Finding Mission in Florida

Florida Visit Includes Investigation of Migrant Conditions in Immokalee and Haitian Detention and Deportation Policies
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Paul Silva, ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666, media@aclu.org
Brandon Hensler, ACLU of Florida, (786) 363-2700

IMMOKALEE, Fla. The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed the official fact-finding visit to the United States by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. The ACLU is among several groups and individuals selected to meet with the Special Rapporteur to testify about the conditions of immigrants and migrants living in the United States....

"The visit of the Special Rapporteur is a critical opportunity to shed light on human rights violations of migrants in the United States," said Jamil Dakwar, Advocacy Director for the ACLU Human Rights Program. "All persons deserve to be treated with dignity, regardless of their immigration status."

The Special Rapporteur, Jorge Bustamante, is conducting his three-week fact-finding mission at the invitation of the United States government, and will travel across the country to meet with dozens of human rights and immigrant advocacy groups. The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council with the mandate to monitor, advise and publicly report on human rights situations in specific countries, including the United States, and on human rights violations worldwide.

The ACLU is organizing public hearings and meetings for the Special Rapporteur with victims of human rights violations and national and local authorities. The Special Rapporteur's official visit includes tours of the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and immigrant detention facilities in Arizona, Texas and New Jersey. The Special Rapporteur continued his visit yesterday and today in Immokalee in Southwest Florida where he is meeting with immigrant advocates to discuss migrant labor issues, as well as Haitian detention and deportation policies.

"The international community must be made aware of the escalating hostility towards immigrants in the U.S., and how that hostility results in civil and human rights abuses," said Muslima Lewis, Director of the ACLU of Florida’s Racial Justice Project. "The war on terrorism has become a war on immigrants and people of color. We welcome the Special Rapporteur to Florida, and we look forward to a United Nations report that will lead to protections of human rights for all people in the United States, regardless of their immigration status."

The ACLU has also worked on other issues that will be reviewed by the Special Rapporteur, including workers' rights, immigrant raids and the trafficking of women and children. Recently, the ACLU of Northern California filed a lawsuit on behalf of a six-year-old boy who was detained during an immigration raid, despite the fact that he is a U.S. citizen.

In addition to Florida, the Special Rapporteur is also visiting California, Georgia and New York. The Special Rapporteur will conclude the fact-finding mission in Washington, DC from May 15 through May 18, where he will meet with non-governmental organizations and federal officials. The full agenda of the Special Rapporteur visit is online at www.aclu.org/humanrightsofmigrants.

The Special Rapporteur will use the information gathered during this fact-finding mission to issue an official report to the Human Rights Council. The conclusions and recommendations provided by the Special Rapporteur may be used to apply pressure on the U.S. government to rectify any human rights violations. The ACLU will document the visit with blog posts, podcasts, video and news updates at www.aclu.org/humanrightsofmigrants.

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