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Special Report: MR. PRESIDENT’S ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY ON IMMIGRATION AFFECTS HUMAN RIGHTS

 

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In February 2018, the Trump Administration in United States of America (USA) passed an ordinance in order to deal with the issue of illegal immigrants. It was extended to the people entering the country for seeking asylum and refuge. Further the Zero tolerance policy of the Trump Administration was announced. It is to deter people from breaking law. It is for those who cross the borders illegally. The policy reads that while adults will face prosecution, their children will be held in detention centres. Thus leading to separation of families. The effect of this was nearly 2000 children were separated from their family and the policy being extended to the legal immigrants as well.

There are numerous international human rights documents which firmly estab­lish the principle that no human being can be “illegal” or outside the protection of the law. Despite this clearly established principle that discrimination and abuse based on immigration status are violations of human rights, Mr. President’s Ordinance depicted mass violations of human rights against im­migrants.

In this regards it is important to understand the term immigration. Immigration can be defined as the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker. According to Black’s law dictionary, immigration are defined as “the coming into a country of foreigners for purposes of permanent residence.” Therefore immigrants consist of people seeking asylum, refuge, on an employment contact i.e., an employee, a person fearing persecution who has escaped his/ her parent country. Research shows that on the positive side of this economic benefits is received by both- the receiving as well as the sending countries. However on the negative side is the problem of distribution of resources and security of the nation.

In U. S. A. Immigration law refers to the rules established by the federal government for determining who is allowed to enter the country, and for how long. It also governs the naturalization process for those who desire to become U.S. citizens. When foreign nationals enter without permission, overstay their visit, or otherwise lose their legal status, immigration law controls how the detention and removal proceedings are carried out. The American Constitution grants Congress the exclusive right to legislate in this area. The State governments are prohibited from enacting immigration laws. Despite this, a handful of States recently passed laws requiring local police to investigate the immigration status of suspected illegal aliens, creating some controversy. There are three federal agencies who are in charge with administering and enforcing immigration laws. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates those who break the law, and prosecutes offenders. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles applications for legal immigration. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for keeping the borders secure. All three agencies are part of the Department of Homeland Security.

USA is viewed as a country where rights, liberty and freedom are valued, where democracy is given utmost importance. It is seen as a country which takes tough decisions in order to protect its people and hence is referred to as a powerful country. With these attributes questions are raised- why doubt the Trump Policy on immigration? After all, it is done in a way to protect the citizens of America from illegal immigrants. The justifications given by the Trump Administration ranges from the biblical codes to the lifestyle of the citizens of America, and importantly in response to the crisis faced by the Americans.

The reason why this time USA is heavily criticized is because children are used to teach adults a lesson. And this is the most inhumane and cruel act. A country where rights are guaranteed and secured is violating the most basic and fundamental law, i.e., Human rights. Human rights which are protected and granted to every individual regardless of age, nationality, caste, creed, gender, race through various international treaties and having an organisation- the United Nations to look after its protection has been completely disregarded by the USA. Inspite of being one of the five permanent members in United Nations indifference and denial of Human rights is done to a large extent to the people from all walks of life.

The “Zero tolerance policy” has disregarded the International norms and standards. The policy with its “deterrence effect” have caused children of tender age to become more vulnerable for no wrong of theirs. Families are being separated which already have gone through immense trauma due to the injustice faced in their parent country.

It cannot be denied that USA has given constitutional rights more importance than Human Rights. This is certainly not expected of a country governed by democracy. This indeed is a point of caution to the people all over the world as it raises question- If human rights are not protected and respected in a democracy then where will it be? USA is followed by many other country and people. What image has it built up with this Zero Tolerance policy is certainly a worrisome to her.

The issue of immigration is not new to this world.  Each country, each government is facing their own share of problems and are trying hard to come up with laws and policies that would be suitable to their country and social structure.

Question arises what ought to be done by the country and its government on the issue of immigration. On this issue two crucial points should be kept in mind by the policy makers- firstly that human rights is for everyone irrespective of caste, creed, race, gender, nationality and therefore should be given utmost importance, and secondly- laws and policies should be framed in such a manner that a balance be maintained between the rights of both the citizens and the immigrants.

It is important for policy makers to understand that by preventing one from enjoying rights and benefits no good can be done to the others. A humane policy needs to be adopted to deal with such issues. It is important that laws and policies should be framed in conformity with the international norms and laws. It is only than that human rights will be secured in its true sense of the term.

by Adv Pinny Pathak

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