President Joseph Biden Jr. Free the Children Petition

President Joseph Biden Jr. Free the Children Petition

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Gabriel Hernandez started this petition to President of the United States of America President Joseph Biden, Jr.

Petition to President Joseph Biden, Jr. to Release the Children from the United States of America Immigration Detention Centers:

WHEREAS, The United States of America (USA) has in custody an unprecedented 70,000 migrant children in Immigration Detention Centers throughout the USA[1]; and,

WHEREAS, The USA has signed, but not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities[2]; and,

WHEREAS, The Convention on the Rights of the Child promotes and protects the well-being of all children, and was the first international treaty to integrate the full range of human rights – civil, political, economic, social, and cultural – into a single document, emphasizing four key themes: the rights of the children to survival; to develop to their fullest potential; to protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation; and, to participate in family, cultural and social life; and,

WHEREAS, The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history and only the USA and Somalia (which has no functioning national government) have failed to ratify the treaty; and,

WHEREAS, The Convention on the Rights of the Child has now been in force in the majority of the world’s countries for nearly three decades, and has led to a range of positive impacts, including law reform, improvements in the access to and quality of programmes and services for children and their families, and more effective national coordination mechanisms for children’s rights; and,

WHEREAS, The USA is not a party to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, the first Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on an individual complaints procedure, or the second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty[3]; and,

WHEREAS, The USA is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees[4]; and,

WHEREAS, The USA is a member of the Organization of American States, but has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights and has not submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights[5]; and,

WHEREAS, The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on its visit to the USA, from 11 to 24 October 2016, made the following recommendations in relation to immigration-related detention:

(a)   Abolish the detention of families and children and return to the prior practice of issuing relevant documents at the port of entry, permitting families to apply for asylum together, to ensure that the best interests of the child, including family unity, are prioritized[6]; and,

(b)  Ensure the placement and custody decisions relating to unaccompanied children by the Office of Refugee Resettlement are subject to scrutiny by an independent judicial body[7]; and,

(c)   Put an end to the mandatory detention of immigrants and asylum seekers because of their irregular status and provide prompt administrative procedure for an individualized assessment of their circumstances and a timely decision on their status[8]; and,

(d)   Reduce the number of individuals subject to mandatory detention by using a more favourable interpretation of expedited removal statutes (for instance, the authorities should place individuals with claims for protection directly  into full asylum proceedings that do not trigger mandatory detention)[9]; and,

(e)   Allow alternative forms of custody of immigrants and asylum seekers, such as case-management-based release of individuals into the custody of family members or other community sponsors, non-monetary parole and release on recognizance[10]; and,

(f)   Ensure that the authorities responsible for administering immigration detention are aware of, and give practical effect to, the right to seek asylum under international law, which is not a criminal act and should not be penalized through the use of punitive detention conditions[11]; and,

(g)  Stop prioritizing the prosecution of immigrants and asylum seekers for entry or re-entry to the USA so that such individuals are not prosecuted for crimes that relate solely to their assertion of the right to seek asylum[12]; and,

(h)  Ensure that there are no “bed quotas” for immigration detention, as they are leading to the excessive and unnecessary detention of immigrants and asylum seekers[13]; and,

(i)    Extend the recent pledge by the USA Government to discontinue the use of private companies to operate penal detention facilities to the operation of facilities used for immigration detention[14]; and,

(j)    Take measures to ensure that affected individuals have access to legal representation[15]; and,

(k)  Provide government funding for a range of programmes, such as appointed counsel, legal fellowships and pro bono advice, to expand access to legal representation by immigrants and asylum seekers[16]; and,

(l)    Ensure that the legality of detention can be challenged before a court and that a regular review is conducted within a fixed time limit.[17]

WHEREAS, The USA made the commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights through regional organizations and through its membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Organization of American States[18]; and,

WHEREAS, The USA made the commitment to continuing efforts to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to strengthening and developing institutions and mechanisms for their protection, in particular, recognition of its human rights commitments within the inter-American system, the USA strongly supports the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights[19]; and,

WHEREAS, Prior to 1918, the term “illegal migrant or immigrant” had no meaning since the USA did not even require passports and the Mexican-USA boundary zone was unguarded and passed freely; and,

WHEREAS, When Congress passed the National Origins Act in 1924, it began its restrictive immigration policy, placing strict quotas on the numbers of Italians, Irish, Germans, Jews, Japanese, and other ethnicities, who were considered inferior by many white Protestant Americans; and,

WHEREAS, In 1965, Congress repealed the National Origins Act and established a new system of immigration restricting the number of new arrivals, but making it illegal to discriminate against applicants because of their birthplace, race, or ethnicity; and,

WHEREAS, the Obama Administration, including former Vice President Joseph Biden, Jr., deported more people than any other administration in the history of this republic;

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE UNDERSIGNED, demand President-Elect Joseph Biden, Jr., to do the following within the first one-hundred days of his Presidency:

1.     Abolish the detention of families and children and return to the prior practice of issuing relevant documents at the port of entry, permitting families to apply for asylum together, to ensure that the best interests of the child, including family unity, are prioritized and immediately release all of the children currently being held in USA Immigration Detention Centers; and,

2.     Work with the USA Legislative Branch of Government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and,

3.     Ensure the placement and custody decisions relating to unaccompanied children by the Office of Refugee Resettlement are subject to scrutiny by an independent judicial body; and,

4.     Put an end to the mandatory detention of immigrants and asylum seekers because of their irregular status and provide prompt administrative procedure for an individualized assessment of their circumstances and a timely decision on their status.

[1] Associated Press news article, dated November 12, 2019, US held record number of migrant children in custody in 2019 by Christopher Sherman, Martha Mendoza, and Garance Burke.

[2] Naciones Unidas, Asamblea General, Consejo de Derechos Humanos, 36o periodo de sesiones, 11 a 29 de septiembre de 2017, Tema 3 de la agenda, Promoción y protección de todos los derechos humanos, civiles, políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales, incluido el derecho al desarrollo

[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.

[18] United Nations, General Assembly, Sixty-third session, Agenda Item 104 (c), Elections to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other elections; election of eighteen members of the Human Rights Council, Letter dated 22 April 2009 from the Permanent Representative of the USA to the United Nations addressed to the President of the General Assembly, signed Susan E. Rice, USA Ambassador.

[19] Ibid.

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