Letter to the Editor: Crimes Against Humanity

On Friday, July 12th, I joined more than 80 people in Sturgeon Bay to hold a vigil against the camps that embody the current U.S. policy toward migrants seeking asylum from terrifying conditions in Central America only to be herded into prison camps at our border or “disappeared” into private jails or sent back to Mexico to wait for assessment. 

Tens of thousands of people from every part of the U.S. (and across 5 continents) participated in the “Lights of Liberty,” yet our president chose to step up the campaign against migrants on July 15th by announcing an interim rule that will end asylum for any seeker who enters another country before reaching our border. (An interim rule is not subject to the usual approval process!) 

He also stepped up the fierce raids by ICE in several cities this week. He continues to push for so-called mixed families of citizens and non-citizens to be denied their current spaces in public housing, and for anyone without papers to be deported if they use emergency assistance for food, health or housing. Thus, a non-citizen who has a heart attack and is taken to the ER is at risk for deportation unless s/he can pay the full cost up-front! (Of course, no one from Norway would actually be deported.)

These policies represent a clear departure from those we have followed since WWII in their cruelty and racial or ethnic prejudice. It is not only immoral but also illegal to end asylum protection for Central American migrants who pass through Mexico. In international law, asylum in a safe country has long been the rule, and Mexico is not yet safe. 

In fact, they seem to meet the standard of crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court. Numbers 4 and 5 under that rubric cite: 

• deportation or forcible transfer of population and imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty. 

Since we are not signatories to that court, Trump cannot be prosecuted there, but he should be charged here by our Congress. These are clearly high crimes and misdemeanors against humanity. 

Estella Lauter

Fish Creek, Wisconsin