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“Speak Up, Stop Discrimination”

December 10, 2010 - Posted by Lena Graber

Human Rights Immigrant Rights


Friday, December 10, 2010, is International Human Rights Day, and this year the theme is: Speak Up, Stop Discrimination.  Today the United Nations is honoring human rights defenders who fight discrimination around the world.  Human Rights Day marks the anniversary of the UN’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


Human Rights encapsulate a wide range of individual rights and freedoms deemed essential and inherent to all people. Many organizations focus on particular branches of human rights, from the right to life or freedom from excessive and arbitrary detention, to the rights of women, indigenous peoples, or immigrants.  As discrimination against immigrants – in employment, in law enforcement, and in social discourse – continues to be a major human rights issue in America, we commend local groups around the country who are raising up immigrant rights in the International Human Rights Day events.


The city council of Virginia Beach, in a Resolution to Recognize Human Rights in Virginia Beach, specifically recognized the immigrant history of Virginia in its commitment to providing “an environment that is welcoming and protects the human rights of all in our community.”  A number of local groups contributed to efforts with the council to approve the resolution: Virginia Organizing, Hispanic Community Dialogue, Human Rights Commission, and Reform Immigration for America.  This kind of positive recognition of immigrants and their contributions to our nation, which we also saw in the Utah Compact this fall, seems an important first step towards this year’s theme of stopping discrimination. 


Centro Presente, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, along with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), is celebrating International Human Rights Day with a special “awards” ceremony for flagrant human rights violators, including Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Governor Jan Brewer, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 


The AFSC is also celebrating International Human Rights Day with a know-your-rights training to support Haitian immigrants.  In Los Angeles, the Southern California Immigration Coalition is having a rally in MacArthur Park with the theme: Every Immigrant Worker Has Human Rights!  The Green Party of Monroe County, NY, is hosting a community dialogue about immigrant rights as human rights.  Norwalk Community College in Connecticut held a human rights day panel focused on immigration, with a special performance by the NCC Chorus.  In Minnesota, the state’s Department of Human Rights hosted a number of human rights workshops including a presentation on immigration relief for children and other vulnerable groups, as well as on union rights and discrimination, and another on hate crime legislation. 


That’s a handful of the work going on by champions of human rights and immigrant rights across the nation.  Let’s hope that the rights of DREAM students are recognized by the Senate next week in what would be a fitting commemoration of International Human Rights Day.


Update: Congratulations to our friend Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who on this Human Rights Day was honored, along with two others, by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Secretary Clinton presented them with the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award for their contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights both in the United States and abroad.


Image by Flickr user trevorstone.

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