Statement of the Scalabrini International Migration Network On US Executive Order on Immigration

The Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) is a network of over 270 programs serving migrants worldwide, including schools, shelters, community centers, and educational institutes, operated by the Congregation of the Missionaries of Saint Charles, Scalabrinians.

Through our work, we see the injustices against migrants and refugees who are searching for safety and a better life, by smugglers, enforcement officials, and human traffickers.  We understand the importance of humane migration policies which protect the rights of persons on the move and seek to encourage nations to uphold their obligations to human rights, consistent with domestic and international laws.

The executive orders on immigration signed by US President Donald Trump January 25 are disturbing, as they have the potential to undermine the human rights of migrants in this hemisphere.

First, we question the efficacy of a border wall on the US-Mexico border, as it would likely strengthen smuggling networks which will charge migrants high fees to get over, under, or around it.  It also will disrupt commerce and relationships between border communities, destroy the local environment, and force landowners, including Indian tribes, to surrender portions of their lands.

History shows that, in the long run, border walls do not work, as the forces driving persons to migrate—poverty, violence, corruption and the lack of accountability, persecution and the prospect of better lives—are stronger than any wall.   Rather, resources should be directed toward addressing the push factors which drive persons to flee their countries.  Sustainable economic development is the long-term answer to irregular migration, not border walls.

We also are disturbed by the steps taken to increase detention and deportations, such as reinstatement of the Secure Communities program, the expanded use of expedited removal and detention, and the unprecedented increase in the number of immigration enforcement agents.  These mechanisms could be used to ramp up deportations in a way that would undermine due process for those seeking safe haven in our country and to separate families, many of which have US-citizen members.

Instead of deploying harsh enforcement tactics, we urge the Trump Administration to show leadership in reforming the US immigration system, so that undocumented immigrants with equities in this country can remain and contribute to keeping it great.  As a network, we will continue to work to protect the rights of our brothers and sisters fleeing natural disasters, poverty, and conflict in their home countries and to protect migrants during their journeys.