After 2018 Midterm Elections, Stay Vigilant | The Center for Victims of Torture

After 2018 Midterm Elections, Stay Vigilant

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Last week's midterm elections marked an important victory for engaged civil society. While there are several reasons for the strong voter turnout, rejection of President Trump’s policies of cruelty and discrimination was an important one. Many Americans stood up, spoke out and reaffirmed values of human rights.

A greater number saw themselves and their communities reflected in the results. Women from both sides of the U.S. political divide, including candidates of color, broke records in securing congressional seats. Over 150 openly LGBTQ-identified candidates were elected.

Yet for some of the most vulnerable people - torture survivors, refugees and asylum seekers - little has changed. The unconscionable policies and practices unleashed by the President remain unaltered—and may even get worse.

As an example, a new decision announced by the President last week will punish asylum seekers for entering the U.S. between points of entry. These individuals in flight for their lives after fleeing horrific atrocities will be made even more vulnerable. Denying them protection isn’t only a moral outrage. It’s illegal—a direct violation of U.S. and international law.

In addition, the Trump administration set the Fiscal Year 2019 refugee admissions number to 30,000, a historic low. It was the latest in a string of attacks on the U.S. refugee resettlement program, all of which coincide with the worst global displacement crisis in history. It was also an attack on the hope of thousands of survivors who have no option but to try to rebuild their lives outside their home countries. The midterm elections could not reverse this.

And, based on performance thus far, there is no reason to believe that President Trump is going to change his anti-human rights policies and practices. If this recent shift in Congress serves to check the administration’s rollback in human rights protections and values, he may even resort to enacting additional executive orders to push that agenda.

Nevertheless, it’s hugely significant that the House’s incoming Democratic majority is now in a position to take action, to raise questions and challenge President Trump’s worst instincts and outrageous anti-human rights policies when needed, and to work closely with their Republican colleagues in Congress toward that end. We will work for a bipartisan response to the President’s cruel posturing.

We, as citizens, also have a unique responsibility in the two years that follow. We must continue to step up and make our voices heard. We must mobilize and engage. We must fight back with all we can against this relentless tide of hate – executive orders, confirmations, travel bans - until protections are fully in place, or restored, to the people who need it most. Together, we can build a more hopeful future, for ourselves and those among us who deserve to no longer suffer.


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