Urgent Action: Tell Your Senators to Demand Trump Nominees Protect Human Rights

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Author: Emma Buckhout

As we prepare for the incoming Trump Administration, we are committed to standing by our values of compassion and justice in U.S. immigration and foreign policy towards Latin America. From further opening U.S.-Cuba relations, to supporting the peace process in Colombia, to defending the rights of migrants and refugees at home and in Mexico and Central America, we are demanding our government stand up for the protection of human rights—and we need your help TODAY.

President-Elect Trump has chosen his nominations for the cabinet positions in his administration. Based on their records, we have grave concerns about the direction they could take U.S. immigration and foreign policy, particularly the nominees for Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Attorney General. These nominees must be approved by the Senate and starting tomorrow, the relevant Senate committees will hold confirmation hearings in which they can ask the nominees questions. We are urging the senators to demand that these nominees commit to protecting our values of compassion, justice, and protecting human rights. Your senators need to hear from YOU that these values are critical for any future cabinet member.

See the list below of the relevant committees that are preparing for these hearings, followed by a list of states with senators on those committees and recommended questions for the confirmation hearings. Please call your senators today and tomorrow to urge them to ask the nominees questions about the importance of protecting human rights and justice in our immigration and foreign policy.

You can start by saying: “I’m your constituent from [STATE], and my community believes in protecting our values of compassion, justice, and human rights for all. As you prepare for the upcoming confirmation hearings, please ask the nominees to affirm the importance of human rights in U.S. immigration and foreign policy.” Then see the specific questions below.

Upcoming Hearings:

  • Foreign Relations Committee: Rex Tillerson, Nominee for Secretary of State – Hearing Jan. 11
  • Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee: General Kelly, Nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security – Hearing Jan. 10
  • Judiciary Committee: Jeff Sessions, Nominee for Attorney General – Hearing Jan. 10 & 11

Find Your Senator:

  • Arizona: Jeff Flake: Judiciary, Foreign Relations 202-224-4521 & John McCain: Homeland Security 202-224-2235
  • California: Dianne Feinstein: Judiciary 202-224-3841 & Kamala Harris: Homeland Security 202-224-3553
  • Colorado: Cory Gardner: Foreign Relations 202-224-5941
  • Connecticut: Chris Murphy: Foreign Relations 202-224-4041 & Richard Blumenthal: Judiciary 202-224-2823
  • Delaware: Christopher Coons: Foreign Relations, Judiciary 202-224-5042 & Tom Carper: Homeland Security 202-224-2441
  • Florida: Marco Rubio: Foreign Relations 202-224-3041
  • Georgia: Johnny Isakson: Foreign Relations 202-224-3643
  • Hawaii: Mazie Hirono: Judiciary 202-224-6361
  • Idaho: Jim Risch: Foreign Relations 202-224-2752 & Mike Crapo: Judiciary 202-224-6142
  • Illinois: Dick Durbin: Judiciary 202-224-2152
  • Indiana: Todd Young: Foreign Relations 202-224-5623
  • Iowa: Chuck Grassley: Judiciary 202-224-3744
  • Kentucky: Rand Paul: Foreign Relations, Homeland Security 202-224-4343
  • Louisiana: John Kennedy: Judiciary 202-224-4623
  • Maryland: Ben Cardin: Foreign Relations 202-224-4524
  • Massachusetts: Ed Markey: Foreign Relations 202-224-2742
  • Michigan: Gary Peters: Homeland Security 202-224-6221
  • Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar: Judiciary 202-224-3244 & Al Franken: Judiciary 202-224-5641
  • Missouri: Claire McCaskill: Homeland Security 202-224-6154
  • Montana: Steve Daines: Homeland Security 202-224-2651 & Jon Tester: Homeland Security 202-224-2644
  • Nebraska: Ben Sasse: Judiciary 202-224-4224
  • New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen: Foreign Relations 202-224-2841 & Maggie Hassan: Homeland Security
  • New Jersey: Bob Menendez: Foreign Relations 202-224-4744 & Cory Booker: Foreign Relations 202-224-3224
  • New Mexico: Tom Udall: Foreign Relations 202-224-6621
  • North Carolina: Thom Tillis: Judiciary 202-224-6342
  • North Dakota: John Hoeven: Homeland Security 202-224-2551 & Heidi Heitkamp: Homeland Security 202-224-2043
  • Ohio: Rob Portman: Foreign Relations, Homeland Security 202-224-3353
  • Oklahoma: James Lankford: Homeland Security 202-224-5754
  • Oregon: Jeff Merkley: Foreign Relations 202-224-3753
  • South Carolina: Lindsey Graham: Judiciary 202-224-5972
  • Tennessee: Bob Corker: Foreign Relations 202-224-3344
  • Texas: John Cornyn: Judiciary 202-224-2934 & Ted Cruz: Judiciary 202-224-5922
  • Utah: Mike Lee: Judiciary 202-224-5444
  • Vermont: Patrick Leahy: Judiciary 202-224-4242
  • Virginia: Tim Kaine: Foreign Relations 202-224-4024
  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson: Foreign Relations, Homeland Security 202-224-5323
  • Wyoming: John Barrasso: Foreign Relations 202-224-6441 & Mike Enzi: Homeland Security 202-224-3424

If asked for specific examples of questions that the committee members could ask, use the following:

Foreign Relations Committee (for Secretary of State nominee):
•  Human Rights Defenders: “Human rights defenders across Latin America, including Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Central America, are suffering grave human rights violations at the hands of government armed forces, corrupt officials and non-state actors such as organized crime, gangs, and corrupt businesses. How will you ensure that our assistance to these countries does not go to entities that violate human rights but rather to uphold human rights, and address impunity and corruption?  How will you, as Secretary of State, use diplomacy to uphold human rights and protect human rights defenders, in Latin America and across the globe?

•  Cuba: “U.S. citizens and businesses are benefiting from the U.S. government’s diplomatic opening with Cuba. The countries’ embassies have been reopened and restrictions have been lifted on trade and travel to the benefit of both countries. U.S. relationships with the other countries in the hemisphere have been strengthened. Will you support continuing this policy and will you support the lifting of the embargo by law?

•  Colombia:
“The Colombian government and FARC guerrillas reached a peace agreement that can end over fifty years of conflict that has killed over 220,000 people and displaced over 6 million. The Colombian Congress approved a revised agreement, and the accord is ready to be implemented. How will you help the Colombian people, both through diplomacy and aid, to implement the peace accord? How will you also encourage the incipient peace process with the last remaining guerrilla group, the ELN?”

•  Northern Triangle: “El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have some of the highest levels of homicide, femicides, and violence in the world. Organized crime and gangs, as well as abusive security forces and corrupt local officials, forcibly displace families and children. Militarized assistance does not improve citizen security or address the systemic causes of the violence and poverty driving migration. Strong human rights diplomacy, community-based violence prevention programs and community-driven local development programs are a better approach. How will you address the causes of violence that are driving many Northern Triangle children and families from their homes?

Homeland Security Committee (for Secretary of Homeland Security nominee):
•  “The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has found that the majority of unaccompanied children and adult women fleeing the Northern Triangle and Mexico fear returning to their home countries, yet many do not have appropriate access or legal counsel to present their claims. How will you make sure U.S. policies at home and abroad protect families and children fleeing violence from Mexico and Central America and not return them to harm?

•  “Border Patrol agents continue to commit human rights abuses with impunity. How will you strengthen the agency’s accountability and transparency in addressing abuses and ensure the agency’s adherence to law enforcement best practices?

Judiciary Committee (for Attorney General nominee):
•  “The humanitarian crisis in Central America has not ceased, and yet the United States continues to focus on detaining and deporting migrants, including many potential asylum seekers. In overseeing the nation’s immigration court system, what plans do you have for protecting access to legal counsel and due process for immigrants and asylum seekers facing deportation proceedings in immigration courts? How will you ensure that the courts interpret U.S. immigration and asylum law to protect those fleeing violence in Central America and arriving at our borders?”

Thank you for holding our government accountable to supporting human rights at home and in Latin America!