The American Ethical Union and several of our Ethical Societies signed the below statement on principles of sanctuary that can be used to guide grassroots and governmental response to the global escalation of displacement. It is in conformity and solidarity with the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, a multilateral treaty that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. To sign as an individual or organization, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We express our deep concern for the well-being of the refugee children, families and all migrants currently arriving at our borders, as well as those struggling to live within our borders. In response to the increased numbers of people around the world who are being forced to leave their home countries, and the simultaneous increase in punitive enforcement in many receiving countries, we affirm the following principles to guide and inspire our efforts to respond:
- Compassionate Response: We care deeply about refugee children, families and all migrants, and we urge our countries to have open arms to protect them and preserve their human dignity. We reject detention of migrants as a violation of human rights and dignity.
- Due Process: We advocate for fair and timely legal proceedings, competent legal representation, and due process for children, asylum seekers, and all migrants.
- Family Unity: We uphold and respect the unity of families as a basic human right.
- Restorative Justice: We desire revitalization and healing of our borderlands, not militarization. The only long-term solution is a holistic approach that prioritizes safety and opportunity for migrants and addresses root causes.
- Civil Initiative: As long as our governments are not adequately addressing these humanitarian crises, citizens have the right and responsibility to respond with an approach that follows the mandate to provide sanctuary when needed and, above all, to love our neighbours.
Based on these principles, we covenant with one another to work together for just and humane response to all migrants both at our borders and within our countries. We call on our governments, and the governments of all countries receiving migrants in response to the current and ongoing international humanitarian and refugee crisis to embrace these principles.