A pledge for a united future of welcome in the United States was published today by Amnesty International USA and partners the Haitian Bridge Alliance and RAICES, titled the “Welcome Pledge”. It was signed by advocates, attorneys, and artists as President Joe Biden reached the milestone of 100 days in office. Signatories of the pledge include over thirty creatives, including Angélique Kidjo and George Takei.
A video narrated by actor and activist George Takei opens with Takei speaking to his childhood experience being detained in Japanese internment camps that to this day people can hardly believe existed in the United States. Despite being imprisoned simply because of his ethnicity, George Takei still has faith that the United States will do the work of recognizing everyone’s shared humanity.
“When our country views any group as “other,” we risk dehumanizing whole communities, which can then lead to egregious wrongs,” said George Takei. “My own family and I lived through such a wrong during the Japanese American internment. Today, it is our immigration policies, made all the more painful by the prior administration, that have cast our neighbors to our south as “other” and led to immense suffering and division. Now, we have a rare opportunity to correct this ongoing wrong, and I am proud to be a part of a collective effort to forge a different, humane path.”
As a candidate for President, Joe Biden created a plan for “Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants” in which he committed to a fair and humane immigration system. This published pledge recognizes Biden’s commitment over the past 100 days to people on the move and people seeking safety—asylum-seekers, immigrants, refugees, migrants, people who are displaced, including people who are undocumented—and it seeks to manifest a future that can be realized in the next 100 days and beyond.
The signatories of the pledge commit to a future where everyone has the right to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness, no matter their immigration status, and everyone has the right to seek safety in the United States.
Beninese-American singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo, said: “This pledge is foremost about dignity. I see new generations treat each other with dignity and treat others as they’d like to be treated. This is the story we must now tell about ourselves: a story of how embracing our very best we can finally stop inflicting suffering on one another.”
The pledge is aimed at speaking not only to the current President and administration, but to future administrations, lawmakers who are elected by the people, and all of us who are invested in a shared future.
The pledge utilizes nudge theory, encouraging people to sign on to a pledge that would make them more likely to take action and follow through on the issue.
The executive director of Amnesty International USA, Paul O’Brien said: “The Amnesty International movement, which campaigns on behalf of people’s human rights around the world, was founded 60 years ago with a candle as a symbol of hope and a powerful tool to shine a light on injustice. With this pledge, we share this candle with everyone to shed light on our long history of immigration. Together we can bring reform to make this country a new place of welcome, community, and diversity.”
Guerline M. Jozef Co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance said: “A movement that celebrates and welcomes all people with dignity—whether it is our Blackness, our resilience, our queerness, our magic, our contributions, our love, our full selves—is a movement that cannot be stopped. If we rise up for one another, no more will we see peoples’ very lives placed in unnecessary danger. We will hold president Biden and his administration accountable to the promises made to our communities —Anpil men, chay pa lou!”
Jonathan Ryan, the Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), said: “President Joe Biden should use every tool at his administration’s disposal to give our communities in the United States the freedom to work with dignity and respect and to live free—from detention and from deportation. The President made a promise to our communities and we will work tirelessly to make sure that promise is fulfilled.”
For sixty years, Amnesty International has investigated and exposed human rights abuses, educated and mobilized the public, and worked with communities wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied. Amnesty International has stood alongside refugees and asylum-seekers for decades—documenting the conditions they’re fleeing, ensuring that individuals know their rights, and campaigning to change policies so that more people can rebuild their lives in safety. Amnesty conducts research that shines a light on why people are fleeing and what they experience trying to find safety. This research helps lawyers win individual cases and helps spark legislative reform. The organization also campaigns on behalf of individuals and asylum-seekers worldwide in their search for safety, equality, and freedom, and mobilizes grassroots activists to change policies and laws in the United States.