2019 The Immigration Justice Campaign
With asylum seekers facing unprecedented attacks on their ability to seek protection in the United States — at the border, in detention centers, and in the immigration courts — the IJC has been tireless in fighting in court against illegal and inhumane policies and promoting ways for the broader legal community across the country to provide pro bono assistance for this critical work. immigrationjustice.us
Remarks of Neal Rosenstein, Vice President of the Puffin Foundation
ALBA/Puffin Human Rights Prize
May 5, 2019
Good afternoon friends. On behalf of Perry and Gladys Rosenstein & the Puffin Foundation, I’d like to share a few brief words about the honorees for the ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism for this year. This $100,000 award recognizes and encourages individuals or groups whose efforts have a positive impact, on the advancement and/or defense of human rights.
Today, we are deeply honored to recognize the incredible achievements of the Immigration Justice Campaign.
With asylum seekers facing unprecedented attacks on their ability to seek protection in the United States—at the border, in detention centers, and in the immigration courts, the IJC has been tireless in fighting in court against illegal and inhumane policies and promoting ways for the broader legal community across the country to provide pro bono assistance for this critical work.
When Puffin’s President, Perry Rosenstein first suggested the idea of a Human’s Rights Prize to be presented by ALBA our thoughts were drawn abroad to the courageous efforts of Human Rights Champions like Judge Balthazar Garzon in Spain, known for his crusading work against the Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet and whose efforts to uncover the crimes and murders of the Franco regime were attacked and suppressed.
But, we cannot and must not ignore current events and our country’s own crimes and misdeeds. From our policy of placing children in cages to violating the rights of immigrants and refugees, we knew that this year the prize truly needed to focus on a group working here on our own Southern border.
As Americans we take the right to legal representation for granted. We grow up hearing the Miranda warning on cop shows on TV. That warning includes that “You have the right to an attorney and if you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.” But as we’ve all learned, that guarantee doesn’t apply to refugees and immigrants. Indeed, 86% of detained immigrants are without an attorney and at the mercy of the system they frequently can’t navigate on their own or understand. Working exclusively with volunteers, the Immigration Justice Campaign places people on the ground, at the border, inside the ICE detention centers and before judges in makeshift courtrooms, to ensure that arriving migrants and those with asylum claims are not subject to the government’s cruel deportation system that has no purpose but to criminalize them. And their network of 9,000 volunteers has had tremendous impact and success. Successes that have changed and saved lives. That’s why we’re honoring them today.