The Record of Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2019. State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China. March 2020
“We lied, we cheated, we stole … It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment”
said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech on April 15, 2019.
The remarks of US politicians have completely exposed their hypocrisy of adopting double standards on human rights issues and using them to maintain hegemony.
The United States claims to be founded on human rights, touting itself as a world human rights defender. Following a framework of its own narrow understanding of human rights and using its core interests of pursuing global hegemony as a yardstick, the United States released annual reports on other countries’ human rights every year by piecing together innuendoes and hearsay. These reports wantonly distorted and belittled human rights situation in countries and regions that did not conform to US strategic interests, but turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the persistent, systematic and large-scale human rights violations in the United States.
This report is based on a variety of published data, reports and research findings. The facts detailed in the report prove that in recent years, especially since 2019, the human rights situation in the United States has been poor and deteriorating.
— The United States is a country with the worst gun violence in the world. The number of mass killings in the United States hit a record high of 415 in 2019, with more than one happening for every day of the year. In total 39,052 people died from gun related violence in the United States in 2019. A person is killed with a gun in the United States every 15 minutes. “This seems to be the age of mass shootings,” commented USA Today.
— Elections have become money games for the rich. Spending in the 2018 elections for Congress topped US$5.7 billion, making the battle for control of the House and Senate the most expensive midterm ever. In 2018, the 10 largest individual donors funneled more than US$436 million to Super PACs (political action committees) in the midterm elections. The race to raise money for the 2020 presidential election is heating up. Candidates have raised more than US$1.08 billion for the election.
— The United States has the most serious polarization between the rich and poor among developed countries. The Gini Index grew to 0.485 in 2018, the highest level in 50 years. The wealthiest 10 percent of US households control nearly 75 percent of household net worth. The bottom 50 percent saw essentially zero net gains in wealth from 1989 to 2018.
— The United States is currently the only developed country where millions of people are hungry. There were 39.7 million people living in poverty in the United States, according to US Census Bureau figures released in 2018. On a single night in the previous year, more than half a million Americans lacked permanent shelter. There were 65 million adults who chose not to seek treatment for a medical issue because of the cost.
— Racial hate crimes in the United States have shocked the world. White supremacy in the United States has shown a resurgence trend. The majority of domestic terror related arrests were linked to white supremacist violence. A white man opened fire and killed 22 people at a Walmart superstore in El Paso, Texas. His motive was hatred toward Hispanics. “The United States has always been in the midst of a white nationalist terrorist crisis,” reads a comment.
— Shootings and brutal abuse of African Americans by policemen are frequent. African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. An UN Special Rapporteur called such racial disparities a vestige of slavery and racial segregation.
— The racial gap in employment and wealth is striking. Over the past 40 years, workers of African descent have consistently endured an unemployment rate approximately twice that of their white counterparts. The typical wealth for a white household is nearly 10 times that for African Americans. If current trends continue, it could take more than 200 years for the average family of African descent to accumulate the same amount of wealth as its white counterparts.
— Religious intolerance continues to deteriorate. Pew Research Center surveys showed that about 82 percent of respondents say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the United States. Some 64 percent say Jews face at least some discrimination in the United States. Extremists inspired by extremist ideology were responsible for 249 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018. An UN report noted the exceptionally violent anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.
— The United States has the most dangerous situation for women among high-income countries. In 2015, an astounding 92 percent of all women killed with guns in these countries were from the United States. Women in the United States were 21 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than women in peer nations. Every month, an average of 52 women were shot and killed by an intimate partner. Up to 70 percent of US women had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
— Child poverty is a shocking problem. Around 12.8 million US children lived in poverty and a total of 3.5 million children under five were poor, with 1.6 million of those children living in extreme poverty. “No child should have to worry where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on Earth,” commented the Children’s Defense Fund in a report, adding that yet “about one in five children in America lived in poverty and faced these harsh realities every day.”
— Poverty among the elderly is becoming more and more serious. One in 12 seniors aged 60 and older — 5.5 million people — did not have enough food. About 40 percent of middle-class Americans would live close to or in poverty by the time they reach age 65.
— The US government’s treatment of immigrants has become increasingly harsh and inhumane. The “zero-tolerance” policy caused the separations of many children from their families. US immigration authorities had separated more than 5,400 children from their parents at the Mexico border since July 2017. A total of 24 immigrants, including seven children, have died in US custody since 2018.
— The United States is “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” The United States has spent US$6.4 trillion on wars it launched since 2001, which resulted in more than 800,000 deaths and left tens of millions displaced.
I. Civil and Political Rights in Name Only
The United States flaunts itself as “the land of freedom” and a “beacon of democracy,” which, however, is just something imaginary that fools the people and the world. The lack of restraint in the right to hold guns has led to rampant gun violence, posing a serious threat to citizens’ life and property safety. Worsening money politics distorts public opinion and makes the so-called democratic election a game for the rich.
Politics has led to a proliferation of guns. The manufacture, sale and use of guns in the United States is a huge industrial chain, forming a huge interest group. Interest groups such as the National Rifle Association made large political donations for presidential and congressional elections. The intertwined drawbacks of party politics, election politics and money politics make it difficult for the legislative and executive authorities to do anything about gun control, only allowing the situation to deteriorate. According to an US online media report dated Dec 11, 2019, the United States has far more guns than any other country and in 2017 the estimated number of civilian-owned firearms in the United States was 120.5 guns per 100 residents, meaning there were more firearms than people. According to a Nov 20, 2019 report on the website of the Center for American Progress, one person is killed with a gun in the United States every 15 minutes, citing figures on shooting deaths from 2008 through 2017. In total 39,052 people died from gun related violence in the United States in 2019.
Mass shootings occurred one after another. The United States is a country with the worst gun violence in the world. Frequent mass shootings have become a defining feature of the United States. Citing figures from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) , the online edition of The Mirror reported on Dec. 30, 2019 that the number of mass killings in the United States hit a record high of 415 in 2019, with more than one happening for every day of the year. That compares with 337 in 2018; 346 in 2017; 382 in 2016; 335 in 2015 and 269 in 2014, the first year the GVA kept records. The three worst US shootings of 2019 took place in El Paso, Texas, Virginia Beach, and Dayton, Ohio, which killed 22, 12 and nine people, respectively. “This seems to be the age of mass shootings,” commented USA Today in an online report.
Violent crimes number is alarming. The “Crime in the United States, 2018” report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2019 showed that in 2018, an estimated 1,206,836 violent crimes occurred nationwide, including 16,214 murders, 139,380 rapes, 282,061 robberies, and 807,410 aggravated assaults. The “Criminal Victimization, 2018” report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2019 showed that the number of violent-crime victims aged 12 or older in the United States was 3.3 million in 2018, rising for three consecutive years.
People’s property safety is at risk. The Crime in the United States, 2018 report released by the FBI showed that in 2018 there were an estimated 7,196,045 property crime offenses in the nation, with a rate of property crime estimated at 2,199.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. Property crimes in 2018 resulted in losses estimated at US$16.4 billion. Among the property crimes were an estimated 748,841 thefts of motor vehicles and 1,230,149 burglaries. The estimated rate of motor vehicle thefts was 229 per 100,000 inhabitants. Vehicles stolen were worth an estimated total of more than US$6 billion. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated US$3.4 billion in property losses. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was US$2,799.
Poor handling of cases by the police resulted in the loss of public confidence. Incidents reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) of the FBI in 2018 involved nearly 6.6 million criminal offenses and nearly 7 million victims. The website of Pew Research Center reported on Oct 17, 2019 that in the United States in 2018, 45.5 percent of violent crimes and 17.6 percent of property crimes were cleared, citing FBI figures. Many victims did not report a crime out of a feeling that police “would not or could not do anything to help.” In 2018, only 43 percent of violent crimes and 34 percent of property crimes tracked by the Bureau of Justice Statistics were reported to police.
Citizens’ personal dignity and privacy are systematically violated. According to a Dec 6, 2019 report on the website of the Dallas Morning News, Texas is home to eight secretive surveillance centers, which, supported jointly by federal, state and local law enforcement departments, are created for the purpose of better sharing intelligence and better monitoring and analyzing social media and other online forums. A decade ago, when fusion centers were coming online, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a warning that the centers had ambiguous lines of authority and excessive secrecy. The threat, it stated, for “the creation of a total surveillance society,” is real. According to an US Government Accountability Office report released on June 4, 2019, the FBI’s face recognition office can now search databases with more than 641 million photos. Half of US adults — more than 117 million people — are in a law enforcement face recognition network, according to a Georgetown University study report, which raises serious questions about privacy and civil liberties violations, particularly for African Americans.
Prison management disorders resulted in frequent abuse scandals. A report carried by the website of the Department of Justice on April 3, 2019 said Alabama’s prisons for men fail to protect prisoners from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse and that prisoners experience serious harm, including deadly harm, as a result. The website of the Sun reported on Dec 10, 2019 that 14 women are suing the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in the United States over systemic abuse they claim to have endured at the prison. Allegations of sexual assault and harassment behind bars in the United States skyrocketed 180 percent from 2011 to 2015. Solitary confinement, which according to the United Nations is a torturous practice, causes severe mental and physical pain or suffering and may even lead to death. A 2017 survey of state prisons estimated around 61,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement in the United States on any given day, according to a Sept 4, 2019 report on the website of the Guardian.
Political elections were reduced to money games. CNN reported on Feb 7, 2019 that spending in the 2018 elections for Congress topped US$5.7 billion, shooting past the US$5.3 billion spent during the then-recording breaking 2008 presidential election and making the battle for control of the House and Senate the most expensive midterm ever. The Florida US Senate race was the most expensive contest of the midterms, with the spending topping US$209 million. The winning candidate Republican Rick Scott poured more than US$63 million of his personal fortune into the contest. In 2018, the 10 largest individual donors funneled more than US$436 million to Super PACs (political action committees) in the most expensive midterm elections ever, according to a report dated Aug 14, 2019 on the website of the Time magazine. Big money in politics has overwhelmed the political process, granting wealthy special interests more power now than at any time in recent American history, “distorting the voices of everyday citizens and putting the foundation of our democracy at risk.”
The race to raise money for the 2020 presidential election is heating up. According to data released on Dec 29, 2019 on the website of the Federal Election Commission, candidates have raised more than US$1.08 billion for the 2020 presidential election and spent US$531 million. In his first week as a Democratic US presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg launched a US$40-plus million advertising campaign, according to a HuffPost report dated Nov 30, 2019. Presidential candidates have spent more than US$100 million on digital ads, noted a report released by the Center for Responsive Politics on Nov 24, 2019.
America’s self-touted “freedom of the press” is in name only. For the third time in three years, the United States’ standing in an annual index of press freedom declined, according to a report released on the website of the Washington Post on April, 18, 2019. Data released by the website of the US Press Freedom Tracker on Dec 29, 2019 showed that in 2019 in the United States there were 38 journalists who were attacked, 28 incidents in which journalists were denied access to government events, nine journalists who were arrested or faced with criminal charges. Since 2017, at least 54 journalists have been subpoenaed or had their records seized and 36 journalists have been arrested while covering protests in the United States. The current US Administration is “mounting the most direct attack on press freedom in American history,” according to a report dated Dec 12, 2019 on the website of the Guardian.
Demonstrators were arrested for protesting against government policies. Calls for the closure of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have intensified since the US Government in 2018 implemented its “zero tolerance” policy on immigration. About 100 protesters demanding an end to the ICE were arrested in New York City, according to a CNN report on Aug 11, 2019. At least 15 protesters were arrested in a demonstration organized by Greenpeace USA on Sept 12, 2019, according to a report on the website of Houston Chronicle. Nearly 40 protesters attended a planned protest in Miami on Nov 29, 2019 for government action on climate change and one protester was arrested, according to a report on the website of Miami Herald.
II. Absence of Basic Guarantee of Social and Economic Rights
Behind the overall prosperity of the United States is the cruel reality of the serious polarization between the rich and the poor in the country. The income distribution gap continues to widen, the medical and education cost continues to rise, the coverage of social security is shrinking and the lives of the people at the bottom are miserable.
The gap between rich and poor hit a 50-year high. In May 2018, Philip G. Alston, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a report saying the United States had the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The Washington Times reported on its website on Sept 27, 2019 that the Gini Index of the United States has been rising steadily over the past five decades, citing figures from the US Census Bureau. The Gini Index grew to 0.485 in 2018, the highest level in 50 years. Citing a report from the New York-based financial firm JP Morgan Chase, the USA Today website reported on May 26, 2019 that the wealthiest 10 percent of US households control nearly 75 percent of household net worth. “The increasing consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few has gone beyond what many Americans deem to be justified or morally acceptable.” The basic trend of widening income gap in the United States is casting negative influences on the enjoyment and realization of human rights. The New York Times website reported on Sept 10, 2019 that the expanding gap between rich and poor is not only widening the gulf in incomes and wealth in America. It is helping the rich lead longer lives, while cutting short the lives of those who are struggling. The polarization between the rich and the poor in the United States is a stable long-term trend. The main reason for this trend is structural, which is determined by the political system of the United States and the capital interests represented by the US government. The US government not only lacks the political will to eliminate these structural causes, but also continuously introduces policies and measures to strengthen them. In the United States, “the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” said Alston, the special rapporteur.
Inequality in income distribution is growing. USA Today reported on its website on April 17 and May 26, 2019 that income inequality is a growing problem in the United States, which could be contributed to factors including the stagnant middle-class wages and skyrocketing executive compensation. In some of the largest and most recognizable global companies, chief executives earn in less than an hour as much as their typical employee earns in an entire year. MyLogIQ, a data aggregator of public companies, released a report comparing total CEO compensation to median employee compensation for companies on the S&P 500 index, identifying 13 companies where the CEO makes at least 1,000 times the salary of their typical employee, while the biggest contrast was 3,566 times. Citing a Federal Reserve report, the Forbes website reported on May 29, 2019 that in 2018, the richest 10 percent held 70 percent of total household wealth, up from 60 percent in 1989. The share funneled to the top 1 percent jumped to 32 percent in 2018 from 23 percent in 1989. The bottom 50 percent saw essentially zero net gains in wealth over those 30 years, driving their already meager share of total wealth down to just 1 percent from 4 percent, who are literally getting crushed by the weight of rising inequalities.
People at the bottom are living in distress. In the United States, where the economy is already highly developed, many still face the threat of hunger. The United States remains the only developed country where millions go hungry, according to an article published on Dec 16, 2019 on the website of the American Bar Association. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 39.7 million people living in poverty in the United States, including 12.8 million children in 2018. American Progress website reported on Feb 13, 2019 that more than 4 in 10 Americans are struggling to afford basics such as housing, food, and health care. The US Congress has refused to raise the federal minimum wage of US$7.25 per hour for a decade, contributing to the worsening of poverty. The Economic Policy Institute said on Aug 27, 2019 that the real value (inflation-adjusted) of the federal minimum wage in 2019 has dropped 17 percent since 2009 and 31 percent since 1968. The Los Angeles Times reported on its website on May 7, 2019 that the US government proposed to use a sham inflation rate to throw millions off poverty rolls. “This administration isn’t interested in knowing how many Americans are living in poverty, or how to help them. In the games it wants to play with numbers.”
The homeless are in a miserable situation. USA Today reported on its website on Oct 7, 2019 that on a single night in the previous year, more than half a million Americans lacked permanent shelter, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Los Angeles Times reported online on July 2, 2019 that nearly 8 million Americans lost homes in the recession and its aftermath. For America’s middle class, the homeownership rate fell to about 60 percent in 2016 from roughly 70 percent in 2004, according to separate Federal Reserve data. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on June 4, 2019 released the results of the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which showed 58,936 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness, representing a 12 percent rise from the previous year. CNN reported on June 18, 2019 that the rise in homelessness in neighboring counties was equally bracing. Homelessness was up 43 percent in Orange County over the previous year, 28 percent in Ventura County and 50 percent in Kern County. The homeless did not receive sympathy or help. The BBC website reported on July 18, 2019 that government officials in West Palm Beach, Florida are trying to drive the homeless away from the city’s waterfront space by playing on an endless loop of music through the night. Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said, “Driving them out by blaring music is just inhumane and really shocking.”
The public medical burden is overwhelming. The health gap between the United States and countries with the same level of development continues to widen, one reason is that the public medical burden is too heavy. CBS website said on July 1, 2019 that price hikes on prescription drugs are surging, with more than 3,400 drugs having boosted their prices in the first six months of 2019, an increase of 17 percent in the number of drug hikes from a year earlier, while the average price hike is 10.5 percent. On Nov 21, 2019, the American Broadcasting Company website cited a new report by the Commonwealth Fund to report that middle-class employees’ premium and deductible contributions rose nearly 6 percent per year between 2008 and 2018, during which the share of such spending in household income also climbed to 11.5 percent from 7.8 percent. American Broadcasting Company reported on April 3, 2019 that Americans borrowed US$88 billion to pay for health care in the past 12 months. According to a new national survey by Gallup and West Health, 15 million Americans deferred purchasing prescription drugs due to the costs of the medications. Beyond that, there were 65 million adults who chose not to seek treatment for a medical issue because of the cost, according to the survey.
The number of people without health insurance soars. The United States is one of the few developed countries that do not have universal health insurance, and a significant number of residents do not have health insurance, so they cannot get the health care they deserve when they fall ill. The website of the Los Angeles times on Jan 23, 2019 reported that at the end of 2018, 13.7 percent of US adults were uninsured, up from 10.9 percent at the end of 2016, according to a survey by Gallup. The new report also indicates that some 7 million US adults have likely lost or dropped coverage since 2016. More than 21 percent of adults under 35 now lack health insurance, according to the Gallup survey, up nearly 5 percentage points in just the last two years. A study by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found the number of children in the United States without health insurance increased in 2018 for the first time in more than a decade.
Drug abuse is getting worse. American Progress reported online on Jan 10, 2019 that 630,000 people died of drug overdoses across the country from 1999 through 2016. In 2017, a staggering 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses — nearly 200 people every day. The Guardian website reported on Dec 18, 2019 that the popularity of drug has been booming in US campuses, as about one out of five high school students in the United States said they vaped marijuana in the previous year. On May 29, 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported on its website that according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, one in 16 high school seniors report daily use of marijuana.
Shrinking government financial aid leads to a surge in financial pressure on college students. APM (American Public Media) website reported on Feb 25, 2019 that states have cut their investment in higher education by US$9 billion in the last decade, which had led to surging tuitions and burden of paying student loans. The Forbes reported on its website on Feb 25, 2019 that borrowers collectively owed more than US$1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the US in 2019, hitting a record high. Student loan debt was the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt. The website of USA Today reported on June 10, 2019 that many college students were having difficulties finding a place to sleep. The report cited a survey to say that homelessness affected 18 percent of respondents attending two-year colleges, and 14 percent of those attending four-year institutions. The number who said they had experienced housing insecurity was 48 percent for those enrolled in four-year institutions. Still, of the nearly 399,000 community college students in California who experienced some period of homelessness in the previous year, 80,000 of them slept in their cars.
III. Ethnic Minorities Suffer from Bullying and Exclusion
Racial discrimination has always accompanied the development of the United States in history, and skin color plays an important role in determining the fate of Americans. The political structure and ideology of white supremacy have caused ethnic minorities to suffer all-round discrimination in various fields such as politics, economy, culture and social life in the United States.
White supremacy is on the rise. In essence, the United States is still a country of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. All other races, ethnic groups, and religious and cultural communities endure various levels of discrimination. Since 2016, white supremacy in the United States has shown a resurgence trend, leading to racial opposition and hatred. The Guardian website reported on Nov 12, 2019 that senior White House adviser Stephen Miller shaped the 2016 election coverage of the hard right-wing website Breitbart with material drawn from prominent white nationalists, Islamophobes, and far-right websites, according to a new investigative report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Miller also praised America’s early 20th-century race-based, restrictionist immigration policies. While running for election, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis referred to old racist tropes linking people of African descent to monkeys and implying lesser evolutionary achievement. A report of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued on Aug 2, 2019 said that politicians from the United States have used language that has reinforced the negative stereotyping of people of African descent. The legacy of racial stereotypes and negative characterizations of people of African descent, which were created to justify the enslavement of Africans, and continue to harm people of African descent and violate their human rights.
USA Today reported on its website on June 27, 2019 that more white supremacist propaganda appeared on US college campuses that academic year, marking a three-year rise in racist materials. In the spring semester alone, a hate watchdog group recorded 161 cases of extremist propaganda on 122 campuses across 33 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the propaganda featured attacks on minority groups such as Jews, people of African descent, Muslims and non-white immigrants, while others with white supremacist content. According to the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacist propaganda posters and stickers outside of college campuses also spiked, with 672 instances in the first five months of 2019, compared to 868 incidents over the entire year in 2018. According to an online report of the Huffington Post on April 5, 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that white supremacy is a persistent and pervasive threat to US security. Later, he also told Congress that the majority of domestic terror related arrests since the previous October had been linked to white supremacist violence. The New York Times reported online on Aug 7, 2019 that from Pittsburgh to Christchurch, and now El Paso, white men accused of carrying out deadly mass shootings have cited the same paranoid fear: the extinction of the white race. The idea that “white people will be replaced by people of color,” was cited directly in the four-page screed written by the man arrested in the killing of 22 people in El Paso. “The United States has always been in the midst of a white nationalist terrorist crisis,” said Ibram Kendi, director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.
Racial discrimination is common in law enforcement. UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance pointed out that people of African descent in the United States are still killed and brutalized at alarming rates by law enforcement authorities and vigilantes, who have little to no accountability. African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. Such racial disparities are a vestige of slavery and racial segregation. People of African descent are more likely to be seen as criminals by police officers and treated with cruel measures. CNN reported on March 1, 2019 that in an appalling act of police violence with racial discrimination six police officers shot Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old rapper, about 25 times in the head, ear, neck, chest, arms, shoulders, hands, and back. McCoy’s sister, Simone Richard, said the police executed her brother and didn’t give him a chance to put his hands up. According to a report on the website of the Guardian on Aug 19, 2019, Donald Neely, 43, is a homeless and mentally ill African American. He was arrested by two rangers on a charge of criminal trespassing. The officers attached Neely to a rope, his hands handcuffed behind his back, while they rode on horseback leading Neely through the streets of Galveston, Texas. This scene with great historical association triggered widespread outcry across the country. CNN reported on Dec 17, 2019 that Mississippi prosecutor Doug Evans excluded many African American jurors from trials since he took office in 1992. African American jurors were 4.4 times more likely to be struck down than white jurors. And in cases where the defendant was an African American, Evans’ strike rate against jurors of African descent was “even more pronounced.”
Racial inequality in the workplace and people’s livelihood have not improved. The Center for American Progress reported on Aug 7 and Dec 5, 2019 on its website that compared with their white counterparts, African American workers face systematic obstacles to getting jobs. They face higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits and greater job instability. Slavery and racial segregation concentrated workers of color in undervalued occupations. Occupational segregation and the persistent devaluation of workers of color are a direct result of intentional government policy. While African American, Asian, and Hispanic or Latino people comprise 36 percent of the overall US workforce, they constitute 58 percent of miscellaneous agricultural workers; 70 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners; and 74 percent of baggage porters, bellhops and concierges. The median wages for these jobs are far below the median wages for all industries in the United States.
Employment discrimination perpetuates inequality in economic well-being, especially for people of African descent. Over the past 40 years, workers of African descent have consistently endured an unemployment rate approximately twice that of their white counterparts. The labor market expansion in the past 10 years in the United States has not eliminated the systematic racial differences. Among those who worked full time all year in 2018, African American men earned 70.2 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and white women earned 78.6 cents. African American women earned 61.9 cents for every dollar that white men earned. Citing figures from the Federal Reserve, Los Angeles Times reported on July 2, 2019 that racial disparities in wealth have worsened, as the typical wealth for a white household is nearly 10 times that for African Americans. According to a report on the website of USA Today on Nov 8, 2019, in Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis area of Wisconsin, the unemployment rate for African Americans is 13.9 percent, while that for the white people is only 3.9 percent. The median income for the households of African descent is just 43.8 percent of the figure for the white households. Just 27.8 percent of African American heads of household own their homes, less than half the 68.2-percent white homeownership rate.
Racism is pervasive in the workplace and in everyday life. According to a CNN report on Jan 18, 2019, after an investigation, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission confirmed that General Motors did allow a racially hostile environment. The African American employees endured racist comments or threats. The N-word was regular at the workplace where African American employees were called “monkey,” or told to “go back to Africa.” White workers wore shirts with Nazi symbols underneath their coveralls. Bathrooms in the workplace were declared for “whites only.” A white employee threatened his African American supervisor: “Back in the day, you would have been buried with a shovel.” When African American employees reported the racial discrimination to upper management, they were told to deal with it themselves. USA Today reported on its website on Nov 8, 2019 that African American employees complained of growing racism and discrimination inside the Facebook company. Twelve current and former African American employees offered up a long list of micro aggressions, including two white employees asking an African American program manager to clean up after they finished eating breakfast. People of color were treated as unfriendly and abnormal there. “Racism, discrimination, bias, and aggression do not come from the big moments. It’s in the small actions that mount up over time and build into a culture where we are only meant to be seen as quotas, but never heard, never acknowledged, never recognized, and never accepted,” said some African American employees. CNN reported on its website on Aug 28, 2019 that TV anchor Alex Housden in Oklahoma likened her African American cohost to a gorilla, drawing criticism of racism attacks.
According to a report on the website of the Center for American Progress on Aug 7, 2019, people of color continue to endure rampant discrimination in the housing market: 17 percent of Native Americans, 25 percent of Asian Americans, 31 percent of Latinos, and 45 percent of African Americans report experiencing discrimination when trying to rent or buy housing. By contrast, just 5 percent of white Americans report experiencing housing discrimination. Racial bias not only undermines access to housing but can also affect property values. One study found that homes in African American neighborhoods were undervalued by an average of US$48,000 due to racial bias, resulting in US$156 billion in cumulative losses nationwide. For centuries, structural racism in the US housing system has contributed to stark and persistent racial disparities in wealth and financial well-being, especially between African American and white households. These differences are so entrenched that if current trends continue, it could take more than 200 years for the average family of African descent to accumulate the same amount of wealth as its white counterparts.
Non-white children suffer from serious discrimination in education. CNN reported on Feb 27, 2019 that predominantly white school districts in the United States get US$23 billion a year more than districts that educate mostly non-white children. The average white school district got US$13,908 for every student in 2016, compared to US$11,682 per student in districts that mostly serve people of color. In the meantime, white districts enroll just over 1,500 students, while non-white districts serve over 10,000 students, about six times of the former. African American students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers, according to the US Department of Education. The finding most indicative of racial bias is that in 84 Southern school districts, 100 percent of students suspended were of African descent. Even African American preschool students are more likely to be suspended than students of other races. In fact, a study published in Psychological Science suggests that whites begin to perceive African American boys as threatening at just 5 years old, associating them with adjectives such as “violent,” “dangerous,” “hostile” and “aggressive.” The negative racial biases African American children face, and the correlated high suspension rates can result in African American children falling behind academically, and eventually dropping out of school. It also increases the chances that they will have contact with the criminal justice system. And punitive discipline may be one of the reasons suicides among African American boys are rising.
Hate crime climbs to high level. A report released on Nov 12, 2019 by the FBI showed that law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports in 2018 involving 7,036 single-bias incidents, 57.5 percent of which stemmed from a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. A total of 46.9 percent of single-bias hate crime offenses were motivated by anti-Black or African American bias, while among 5,155 victims of race/ethnicity/ancestry motivated hate crime, 47.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias. The Guardian on Aug 4, 2019 on its website reported a mass shooting happening on Aug 3 at a Walmart superstore in the Texas border city El Paso. The shooter is 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who drove 650 miles to the border city and rampaged into the superstore, opening fire and killing 22. He said this attack was a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. According to a CNN report on Dec 20, 2019, a 14-year-old girl was walking to Indian Hills Junior High when a vehicle drove onto the sidewalk and ran over her. The attempted murder was committed by a 42-year-old Iowa woman who said she did so because the teenager “was a Mexican.” The New York Post reported on Nov 7, 2019 on its website that Mahud Villalaz, a 42-year-old Latin American, was attacked by Clifton A. Blackwell, a white man who asked Villalaz, “why did you invade my county?” and threw acid in Villalaz’s face.
Intolerance against Judaism and Islam continues to worsen. The FBI annual report found that 20.2 percent of the single-bias hate crimes were prompted by the offenders’ religious bias. Of the 1,617 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 56.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Jewish bias and 14.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias. Americans say some religious groups continue to be discriminated against and disadvantaged, according to an analysis of Pew Research Center surveys in March 2019. About 82 percent of respondents say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the United States, and 56 percent say Muslims are discriminated against a lot. A total of 63 percent of respondents say that being Muslim hurts someone’s chances for advancement in American society at least a little, including 31 percent who say it hurts their chances a lot. In the 2019 survey, 64 percent say Jews face at least some discrimination in the United States, up 20 percentage points from the last time this question was asked in 2016. The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief noted the exceptionally violent anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, including a deadly shooting in a synagogue which had caused great loss of lives and injuries. The shooter’s comments during the attack and his social media activity on the days preceding it revealed a belief in a host of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories rooted in a far-right, white supremacist ideology. Later, another gunman similarly motivated by white supremacist ideology attacked a separate synagogue. The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance also expressed grave concern at the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. She noted with concern alarming increases in anti-Semitic incidents tied to neo-Nazi groups and affiliated white supremacist and white nationalist groups. Known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology were responsible for 249 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents with known connections to extremists or extremist groups since 2004 and the third-highest year on record since the organization started tracking the data in the 1970s.
The rights of indigenous people have been violated. The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living and on the right to non-discrimination in this context said in a report that Native Americans were subjected to adverse treatment 28 per cent of the time when they tried to rent a home in competition with a similarly qualified, non-indigenous white individual. Native Americans may also be refused to extend rental contracts on the basis of discrimination. A report released on Nov 18, 2019 by the National Public Radio, called “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States,” shows that native Americans are more likely to have trouble accessing water than any other group. Fifty-eight out of every 1,000 Native American households lack plumbing, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white households, according to the report. This disparity has implications for public health. Native Americans experience more deaths, poverty and higher unemployment rates. The incidence of murders and disappearances against indigenous people is well above average. Native Americans are nearly four times more likely to be victims of homicide than the general population in Montana,, where Native Americans are just 6.7 percent of the total population, but make up 26 percent of missing persons cases. In Hawaii, indigenous Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders accounted for only 10 percent of the overall population, but for 39 percent of the people experiencing homelessness. These numbers continue to grow as the cost of living increases and tourism development forces them to leave their homelands. On May 10, 2019, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination sent a letter to the government of the United States raising its concern that the planned construction of a 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea in the State of Hawaii might affect the rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands. It also expressed concern about allegations of a lack of adequate consultation and failure to seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. The Committee also expressed concerns regarding the desecration of the Pu’uone sand dunes complex, a burial site of the Kanaka Maoli indigenous people in Central Maui in the State of Hawaii, which had reportedly been used for extractive activities over a period of years without the free, prior and informed consent of Kanaka Maoli and resulted in the removal of innumerable graves in the area.
According to a Pew Research Center survey titled Race in America 2019, more than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most US adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of people of African descent in American society today. More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality. About 58 percent say race relations in the United States are bad, and about 65 percent say it’s become more common for people to express racist views in recent years. About 76 percent of African descendants and Asians and 58 percent of Hispanics say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity at least from time to time. A total of 53 percent of the surveyed says race relations are getting worse. Most African descendants (73 percent), Hispanics (69 percent) and Asians (65 percent) say the current administration has made race relations worse, compared with about half of whites (49 percent). About 59 percent say that being white helps people’s ability to get ahead in the country at least a little. About two thirds of the respondents say people of African descent are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system and in dealing with police. More than half of African American adults say it’s not too or not at all likely that the country will eventually achieve racial equality.
IV. Severe Discrimination and Violence Against Women
Since the founding of the United States over two centuries ago, women have been fighting for gender equality. But even to this day, the United States has still not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Women in the United States still face systematic, broad and institutional discrimination, with shocking overt and covert gender discrimination in various forms.
Women face severe violent assaults. Everytown Research reported on its website on Oct 17, 2019 that the United States was the most dangerous country for women among high-income nations considering its widespread and growing use of guns by abusers. In 2015, an astounding 92 percent of all women killed with guns in these countries were from the United States. Women in the United States were 21 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than women in peer nations, and nearly half of female firearm homicide victims were killed by a current or former intimate partner, the report said. The study found that access to a gun made it five times more likely that the abusive partner will kill his female victim. Every month, an average of 52 women were shot and killed by an intimate partner, with 4.5 million women having reported being threatened with a gun. USA Today reported on Nov 20, 2019 that the number of domestic violence-related homicides was rising. According to UN Women, up to 70 percent of US women had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. According to the US National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women had experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Of women who were murdered, one in three was killed by an intimate partner.
Women face common sexual offending and sexual harassment. According to a joint survey by institutions including US nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment and University of California San Diego, 81 percent of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, more than 3.3 million US women ages 18 to 44 were raped the first time they had sexual intercourse. Researchers estimated that one in 16 US women had similar experiences and the average age of women who experienced forced sexual initiation was 15.6. The UN website cited data from UN Women on Nov 24, 2019 that about a quarter of female undergraduate university students reported having experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct. CNN reported on May 2, 2019 that, according to a report released by the Pentagon, sexual assault rates for women in the active duty force increased significantly, with women between the ages of 17 to 24 being at the highest risk of sexual assault. Army Times reported on Aug 21, 2019 that sexual assault prevalence in the Army rose for women from 4.4 percent in 2016 to 5.8 percent in 2018.
Sexual assault cases kept increasing. According to the 2018 Crime in the United States report released by the FBI in 2019, there were an estimated 139,380 rapes reported to law enforcement in 2018, 2.7 percent higher than the 2017 estimate and 18.1 percent higher than the 2014 estimate. According to a report by the Denver Post on March 15, 2019, 51 females filed charges to the US District Court for the District of Colorado against the US Olympic Committee, its officers, directors and national governing board for failing to prevent sexual abuse by former coaches and national team doctor Larry Nassar. A majority of the plaintiffs were minors at the time of the abuse and some were still minors, with the youngest athlete listed in the lawsuit being only eight. The 51 plaintiffs said the US Olympic Committee could have prevented the abuse of young female athletes, but failed to take effective measures.
Gender discrimination in the workplace extensively exists. The Louisiana Weekly on Dec 16, 2019 reported that, among women, more than four in ten said they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace when it comes to getting equal pay or promotions. Data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2019 showed that, in 2018, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings that were 81 percent of the earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers. The New York Times on Feb 8, 2019 reported that throughout the US workplace, pregnancy discrimination remained widespread. They were passed over for promotions and raises, and were fired when they complain, the report said. HuffPost reported on Dec 4, 2019 that the United States was one of just a handful of countries that does not guarantee any paid time off to new mothers. New America’s report showed that 48 percent of mothers had taken unpaid leave to care for a new baby. Each child chopped 4 percent off a woman’s hourly wages, according to an analysis by a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts. The number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed annually with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had been steadily rising for two decades and was hovering near an all-time high. Based on data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, it was estimated that it would take the United States another 208 years to reach gender equality.
Problems of gender and racial discrimination overlap. Faced with both gender and racial discrimination, ethnic minority women were under particularly miserable conditions. Philanthropy News Digest reported on Feb 8, 2019 that, based on a survey of over 4,300 nonprofit staff, women of color were unfairly treated in terms of finding new jobs and promotions. WBUR reported on Oct 28, 2019 that only about 20 percent of white men were working in low-wage jobs, while 40 percent of black women were working in low wage jobs and then 46 percent of Latino or Hispanic women. CNBC reported on April 2, 2019 that black women earned 61 US cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. The reported added that Native American women earned 58 cents to every dollar, and Latina women earned 53 cents. The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov 22, 2019 that Latina women suffered from the worst gender wage gap for any group of minority women. Data for 2019 showed that Latina women earned 46 percent less than white men and 31 percent less than white women.
Women face more severe threat from poverty. USA Today reported on Nov 6, 2019 that, according to 24/7 Wall St., women were far more likely than men to live below the poverty line. A total of 10.6 percent of men in the United States lived below the poverty line, while 12.9 percent for women. Gender wage gap in the United States remained among the highest in the rich world and 70 percent of US poor were women and children. Of the 7.1 million older adults living in poverty in the United States, nearly two out of three were women. The US Census Bureau estimated that 16 percent of women aged over 65 lived at or below the poverty line. Black, Hispanic, and Native American women were almost two times more likely to live in poverty than older white women. According to a Harvard study, US Congress had severely cut funding to women’s business development centers beginning in 2009. In addition, nearly every state in the United States had cut funding and programs (also reduced at the federal level) that had once helped women enforce their child support awards and trained them to re-enter the workforce. Such moves had exacerbated women’s poverty problems.
V. Vulnerable Groups Living in Difficulties
As the largest developed economy in the world, the United States has been refusing to ratify multiple key international human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The US government not only has insufficient political will to improve the conditions for vulnerable groups, but also keeps cutting relevant funding projects. Tens of millions of children, elder people, and disabled people live without enough food or clothing, and face threats of violence, bullying, abusing and drugs, which is beyond explanation.
Child poverty is a shocking problem. The Hill reported on Nov 18, 2019 that while levels of extreme poverty worldwide had dropped dramatically, the poverty ratio of US children was about the same rate as 30 years ago. The Economic Policy Institute’s 2018 Income and Poverty report showed that, nationwide, 18.4 percent of children lived in poverty, and 13 percent of children lived in areas of concentrated poverty. Data from the US Census Bureau showed that 12.8 million US children lived in poverty by 2018. Children of color made up nearly three-quarters of all poor children in 2018. Nearly one in four children of color in the United States was poor. A total of 3.5 million children under 5 were poor in 2018, with 1.6 million of those children living in extreme poverty. The overall child poverty rate was 20.3 percent in Florida. Nearly 1.2 million California children lived in low-income neighborhoods, who were less likely than those in more affluent areas to have access to quality public schools, healthy food and medical care, also making it harder for them to break out of the poverty cycle once they become adults. No child should have to worry where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Yet about one in five children in the United States lived in poverty and faced these harsh realities every day, said a report issued by the Children’s Defense Fund.
Child abuse is an alarming problem. The US Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, on Jan 28, 2019 published the report of Child Maltreatment 2017, showing that approximately 3.5 million children were involved in the child victim reports, increasing by approximately 10 percent from 2013 to 2017. Investigations found about 674,000 victims of child abuse and neglect, 2.7 percent higher than that in 2013. A national estimate of 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect. According to the data, 18.3 percent were physically abused, and 8.6 percent were sexually abused. Indiana had the worst child abuse problems, with as many as 65 children dying due to abuse and/or neglect from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. CBS News reported on Aug 6, 2019 that about 65,000 cases of child sex abuse were reported annually, according to non-profit organization American Society for the Positive Care of Children.
Campus safety conditions keep worsening. According to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics in April 2019, in 2017, among students ages 12-18, there were about 827,000 total victimizations at school and 503,800 victimizations away from school. There was a rise in cyberbullying nationwide, with three times as many girls reporting being harassed online or by text message than boys. Louisiana led the United States in incidents of bullying with nearly one in four students reporting being bullied. School shootings took place time and again. CNN reported on Nov 19, 2019 that there had been 45 school shootings in the first 46 weeks of 2019, with nearly an average of one school shooting a week.
Poverty of the elderly becomes worse. MarketWatch reported on May 19, 2019 that, according to research by Feeding America, a nonprofit organization, an alarming one in 12 seniors aged 60 and older — 5.5 million people — did not have enough food in 2017. New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi were the three states with the highest number of seniors — more than 10 percent of the state’s senior population affected by the hunger crisis. About 40 percent of middle-class Americans would live close to or in poverty by the time they reach age 65, according to a study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School. The Guardian reported on May 24, 2019 that social security was, in the end, insufficient to protect a surprisingly large number of older Americans from poverty. Of those who were still at working ages, 62 percent of African Americans and 69 percent of Latinos had no retirement savings, which meant that they were almost entirely reliant on social security after retirement.
Medical expenses are too high for the elder to afford. According to a nationwide survey published by Health Affairs in 2019, 53 percent of respondents with severe illnesses were faced with serious problems when dealing with medical bills even they were Medicare beneficiaries. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization, said US elder people spent the most on long-term care facility services, which were not covered by Medicare. Among them, people with Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease spent the most on long-term care services.
Elderly care services are expensive and fraught with problems. SFGATE reported on Oct 19, 2019 that the cost of care for the elderly in the United States was too high. The cost could put a family into the poor house unless the elderly person qualifies for Medicaid. For example, nursing homes in Albany County cost around US$400 a day on average if the elderly person doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. Nearly 400 facilities in the United States had serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems, according to a Senate report in 2019. But the federal government for years had kept under wraps their names, which made the problems left unsolved and hard to fix.
Elderly abuse and suicide rates are shocking. Medical Xpress reported on June 14, 2019 that about 16 percent of older adults were victims of some form of mistreatment, including financial exploitation, neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. More than US$5.3 billion was spent annually on medical care related to injuries incurred by older adults as a result of violent crime. More than 8,500 people aged 65 or above committed suicide in the United States in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to the fact that seniors were lonelier, frailer and more isolated, one out of four senior citizens that attempted suicide died, 50 times the possibility for younger people.
Disabled people face severe discrimination when finding jobs. The Center for American Progress reported on July 26, 2019 that disabled adults experienced poverty at nearly twice the rate of their nondisabled counterparts. One in four Americans with disabilities faced unique challenges in securing gainful employment and establishing financial security. Widespread ableism and stereotypes against disable people persisted. NBC News reported on Aug 9, 2019 that, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal workforce data, workers with disabilities were fired at almost two times the rate of those without disabilities. The government fired 2,626 disabled employees in 2017, a 24 percent increase over 2016. A report released in 2019 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities decreased by 1.9 percent year on year.
The accessibility of government projects to help the disabled is not enough. The government was narrowly crafting specialized definitions of disability to restrict access to critical support programs such as Medicaid and nutrition assistance. Some projects to help the disabled kept them waiting for too long, even for years. Chicago Tribune reported on Dec 3, 2019 that nearly 20,000 people with developmental disabilities in Illinois were on a waiting list for disabilities services including home care and job coaches, among services. Most waited an average of seven years before they are selected. USA Today reported on Sept 16, 2019 that, according to the Kaiser Foundation, more than 6 million kids with physical and mental disabilities relied on government health care, but these programs were so poorly designed that it made it harder for their recipients to get good, timely care.
Barrier-free environment is under poor construction. Los Angeles Times reported on April 1, 2019 that, due to the government’s poor oversight, a project to build low-income apartments with federal funds of Los Angeles failed to allow wheelchair users have safe access to kitchens, bathrooms, balconies and other living spaces. Sinks and kitchen counters were also unusable for wheelchair users, which did not comply with federal housing requirements and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The National Law Review on Aug 2, 2019 reported that, in the first half of 2019, website accessibility cases had significantly increased, where plaintiffs with disabilities alleged that they could not access websites. Fortune reported on Sept 21, 2019 that, in January 2019, Parkwood Entertainment became the defendant in a class-action lawsuit alleging that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and failed to provide accommodation for people with significant vision impairments, leaving an estimated 2 million blind people and others with vision impairments unable to access the website.
VI. Migrants Suffer Inhumane Treatment
Decades of US intervention in its “backyard” Latin America directly led to the worsening of the immigration problems in the Americas. The current US government, out of political considerations, took unprecedented extreme measures and inhumane law enforcement actions toward immigrants, resulting in frequent human rights violations of immigrants that were severely condemned by the international community.
“Zero-tolerance” policy caused family separation. In recent years, the US government had adopted increasingly strict and inhumane measures against immigrants, in particular the “zero-tolerance” policy announced in April 2018 which caused the separations of many families. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported on its website on Oct 25, 2019 that US immigration authorities had separated more than 5,400 children from their parents at the Mexico border since July 2017. Lee Gelernt, attorney of the ACLU, said the inhumane and illegal policy torn apart thousands of families, including babies and toddlers. “Families have suffered tremendously, and some may never recover.” Some children were detained in separate facilities for months. Video footage provided by the US Customs and Border Protection showed children in cages and under thin space blankets. The practice of forcing parents to part with their children could constitute “government-sanctioned child abuse,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, said at a Human Rights Council session on June 18, 2018. Felipe González Morales, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, called for a halt to the detention of unaccompanied migrant children and families with children for reasons related to their administrative immigration status. He said detention of children based on their migratory status was a violation of the international law, noting that the move was detrimental to the well-being of a child and produced long-term severe adverse impacts on children. The Washington Post reported on its website on July 30, 2019 that the US government had taken nearly 1,000 migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the judge ordered the US government to curtail the practice more than a year ago. Approximately 20 percent of the new separations affected children under 5 years old. The practice of forcing children to separate from their parents severely infringed migrants’ human rights. In a speech delivered by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council on Sept 9, 2019, she said the continued separation of migrant children from their parents and the prospect of a new rule which would enable children to be indefinitely detained had sharply reduced the protection for migrant families. “Nothing can justify inflicting such profound trauma on any child.”
Migrant children were in the ordeal. According to a report by the Washington Post on its website on Aug 22, 2019, two federal agencies that handle immigrants — the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security — said they would issue a rule allowing children to stay with their parents in US detention centers for longer than the current 20-day maximum. The change would let the administration keep entire families in custody as long as needed and allow virtually unlimited incarceration of children. As of September 2019, at least 2,838 unaccompanied migrant children lived in 35 shelters across Texas. These shelters had a long history of regulatory inspections that had uncovered serious health and safety deficiencies. Between 2016 and 2019, inspectors discovered more than 552 health and safety violations at the facilities. The Los Angeles Times reported on its website on Dec 10, 2019 that three children died from the flu while in federal immigration custody in 2018. The flu mortality rate among migrant children in federal immigration custody was nine times higher than the general population. The report quoted Dr. Mario Mendoza, a retired anesthesiologist, as saying that denying children the basic healthcare being offered was intentionally cruel and inhumane. According to a report by the New York Times on its website on June 26, 2019, a group of journalists, physicians and lawyers were allowed on tours of the border station in Clint, Texas, where hundreds of migrant children were held. A physician likened the conditions to “torture facilities.” According to a report by the Baltimore Sun on its website on July 31, 2019, the conditions of the McAllen Border Patrol Station was disturbing. The author of the report recounted that “I saw many families huddled together in overcrowded conditions. I saw children behind fencing and basically in cages. Some children were in clothing that was soiled and had not been changed since they arrived in the United States.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a report published on the UN website on July 8, 2019 that she was appalled by conditions of migrants and refugees in detention in the United States. “I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,” she said, adding that the detention of migrant children may constitute cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment that is prohibited by the international law.
Migrants suffer cruel abuses. The Washington Post reported on its website on Nov 26, 2018 that the US authorities used tear gas on multiple occasions to stop migrants from Central America, injuring many people. According to a report by the New York Times on June 21, 2019, a report of the Department of Homeland Security showed that the border processing center in El Paso held up to 900 migrants at a facility designed for 125. Some of the detainees had been held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks. The Time magazine reported on its website on July 10, 2019 that 24 immigrants had died in US custody since 2018. According to a report by Arizona Range News on its website on July 8, 2019, the community group Arizona Jews for Justice organized demonstrations in Phoenix on July 2, 2019, protesting against human rights violations by immigrant detention centers and denouncing the squalid detention conditions that seriously violated humane standards, including expired food, inadequate medical care, moldy bathrooms and unreported security incidents. CNN on June 22, 2018 reported grave abuse at migrant detention facilities. It said the medical records of Shiloh Treatment Center, one of the detention facilities, showed that children were being injected with sedatives and antipsychotics. A 13-year-old from El Salvador described an incident when, after he tried to run away, he was assaulted by staff — causing him to faint and leaving him with bruises. Then, despite his objections, he was given an injection of a drug “to calm him down.” An 11-year-old referred to as Maricela in court records said she was taking 10 pills a day that had side effects including headaches, loss of appetite and nausea. One teenager, who fled Guatemala to escape an abusive father and forced child labor, had been in federal custody for almost two years at Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility in California, another secure facility paid by the government to house migrant children, which he described as a juvenile jail where they were treated like criminals. At Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, detainees reported being stabbed with a pen, kept in handcuffs, taunted by staff and being deprived of clothing and mattresses.
The United States was the culprit of the worsening immigration problems in the Americas. The Guardian reported on its website on Dec 19, 2018 that “the destabilization in the 1980s — which was very much part of the US cold war effort — was incredibly important in creating the kind of political and economic conditions that exist in those countries today. The families in the migrant caravans trudging toward the US border are trying to escape a hell that the US has helped to create.” An article carried by commondreams.com on Aug 15, 2019 said that factors driving Central Americans from their homes were political corruption and repression, the power of the drug cartels and climate change — all factors that, in significant ways, could be attributed to the United States’ actions in Latin America for decades.
VII. The United States Wantonly Trampled on Human Rights in Other Countries
In order to maintain its hegemony over the world, the United States pursued unilateralism and trampled on the international order and international system with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as its core. As a country that was so good at withdrawing from cooperation, breaching commitments, shirking international responsibilities and shaking the foundation for global cooperation, that was always imposing sanctions and resorting to forces, the United States was the culprit plunging many places around the world into disturbances and chaos, and was responsible for humanitarian disasters that followed.
Militarism led to human rights disasters. In a speech delivered by former US President Jimmy Carter in June 2019, he pointed out that the United States had only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” The United States had been at war for decades, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and so on. The majority of the wars started by the United States were unilateral actions, neither authorized by the UN Security Council nor approved by the US Congress. These wars caused large casualties and enormous property loss, leading to appalling human rights disasters. The estimated cost of the United States’ global war on terror since late 2001 stood at US$6.4 trillion and it was estimated that up to 801,000 people have died in post-9/11 wars, according to reports released by the Costs of War project based at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University in 2019. Statistics showed that the Afghanistan war claimed the lives of more than 40,000 civilians and around 11 million Afghan people became refugees. More than 200,000 civilians died in the Iraq war and around 2.5 million became refugees. The death toll of civilians in the Syrian war surpassed 40,000 while 6.6 million fled the country. The US government shielded war criminals and connived at their crimes. On Nov 19, 2019, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed the office’s concern over the US presidential pardons for three US service members who were accused of war crimes. These three cases involved serious violations of international humanitarian law, including the “shooting of a group of civilians and execution of a captured member of an armed group,” Rupert said.
Bullying actions threatened international institutions. John Bolton, former US national security adviser, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, warned in September 2018 and in March 2019 respectively that if the International Criminal Court (ICC) went ahead with investigating personnel from the United States and its allies, the United States would impose retaliatory measures against the personnel that were directly responsible for the investigations such as a ban on their entry to the United States, fund freeze and even economic sanctions on the ICC. “These threats constitute improper interference with the independence of the ICC and could hinder the ability of ICC judges, prosecutors, and staff to carry out their professional duties,” according to UN experts, who insisted that the United States stop threatening the ICC. Previously, ICC prosecutors applied to judges for an investigation into alleged war crimes by all the warring parties in the Afghanistan war. Some US servicemen and intelligence officers were suspected of “torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual abuse” toward detainees in Afghanistan and other places. According to James Goldston, a law expert, the US officials’ remarks had made it clear that the US government only took the international law seriously when it was in the interest of the United States.
Unilateral sanctions grossly infringed on human rights in other countries. According to a report on the UN website on Nov 7, 2019, for the 28th consecutive year, the UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba. According to a report by the United Nations on May 28, 2019 titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” the economic and commercial embargo in almost six decades was a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans. The report said it is imperative that the government of the United States comply with the resolutions adopted by the international community in the General Assembly and unconditionally end its embargo policy against Cuba. In a statement published by the UN website on Aug 8, 2019, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet pointed out that the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Venezuela would have far-reaching implications on the rights to health and to food in a country where there were already serious shortages of essential goods.
The United States refused to fulfill its international obligations. In recent years, the United States withdrew from multilateral mechanisms out of its own interest, including the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the UN Global Compact on Migration, breaking rules and making troubles to the international governance system. CNN reported on its website on Nov 4, 2019 that the United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. It sent a powerful message to the rest of the world that “as the damaging impacts of climate change become more apparent, the United States … will not be a part of the international charge to solve the crisis,” the report said.
People have discerning eyes. The United States has long been deceitfully touting itself as a so-called “role model” for upholding human rights, while flagrantly playing with double standards on human rights issues. Human rights, viewed by the United States as a tool to maintain its hegemony, have been championed or violated by it according to its own needs. Actions speak louder than words. The United States, a country preoccupied with human rights problems at home, unscrupulously tramples on the human rights of people in other countries, resulting in untold sufferings. Such hurtful acts are a grave violation of international morality and human conscience and are despised by all people who hold on to kindness and justice. We advise the US authorities to restrain their arrogance and prejudice, make a clear-eyed examination of the United States’ own human rights problems and fix them, instead of pointing fingers at other countries and making irresponsible remarks.
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