II. Respect for Human Rights Should Be the Basis of Immigration Policy Print E-mail



The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights



The information and recommendations presented in the Immigration Section of the Think Again MN website are based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After World War II, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations which developed a document which “declares” the rights that everyone in the world should have. It is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration was proclaimed in Paris on December 10, 1948.1


It could be considered as an elaboration of the the following widely quoted statement from the U.S. 1776 Declaration of Independence. "We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Today 192 nations belong to the United Nations, all of whom have signed on in agreement with at least parts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.2


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was developed long before the widespread globalization of trade. Its articles have not been adequately supported in trade agreements.  Think Again MN supports all of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but is especially concerned that the following articles have been violated in the North American Free Trade Agreement in regard to NAFTA's impact on Mexican farmers, in the treatment and failure to provide legal services and judicial review of impoverished Mexicans who have crossed the border to seek a way to support their families, of African immigrants who have lived in the United States for many years on renewed temporary visas or deferred departure status, and of green card holders who have misdemeanors or a crime that took place many years ago


Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.


Article 7.


All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 11.
  1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

  1. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.


Article 12.


No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.


Article 23.

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment.

  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

  3.       Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and 
        his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other
        means of social protection.
  4.       Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 25.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care, and necessary social services, and to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.2



Think Again MN believes the legal principle of extenuating circumstances should be applied to immigrants who broke a law because their life circumstances prevented them and their families from attaining the above inalienable rights due to civil strife or provisions in NAFTA or other trade agreements which they had no part in creating. They should not be prosecuted for breaking the law, especially if their life and work contributed to the community and they did not harm anyone in the process of crossing the border or continuing to reside in the U.S. beyond their visa expiration  to save or keep their family from harm.  Migrants who have lived, worked, and established families in their country of migration should have the benefit of legal counsel and a judge's review prior to deportation.





1. United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Youth for Human Rights.


2.  Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  United for Human Rights.






Goals and Take Action StepsMake a Difference


For Immigrant Families and Your Community




  • Encourage the cities, counties, and the state of Minnesota to develop policies directing their police departments to refrain from any involvement in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities that do not involve a federal crime warrant from a federal judge.


  • Encourage city, county, state, business leaders, advocates, and citizens to be aware of and to contact elected officials on the harmful impacts of current ICE policies, not only on immigrants and their families, but also on our state and communities.


  • Ask citizens to contact their U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to support a new immigration policy that would allow currently self-supporting unauthorized immigrants who have been in the U.S. for five years with no conviction for a felony during that time to apply for a green card and to apply for citizenship in another five years. If the unauthorized immigrants have been self supporting in the U.S. for ten years or longer without a felony conviction, they should be eligible for citizenship after three years with a green card in the meantime.


  • Ask voters to contact their U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to ask them to vote against expanding the number of ICE officers and ICE prison cells


  • Ask voters to request renegotiation of NAFTA to include people with expertise on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights whose job will be to make sure that all trade agreements adhere to the articles in the Declaration.


  • Though Presidents have signed parts of the Declaration, they have not been ratified. Citizens should encourage their Senators to ratify the signed parts. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not have a means to legally enforce the rights, but signing the Declaration contributes to international recognition and support for Human Rights. Legal enforcement of human rights is under the jurisdiction of regional conventions. President Carter signed the American Convention on Human Rights in 1978,1 but the U.S. Senate has not ratified the Convention with the required 2/3 vote. These signed human rights treaties are still pending before the Senate.2


  • See a detailed description of changes needed to assure food safety, environmental protection, and the rights of farmers in the "NAFTA Renegotiation" at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.3





1. Western Hemisphere Can Lead in Human Rights.  Jimmy Carter, The Carter Center, December 9, 2012.


2.  U.S. Department of State. “Treaties Pending in the Senate.  May 8, 2017.


3.  Lilliston, Ben. “NAFTA Renegotiation:  What’s at stake for food, farmers, and the land?”  Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,  August, 2017.       








MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at http://mnvotes.org

How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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