Statement prepared by the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County Social Action Committee, 516 Prospect Street, Maplewood, New Jersey 07040,, 973-763-1905
Zia Durrani, Society President, and Meredith Sue Willis, Social Action Committee Chair

We are increasingly appalled by our nation’s immigration policies that demonize and criminalize people looking for asylum, for a refuge from oppression, or for a better life for themselves and their children. While it is clear in this age of mass migration that it is not possible for any single country to take in all those in flight, we believe that the United States must develop humane and rational laws to manage migrants and asylum seekers. The international community must also take strong measures to solve the problems which cause the migrations in the first place: food and water scarcity due to climate change, desertification, the breakdown of civil society, and the rise of brutal lawlessness.

Long term changes are essential, but helping migrants immediately is both our moral obligation and part of our heritage as Americans. From the very beginning, immigrants have contributed enormously to the intellectual, social and political health of our country. One of our founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton, immigrated as a young college student from the West Indies. In more recent years, we have welcomed the contributions of immigrants as different as Madeline Albright, Liz Claiborne, Albert Einstein, Gloria Esteban, Patrick Ewing, Wyclif Jean, Arianna Huffington, Satya Nadella, I. M. Pei, Natalie Portman, and Mariano Rivera, to name only a handful.

Remembering those who Emma Lazarus called in her poem for the Statue of Liberty “the homeless, tempest-tost,” and with the knowledge that the vast majority of us Americans come from immigrant families, we urge the following:

  • Improve and expand the laws of sanctuary and asylum.
  • Keep migrant children with their parents.
  • Stop treating migrants as criminals.
  • End privatization of prisons and detention facilities that convert human suffering into corporate profit.

The policies presently in effect and the way they are being administered violate the core principles of Ethical Culture and of all people of conscience.


Social Action Committee of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County
Ethical Culture Society of Albuquerque
Ethical Society of Austin
Ethical Action Committee of the New York Society for Ethical Culture
Ethical Action Committee of the Philadelphia Ethical Society
Susquehanna Valley Ethical Culture Society
Chris Kaman, President Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle (Chapel Hill)
Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture
Union County (NJ) Peace Council
First Friends of NJ and NY
South Mountain Peace Action

This statement originally appeared at