Amnesty International USA asked John Delaney 13 questions about some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time.
Here is his response exactly as provided:
How should the U.S. respond to the growing number of asylum-seekers, including families and children, seeking protection at the U.S. southern border?
Treating individuals seeking asylum with respect and compassion should be at the forefront of U.S. policy. As the number of asylum seekers, including families and children, seeking protection at the U.S. southern border increases, the U.S. needs to increase the number of immigration judges and asylum officers, while striving to keep families together as much as possible.
What can the U.S. do to address the causes of migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America?
The U.S. should revive efforts to productively collaborate with the countries through which migrants travel on their way to the U.S. border in order to develop a regional plan to address the migrant flows. A U.S. strategy to help address the increased flow of migrants to the U.S. would include two critical components, in particular: supporting international and multilateral efforts to stabilize the region and addressing the root causes of violence. Additionally, the U.S. can continue working closely with NGOs and regional partners, contribute multilateral and bilateral aid, and assist in providing security and humanitarian resources.
What role should U.S. refugee admissions play in our response to the global refugee crisis?
The U.S. should be an international leader in addressing the global refugee crisis through both leading by example and providing enhanced resources to humanitarian and refugee international organizations that are working on the ground with at risk populations. Additionally, as president, I would reverse the Trump Administration’s immoral cut to the U.S. refugee admission cap while encouraging other countries to increase the number of refugees they accept as well.
What kinds of support could the U.S. provide to countries and regions experiencing record levels of internal displacement induced by causes as wide-ranging as climate change and warfare?
The U.S. must implement both long- and short-term strategies to address international internal displacement. By increasing humanitarian assistance through USAID, NGOs, and IGOs the U.S. can help address the immediate needs of those who have been displaced, by providing among other things, food, medical care, education, and shelter. In addition to implementing policies here at home to combat global warming, we should offer climate resilient infrastructure and technical support to countries that have been hit hardest by the warming climate. If left unchecked, global warming will lead to more instability due to harsher droughts, diminishing crop yields, and deteriorating health standards.
What policies should the U.S. implement to reduce and prevent gun violence?
The U.S. can and should take meaningful steps to reduce and prevent gun violence and still respect the rights protected by the Second Amendment. Over 97% of the American people support adopting universal background checks, a common-sense safety measure. Congress also should pass legislation to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and accessories like bump stocks. I will push for every state to adopt “extreme risk laws”, which allow family members and law enforcement officers to petition courts for temporary protective orders to restrict gun access for individuals who pose an immediate risk to themselves or others. Finally, we need to provide funding for CDC research into gun violence.
How should the U.S. address police killings of civilians, including the lack of transparency and accountability?
One way for the U.S. to address police killings of civilians, including the lack of transparency and accountability, is to expand the use of and increase funding for police body cameras, the Community Oriented Policing Services program, and training programs to encourage de-escalation and prevent racial profiling. To address police departments with a consistent record of abuse and misconduct, I will reemphasize the Obama-era DOJ policy of using consent decrees to exercise oversight.
How should the U.S. address human rights abuses suffered by religious and ethnic minorities at the hands of government and non-government actors worldwide?
One of the core tenets of my administration would be the reaffirmation of respect for human rights domestically and in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. should make it clear to the international community that human rights abuses, such as those suffered by religious and ethnic minorities at the hands of government and non-government actors worldwide, will not be tolerated and would be met with clear repercussions. The current administration’s foreign policy is transactional, while my administration’s policy will be based in U.S. values and beliefs. Additionally, I would pursue sanctions against individuals who are guilty of human rights abuses.
How should the U.S. protect LGBTI rights at home and abroad?
The U.S. can advance LGBTI rights at home and abroad by promoting and embracing nondiscriminatory policies based on inclusiveness and equality. The Trump Administration’s discriminatory policies, including prohibiting transgender individuals from serving in the military and rolling back Obama Administration era LGBTI protections, should be reversed. In Congress I was a cosponsor of the Equality Act and would sign it into law as president. To advance LGBTI equality abroad, I would ensure that the position of United States Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons is filled and that the office has the resources needed to be effective.
How should the U.S. ensure that our foreign and domestic policies protect sexual and reproductive rights?
The U.S. should ensure that our domestic and foreign policies are firm in protecting sexual and reproductive rights. It starts with protecting Roe v Wade here at home. I would revoke the global and domestic gag rules and repeal the Hyde Amendment to ensure that women at home and abroad who benefit from U.S. aid have all medical options available to them. In Congress, I supported both the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and the International Violence Against Women Act to protect women around the world and as president, I would work to sign these critical pieces of legislation into law.
How should the U.S. address the targeting, harassment, and killing of human rights defenders and journalists around the world?
The U.S. should not tolerate the targeting, harassment, and killing of human rights defenders and journalists around the world. In collaboration with our allies, we should ensure those who commit such acts are held responsible. The Trump Administration’s response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has undermined the U.S.’ moral standing in the world. Trump again is pursuing a transactional foreign policy rather than a moral one. As President, I will lead by example for respecting the press corps and having zero tolerance for violence against journalists.
How should the U.S. respond to the increasing use of political repression by authoritarian regimes?
The U.S. should respond to the increasing use of political repression by authoritarian regimes by issuing timely and strong rebukes, with tangible actions such as sanctions. When authoritarian regimes violently repress political dissonance, and we should lead the international community in demanding accountability and use our leadership in magnifying the voice of those repressed.
How can the U.S. ensure compliance with and accountability for its international human rights obligations in national security operations?
I support closing Guantanamo Bay which would be a critical first step. Our national security policies must uphold our commitment to human rights. We must ensure we are setting an example for the world in how to advance legitimate security needs while respecting human rights.
What can the U.S. do to ensure U.S. arms are not used to perpetuate human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law?
Once elected president, I would reverse the Trump Administration’s decision to revoke its signature of the Arms Trade Treaty. Additionally, I would ensure the U.S. has a high, clear standard for foreign military sales to prevent U.S. weapons from being used to commit human rights violations. I support ending U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen.
How should the U.S. government hold businesses accountable for human rights abuses?
The U.S. should work through international organizations to ensure that communities have the tools necessary to be informed and represented at the table. Additionally, the U.S. can work with developing countries to improve capacity in providing oversight and when necessary, accountability, to businesses who violate human rights or who are predatory to local communities, including the often-at-risk Indigenous populations.