While I believe that the U.S. must honor and strengthen its relationships with our strategic, historic, and economic allies, I also believe that re-centering human rights as a focal point in foreign policy must be a top priority.
I believe in the right of all people to live their lives free of discrimination and violence based on race, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, political opinion, or nation of origin. I believe the U.S. has a fundamental duty to promote values of equality around the globe. Not only do we have this obligation, but our nation is strengthened when we commit to protect the fundamental rights of citizens around the world.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has failed to uphold this commitment, both by its actions abroad and at home. We must act to restore our reputation as a nation committed to individual freedoms and equality.
We can do this in multiple ways. First, we should use our contributions to bilateral and multilateral international aid to promote equality. This means ensuring that aid goes to local organizations and businesses that are committed to anti-discrimination practices. I also believe that we should prioritize aid to local organizations that actively promote equality.
Aid can be a particularly useful tool to promote gender equality worldwide. I believe that achieving gender equality and a world free from gender-based violence and exploitation requires the economic and political empowerment of women and girls. Women must be able to work outside the home, own their own businesses, earn the equal wages for equal work, vote, run for political office, and have bodily autonomy. However, underinvestment in women and girls around the world impedes their exercise of these basic rights and obstructs their advancement. Our bilateral and multilateral aid initiatives can help bridge these gaps and remove these barriers. For example, women are more underbanked than men, making it harder for women to access financial services and credit required to fully participate in the global economy. U.S. aid can target women entrepreneurs with business loans and digital financial services. The U.S. can also support educational initiatives like the World Bank’s Learning for All program, which aims to expand access to and improve the quality of education and seeks to shrink and ultimately close the gender gap in educational achievement that holds women and girls back around the world.
In Congress, I will work to ensure that the human rights bureau at the State Department and the human rights division of USAID are fully funded and empowered to advance equality globally. I will also fight to maintain our commitments to multilateral institutions like the UN, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization that work to protect human rights and alleviate inequality.
Second, we need to call out and condemn human rights abuses as they occur. One of the most glaring human rights violations today is the surveillance, detention, forced reeducation, and forced labor of the Uighurs, Kazahks and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, China. While I support the State and Commerce Departments’ initiatives to restrict visas for Xinjiang officials deemed responsible for abuses and restrict businesses involved in the detention and surveillance of Muslims in China, the Trump Administration must do more to pressure China to end these abuses. We cannot let the prospect of a trade deal interfere with our commitment to religious freedom and all human rights.
Moreover, in countries around the globe, LGBTQ+ individuals are facing oppression and — often, deadly — violence. Deadly hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in El Salvador have been on the rise recently, with trans women at particular risk. In Chechnya, police officials continue to detain and abuse gay men, and Ugandan police arrest individuals suspected of violating a ban on homosexual activity. I have worked to protect the rights of gay and trans individuals here at home, and I will continue to center the LGBTQ+ community in my global human rights advocacy.
Finally, we must work to rectify human rights abuses here at home, which violate our values and weaken our global standing. Some of the most flagrant violations involve our border patrol and immigration detention systems. We must end now and forever the inhumane separation of immigrant families detained at our borders, and we must fund the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to track and reunite families that have been and continue to be detained and separated since the start of the Trump Administration. We must also investigate and end the abuses at border patrol centers that have left individuals without adequate food, water, or medical supplies, and in six incidents led to the deaths of detained migrant children. Those responsible must be held to account. Now, under the guise of protecting the country from COVID-19, the Trump Administration has turned back migrants, including unaccompanied children, exercising their right to seek asylum. In Congress, I will also work to strengthen our asylum laws and ensure the right to all refugees to seek asylum from violence at our borders. No president should be allowed to ignore or selectively apply our immigration laws to accomplish his misguided political agenda. Immigrants and refugees enrich our country and we must fight to preserve their dignity while upholding our laws.
While we work to advance equality for LGBTQ+ people everywhere, we must also undo the discrimination enabled by the Trump Administration here at home. I support passing the Equality Act which will extend existing civil rights laws to include protections against discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual identity or sexual orientation.
I believe that the United States is strengthened when we work actively to uphold our values of freedom from discrimination and violence. We must take steps to live out these values through global diplomacy and at home.
For decades, the United States and Israel have represented a strong, united alliance in both the Middle East and beyond. In a region where too many people live under oppression and without basic freedoms, Israel has long stood as a beacon of liberal democracy. Our two countries are part of the same family of nations that recognize the rights of every citizen regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. We believe in a free press and the rule of law. We believe in leaving a safer, healthier, and more just world for our children. We understand the importance of the land of Israel to the Jewish people.
It is vital to the national interests of both Israel and the United States that our two countries continue to be collaborative allies. It cannot be overstated how critical our Israeli partners are in pushing back against Iranian aggression, as well as setting the example of a vibrant democracy for its neighbors. This is why we should continue to support our mutual goals for the stability of the region and its people. Movements such as Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel (BDS) only serve to further the conflict, elevate the violence, and harm those they seek to help. That is why I will always oppose BDS.
It is my firm belief that the Palestinian people’s national aspirations are just, and that the United States must be a partner in realizing a modern, prosperous Palestine. That is why I support a two-state solution. We need to renew our focus as an international leader in peace and help end this conflict. The United States, acting as an honest broker, can help administer a bilateral solution that relies on compromises from all sides, and incorporates the most critical values and objectives shared by both peoples, most importantly, the yearning for a safe and secure homeland. The most important factor in whether any peace plan can be successful, is that it is developed by the parties themselves, on equal footing, without the interference of outsiders.
There are many opportunities to ease tensions amongst the parties in this conflict, and move us closer to a peaceful resolution. By finding strategic policy reforms that ease the pressure of occupation on Palestinians, without reducing Israeli security, we can create an environment where a lasting peace has the greatest chance of success. These reforms could potentially include investing in transportation infrastructure connecting the more disparate Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank. They could include ensuring equal labor standards and increased access to employment for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas, and equitable access to water in the settlements. One objective to give special attention to is expanding economic opportunities for Palestinians, such as developing additional economic zones in the West Bank, and relaxing travel restrictions within the borders of Israel and the territories, and beyond. Many of these proposals have support among Israel military and civilian authorities, lending strength to their legitimacy and possibility of success. It is critical to me, that although these reforms may seem straightforward, they must be considered through the lens of both Israeli and Palestinian security, and must ultimately be supported by the parties involved.
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