1,000 signatures reached
To: Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Dear Presidential Candidates: End Family Detention
Since the summer of 2014, when the Obama Administration re-initiated the mass detention of immigrant families, tens of thousands of mothers and children have spent months, and some over a year, locked up in jail-like facilities.
The use of immigration detention is inhumane, draconian, and costly (family detention costs an average of $343 per person per day). Confinement can cause severe harm to children – from anxiety and depression, to long-term cognitive and developmental damage. Additionally, there have been countless reports of rampant abuse at the three existing family detention facilities (Berks Family Residential Center, Karnes County Residential Center, and South Texas Family Residential Center) including sexual and physical abuse of detainees by guards, medical neglect, unsanitary food and water, and violations of due process rights.
Most detained families have fled extreme violence and can prove a credible fear of returning to their home countries, the first hurdle in the US asylum process. For both mothers and children, the emotional and psychological stresses of detention add another layer of trauma to the often life-threatening experiences they endured in their home countries. They should be released so that they can get the legal and community support they need as they await their day in court.
For two years families in detention, together with advocates and immigrant communities, have been fighting to #EndFamilyDetention. Senators, representatives, judges, child welfare experts, medical professionals, and local governments have joined the call. Unless the current administration reverses course now, the next President will inherit this legal and moral shame.
It's time for real action and a commitment to end family detention:
- Visit detained mothers and children to hear first hand about the abuse they’ve suffered at these facilities
- Commit to closing the three existing family detention facilities within your first 100 days in office if elected
- End the practice of detaining mothers and children, and instead fund legal representation and community based support services for asylum seekers
- Urge the current administration to comply with court orders under the Flores agreement and immediately release all detained mothers and children
As your respective parties finalize your platforms for the years ahead, now is the time to ensure that our nation ends the deplorable practice of family detention for good.
Why is this important?
The United States' policy of locking up mothers and children in detention centers violates US and international human rights law, needlessly puts children in harm’s way, and punishes families fleeing for their lives.
Jenny Munguia is one of thousands of mothers who braved the dangerous journey north in search of safety for herself and her son. But instead of safety, Jenny and her son have only found more trauma. Jenny and her son were detained in the Dilley, Texas detention center, where they worked with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. According to Jenny:
“My son has no appetite and has not been eating for five days. The psychologist told me that my son is depressed because he feels the uncertainty of being detained and not being able to leave. A mother wants to see that her child has everything necessary to be happy and grow, but here I feel like I can’t do anything to help my son."
We cannot let more mothers and children like Jenny and her son suffer because of this inhumane and illegal policy. Its time to #EndFamilyDetention now.