“It is unconscionable to think that right now, hundreds of mothers and children are being denied their liberty and due process in jail-like detention centers in our own backyard. Most of these detainees are asylum seekers fleeing terrible violence in their home countries. They arrive at our borders seeking safety and [protection, and instead face new threats from terrible conditions, developmental and medical concerns from detainment, and a complete lack of due process. It’s time for DHS to recognize our nation’s commitment to protecting public safety and the rule cannot come at the expense of our commitment to refugee families.”Check out portions of the letter down there, and read the rest here:
The recent announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on family detention does not acknowledge that even detention for a brief period of time, especially in a secure setting, is detrimental to child development.
We are particularly troubled by the current practice of family detention because the detained population is largely comprised of refugees fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. We have heard horrific stories of sexual assault, intense physical violence, kidnapping, and sex trafficking. These stories come not only from adult mothers, but also from young children who have been victims of such abuse. Detaining children who have already been victims of abuse exacerbates past trauma and raises unique and serious problems.
DHS has repeatedly used deterrence as a justification for the existence of family detention, but this theory has not been substantiated with compelling evidence. Moreover, a federal court in the District of Columbia rejected this argument and found that DHS cannot detain asylum seeking mothers and children from Central America for the purpose of deterring other migrants
from entering the country.
We agree and believe that the hypothetical recurrence of a future refugee flow does not justify the very real harm being inflicted upon mothers and children in a secure setting.