The recent and rapid increase of family detention facilities by the current Administration – particularly for the purpose of detaining vulnerable asylum seekers, families and children – has been deeply troubling.
I understand, and agree that we need to honor our Nation’s commitment to law enforcement and public safety, but jailing little children and women is not the answer. Imprisoning women and children is detrimental to child development and can have long-lasting impacts on the psychological health and well-being of these families. To make matters worse, many of these woman and children confined in detention centers have severe medical needs that are not being adequately addressed, or are in some cases made worse by the conditions in their detention facility.
I have heard of many troubling instances in which women and children were receiving inadequate care, or in some cases – outright abuse.
Treating these vulnerable refugees – who are in many cases fleeing life threatening violence in their home countries – as prisoners and criminals is unacceptable and is not who we are as a nation, nor will it hold up in the courts. The Department of Homeland Security has the opportunity to do the right thing by ending this policy of holding families in jail-like settings. Not only is it the right thing, but it is also consistent with DHS policy.
I've included information relating to the Administration's Family Detention program below that you many find helpful:
- Letter from 136 members of Congress calling for an end to immigrant family detention.
- Letter from 33 United States Senators calling for an end to immigrant family detention.
- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops report calling to end family detention.
- Declaration of Luis H. Zayas, Dean of School of Social Work, University of Texas, Austin, testifying to the detrimental impact on child development, psychological health, and well-being of children and families in immigration detention.
- New York Times editorial calling for the end of family detention.
- Comment in The Lancet, detailing the hazards of family detention on refugee children.
- Coalition letter calling on the President to end family detention.
- My statement calling on the Department of Homeland Security to end family detention.
- Fair Immigration Reform Movement coalition letter calling for an end to family detention.