178 House Democrats to DHS: End Family Detention Now

July 31, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter signed by 178 members of Congress today,  House Democrats called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end its controversial Family Detention Program.

The letter (pdf), led by U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), comes on the heels of a U.S. District Court ruling late last week that the detention of immigrant women and children violated terms of the 1997 Flores Settlement, and urges DHS to "take all necessary and appropriate steps to bring the Department's practices in line with the settlement agreement and the recent court ruling."

The letter notes the "strong evidence that such detention is detrimental to mothers and children and is not reflective of our Nation's values," and that now "is long past time to end family detention."

Full text of the letter is below (Spanish language copy is attached):

Dear Secretary Johnson:

In May of this year, 136 Members of Congress wrote to you to express serious concern regarding the Department of Homeland Security's detention of thousands of mothers and children in secure, jail-like facilities.  The purpose of the letter was to alert you to the strong evidence that such detention is detrimental to mothers and children and is not reflective of our Nation's values.  The detained population is largely comprised of refugees fleeing violence and persecution, many of whom have serious medical and mental health needs that have been inadequately addressed in custody.  You were urged to end the use of family detention.

Last Friday, a federal judge issued a ruling finding that the Department's family detention practices constitute a material breach of a Court-approved class-wide settlement agreement.  Flores v. Johnson, CV 85-4544 (C.D. Cal. July 24, 2015).  Judge Dolly M. Gee found that the Department's decision to house children in secure facilities that are not licensed by any State agency to care for dependent children violated the 20-year-old Flores settlement agreement.  The court also rejected the Department's request to amend that settlement agreement in lieu of remedying the numerous violations.

It is long past time to end family detention.  In light of this recent federal court ruling, we urge you take all necessary and appropriate steps to bring the Department's practices in line with the settlement agreement and the recent court ruling.

Signed: U.S. Reps. Lofgren, Gutierrez, Roybal-Allard, Conyers, Adam Smith, Beyer, Norton, Brady (PA), Deutch, Chu, Lee, Langevin, Loretta Sanchez, Gallego, Ellison, Sires,  Jackson Lee, Lujan Grisham, Quigley, Lieu, Cummings, Hank Johnson,  Farr, O'Rourke, Capps, McGovern, Doggett, DeGette, Napolitano, Kennedy, Frankel, Van Hollen, Tonko, Sablan, Bass, Takano, Nadler, Richmond, Cardenas, Blumenauer, Titus, Engel, Larson, Grijalva, Wilson, Welch, Serrano, Kaptur, Edwards, Cohen, McCollum, Esty, Eshoo, Becerra, Grayson,  Kilmer, Clark, Hinojosa, DeLauro, Vargas, Ruiz, Castro, Fattah, Carson, Linda Sanchez, Watson Coleman, Meng, Crowley, Swalwell, Danny Davis, Matsui, Norcross, Schakowsky, Brownley, Slaughter, Clarke, Al Green, Polis, Lujan, Cicilline, Capuano, Yarmuth, Hoyer, Gene Green, Aguilar, Honda, Murphy, Moore, Hahn, Corrine Brown, Rangel, Vela, Castor, Torres, Butterfield, Bishop, Clyburn, Connolly, Susan Davis, DeSaulnier, Fudge, Hastings, Huffman, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Kildee, Lewis, Lowenthal, Lowey, Maloney, McDermott, McNerney, Meeks, Neal, Nolan, Pallone, Payne, Pingree, Plaskett, Bobby Scott, Sewell, Thompson, Veasey, Velazquez, DelBene, Kind, Duckworth, Schiff, Dingell, Takai, Kelly, Israel, Wasserman Schultz, Carney, Ruppersburger, Jeffries, Sinema, Gabbard, Beatty, Garamendi, Bordallo, Clay, Keating, Bennie Thompson, Tsongas, Waters, Pascrell, Tim Ryan, Pocan, Scott Peters, Pelosi, Sherman, Foster, Adams, Kuster, Bishop, Bonamici, Bordallo, Costa, Bera, Lawrence, Levin, Rush, Spier, Cartwright, Loesback, Sarbanes, Doyle, Ashford, Pierlusi, Perlmutter.

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