For the last year, the Obama administration has been attempting to deter the migration of families faced with historic levels of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras by locking up thousands of mothers, infants, toddlers, children, and teens in administration-defined “family detention” facilities.
This practice is not only immoral, but it is illegal under international and domestic legal norms on the rights of the child. The policy also comes at huge expense – detention contractors are making over $300/day for each woman and child held at these facilities.
The vast majority of those incarcerated are seeking asylum in the United States, and the average age of the children held in these facilities with their young mothers is 6-years-old. The facilities are located in remote locations, two to five hours away from pro-bono legal service providers and their continued detention harms their ability to access legal representation as they navigate the complicated process of seeking asylum in the United States. Mental health experts have also provided evidence demonstrating that the continued incarceration of these young children has a deleterious effect on children’s mental health and cognitive development.
Many of the mothers and children are trauma survivors who are in need of family and community support, support our faith communities stand ready and willing to give. It is in the best interest of these families that they be immediately released to family, sponsors, or if necessary to a community-based case management program, until such time as they are to appear in immigration court.
Join the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Jesuits of the United States and Canada, and the U.S. Bishops in calling for the Obama Administration to end this unnecessary and inhumane practice and immediately release these mothers and children from detention.