PRESS STATEMENT – Indefinitely Jailing Children is a Threat to Basic Family Values and Human Dignity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2018
Today, the White House issued regulations that would dismantle the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) that provides protections for children who arrive at our borders unaccompanied or with their families. The draft regulations would allow children and families to be held in detention indefinitely in unlicensed facilities that do not meet the current minimum standards for keeping children safe.
The new regulations cite family detention as an “effective enforcement tool,” but since 2004, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has closely monitored the conditions in family detention centers and the findings are appalling. Our reports show that detention traumatizes families, undermines the basic family structure, and has a devastating psycho-social impact on children.
Indefinite detention presents a threat to basic family values and human dignity; it ignores the United States’ own child welfare standards that call for individuals to be placed in the least restrictive setting and the right to be processed expeditiously.
“LIRS remains deeply concerned about the well-being of children and families under the President’s new directive,” said Kay Bellor, Vice President for Programs at LIRS. “These children have already suffered so much. After escaping unthinkable violence and making the difficult journey to seek asylum in the United States, these vulnerable children would then be detained indefinitely under these new regulations. It’s hard to imagine the long-lasting trauma this would inflict on these children.”
The Lutheran community, and communities of faith throughout the United States, have a long-standing commitment to family preservation and the protection of children. We deeply oppose any decisions that would unnecessarily harm children or the family structure.
This attempt to dismantle protections for children cannot move forward. LIRS calls on Congress to preserve the integrity of U.S. immigration policy, and fulfill our duty as Americans to protect the basic safety and health of children and asylum-seeking families.
For more than a decade, LIRS has been monitoring and advocating for children and families seeking asylum at our southern border. In 2007, LIRS published Locking Up Family Values detailing the practice of family immigration detention. In 2014, LIRS published Locking Up Family Values Again drawing attention to the renewed use and abuse of families at the border as an increasing number of families and children fled violence in Central America. Then in 2017, LIRS worked with coalition partners to publish a new report entitled Betraying Family Values that brought the matter of family separation to the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ultimately resulting in the submission of a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security.
Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through nearly 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.