Last Friday, amidst the growing attention to the humanitarian crisis of children crossing the border alone, the Obama Administration announced it will expand the use of detention facilities for families. The growing violence in Central America that has forced families with children to make the perilous journey to seek safe haven in America has already overwhelmed a badly broken immigration system.
Families with children who have undertaken a dangerous and traumatic journey seeking safety are among the most vulnerable individuals in the United States and they deserve to be embraced in our homes, our churches, and our communities. Placing children and families in jails or jail-like settings is extremely costly, inhumane, and fails to recognize the dignity inherent in all persons. In 2007, LIRS and the Women’s Refugee Commission released “Locking Up Family Values: The Detention of Immigrant Families,” a report which investigated the jailing of immigrant families in the T. Don Hutto Residential Treatment Center in Taylor, TX and the Berks County Shelter Care Facility in Leesport, PA. It documented disturbing incidents where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to meet the basic needs of families in its custody.
Alternatives to detention, like those outlined in the 2007 LIRS report, “Unlocking Liberty: A New Way Forward for US Detention Policy,” are a more just and compassionate substitute to placing families in detention. They have also been demonstrated to effectively serve the interests of the government in upholding the law while also protecting due process and ensuring immigrants have a fair chance for justice.
LIRS has consistently called for the Obama Administration to seek solutions to this humanitarian migration crisis that uphold family values, due process, and the rights and dignity of the women and children whose lives are at risk. These families braved treacherous journeys to flee violence and crime in Central America and must be treated fairly in ways that exemplify American values of offering protection.
Our faith compels us to speak out and to act in ways that demonstrate God’s love for all people. Please consider taking a moment to contact your Congressperson either through the LIRS Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to let him or her know that people of faith stand with these women and children for the fair and humane treatment of all vulnerable migrants and refugees.
Thank you for standing for welcome.