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Groups outraged over detention of children and families
November 20, 2014

Groups outraged over detention of children and families

(Washington, D.C.) November 20, 2014 — As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child today, the U.S. has embarked on the largest family detention program since Japanese Internment. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA joins others in expressing outrage over the detention of children on the International Detention Coalition's Day of Action demanding an end to child detention.  

The Obama Administration’s alarmingly punitive expansion of family detention is in response to the recent arrival of Central American women and children asylum seekers fleeing violence in their home countries.

Central American women and children arriving to the U.S. are fleeing violence, trafficking, domestic abusers and other critical dangers, forcing them to leave their home countries. The trauma they are fleeing is only further exacerbated upon arriving to the U.S. by being locked up in detention centers.

"Detention Watch Network condemns family detention, and demands an end to this inhumane policy that puts women and children at risk," said Silky Shah, Co-Director of the Detention Watch Network. "Funds should be directed towards refugee resettlement services and legal resources to ensure due process for families and safe living environments for children."

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA believes the U.S. should live up to its tradition of fairness and generosity toward refugees and migrants, and uphold international standards for the treatment of those seeking refuge in this country.

The government's response to incarcerate women and children in family detention centers puts their mental and physical health in jeopardy. Studies have shown that detention poses a serious threat to psychological health, further aggravating isolation, depression and mental health problems for those fleeing trauma.

Unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries do have some protections in the U.S. However, to understand the current situation and why those protections are being threatened, one must remember that the system for unaccompanied children was designed to handle about 8,000 children per year, the annual average until recently. Estimates for this year indicate that the final number may exceed 90,000. 

While the U.S. has increased immigration enforcement resources enormously over the last decade, the legal system that processes cases has been underfunded, resulting in a serious backlog of 366,000 cases and an average wait time of more than 570 days.

The U.S. has the resources and ability to provide refuge for the families arriving at the border. Funds should be directed towards refugee resettlement services and legal resources to ensure due process for families. For families without housing, the government should partner with non-profit shelter or child welfare organizations experienced in supporting asylum seeking and immigrant families. 

Related information on the Jesuit response to this issue can be found here.

The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.

To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. JRS advocates for just and generous policies and programs for the benefit of victims of forced displacement, so that those made vulnerable by exile can receive support and protection and durable solution to their plight can be achieved. 

JRS/USA witnesses to God’s presence in vulnerable and often forgotten people driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of their human rights. 

As one of the ten geographic regions of Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS/USA serves as the major refugee outreach arm of U.S. Jesuits and their institutional ministries, mobilizing their response to refugee situations in the U.S. and abroad. Through our advocacy and fund raising efforts, JRS/USA provides support for the work of JRS throughout the world.  

JRS/USA gives help, hope, ear and voice to vulnerable people on the move by being present to and bearing witness to their plight; by relieving their human suffering and restoring hope; by addressing the root causes of their displacement and improving international responses to refugee situations. 

In addition, JRS/USA inspires the Ignatian family and others to respond together to the needs of refugees and displaced persons worldwide and forges strong partnerships with like-minded institutions and agencies devoted to the cause of refugees and displaced persons.

JRS works in more than 50 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of approximately 950,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.

Approximately 280,000 children, young people and adults receive primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education services each year. JRS places the highest priority on ensuring a better future for refugees by investing heavily in education and training. Further, JRS undertakes advocacy to ensure all displaced children be provided with access to quality education. JRS services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

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Mr Christian Fuchs