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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

One-Third of the Senate Calls for an End to Family Detention

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One-third of the United States Senate (33 members) called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to end the Obama administration's practice of jailing immigrant women and children, and requested that deportation jails only be used in circumstances where there is a serious threat to public safety or an individual is a risk of flight, and where such concerns "cannot be mitigated by alternatives to detention."

Here is the text of the letter:

June 1, 2015

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Johnson:

We appreciate that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acknowledged in itsrecent announcement that the family detention system is in need of oversight and accountability.However, we believe the announced reforms do not go far enough. As many of us expressed toyou in a letter last October, the prolonged detention of asylum-seeking mothers and children whopose no flight risk or danger to the community is unacceptable and goes against our mostfundamental values.

Most of these families have come seeking refuge from three of the most dangerous countries inthe world, countries where women and girls face shocking rates of domestic and sexual violenceand murder. Treating these victims like criminals is wrong. The latest data from the UnitedStates Citizenship and Immigration Service Asylum Division confirm the misguided nature ofthis detention policy, showing that 88% of the families detained across the government's threefamily detention facilities have been found to have legitimate refugee claims by establishing acredible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries.

While these mothers and children wait their turn before an immigration judge, there are manyalternatives to detention that are more humane, cost-efficient, and will keep families together.We are deeply concerned by the growing evidence that detention of young children, particularlythose who have experienced significant trauma, is detrimental to their development and physicaland mental health. That evidence has been reinforced by specific examples of individual childrenin these detention facilities struggling to eat or sleep, and exhibiting signs of serious depression.

We appreciate all that you have done to improve conditions at family detention facilities,however we do not believe there is any system of mass family detention that will work or isconsistent with our moral values and historic commitment to provide safe and humane refuge tothose fleeing persecution. We urge you to end the practice of presumptive detention of familiesand return to the policy of utilizing detention only as a last resort, when there is a serious publicsafety or flight risk that cannot be mitigated by alternatives to detention.

Click here
to download in its entirety courtesy of the ACLU.

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Updated 06-04-2015 at 07:41 AM by MKolken

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