PRESS RELEASE
Contact(s):
Jan Dragin, Dragin Communications, cell: 339-236-0679, 24/7; Paul Twitchell, UUSC Communications Director, work: 617-301-4355. San Antonio: Mike Phillips, COPS/Metro leader and Board Chair, Texas UU Justice Ministry, 210-254-0745, mcmphillips@yahoo.com.

Texas interfaith leaders and grassroots activists will join international human rights agency the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) this Friday, May 8, in petitioning the Obama administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end its policy of jailing refugee children and their mothers in detention facilities in the Southwest.

UUSC will deliver the petition simultaneously to the White House and to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña in Washington, D.C. At the same time, a coalition of interfaith advocates will deliver the petition to officials at the ICE field office in San Antonio, Texas.

In a gathering at the ICE San Antonio office, UUSC Associate Director for Justice Building Pamela Sparr will join members of San Antonio’s C.O.P.S./Metro coalition (Communities Organized for Public Service and the Metro Alliance); the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry (TXUUJM); local Presbyterian, Catholic and other clergy; representatives of San Antonio–based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and other organizations.

A press conference will follow the petition delivery in San Antonio.

The national petition states, “Jail is no place for children. It is morally unacceptable that hundreds of refugee children and their mothers are currently being imprisoned in detention camps in the Southwestern United States.”

WHEN:

Friday, May 8, 2015,9:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Washington, D.C.
and
9:30 a.m. Central Time, San Antonio, Texas

WHO, WHAT, WHERE:

Delivery of a national petition to President Barack Obama

Calling for an end to the imprisonment of children in detention centers in the U.S.

In Washington:

Delivery of petition signatures to

The White House
and to
The office of ICE Director Sarah Saldaña

In San Antonio, Texas

The national petition will be delivered by Texas interfaith organizations and international human rights agency UUSC to:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) San Antonio field office 
8940 Fourwinds Drive
San Antonio, TX 78239

Press Conference following in front of the ICE San Antonio office:

10:00 a.m. Central Time

Press conference moderator:
Rev. Chuck Freeman, Executive Director, Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry

Comments by:
Pamela Sparr, Associate Director for Justice Building, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Cambridge, Mass.

 

BACKGROUND

Hundreds of refugee children and their mothers are being imprisoned for many months in for-profit detention camps in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, even though many have qualified for release on bail, prior to hearings on their applications as asylum seekers. “The bonds being set by ICE have been egregiously high,” says UUSC’s Pamela Sparr, “too high for most of the women to afford.

“They are jailed, and they and their children languish like common prisoners,” she said.

UUSC has reported undernourishment and sickness among children in the camps, sporadic schooling, overcrowded living conditions and restrictive conditions not supportive for optimal small child development.

“These conditions are a violation of the basic dignity and human rights of both innocent children and mothers, who came to the U.S. to escape violence in their home countries of Central America,” said Sparr.

“An increasing number of U.S. residents are joining us in calling on President Obama to release these imprisoned children,” she said.

The New York Times recently reported on the camps under the headline, “The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps.”

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), commemorating its 75th anniversary this year, is a human rights organization powered by grassroots collaboration, working throughout the United States and more than a dozen other countries worldwide. Since 1940, UUSC has fostered social, economic and environmental justice, protected civil liberties, worked toward a world free from oppression, delivered aid with dignity, and advanced the rights of people left behind during conflicts and natural disasters.

Communities Organized for Public Service (C.O.P.S.) and the Metro Alliance of San Antonio are a coalition of congregations, schools and unions working on behalf of children, families and neighborhoods.