Photo Credit: Kino Border Initiative
Family detention has been one of the worst moral stains of the last two administrations. In the years since President Obama reintroduced the practice in 2014, thousands of families with children have been confined in prison-like settings, simply for seeking asylum at our borders. On the campaign trail, President Biden acknowledged that this practice was one of the worst mistakes of the administration he served, and he pledged to end it fully once in office.
So far, however, he has still not delivered on this promise. While the Biden/Harris team have made steps in the right direction, they have not completely shut down the three family detention centers in Dilley and Karnes, Texas and Berks, Pennsylvania. Yet, the need to do so has only become more urgent. The COVID-19 pandemic has made all forms of detention and confinement even more deadly. Winter storms and climate-fueled disasters have exacerbated dangerous conditions in detention centers in Texas and throughout the South.
It is not enough just to use these facilities less frequently or to rebrand them as “reception centers” while they continue to serve the same fundamental purpose of detaining families and asylum-seekers. No one should be confined in deadly conditions just for crossing the border or seeking safety, least of all families with children. Of course, some who profit from family detention will tell us that these travesties are inevitable. But this is clearly not the case. The family detention system did not even exist 10 years ago. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only started locking up families again in 2014, and they can end the practice just as quickly.
Families can and should be released to pursue their asylum claims in freedom. Join us in calling on DHS to #EndFamilyDetention by signing our petition below.
You can also hear directly from formerly-detained families about their experiences and take further action by following the #ShutDownBerks campaign’s YouTube channel.