Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

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Judge Rules against Jailing Refugee Children

July 29, 2015

Last week, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration has to stop housing refugee children in jail-like conditions.

This decision could spell the end of family detention — but the Obama administration challenged the initial ruling, and it could continue to appeal it if we don’t act now.

Administration officials have one week to decide whether to appeal the judge’s ruling. As long as they tie this up in court, the fate of these families is up in the air.

Most people are shocked to learn how the United States treats families seeking political asylum: they’re imprisoned in jail-like detention camps where suicide attempts, abusive treatment, and malnourishment are documented realities.

For months, human rights and immigration activists like you have called on the Obama administration to end the practice of detaining children.

I’ve visited the camps these families are stuck in. I’ve met the children. They came to us for safety, and we’ve traumatized them once more.

Their parents haven’t broken any law — they’ve fled death threats and abuse, and they’ve sought refuge from the unchecked violence enveloping Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. And most have passed their initial asylum screenings, which means the Obama administration (DHS) should release them and their families while they await their hearings. Yet DHS has kept these families on lockdown. And as long as DHS keeps appealing and disputing this ruling, women and children who pose no flight risk will stillbe jailed until their final hearings — some forced indiscriminately to wear GPS ankle tracking devices.

The court’s decision has given us the tools we need to end family detention and win more humane treatment of asylum seekers. This is our moment. We can get them to listen.

It just breaks your heart to see children suffering in circumstances like this. Their physical, mental, and emotional development is at stake, and we don’t have a moment to waste.

Thanks for putting your beliefs into action.

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