Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers issued a report in which it unanimously concluded that “detention is generally neither appropriate nor necessary for families.” Without a doubt, the harsh treatment of asylum seeking families, as described in the report, is consistent with what the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Immigration Council (Council) and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) have witnessed and experienced through our efforts to provide representation to families detained by DHS in Dilley, Texas. We urge DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to heed his agency’s own advisors and swiftly adopt these recommendations.
We commend the Committee for its diligent efforts to carefully investigate the inhumane practice of detaining mothers and children and for making recommendations that would help ensure all families seeking protection in the United States have access to justice and due process.
In its report, the Committee expresses frustration with DHS’s lack of transparency with respect to essential data and information about family detention operations, including length of detention, the credentials of staff providing medical and mental health care, and processes to communicate with rare language speakers. We hope that DHS will use this opportunity to substantially improve its data collection and transparency.
The report additionally makes the following recommendations:
The Committee’s report should serve as a wake-up call for DHS. When a handpicked panel of experts lists page after page of examples of where the government has been derelict in its duties to vulnerable mothers and children seeking refuge, something needs to change. Family detention is incompatible with our country’s laws and values, and it must end.
Source: Catholic Charities