Immigrant Rights Organizations Argue Against Government's Inhumane Family Detention Policies

Feb 25, 2016

Washington, DC –This week, immigrant rights organizations filed an amicus brief explaining how the government has misinterpreted the Flores settlement and failed to comply with Judge Dolly Gee’s August 2015 ruling in the case.  Signing on to that brief were the four CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project partners who are outraged by the continued incarceration of children and mothers who are seeking asylum in the U.S.

AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis noted, “By ignoring the court’s ruling, the government has failed our nation’s founding principles and our moral obligation to offer protection to those seeking refuge. As the volunteer attorneys and staff on the ground with the CARA Project at the Dilley and Karnes City family detention centers see each and every day, the children and mothers are confined for extended periods, receive inadequate medical and psychological care, and are prevented from building their lives anew. The unnecessary and inhumane practice of family detention has gone on far too long and must end.”

Melissa Crow, Legal Director for the American Immigration Council, stated, “The United States Constitution guarantees due process and the Flores settlement requires children to be released without unnecessary delay, but the government is failing miserably on both fronts. The use of fast-track removal proceedings against asylum-seeking children and mothers raises serious due process concerns that often lead to flawed evaluations of their legal claims. Historically, the government has released this vulnerable population and allowed them to pursue their claims for protection outside of detention.  They should do the same now.”

Jonathan Ryan, Executive Director of RAICES, said, “Claims for protection should be heard in full hearings before qualified immigration judges. But instead, the government has continued its coldhearted and callous attempts to rush families through deportation proceedings and back to the dangerous conditions from which they fled. The government’s brief was an attempt to rewrite history while ours shines a bright light into the dark reality of family detention.”

Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of CLINIC, concluded, “As our brief notes, the families held in these detention centers often are put at a severe disadvantage legally, due to factors including language barriers and the effects of severe trauma. CARA Project staff see these extremely traumatized families daily. The Flores settlement and Judge Gee’s recent rulings make clear that the government is unjustified in imprisoning vulnerable women and children -- who fled their homes in crisis -- while they seek asylum. The administration’s claims that detention is a necessary deterrent are unproven, further making the practice unconscionable.”

The brief, which was prepared in collaboration with the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, was also signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Detention Watch Network, Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, and HIAS Pennsylvania.

 

Press inquiries, please contact:

AILA: Belle Woods, bwoods@aila.org, 202-507-7675

Council: Wendy Feliz, wfeliz@immcouncil.org, 202-507-7524

RAICES: Mohammad Abdollahi, mo@raicestexas.org, 210-544-7811

CLINIC: Patricia Zapor, pzapor@cliniclegal.org, 301-565-4830

 

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The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project is a partnership of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council (Council), Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), that provides legal representation and undertakes advocacy on behalf of mothers and children held in federal family detention centers.