The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice are among 188 secular and faith-based organizations signing a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union to President Barack Obama, asking for an end to the detention of families seeking asylum in the U.S., addressing the damage it causes to detainees:
Since the expansion of family detention a year ago, growing evidence continues to demonstrate that mothers and children detained in the Karnes County (TX), Dilley (TX), and Berks County (PA) family detention facilities are largely seeking protection in the United States. Detention has had a traumatic impact on the mental health and well-being of these families, and on children in particular, especially given the trauma they have already faced in Central America. These mental health effects are compounded where families have suffered detention that is prolonged and indefinite in nature.
Citing a 2009 case in which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responded to litigation and protest by ceasing family detention in a Texas center, and a February 2015 national injunction against family detention issued by a district court in Washington, D.C., the letter’s major points include:
Families must not be subject to detention except in exceptional circumstances.
Families must receive full due process at the border.
Families should not be detained for purposes of deterrence.
Families should not be separated.
DHS should use other tools besides detention to mitigate flight risk where there is a demonstrated concern.
The 188 “immigrants’ rights, faith-based, civil rights, human rights, survivors’ rights, and criminal justice reform organizations, international educators, and legal service providers” that signed the letter include a widely ecumenical list of organizations including, at the national/international level:
The Alliance of Baptists; Bend the Arc Jewish Action; the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office; the Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness; Church World Service; the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Disciples Home Missions, U.S. and Canada; Disciples Women, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); the Franciscan Action Network; the Jesuit Conference, National Advocacy Office of the Jesuits of the United States; the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; Lutheran Refugee and Immigration Service; Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Sisters of Mercy South Central Community; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
The entire letter can be read here.
Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett