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House Democrats: There Is No Humane Way to Detain Families

May 27, 2015 — Calling for an end to family detention, 136 House Democrats today sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson citing serious harm to mothers and children. The letter was led by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

The following is a statement by the Women’s Refugee Commission: 

Too often when women and children cross our border seeking refuge from violence in their home countries, they are not welcomed or afforded due process but detained in jail-like facilities by the United States government. This is contradictory to our national values. 

The Women’s Refugee Commission applauds the leadership by House Democrats to call for an end to family detention. As cited in their letter to Secretary Johnson today, inadequate medical care and the impact of detention on children are among the many endemic problems that render family detention an inappropriate setting for refugee women and children. WRC has frequently documented the trauma that detention inflicts on already traumatized people and repeatedly found that there is no humane way to detain families.

The Department of Homeland Security must end use of family detention. While many families can be released to sponsors in the community, where needed the government can and should turn to community-based alternatives that facilitate access to social and legal services.

We agree with House Democrats that the only solution is for the Department of Homeland Security to end the use of family detention.