People with luggage walkingAs children and their families flee extreme violence in Central America, our government has failed to offer critical protection by deferring their asylum requests. Instead, families are being confined to detention centers.

After a child has been separated from their parents by U.S. Customs and Border Protection they are detained as an Unaccompanied Child for no more than 72 hours

Family Detention: the practice of holding immigrant families with the children in prison-like detention centers. These families are largely asylum-seekers fleeing their homes from extreme cases of violence, domestic and sexual assault, and gang and police abuse.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security maintains that the detention of families coming from Central America is necessary to deter others for making the same journey. But the prospect of detention will not deter those who flee for their lives and seek safety for their children.

Do Asylum Seekers have rights?

Yes. They have rights under both international and U.S. law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory, states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

Currently, asylum seekers are being turned away at our borders at and between ports of entry. Section 208 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act allows people to apply for asylum no matter how they entered the U.S. Prosecuting asylum seekers for their manner of entry violates U.S. obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention and Protocol.

Furthermore, prosecuted asylum seekers currently face rushed sentencing in an assembly-line court and often have little to no opportunity to gather evidence of credible fear for their cases.

Additionally, while President Trump’s recent Executive Order halts family separation, it allows the continuance of indefinite family detention, in which both children and their families will be held for indefinite lengths of time. This condition undermines the Flores Agreement which dictates that migrant children may not be held for longer than 20 days in government detention facilities.

There are many alternatives to family detention, such as releasing individuals on their own recognizance, on parole, to a sponsor or family member in the U.S. or to a community support program. Alternatives to detention that are currently used boast nearly-perfect compliance rates and range in cost from only 17 cents per day to $17.78 per day per person.

How you can help:

  • Call your elected officials to speak out against family separation and detention
  • Consider becoming a foster parent to an unaccompanied child
  • Get involved in detention visitation in your local community

Source: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)

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