Watch via @WRCommission: Locking Up Family Values – The Detention of Immigrant Families
The Women’s Refugee Commission has been working to ensure the rights and protection of vulnerable migrants for almost two decades. In 2006, we visited both of the family detention centers and talked with detained families, as well as former detainees. We found that some families with young children, most of them under the age of 12, had been detained for up to two years. Conditions at the Texas facility were particularly dire. Children as young as six years old were separated from their parents at night. Separation and threats of separation were used as disciplinary tools. Children received just one hour of schooling per day, and families had too little time to feed their children and themselves — children were frequently sick from the food and losing weight. Families received extremely limited indoor and outdoor recreation time and children did not have any soft toys. In 2007, WRC, along with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, issued a report recommending systemic changes to the U.S. government’s treatment of families in immigration proceedings. The American Civil Liberties Union used the report as a basis for a lawsuit. WRC worked with ICE to improve conditions. In a significant victory, the Texas facility is no longer used for families, and the Pennsylvania center is used only as a last resort.