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May 31, 2015

Faith Groups, White House Staff Meet On Family Detention

The White House Staff and a group of faith leaders met to discuss an end to family detention on May 21, 2015. The group delivered a letter signed by nearly 1,500 faith leaders from around the country.

This is in response to the U.S. government’s move to reinstate family detention in response to the arrival of 68,684 family units at the U.S./Mexico border in 2014.

“The overwhelming majority of these children and mothers are asylum seekers who fled unspeakable violence and are searching for safe-haven within our borders,” Very Rev. Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of the U.S. and Canada pointed out. “These families are not flight risks, they quite obviously pose no danger to our communities.”

“We believe that family detention allows private prison corporations to profit off of migrants’ desperation,” stated Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation. “We call for an end to all family detention—it is dehumanizing and it inhibits access to legal assistance. We’ve also seen that it damages physical, mental and familial health. And, worst of all, it is completely unnecessary.”

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness said, “Instead of offering protection and opportunities to pursue their asylum cases, we have locked them up en masse, replicating the trauma from which they flee.”

"Over the next two weeks, Sisters of Mercy ask the Obama administration to take immediate actions to end the shameful policy of incarcerating refugee woman and children,” said Sr. Patricia McDermott, President of the Sister of Mercy of the Americas.

“Mass detention shatters families and traumatizes children,” argued Lawrence Couch, Director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. “The extension of time for agreement in the court case on family detention means these women and children will continue to suffer.”

Rev. Dr. Ron Degges, President of Disciples Home Missions said, “We have prayed, visited, and supported the spiritual care of these vulnerable populations, and continue to urge the Obama administration to turn away from the practice of family detention, which locks up children in unlicensed facilities often run by for-profit prison companies.”

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