We did it! On Saturday, Aug. 3, we got word that the largest detention facility for migrant children in the country – in Homestead, Florida – was empty. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has said that most of the children formerly held there were united with their sponsors and families, while some were transferred to smaller, state-licensed facilities. We are following this as news keeps breaking.
In the meantime, I hope you will let the significance of this sink in. We shut down Homestead detention center – a major win in the struggle to end child detention. And by we, I mean all of us – activists and allies and faith communities and partner organizations. Those who kept vigil outside the center, shouting messages of love and encouragement to the young migrants inside. Those who wrote letters to detained children – and called on Congress to act. Those who took to the streets and those who donated to support our work. And every one of the 128,000 people who added their name to the petition we delivered to the Department of Health and Human Services.
At one point there were more than 3,000 children detained in Homestead. Most of them had fled violence and poverty in Central America and arrived at our border seeking asylum in the United States. And then, instead of being released to family members or other sponsors in the community, they were detained, many of them for months, in an “emergency influx center” that was not subject to many basic standards of care and oversight.
Last spring, we set an ambitious goal that this center should shut down and the children should be with families and sponsors before school begins. We hoped, but we didn’t know that we’d have such an overwhelming response! Thanks to you, many children will now be attending school in the fall.
The struggle is far from over. We need to continue organizing to make sure that not only does Homestead detention center never reopen, but that no more influx facilities open around the country and that there is an end to migrant child detention in this country once and for all. Children should be with people who love them, not held in detention centers.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to share opportunities to take action to help end immigrant detention and deportation and say never again to locking up migrant children in prison camps.
But right now, I want to thank you for the part you played in ensuring that more kids are now in homes and communities where they will receive good care, spaces and support to learn and play, and where they can get a hug when they need one. Thank you for being a part of this vast, vibrant, and diverse movement against injustice.
Tomorrow, we’ll keep up the march against the inhumane treatment of immigrants. As we move onward, Homestead shows that change can happen, and that our contributions together are making the world a better place. I cannot thank you enough for your support and your contributions.