MIAMI, FL (May 21, 2019) Outrage is growing over a privately-run detention center in Homestead, Fl. The Homestead detention center holds more than 2000 teenagers, most of whom have fled violence and poverty in Central America and are seeking asylum. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for over 100 years – is working with organizations in Florida and across the country to shut down the detention center and end the practice of detaining migrant children.
“Detention traumatizes and harms both children and adults,” explains Mariana Martinez, an organizer with the American Friends Service Committee and a resident of Homestead. “It funnels money to private corporations and tears apart families and communities. The people of Homestead don’t want an economy based in the abuse of children. Instead of investing in suffering and despair, we want investment in jobs that bring sustainability and resources.”
The campaign is calling on the leadership of the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to close the detention center and stop using emergency influx facilities – instead ORR should work as quickly as possible to unite children with their sponsors. They are also calling on these agencies to stop collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security to criminalize and intimidate sponsors for migrant children.
“The Trump administration is manufacturing the need to detain children,” said Kristin Kumpf, Director of Human Migration and Mobility for AFSC. “And conditions in the detention center are bad and getting worse. Children belong in schools and homes, not in prison camps. That’s why we are calling on ORR to stop using the ‘emergency influx’ model and instead focus on reuniting families and connecting children with sponsors.”
The campaign is also asking for action from Congress through a children’s letter writing campaign. Young people across the country will be writing letters to their congresspeople urging them to do all they can to shut down the Homestead detention center and end child detention.
The campaign will culminate on June 16, when thousands of people from Florida and across the country will converge in Homestead as part of a national week of action. For ongoing updates on the campaign, visit: https://migrantjustice.afsc.org/
# # #
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.