100,000+ signatures will be delivered in support of immigrant youth in detention
WASHINGTON DC (June 11, 2019) As outrage is growing over a privately-run detention center for young people in Homestead, Fl, people are taking to the streets to demand action from the federal government. On June 12, hundreds will gather for a rally and press conference, followed by a march to the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver over 100,000 petition signatures calling for the detention center to be shut down. The press conference will begin at 2pm at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC. It will also be livestreamed here.
“Policy makers here in DC are responsible for thousands of children who are being indefinitely detained in Florida,” said Kristin Kumpf, Director of Human Migration and Mobility for the American Friends Service Committee. “Children belong in schools and homes, not in prison camps. That’s why we are calling on the Office of Refugee Resettlement to shut down the detention center and instead focus on reuniting families and connecting children with sponsors.”
The Homestead detention center holds more than 2,500 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 Washington D.C., in Florida, and across the country to shut down the detention center and end the practice of detaining migrant children.
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 (DHS) to criminalize and intimidate sponsors for migrant children.
The campaign is also calling on congress to prohibit the use of emergency influx facilities and to bar HHS from sharing information with DHS that might lead to the arrest of potential sponsors. Already some Congresspeople have taken up this cause, introducing both the Shut Down Child Prisons Camps Act and the Families Not Facilities Act.
Speakers at the rally include Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary, AFSC; Rev. Adam Taylor, Executive Director, Sojourners; Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and Rev. Katie Romano, Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist; Rabbi Hannah Goldstein, Temple Sinai; Maria Asuncion-Bilbao and Lily Montalvan, United We Dream; and Alex Kohn, Where Are The Children?, an 11th grade student at Oakland Mills High School, MD.
“Detention is extremely traumatizing for young people,” 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 event in Washington, DC is part of a week of action to end child detention, with events happening across the country from June 9-16. On the final day, thousands of people from Florida and across the country will converge in Homestead for a rally at the detention center.
For ongoing updates on the campaign, visit: https://migrantjustice.afsc.org/
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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.