Government empties Florida facility of children following activist pressure
MIAMI, FL (August 3, 2019) – The last migrant children in the detention center in Homestead, FL have left. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for over 100 years – has led a campaign along with organizations in Florida and across the country to shut down the detention center and work to end the practice of detaining migrant children.
“We are immensely relieved and overjoyed that our community will no longer be home to a detention center that has traumatized and harmed children,” said Mariana Martinez, an organizer with AFSC and a resident of Homestead. “And it is time for our community to heal and to invest in jobs that bring sustainability and resources.”
“We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of thousands of people who signed petitions, wrote to their congresspeople, and took to the streets across the country to close the prison camp for children in Homestead,” said Kristin Kumpf, Director of Human Migration and Mobility for AFSC. “Thanks to their help, we were able to deliver over 128,000 petition signatures to the Department of Health and Human Services to successfully shut down Homestead detention center and say never again to the use of facilities like these to imprison children.”
The campaign to shut down Homestead detention center also included actions outside the center with community members, elected officials, and faith leaders, and a letter writing campaign to send messages of hope to the children inside.
The campaign called 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. The campaign also called on these agencies to stop collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security to criminalize and intimidate sponsors for migrant children.
HHS has said that most children were reunited with sponsors, but some have been transferred to other facilities. AFSC is working to end the practice of detaining migrant children.
“As the school year resumes here in Florida, it is time for these children to be in schools and homes instead of prison camps. It’s well past time to end the abusive practice of detaining and deporting migrants seeking a better life for themselves and their communities,” said Lis-Marie Alvarado, community organizer with AFSC. “Closing Homestead detention center is a massive victory in this struggle. We will continue to work to end child detention for good.”
More information will be shared as it becomes available.
To learn more about the campaign to shut down Homestead detention center and end child detention, 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.