Family Detention News

Unfortunately, President Obama has requested Judge Dolly Gee to reconsider her decision that family detention must end, signaling the administration intends to appeal her ruling.  Please feel free to circulate NJFON’s response:  

We urge the White House to accept Judge Dolly Gee’s decision and to end family detention immediately. Family detention is immoral, unnecessary, and costly.  Instead of focusing on improving the unjust policy of detaining women and children who seek safety here, we must prioritize providing them access to legal representation so their cases can be heard. Our national network of immigration attorneys and volunteers stand ready to provide the legal assistance our immigrant brothers and sisters deserve.

Shocking Details Released on the Conditions inside Family Detention Centers on the Heels of Judge Gee’s Ruling 

Our Program and Advocacy Manager Melissa Bowe shared her insights on the issue.

Melissa and JFON Members march against Family Detention in Dilley, Texas.
Melissa and JFON Members march against Family Detention in Dilley, Texas.

I recently attended a panel organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and House Judiciary Democrats who were invited to assist in the investigation of the psychological, developmental and legal implications of current family detention policies. I have to be honest—I have been working towards ending family detention for some time now (check out my blog post on JFON’s trip to Dilley) but the testimony I heard shocked me.

Olivia Lopez, a whistleblower who is a licensed social worker and was hired to supervise other social workers and maintain a full client caseload, told members of Congress that she witnessed rampant abuse and neglect while working at the privatized family detention center in Karnes City, Texas. I watched as she earnestly spoke about how the Karnes facility isolated small children in the medical ward for “behavior modification,” how nurses falsified medical reports, how she was reprimanded for showing women a map of the United States, and that she was prohibited from taking any client notes because Karnes didn’t want a paper trail.

We also learned in more detail of the lack of sufficient medical care mothers and children receive in these facilities when advocates lodged formal complaints on behalf of 10 women with the DHS Offices for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Inspector General. The complaints reference medical access and ethics issues rampant throughout these facilities.

TDilley compassion not detention 02he congressional forum and formal complaints come days after a federal judge in California ruled that the Obama administration can no longer lock up migrant children with their mothers. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found that the administration’s family detention policy violates an 18-year-old court settlement regarding the detention of migrant children.  

While this news from the White House is discouraging, we will continue to fight this despicable practice until it ends. The “End Family Detention” selfies that so many of you submitted are one example of what we’re doing together to make our voices heard. Check out the collage that the General Board of Church and Society put together and share it on social media! We also encourage you to share hashtags such as: #EndFamilyDetention #Not1More #NoDHSAppeal.

Thank you for standing by these immigrant mothers and children in detention.  We will continue to provide opportunities for you to bring compassion back in to our nation’s immigration policies.