Detention of Asylum Seeking Families is an Abuse of Justice
Houston legal services providers and allies condemn the crisis manufactured by Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy; Call on local, state and federal officials to block the indefinite detention of asylum seekers through family detention.
June 22, 2018– Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner publicly opposed a new Houston immigrant children’s facility. The Mayor joins calls by Houston immigrants, legal advocates and service providers to local officials, state representatives, and members of Congress to take explicit action to block considerations for any new immigrant child facilities that are a result of the family separation policy. The proposed facility is the result of the federal practice of tearing apart and imprisoning asylum-seeking families, a practice condemned by the immigrant community, advocates, and people of conscience.
On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order that purports to solve the self-made family separation crisis by detaining families together, a tactic that causes irreparable harm to traumatized children and their parents, who are seeking asylum in the U.S. It is not only immoral, but unlawful and would be in violation of the Flores Settlement of 1997 by allowing the indefinite detention of asylum seeking children.
Kate Vickery, Executive Director, HILSC, said:
“We are in the midst of a manufactured crisis that is creating a false need for new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter in Houston. While the service providers stand ready to help families impacted by family separation and we welcome these families in Houston, we reject the notion that we should enable the build-out of the detention system.
This week, the Mayor seemed to suggest he would be okay with parents and children being detained together, but we strongly believe that asylum seekers should never be imprisoned while seeking refuge in the United States. The detention of families is in the same toolkit as separating families: both are cruel tactics designed to deter immigrants from exercising their rights under national and international law to seek asylum.”
Detention is the biggest hindrance to the exercise of due process rights by immigrants pursuing legal status in the United States. In Houston, only 13% of detained immigrants have legal representation compared to 69% of non-detained immigrants. Detention facilities are far away from Houston (Conroe, Livingston), attorneys wait for hours to see their clients, and have to speak to their clients through thick plexiglass, which makes basic communication, interpretation, and document signing difficult. When an asylum seeker has legal representation, they are 14 times more likely to win their case.
We stand opposed to the detention of asylum seekers and call on Congress, the State of Texas, and the City of Houston to not only oppose family separation and family detention, but the detention of asylum seekers in general.
To learn more about HILSC and its program to provide representation to detained families, visit www.houstonimmigration.org/deportation-defense-houston/
Organizations and individuals aligned with this statement include:
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
YMCA Greater Houston
The Simmons Foundation
Texas Organizing Project
PAIR – Partnership for the Advancement & Immersion of Refugees
Hindus of Greater Houston
Sikhs of Houston
The Jung Center Houston
The Anti-Defamation League, Southwest Region
United We Dream
Kids in Need of Defense
Fe y Justicia Worker Center
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
Center for Advancing Innovative Policy
Tahirih Justice Center
Refugee Services of Texas
TMO, The Metropolitan Organization
Migrant Rights Collective
Justice for Our Neighbors – Houston
The Montrose Center
La Unidad 11
Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS)
Mi Familia Vota
Bonding Against Adversity
Galveston’s Adverse Childhood and Community Experiences Collaborative
Human Rights First
Chinese Community Center
Access Justice Houston
OCA Greater Houston
Casa Juan Diego: The Houston Catholic Worker
Black Lives Matter Houston
Montgomery County Women’s Center
The Modi Law Firm
Pamela Fulbright-Scheyer, Attorney at Law
Teresa Messer, Law Office of Teresa Messer
Justine K. Fanarof, JD, MPH
Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services
Geoffrey Hoffman, Attorney at Law
Virginia C. Angel, JD, MA, LPC
Ruby L. Powers, Powers Law Group, P.C.
Brenda Kirk , Bibles Badges and Business for Immigration Reform
Rosemary Vega, Attorney at Law