Author: Emma Buckhout
Maria Rosa fled Honduras with her 9-year-old son, Yoandri, to escape brutal domestic violence. Yet, when they arrived at the U.S. border seeking protection, they were subjected to a different kind of cruelty. Maria and Yoandri were locked up in the family detention center in Karnes, Texas with hundreds of other women and children. They thought they would never make it out—her son was miserable, Maria got very sick, even the tap water was undrinkable. Her son threatened to jump off the roof if they had to stay incarcerated any longer. Finally, after six long months in these traumatic conditions, Maria and her son were granted asylum and released. However, thousands of mothers and children that remain locked away in Karnes and other detention sites are fighting for dignity and protection.
Mothers and children fleeing violence deserve protection not detention. A letter demanding an end to family detention is circulating in the House of Representatives today—tell your Representative to sign on now!
Maria is one of the thousands of migrants who in the past year have fled spiraling poverty, direct threats, and systemic violence in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico to seek protection for themselves and their families. Data from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services shows that about 75% of families being detained have a “credible fear” of persecution in their home countries. These families do not deserve to be treated as criminals and revictimized in detention centers while they await asylum decisions.
On behalf of the mothers she left behind in detention, Maria joined members of Congress and advocates in a press conference this morning to demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) end family detention in the United States immediately. As Maria said, “we are not criminals, nor are our children,” and vulnerable migrants should not be treated as such. There is no humane way to detain families and children. DHS should use humane and affordable alternatives for families as they await the outcome of their asylum claims, and end its family detention program immediately.