Detention of refugee women and children over the last thirteen or fourteen months at Artesia, Berks, Karnes, and Dilley was immoral, unconstitutional, a violation of international law, contrary to the fourteen-year old Flores settlement, and the cause of tremendous unnecessary suffering. The only people who benefitted from this human rights travesty were the private prison profiteers, who earned $300 dollars a day per incarcerated refugee.
I am overjoyed that U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee validated what we knew all along; I am very grateful to the entire Flores litigation team. We urge President Obama and Secretary Johnson to gracefully concede that family detention has been a huge mistake and implement Judge Gee’s order at once. It’s way past time to replace enKarneseration with enFloresment of the 2001 decree…
There’s lots left to do: 1) represent refugee families as they pursue their asylum claims in immigration courts; 2) support refugees as they try to recover from trauma and negotiate unfamiliar communities and systems; 3) work with indigenous, Mayan-language speaking women and their communities to create clear and accurate self-advocacy materials; 4) provide material aid to the refugees still fleeing Central America; 5) understand the causes of the violence and persecution that are driving people away.
We will resist “out-carceration”: the unjustified criminalization and superfluous surveillance of refugees through ankle bracelets and electronic monitoring. Shaming refugees has nothing to do with community safety or showing up for court. What is at stake are the profits of private corporations looking to make easy money, exploiting the bodies of people who are structurally vulnerable though personally courageous.