This week, the internet saw photos from across the world with the #EndFamilyDetention hashtag go viral. The movement to expose and end the rampant human rights abuses of “family detention” has been heard globally.
Today, we visited with Brian J. Hoffman, volunteer and former Lead Attorney on the CARA Pro Bono project about the campaign.
How did this campaign start? What has the response of the public been?
The selfie campaign started because some of our clients were getting really depressed after being given incorrect information that they could be detained for more than a year. We wanted to show them that America is not like the ICE officers who came and took them from their homes and put them in jail. We wanted to show them that our America cares about refugee women and children and knows that they don’t deserve to be in jail, and that what’s happening to them is unjust and morally repulsive. The Facebook pages of many of our staff and current and former volunteers have been really blowing up with all kinds of support, from young children to grandmothers, from all over the US to the Mexico-Guatemala border region.
Has there been an international response to this issue/campaign?
The international response has been thanks to allies in refugee shelters around the continent who have helped spread the word that refugees in confinement here need support and encouragement not to give up their cases in the face of so many rumors, some of which we think are spread deliberately to discourage them.
Why is this issue of public importance?
This issue is of critical public importance first and foremost because what the government is doing here is morally reprehensible, but it is also unjust, violates a court order, and is completely the opposite of how an open and free democracy like America is morally and legally obligated to behave.
What can folks do to help?
Right now we are asking everyone to take a photo with a message that both encourages the refugee families who were the victims of the ICE raids not to give up their fight for freedom and safety, and that also tells the government that we will not stand for the detention of women and kids. Family detention must end, and the government must be held accountable for the harm it has inflicted on these kids and moms. Some of these refugees will have permanent psychological scars from what the U.S. has done to them, and someone needs to respond for these injuries.