Stein Calls for Immediate Closure of Immigrant Family Detention Centers as Sites of Legalized Child Abuse

October 30th, Lexington, Massachusetts

Dr. Jill Stein, who is seeking the Green Party nomination for the president, today called for immediate shutdown of family detention centers for immigrants, describing them as a form of child abuse.

Stein said that the US needs to celebrate the contributions that immigrants have and are continuing to make to the well-being of this country, and to provide a fair, expedited path to citizenship. She called for a halt in the deportations of law-abiding undocumented immigrants. 

“Our nation of immigrants desperately needs a just immigration system to protect the rights of people who came to the United States to find life, liberty, and happiness,” noted Stein.

“Both Democrats and Republicans have criminalized and brutalized immigrant families, perpetuating an unjust immigration system that makes millions of our neighbors vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. We need immigration reform that won’t allow the economic elite to divide working people and turn us against each other anymore. We will create a fair and welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants and secure justice and human rights for all residents of the United States’” she added.

Continuing, Stein said, “As a first priority, we must close the shameful detention centers. These families and children are seeking asylum from war, gang violence and poverty resulting from U.S. drug wars, illegal military and CIA interventions, and predatory trade agreements. The children have endured the destruction of their communities and the trauma of migrating to the US. It is unconscionable they are being held in degrading, prison-like detention centers. They should be able to reside with US family members or community-based housing while awaiting official asylum.”

Family detention is the practice of holding immigrant families, including children and babies, in prison-like detention centers with their parents. These detention centers are often operated by for-profit, private prison companies.

Since 2009, most families seeking asylum have generally not been detained while their asylum cases proceed through immigration courts. However, in 2014, the Obama administration announced that it would renew the mass detention of immigrant families with three centers in New Mexico, Texas, and Pennsylvania. The administration asked Congress for funding for up to 6,300 family detention beds across the country. 

Last week the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services informed the Berks facility that it will not be allowed to expand and could lose its license to operate from the state of Pennsylvania. In July, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled that the family detention policy violated the 1997 Flores settlement, which says that undocumented children must be held in the least restrictive setting and immigration authorities should generally favor a policy of releasing them.

Stein also reiterated her support for a series of immigration reforms, including:

Granting legal status to undocumented immigrants who are already residing and working in the United States, including a fair path to U.S. citizenship.

Passing the DREAM act to allow undocumented students to pursue education and citizenship.

Demilitarizing border crossings.

Repealing the NAFTA and CAFTA trade agreements.

Creating real border security by ending the illegal drug trade through marijuana legalization and treating drug use as a public health issue, not a criminal problem.

Ending U.S. support for the Latin American drug wars. Ending marijuana prohibition takes the main profit engine out of the illegal drug trade, making the drug war unnecessary.

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