Seeking Justice 

May 12, 2015

During May, Plymouth Immigration Ministry Team seeks to raise awareness about immigration systems and policies which are breaking apart families and detaining increasing numbers of women and children. We invite you to join us to work for more holistic rights for immigrants, end funding of family detention centers and cease the quota system which requires detention beds to be filled and large numbers of people deported.

The immigration detention system breaks apart families. Saturday before Mother’s Day, about fifteen Plymouth members attended the Mother’s Day Vigil outside the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), the Pacific Northwest immigration detention facility. We heard from a mother who had been detained there for 30 months until she won her immigration legal case. We also heard from her daughter who described the terror and harsh life she experienced while her mom was detained. Since release, the mother adopted two other young girls whose mother is detained in the NWDC.

Last year, family detention centers were established to detain thousands of families, primarily young mothers and their young children. In 2014, over 68,000 children without family members and an equal number of single parents and their children were detained at U.S. southern borders as they attempted to enter United States. The vast majority of these children and families are escaping horrific violence in their home countries. In an attempt to stop this refugee flow and deter more from fleeing violence, the U.S. government responded by opening large facilities run by private prison corporations to detain families while they go through immigration removal proceedings. The Karnes Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas has a current capacity of over 500 beds for families and plans to more than double that number. The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas opened with 480 beds and is now over 1,200 beds. They plan to expand to 2,400 beds for families, primarily women and children. Nearly all families detained in these facilities seek asylum. Because facilities are located in isolated areas, pro bono representation in absent; these deportation mills rapidly process families out of the country and back to their homeland violence rather than safe refuge within the United States. Many have relatives or other sponsors in the U.S. who are willing to support and house detainees. Instead, the U.S. government pays $340 per person per day to detain them in facilities that closely resemble prisons.

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We should welcome these families with open arms. Jailing these families is wrong – children and their mothers who are already abused are re-traumatized. Detention creates enormous barriers to provide them a fair chance to be fully considered for asylum. Rather than beginning the healing process, the health and welfare of these neighbors are severely compromised.

As people of faith, we are called to care for the most vulnerable among us. Join Plymouth’s Immigration Ministry Team. Call for an end to detention and let’s provide hospitality to our immigrant sisters, brothers and children. –Janet Gwilym 

Topics: Church Life, Events


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