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STATUS: Concluded

Make your voice heard about the new proposed rule to allow indefinite incarceration of immigrant families with children, including survivors of gender-based violence.  Under the rule, survivors could languish for years in detention, waiting for their immigration cases to be heard.  The rule also permits the government to set its own standards for appropriate conditions within detention facilities. Experts are unanimous that children should never be unnecessarily incarcerated even when held along with their parents.

Before the rule can be finalized, the government is required to review and respond to each public comment submitted by organizations or individuals about the proposed regulation. This is your chance to make your voice heard.

Below is a sample comment.  However, it is critical that you DO NOT simply copy and paste the model comment into the form you submit. The government will only review and respond to unique comments.  Please reformulate the text, adding your own voice, professional expertise, and personal experiences or those of people you know, to explain why indefinite detention of traumatized families and children is unacceptable and inhumane. For additional suggested key points to include in your comment, please see below.

All comments are due by November 6, 2018.

Thank you for your help on behalf of immigrant children and families who courageously flee to the US in search of safety.


I am writing in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Apprehension, Processing, Care and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children; DHS Docket No. ICEB-2018-0002, RIN 0970-AC42 1653-AA75, published in the Federal Register on September 7, 2018. I strongly oppose the proposed rule for the following reasons.

[Insert your own points as to why you oppose the rule. For example: “Incarceration exacerbates existing trauma and has devastating effects on the physical and psychological health of children. Children who are escaping gender-based violence such as human trafficking and sexual slavery will especially suffer in a detention center environment.  Their access to critical mental health services will be limited, delaying their healing process and making it harder to fully access their legal rights. Oversight of detention facilities will not mitigate the traumatizing nature of imprisonment for children and survivors of gender-based violence. Increased incarceration is unnecessary, costly to taxpayers, and survivors facing horrific abuses are undeterred when deciding to flee for their lives.] 

DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services should withdraw their current proposal, and instead promote policies to further the well-being and best interests of traumatized immigrant children and families.


Additional Key Points:

  • Our laws permit individuals escaping from threats to their lives and safety to seek asylum at the US border. Those arriving at the border asking for asylum are not committing a crime, nor are they taking advantage of a “loophole.” We should not treat them like criminals.
  • The proposed rule presents a false choice. Either incarcerating families together or separately are not the only two options. Rather, families may be released in the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security, if they pose no danger to the community and are determined to be a flight risk.  In addition, immigration detention costs more than $300/day per family, and much more cost-effective alternatives exist that are proven to be highly effective in ensuring consistent attendance for immigration court proceedings.
  • Traffickers and abusers limit survivors’ autonomy, using power and control to keep them in a perpetual state of fear and subjugation. The power dynamics present in a detention setting are reminiscent of those maintained by violent perpetrators, and as a result are especially damaging to survivors of gender-based violence.
  • Mothers and children who flee horrific violence such as domestic and child abuse, rape, sexual slavery, and human trafficking overwhelmingly suffer Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) as a result. Trauma can manifest in children as chronic anxiety, depression, and sleep and digestive disturbances which in turn cause developmental delays physically, cognitively, and emotionally. This trauma is compounded by the profoundly damaging effects of incarceration.
    • If you are a health professional, please use your expertise in your field and experiences to expand on why incarceration is harmful for children.

Please submit your comments by November 6th, 2018. 


Do Something!

Make your voice heard about the new proposed rule to allow indefinite incarceration of immigrant families with children, including survivors of gender-based violence.