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It is time for the U.S. government to reconsider its response to refugee women and children fleeing violence, and put an end to the shameful practice of family detention, once and for all.
Today — as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees brings attention to the voices of thousands of mothers and children who have been detained in prison-like facilities while seeking refuge in America with an extensive new report — Tahirih restates and renews our call for the U.S. government to uphold its obligations to courageous women and children who are on the run from some of the world’s most dangerous countries.
Our position paper, “Righting the Wrong: Why Detention for Asylum-Seeking Mothers and Children Must End Now,” outlines three urgent recommendations for the U.S. government:
1. End family detention now
2. Discontinue expedited removal for arriving mothers with children
3. Allow NGOs to offer comprehensive orientation and community-based support to all mothers and children
Voices from Detention
We met with women and children in detention in Texas. This is what they want you to know.*
“Help us please. Our situation is dire. They treat us like criminals, but we are not criminals. We fled violence. Come visit us. Imagine being here hour after hour, day after day, month after month. Help our children. They should not be punished. They should have a normal life, one of laughter, play, safety.”
Marcela, 30 | Survivor of Domestic Violence and Death Threats from Honduras | Detained at Karnes
“I feel a deep sadness. Being here makes me feel like a criminal, like I have committed a criminal act, like I am being punished for my failures in life.”
Inès | Survivor of Domestic Violence from Honduras | Detained at Karnes
“Sometimes I begin to think that this is my fault. When the guards yell at you, you feel small, so small. Hopeless, like you are a nobody.”
Serena | Survivor of Rape and Gang Violence from Central America | Detained at Dilley Where She Was Assaulted by Guards
“I think it would have been better if I was killed like my uncle.”
Yolanda, Age 5 | Murder Witness from El Salvador | Detained at Dilley
“Simply, [the guards] don’t care. What is important to them is control… I thought I came to this country to escape abuse, mistreatment, and disrespect. But it’s the same here.”
Nancy | Survivor of Rape from Guatemala | Detained at Dilley
“Being closed up in here makes me think about the threats that await us, and the violence that I will suffer when I have to return.”
Itzel | Survivor of Abduction and Rape from Honduras | Detained at Karnes
“You have treated us worse than an animal.”
Lilian, Age 19 | Survivor of Domestic Violence and Rape from Honduras | Detained at Karnes Where She Attempted Suicide
*Please note that the photos on this page and in our report do not depict actual detainees and names have been changed for their protection. Interviews were completed by Tahirih Justice Center staff, with the exception of Lilian and Serena, whose quotes were obtained through media reports.