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Unjust Detention

Inhumane Detention


In summer 2014, the Obama Administration dramatically expanded the practice of jailing refugee women and children seeking protection at U.S. borders. The vast majority of these refugees are survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and trafficking. They are held in prison-like detention facilities, far from community-based health and legal services, and for indefinite periods of time. This causes a range of severe health consequences for adults and children, and it also hinders their ability to meaningfully access the legal process to which they are entitled under the law. For these reasons and more, detention of vulnerable groups, especially children, has been widely condemned by medical and human rights bodies around the world.


Read our position paper on unjust detention.

Read our position paper on unjust detention.

Tahirih Justice Center responded to the increased detention of refugee survivors of gender-based violence by offering representation to women and children detained at the Karnes City facility in Texas and providing training and support to volunteer attorneys.

Leveraging on-the-ground information about the challenges detainees face in accessing justice, Tahirih has also engaged in policy advocacy to try to end the prolonged detention of children with their mothers and improve the inhumane conditions of detention they endure.

Through meetings with senior Administration officials, testimony and briefings for Congress, and advocacy for individual detainees, Tahirih advocates for the more just and humane treatment of refugees fleeing gender-based violence.


We must ensure that survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking have meaningful opportunities to recover from trauma and pursue legal protections. This is a matter of life or death for many of the detained adult and child survivors currently being held in still expanding family detention facilities. Detention of children and survivors of violence is, by its nature, re-traumatizing, and especially when detention is indefinite and prolonged, it is not a humane practice.
Read our latest updates on unjust detention