Immigrant Rights

Senators Call Imprisonment of Asylum-Seeking Families Immoral

08.04.15

Our federal administration has maintained repeatedly it can confine and then deport asylum-seekers without oversight or reviews. Although a key issue primarily to citizens in the Southwest, immoral and illegal government actions should be of concern to all of us, including Ohioans.

People seeking asylum are entitled to an asylum hearing if they can establish, during an interview with an asylum officer, a “credible fear” of persecution in their countries, according to the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

On top of this injustice, for the duration of their stays in the United States, asylum-seeking families are “stored” in detention centers that, in effect, are nothing but prisons. In a May 27, 2015, letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a full third of the U.S. Senate condemned these family detention policies: “We urge you to end the presumptive detention of families and return to the policy of utilizing detention only as a last resort, when there is a serious public safety or flight risk that cannot be mitigated by alternatives to detention.”

This letter followed quickly upon a similar communication from 136 House members. Nevertheless, family detention has surged 3,700 percent since summer 2014 as DHS has ramped up its family detention capacity.

The ACLU has been working diligently to halt the government’s family detention practices and unlawful deportations, especially since. 83 percent of detained families have demonstrated to DHS asylum officers a credible fear of persecution, if not death, if deported.