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Human Rights First, Nov. 16, 2016- "Human Rights First today urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to swiftly implement the recommendations put forth by the DHS Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers to end its policy of detaining children and their families. The 166-page report, which emphasized that these overarching recommendations are consistent with U.S. law, was finalized by the committee in October and released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) yesterday.
“For years we’ve documented the tragic consequences of detaining children and their families; the Advisory Committee's recommendations are a recognition that families have no place in immigration detention,” said Human Rights First’s Olga Byrne. “We urge Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to quickly put an end to this harmful and unnecessary practice that adds additional trauma to those who have already suffered violence and persecution.”
Human Rights First has issued multiple reports on the U.S. policy of detaining asylum seeking mothers and children, including a report last year on conditions in the Berks Family Detention Center in Pennsylvania, where 22 mothers held a hunger strike this past summer to protest their prolonged detention. Many of the families currently detained at Berks have been held there for over a year, with some young children having spent more than half of their lives confined. A growing body of medical and mental health literature has found that detention is harmful to children’s health. The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to Secretary Johnson last year highlighting the long-term negative health impacts of detention on children and questioning whether ICE detention facilities are "capable of providing generally recognized standards of medical and mental health care for children."