3 Things You Can Do Now to End Immigrant Detention
Recently, news broke that Homestead, the largest detention center for immigrant children and youth, had closed. At its height, Homestead held more than 3,000 young people in prison-like conditions with inadequate access to education, health care, and legal services. Though intended to be a temporary, emergency influx shelter, Homestead was holding children indefinitely.
In May, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC) and the Reform Jewish community were part of a migrant-led, interfaith campaign to close Homestead and prevent the establishment of new emergency influx shelters. During a week of action in June, many Reform Jews traveled to Homestead and stood in the rain to declare our outrage and call on elected officials and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to act. This steady drumbeat of moral outrage and the attention from elected officials that it generated were crucial to closing Homestead.
Since then, hundreds of the children in Homestead have been reunited with their sponsors, an action that reinforces our belief that it is both possible and necessary to remove the barriers to families’ reunification that have built up over the past few years. The children who have not yet been placed with sponsors have been transferred from Homestead to smaller facilities, many of which are under the auspices of HHS. Although these facilities are less harsh than emergency influx shelters like Homestead, and are required to follow higher standards of care, we will continue to advocate for all children to be united with their sponsors.
We welcome the closure of Homestead even as we remain vigilant about the opening of new emergency influx facilities and other types of immigrant detention centers.
So, what comes next?
We must continue to express moral outrage and hold our government accountable, making it clear that immigrants belong with their families, out of cages, and in communities. Here are three things that you can do right now to combat immigrant detention:
- Write to Congress: Urge your members of Congress to cut funds for immigration detention and deportation...
- ...then write to Congress again: Encourage your members of Congress to support the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which would phase out for-profit detention facilities like Homestead, increase oversight for detention, and invest in alternatives to detention.
- Get local: Stand up and make it clear that your community opposes immigrant detention and deportation by joining local vigils and protests.
For other ways you can support immigrant justice initiatives, check out "What Happened in El Paso - and 6 Ways You Can Act for Immigrant Justice." To learn more, visit the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus Initiative Immigrant and Refugee Justice Action Center.