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An open letter to all Members of Congress:
August 22, 2019
Congress must listen to the voices of the children held in U.S. government custody and the advocates and witnesses at detention facilities who tell us about extreme overcrowding, denial of adequate food, water, clothing, warmth, bedding, showers, and medical care. We are torturing children by housing them in cages, keeping the temperature cold, and the lights on — day and night.
Lawyer Moms of America speaks for more than 15,000 lawyer moms, supporters, and allies across the country in demanding that our government cease its lawless and inhumane treatment of migrant children and families. We urge Congress to act immediately to do what is right and necessary to ensure migrant children are safe and free from abuse and physical harm and to restore basic protections for all asylum seekers.
Defying a court order, the government has continued the illegal and inhumane practice of separating infants and children from their parents — nearly 1,000 in the last year, almost a quarter of whom are younger than five years old. We will not let this persecution, abuse, and criminalization of asylum seekers become normalized.
Any permanent solution should begin with ensuring that migrant infants and children are not detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). But in the short term, while children continue to be held by CBP, Congress must ensure that physical and mental health and safety are paramount, including allowing doctors into all facilities and requiring the government to comply with medical recommendations. The government must provide basic needs for children and families in detention, including beds, blankets, clothes, diapers, age-appropriate food, baby formula, toothbrushes, soap, clean water, and prompt medical care.
Congress must recognize and understand the trauma that migrant children are facing that is multiplied by our detention practices.
Congress should enact protections against continued family separations and mandate the reunification of families already affected.
Congress must not permit the government to continue to lawlessly ignore court orders, delay, create confusion, divert resources, and delay sharing information.
Congress should investigate and hold accountable government employees and contractors who have and continue to mistreat the children and families in their care.
Congress should codify the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the Detention of Immigrant Children into a legal standard for the care of migrant children in government custody.
Further congressional inaction is inexcusable. Do not stand by as the Administration dismantles the American asylum system, deprives migrant children and families of basic protections and due process, and perpetrates child abuse.
As Lawyer Moms and allies, as parents, as Americans, as humans, we take the responsibility of the care of these children as seriously as if they were our own. We implore you to do the same.
There is no time to wait while Congress discusses comprehensive immigration reform. We will not tolerate policies and practices that dehumanize infants and children based on xenophobic claims of “national security.” Lawyer Moms of America demands basic protections for the health and safety of migrant children and families in U.S. government custody now.
Lawyer Moms of America