National Mother's Day Action Demanding Obama End Family Detention & Free Refugee Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE       

CONTACT: Esther Portillo, esther.portillo1@gmail.com(347) 585-7462  (DC)

                  Nancy Zuniga, nzuniga7@gmail.com(310) 433-1997 (Los Angeles)

Karnes Refugee moms, scholars and larger community urge President Obama to free mothers and their children from detention and uphold Flores Settlement 

WHAT: Press conference announcing actions: letter delivery & 24 hour solidarity fast

WHEN: Monday, May 11th at 10:00 AM

WHERE: Central American Resource Center (CARECEN); 2845 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005

Visuals: Testimonies, community leaders fasting, posters, banners

LOS ANGELES, CA | This Mother’s Day, the #KarnesRefugeeMoms and the larger community are sending an important message to President Obama and to Federal Attorneys that are negotiating the outcome of the Flores 1997 case settlement as applied to current family detention: release all mothers and children currently detained and end the illegal practice of detaining families! In Washington DC, family members of detained mothers and children will be joined with allies in delivering a letter from the #KarnesRefugeeMoms and a letter signed by over 500 US scholars to President Obama. The group will also visit Congressman Ruben Hinojosa and urge him to take a stand with the families and inform him about the illegality of family detention in his district, which includes Karnes Detention Center.

The larger community will be joining the delivery of this message by pledging to a national #24HrsFast. This action and press conference includes speakers from key community organizations that have historically worked with the Central American community in Los Angeles, including Maegan Ortiz, Executive Director of IDEPSCA, Alex Sanchez, Executive Director of Homies Unidos, Angela Sanbrano, Board Member of NALACC, and Martha Arevalo, Executive Director of CARECEN-LA. As well as the Human Rights Alliance for Refugee Children and Families whose members visited detained families last week in Texas and are working with family members directly affected by immigration detention.

BACKGROUND: Mothers and children have been forced to migrate from Latin America--particularly from Central America--to escape femicide and rampant violence due to organized crime and weak governments, a legacy of U.S. intervention and neoliberal economic policies.  Thousands of these women and children are seeking refuge in the United States.  However, rather than treating them as refugees in need of international protection, the Obama administration has responded with for-profit incarceration, detaining women and children for up to 11 months under the flawed logic that this tactic will deter others from coming to the U.S.

Mothers held in the Karnes Family Detention Center, an immigration prison privately owned and operated by the GEO corporation, have held two hunger strikes targeted at ICE Director, Sarah Saldaña, to demand their release and to draw attention to the deplorable conditions in detention. Meanwhile, two important federal court cases have now challenged the legality of the practice of family detention. In February, a Texas Federal Judge ordered the administration to stop the detention of women and children, and rejected the logic that they pose a national security threat. More recently, another Federal Court is reviewing the legality of detention of migrant children in unlicensed secure facilities, such as those found in Texas and operated by the GEO corporation.

The tentative ruling has found that these detention facilities violate the settlement of Flores v. Meese in 1997, which ruled that minors had to be released to a family member or legal guardian when possible. Starting this upcoming Monday, federal attorneys and lawyers for the detained women will enter a 30 day negotiating window period in which if they do not reach an agreement, the judge will issue a final ruling. Advocates and community leaders strongly urge for the non-negotiable release of all families, including those with prior deportation orders. Family reunification and children’s emotional and physical being are at stake.

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This action is being led by the Human Rights Alliance for Child Refugees and Families, a grassroots collective of concerned community members, organizers, and scholars, of the critical conditions that migrant children and their families face when arriving to the U.S. http://www.refugeerightsnow.com/

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