Thank you Amnesty International USA for sponsoring this post.
Did you know that the United States is holding children who never committed a violent action or crime for nearly 700 days? This happens year round at Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania. As many as 60 fathers, mothers, and children are currently being held in Berks.
Their crime? Seeking safety for their families as they flee violence or persecution.
From Fleeing for Their Lives to Imprisonment
Berks is currently holding at least 60 parents and kids. Many of them are from Central America, where Amnesty International has documented horrific violence. If deported, many of these families will be facing incredibly dangerous situations, perhaps even death, upon their return.
Parents are facing an impossible choice: stay and risk violence or flee to the U.S. and risk ending up behind bars with their children. Families may be held for up to two years, only to be deported back to the countries they fled.
A Plea for Humanity
Decades ago, the United States and other countries agreed to treat people fleeing violence and persecution with compassion, and to respect their human rights while considering their claims.
The United States has not been living up to this commitment. People fleeing violence are sometimes imprisoned and held for many months without access to attorneys or translators. Children are sometimes imprisoned and separated from their families. Some people seeking asylum are deported without having their claims heard – and they are forced to return to countries where they face grave danger.
Families have been forced to flee their homes because their lives are under threat and their human rights are being violated. We all share a responsibility to help people who have lost everything, and to give them a chance to rebuild their lives safely the same way all of us would need to if we were in this horrible situation.
What You Can Do
We should not put kids and parents in jail for fleeing violence. We should not fund putting kids and parents in jail. We need to welcome refugees.
Visit Amnesty International USA to learn more about this crisis, and what you can do to help.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.