December 16, 2014 STATEMENT—LIRS Strongly Opposes Opening of New Family Detention Facility in Dilley, Texas

Press Contact: Miji Bell; Public Relations Officer

mbell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

Washington, D.C.–This week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the opening of a new immigration detention facility to house thousands of mothers and children in Dilley, Texas. Children and families currently housed in the family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico are expected to be transferred to this facility, as Artesia will be closing in the coming days. The capacity of the facility in Dilley will more than triple the size of the Artesia facility, with a capacity to house 2,400 people.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service questions the Obama Administration’s rationale that detaining mothers, babies, and toddlers who have fled to America strengthens our border security. These families are no less deserving of compassion than other families for whom the President has acted boldly to protect from deportation and family separation.

We remain adamant that there is simply no humane way to detain families. We have seen that family detention facilities inherently cause long-term damage to children’s health and the family structure, deny due process, impede migrants’ ability to access the immigration legal system and other critical services and leave women and children vulnerable to abuse.

Most of the families being detained came here seeking safety. Demonstrating compassionate care for the most vulnerable undergirds our American values and demands that we extend protection to those who have sought refuge in our country. Humane alternatives to detention have been proven to be a far more cost-efficient and effective measure to maintaining family unity and promoting compliance with our immigration laws.

The opening of the Dilley detention facility for mothers and children is of great concern.  We again urge the Obama Administration to close family detention facilities and instead utilize the vast array of alternatives to detention that uphold the human dignity of every person and have been proven to be cost-effective and successful.

LIRS and Women’s Refugee Commission’s recent report, “Locking Up Family Values, Again: The Continued Failure of Immigrant Family Detention” may be found online here: lirs.org/familyvalues.