The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Over the weekend, news broke that Homestead, the largest detention center for immigrant children and youth, had closed. At its height, Homestead held over 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.
The RAC and Reform Jewish congregations 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 of Reform Jews traveled to Homestead and stood in the rain declaring our outrage and calling on elected officials and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take action. 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. This reinforces our belief that it is both possible and necessary to remove the barriers to reunification of families that have built up over the course of 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: