-Kina Thorpe, PJC Educational Program Manager

It is appalling that children seeking refuge in the United States are still being put in cages. It’s also appalling that we’ve seemed to have forgotten about this all the meanwhile, the Trump administration is expanding a detention center in Homestead, Florida for unaccompanied minors that will be able to hold over 3,200 children. This is completely unacceptable.

The Homestead facility is run by a for-profit corporation named Caliburn. Even when children have family in the U.S. who are willing to take them, their relatives are being scared off due to the Department of Homeland Security using their fingerprints to find and detain other undocumented family members.

These children who are seeking refuge from the violence in their home countries are now at our door, in a life or death situation at the hand of our own government.

A few days ago, the Trump administration was finally forced to admit that 10-year-old Darlyn Valle from El Salvador died in its custody more than seven months ago, making this the sixth child to die in U.S. custody in the past eight months:

Image from CBS News

  • Carlos Hernández Vásquez, 16- Carlos was an unaccompanied minor from Guatemala, was found dead in immigration custody in south Texas. The teenager had been held in custody by US border patrol for a week, twice the time that is legally allowable. He was diagnosed with flu before his death.
  • Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, 2- Wilmer died earlier this month after being taken into custody in April and falling sick.
  • Juan de León Gutiérrez, 16- Another unaccompanied minor, died on April 30 after falling ill in detention in south Texas.
  • Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8- Feliple died in December 2018 in New Mexico after falling sick in custody.
  • Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7-Jakelin died in December after contracting sepsis in U.S. custody.
  • Darlyn Valle, 10- Darlyn died in September; not much is known at this time.

Some will say that it’s hard to believe that this is happening in America, but I disagree. America has a long and proud history of separating black and brown children from their families and not caring about their mental, emotional, or physical well-being. It doesn’t take much digging through our history to uncover those facts. But unlike those times, we are living in a time of information overload; there is no more pleading ignorance to this issue, and there is no more saying that there is nothing you as an individual can do. The only thing keeping us from putting an end to this is our own lack of empathy for those who do not look like us.

We must not let these children, and the children who we don’t yet know about, be forgotten; we must not let their deaths be in vain. We must take a stand against our country’s racist immigration policies. It is imperative that we send a strong message to our representatives that locking children in cages and allowing them to fall ill and die is not okay.

Here are some actions from Love Resists that you can do now: