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Minneapolis protest demands end to mass jailing of immigrant mothers and children in ‘family detention centers’

By staff |
July 25, 2015
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Protest demands 'shut down immigrant family detention centers'
Protest at Sen. Klobuchar's office demands 'shut down immigrant family detention centers' (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - More than 40 people protested outside the office of Senator Amy Klobuchar on July 24, demanding the closing of ‘family detention centers’ housing thousands of immigrant mothers and children near the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. The largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas houses around 2000 immigrant mothers and children, the vast majority of whom fled rampant violence and economic deterioration in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. After a harrowing and dangerous journey across several borders, these mothers and children are suffering yet another nightmare of being jailed indefinitely by the U.S. government under terrible conditions. The Dilley prison is a private prison operated for profit by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

The Minneapolis protest was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC). It focused on Senator Klobuchar because she failed to sign onto a letter signed by 30 other U.S. Senators asking President Obama to close the immigrant family detention center in Dilley and to stop detaining immigrant women and children who cross the border seeking asylum. Eyewitnesses report that conditions in the Dilley prison are terrible: thousands of children jailed with their mothers suffering from inadequate access to medical care, insufficient access to lawyers, no translation services for the many indigenous families there who don’t speak English or Spanish, and an appalling lack of other basic necessities.

During the protest, a delegation of four of the protesters went into Senator Klobuchar’s office and met with one of Senator Klobuchar’s staff members. The delegation included an immigration lawyer who has been to the family detention center in Dilley, Texas, a member of the United Church of Christ active in their immigration work and two members of MIRAC. Senator Klobuchar’s staff member agreed to get more information and have a follow-up meeting.

These ‘family detention centers’ opened amidst the rise last year of immigrant children and families crossing the U.S. border seeking asylum. In response, the Obama administration initially threatened to deport them, but under pressure, said the government would hear their asylum claims. Rather than following the normal procedure of releasing them to stay with family members in the U.S. while awaiting their asylum hearing date, the administration instead decided to house them indefinitely in massive family detention centers like the one in Dilley. Since then, thousands of mothers and children are jailed there indefinitely while their asylum cases are processed. Protests around the country have increased the pressure on the Obama administration to close these ‘family detention centers.’