Deadline Looms On Migrant Children Detention For Obama Administration

Deadline Looms On Migrant Children Detention For Obama Administration
Welcome Asylum Seekers and refugees Takver / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The Obama administration is given until May 24 to present its plan for more than 1,000 mothers and children in detention for nearly a year now. This is in response to an April 2015 court verdict saying that the U.S. family detention policy is violating the rights of migrant children.


The decision was given by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee in California. The court said the Obama administration should release the migrant children held in detentions or at the very least put these children in a more conducive environment. In response, the Obama administration threatened to release the children and leave their mothers behind.

More than 1,000 mother and children are locked up – Human Rights Watch

There are more than 1,000 mothers and children locked up in three detention facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania, the Human Rights Watch has found. The Obama administration is said to be in the process of constructing more facilities to detain another 2,000 families in Dilley, Texas, the Human Rights Watch said.

“The Obama administration has now kept traumatized children and their mothers locked up for nearly a year. They have no idea when they will be released, and they are terrified to be deported back to places where they could be killed, raped, or otherwise harmed,” said Clara Long, U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch.

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Long said that constructing more detention facilities does not solve the problem.

“The government should not be searching for new oversight mechanisms for family detention. What’s needed is for the government to simply end family detention,” she said.

Children threaten hanging themselves

Detained mothers and children have told the Human Rights Watch about their hapless condition in the country from which they fled from. They also talked about their depression inside the facilities.

One mother said that her 14-year-old daughter threatened to hang herself.

“She told me she wanted to hang herself. ‘I’m going to kill myself,’ she tells me. It hurts my heart,” the mother told the Human Rights Watch.

Another mother said her 15-year-old daughter, who had been raped in Honduras since she was nine years old, was demoralized more after being locked up in detention.

“My daughter tells me she can’t bear being locked up anymore. She told me she wanted to take her own life,” the mother said.

One mother fled Honduras in the hopes of escaping violent gangs adamant in taking her 11-year-old son.

“He just sleeps and sleeps. He says, ‘Mom, I just want to sleep so that when I wake up we’ll be free.’ As a mother, I feel powerless. I don’t want my son to see me so I go into the bathroom to cry and cry. He starts knocking on the door saying, ‘Mom, Mom, are you coming out?’” the mother shared.

“I’m very depressed,” said Carla, who is detained with her 10-year-old son. “We’ve been here for 10 months. I don’t want to see my son suffering anymore.”

One four-year-old was detained with her mother who is suffering major traumatic stress disorder. The child is poorly taken care of and has suffered acute bronchitis, pharyngitis, ear aches, fevers, diarrhea and vomiting.

Also read: Plight of Rohingya Muslims: Death Camps, Stranded at Sea

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