Today, 136 House Democrats sent a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson asking the administration to end its family detention policy.
The letter, which includes a majority of House Democrats, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, was spearheaded by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Luis Gutiérrez.
“We cannot hear reports of serious harm to children in custody and do nothing about it,” the letter states. “Detaining mothers and children in jail-like settings is not the answer. We have an opportunity to do the right thing and are confident that DHS has the capacity to honor our Nation’s longstanding commitment both to the protection and well-being of refugee families and to law enforcement and public safety.”
According to an official release from Reps. Lofgren, Roybal-Allard, and Gutiérrez, “the letter calls particular attention to reports of poor or non-existent medical care for detainees, including those traumatized in their countries of origin and traumatized en route to the United States.”
“We believe the only solution to this problem is to end the use of family detention,” the letter adds. “Children require special protections and should not be placed in jail-like settings.”
Just last week, nearly a dozen House Democrats also held a press conference calling for an end to family detention. They were joined by Maria Rosa Lopez, a Honduran refugee and mother who, along with her son, spent six months in detention.
Momentum to end the controversial program has been surging. 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently called for asylum and detention reform, as has the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Several newspapers, including the New York Times, have published editorials highlighting the need to end the program.