Take Action for World Refugees in Texas Prisons

Email from Jay Johnson-Castro

Today we celebrate World Refugee Day…

Freedom Ambassadors are grateful to Amnesty International for their support in this celebration…here in Texas…at the Hutto prison camp that imprisons innocent children from all over the world…and their mothers…who are seeking asylum.

Freedom Ambassadors will keep celebrating the World Refugee Day to the end of the week…when we hold Hutto Vigil X in Taylor, TX on Saturday, June 23…sponsored by Amnesty International. Hutto Vigil X is essentially an all day event. The Amnesty International sponsored program is from 1-3pm. We expect a record turnout…in solidarity with the children immorally and criminally imprisoned there by Chertoff and ICE.

Then, as many that can, Freedom Ambassadors will head down to Raymondville, TX on June 24th where 2000 refugees from some 50 countries are imprisoned by Chertoff and ICE in a 10-tent concentration camp. We will join up with the Valley coalition that will be holding a vigil from 6-8pm.

The attached statement (below) and letter which features the innocent little victims of Chertoff and ICE is from Amnesty International. The Amnesty International contact information follows at the end of this letter.

In every other country of the world…we call them refugees. As Americans…we sincerely want to help. The elitist supremacists call refugees in America “illegals”…thereby desensitizing the Americans’ natural spirit and desire to reach out and help. This allows ICE to inhumanely round up refugees in American..and imprison them in “for-profit” concentration camps.

We do not really celebrate this inhumane treatment of refugees in America by Chertoff and ICE. We celebrate their inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

Freedom Ambassadors will be launching our new web site this week. Stay tuned.

Hoping to see you Saturday and Sunday…

Jay


Amnesty International USA’s
REFUGEE ACTION

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Ste. 500
Washington, DC 20003
T. 202.544.0200
F.202.546.7142
E-mail. refugee@aiusa.org

June 18, 2007

UNITED STATES: Oppose the Detention of Refugee and Migrant Children

SUMMARY: Amnesty International is concerned about hundreds of migrant children and their parents who are detained at the Don T. Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas. The Hutto building used to hold criminals before being converted to a temporary residence for refugee and migrant children. Children from Central America and other parts of the world including Greece, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Russia and Romania are detained at Hutto in prison cells for months at a time.

BACKGROUND: Every day, the United States government detains over 600 migrant children and their parents who are asking permission to remain here legally. Some families flee violence and war in their home countries and come to the United States hoping to be protected by our government. Others come because they want to have a better life than they left behind. When immigration officers find families who don’t have permission to stay, they can lock them in facilities like Hutto until they decide whether to allow the families to remain in the U.S. Sometimes this process can take years.

The detention of families expanded dramatically in 2006 with the opening of the new 512-bed T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Prior to the opening of Hutto, the majority of immigrant families were arrested and then released from custody while they worked through their immigration cases. Hutto is a former criminal facility that houses immigrant children in prison cells. Some families with children have been detained in the facility for up to two years. The majority of children in the facility appear to be under 12 years old.

According to international standards to which the United States has agreed, asylum seekers, in particular, are not to be detained unless warranted by special circumstances. Migrants in detention are to be afforded the same rights as nationals who are detained, and even in detention, children have the right to be with their families, to get an education, to have recreational time, and to live in a place that is safe.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please contact the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, asking the government to stop holding migrant children and their parents in prison-like facilities. You can also copy your letter to the head of Hutto, and the Juvenile Coordinator for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

SAMPLE LETTER:

Michael Chertoff, Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

I write with regard to the detention of migrant families and children in the Don T. Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, TX. Since Hutto opened, the detention of families in the United States has increased. The use of a prison-like facility that has not been updated to meet the needs of detained migrants and asylum seekers is not appropriate, especially for children. The majority of children detained at Hutto appear to be under 12 years old, and they have a right to be with their families in a place that is safe, with education and recreational opportunities.

Additionally, I remind you that international standards for the treatment of asylum seekers recommend against detention except under special circumstances. And migrants in detention are to be afforded the same rights as nationals who are being held.

I urge you to investigate the conditions at Hutto to determine whether it is appropriate to hold migrant families with children there, and if not, to resolve the situation immediately.

Thank you for your prompt attention to my concerns,

cc:

Simona Colon
T. Don Hutto Residential Center
1001 Welch Street, P.O. Box 1063
Taylor, TX 76574

John Pogash
ICE National Juvenile Coordinator
Department of Homeland Security
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
800 I Street NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20536

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