WASHINGTON (June 25, 2019) –Jesuit Refugee Service/USA urges the U.S. Government to provide safe and sanitary conditions to all migrant children held in U.S. custody. All children deserve to be adequately taken care of mentally and physically and have the right to clean clothing, safe shelter, food, and an education. Anything short of humane practices runs contrary to our Catholic values and the values of the American people.
JRS works with forcibly displaced children and families around the world. We know that detaining children can have a particularly detrimental effect on their wellbeing. Detention can cause hazardous psychological stress and can permanently impact a child’s mental, physical, and emotional development.
“Displaced children already face significant trauma and challenges because of their forced displacement,” says Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director, JRS/USA. “Migrant children should not bear the inappropriate responsibility of parenting other children who have been forcibly separated from their parents. It is the adults’ duty to treat them all with the utmost care. Failure to do so can result in further trauma and potentially long-term psychological damage.”
It is the position of the JRS globally – based on Catholic Social Teachings, Jesuit values, and in-depth knowledge from working with displaced people – that in regard to detention, the following principles should be applied:
- Anyone who is fleeing from severe human rights violations has an inalienable right to seek protection in another country;
- Anyone who is fleeing from severe human rights violations has a right to be heard and have access to an asylum claim;
- Individuals and their families shall not be punished, administratively or criminally, for submitting an asylum claim by the national authorities of the country in which they seek protection;
- Authorities of the countries of reception shall take the utmost care to provide for the well-being and safety of asylum applicants;
- Children who seek asylum in another country, whether they are accompanied or not, and by reasons of their physical and mental vulnerability, require the provision of special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection and the unity of the family, to the extent that it is in the best interest of the child.