Responding to the release of Karla* and her fifteen-year-old daughter Katherine* from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Dilley, Texas, Denise Bell, the researcher for refugee rights at Amnesty International USA said:
“Today, Katherine no longer has to fear that this country has forgotten about children like her and she can finally imagine a better life in the United States. However, this country can do better by families like Katherine and Karla and finally release all families that they’re currently detaining. Our communities have long advocated for families to be released together – instead ICE continues to choose family separation over family unity, leaving them terrorized, afraid and in danger as COVID-19 spreads like wildfire in family detention centers. Today, we have seen ICE can free families together if there is enough pressure – we will continue to apply it.”
Background and context
Karla and Katherine left Honduras after being targeted because of their religion, their political beliefs, and their refusal to submit to the gangs in the country. ICE held them in detention for over ten months, where Karla and Katherine experienced continuous pain and deteriorating health from serious medical issues, which were repeatedly brought to ICE’s attention, but were ignored or dismissed by the agency.
Amnesty International USA is calling on ICE to release people from immigration detention and to release families seeking safety in the U.S. together. The organization is calling on activists to advocate on behalf of Ana* (22) and Victoria* (4), who have been held in detention in Dilley, Texas, for nearly a year after fleeing Honduras for their safety.
Amnesty International USA launched a briefing in May, “Family Separation 2.0: You aren’t going to separate me from my only child”, documenting how ICE has weaponized its public health response to COVID-19 to punish and deter people seeking safety.
Leading NGOs call on ICE to stop family separation (news release, 7/17/20)