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For World Children’s Day on November 20, Amnesty International USA is calling for the United States government to stop detaining children who seek safety in the United States, with new billboards targeting the Trump administration.

As part of the I Welcome campaign, Amnesty International USA has launched billboards in Florida targeting the detention of children seeking safety. The human rights organization chose Florida after in-depth research into the Homestead, Florida facility, which Amnesty International USA found violated children’s rights by holding them in prolonged and indefinite detention and keeping them in conditions that did not meet U.S. or international standards, violating the best interests of the child. A billboard that reads “You are now 7 miles away from where kids are locked up” was launched in Homestead, Florida, in a location where visitors driving towards Miami would see the announcement. Another billboard that reads “We don’t believe in locking up children. Do you?” was launched in Orlando, Florida, 10 miles away from Disney World, where families would be especially addressed to spread awareness of what has taken place in their own backyard.

Both billboards include the web address, TruthAboutHomestead.org, a website to take action for detained children on World Children’s Day, learn more about the campaign, or join a local banner drop. The web action enables individuals to hold the U.S. government accountable for the prolonged and indefinite detention of children based on immigration status— for weeks, months, and in some cases, years longer than is permissible by international law, and to demand that no child seeking safety should ever be held in detention. The action also demands that the U.S. government close down the Homestead facility once and for all. Though the government stopped detaining children at Homestead recently, the facility has remained open, and could detain children again at a later date.

Trucks, as well as sidewalk pavement ads, were also set up with several messages including: “We don’t believe in locking up children. Do you?”;  “Florida: Amusement parks. Beaches. Detained children.”; “Children should not be locked up for seeking safety”; “Children have the right to be with their families. Children have the right to seek asylum”; and “Children should not be locked up for seeking safety”.

“World Children’s Day is a day for children, yet children in this very country are denied their freedom. The Trump administration has detained children for the act of seeking safety,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “These kids should be with their families, their loved ones, and their communities, instead they are locked away in facilities like Homestead with no foreseeable end in sight. This World Children’s Day, we have used our resources to open people’s eyes to the truth so that they can take action for these kids’ freedom. People can no longer say that they did not know.”

Background:

Amnesty International USA has repeatedly called on the U.S. government to stop the use and establishment of facilities such as Homestead, to stop the detention of children simply because of their immigration status, and to close the Homestead facility permanently,

In October, Amnesty International USA met with Jonathan H. Hayes, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, while visiting a facility that the office runs in Brownsville. During the visit, Amnesty International USA was told the Office of Refugee Resettlement does not view children held in its facilities as detained and therefore the generally accepted principle that children should be released from detention within 20 days was not applicable.

World Children’s Day commemorates the day in 1959 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which guarantees children’s rights around the world.

For World Children’s Day last year, Amnesty International USA called for all children held at the Dilley Detention Center in Texas to be freed alongside their families, and for the U.S. to end its plan of expanding family detention centers.

Note: Photos and video of the billboards are available at this link. Contact Mariya Parodi at [email protected] to set up interviews with spokespeople in DC, NY, and Florida.

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