Advancement Project Denounces Trump Administration Plan to Place Migrant Youth in Former WWII Internment Camp
Federal government is bypassing legal agreement protecting treatment of migrant children by opening up prisons in military bases including Fort Sill, Oklahoma
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to denounce the Trump administration’s plan to open a child prison facility at Fort Sill, OK, the site of a former WWII internment camp, Advancement Project National Office released the following statement:
“During WWII, Fort Sill imprisoned Japanese-American families in an internment camp. In 1894, Fort Sill imprisoned Native Americans of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, including Geronimo,” said Losmin Jimenez, Advancement Project National Office Immigrant Justice Program Director and Senior Attorney. “By jailing children in these military camps for extended periods of time, the U.S. government is perpetuating trauma in children in its custody. These harms inflict long-lasting toxic psychological, developmental damage on children, exacerbating existing trauma. This government-sanctioned effort to continue to imprison migrant children and bypass the laws mandating the humane treatment of young people by opening long-term detention centers – prisons – on military bases is illegal and inhumane.”
In 1997, Flores v. Reno resulted in a settlement agreement that set national standards for the treatment and placement of minors in what was then Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) custody. As such, our alternate recommendations to the administration’s decision include:
- Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR) influx facilities must be required to meet higher minimum child protection requirements, especially when these facilities are operated for prolonged periods of time and are no longer functioning as “rapid response facilities.” Creating “influx” facilities for extended periods of time on federal land serves to doubly insulate ORR from requirements to be licensed by a child welfare agency.
- We must implement measures to safeguard families and other asylum seekers from arbitrary, unjust, and costly incarceration by upholding the Flores limits on the length of time families and unaccompanied children can be detained.
“Criminal legal system reform and immigration enforcement do not exist in distinct silos. The same system that seeks to normalize the operation of prison camps for children fleeing violence is the same system that seeks to normalize the murder of Black and Brown youth by police,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Advancement Project National Office Executive Director. “This policy shift is another face of white supremacy in America, tearing families of color apart, incarcerating entire generations of children on the basis of their immigration status, and consequently denying their access to education and legal services.”
*Advancement Project National Office fact sheet “Unaccompanied Children Should Be Treated Like Children” can be found here.