As Detained Mothers Continue Hunger Strike, AILA Urges Administration to End Family Detention

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - On Wednesday, twenty-two mothers being held with their children for months in the immigration family detention center in Berks County, PA, shared a letter they sent to Secretary Jeh Johnson about their continued detention. AILA President William A. Stock called upon the Obama Administration to end the detention of the families and cease the practice of family detention entirely in the following statement:

"The hunger strike begun by twenty-two courageous refugee women in the Berks County Detention Facility brings into sharp focus the inhumanity and illegality of the Obama Administration's family detention system. Some of the women who have gone on hunger strike have been held for a full year; and each one has been held in detention for longer than the 20 days processing time Secretary Johnson lauded his department for last week. The prolonged detention violates the court order prohibiting extended detention of children.

"AILA has repeatedly demanded that the administration abandon family detention and instead ensure families seeking asylum are treated humanely and in ways that comply with due process. Our government should reject fast-track removal procedures like expedited removal that deny due process and rely instead upon the strength of our court system as well as proven alternatives to detention in the few cases where there are demonstrated flight risks. These brave mothers are putting their health at risk to draw attention to injustice. I urge the federal government to listen to their pleas, and allow them to pursue their asylum claims free from prison walls."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16081214.