Hundreds of undocumented immigrant families who fled from violence in Central America remain in detention in sub-par detention facilities in the United States while waiting for their day in court; however, pressure continues to mount on immigration officials to adopt a more humane approach and release immigrant mothers and their children.At least 600 families are currently being held in detention and the revelation that a teenage mother recently attempted suicide in one of the centers has further spurred on activists wanting to see these centers shut down. “Neither the ICE nor the private owners of its family detention centers are capable of providing the levels of care for vulnerable people like pregnant mothers that are even marginally acceptable by any humane, legal, moral or American standard,” says Rachel Gore Freed, a migrants rights activist.
Last month the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, was petitioned by as many as 136 members of Congress from the Democratic Party to stop putting families into detention centers. These members said that it was unacceptable to do nothing in the wake of continued reports of serious harm to minors in custody and that detaining women and children in settings tantamount to a prison was no solution.
In 2014 US immigration services came under attack when it was discovered that some undocumented minors were being held in a converted warehouse after crossing over the border into Texas. This situation was described as a “humanitarian crisis” by Democrat Texas representative Henry Cuellar.