Thank you, Amnesty International USA for sponsoring this post.
The holidays are upon us. And as we turn towards this season that means so much to many of us, it’s crucial to know that there are families in Pennsylvania merely hoping for freedom at Berks County Residential Center, where kids (yes children, teens, and even babies) alongside their mothers and fathers are being locked up in jail. Parents are facing an impossible choice: stay and risk violence or flee to the U.S. and risk ending up behind bars with their children. Berks is currently holding at least 60 parents and kids. Many of them are from Central America, where Amnesty International has documented horrific violence. If deported, many of these families will be facing incredibly dangerous situations, perhaps even death, upon their return.
Imagine fleeing for your life and the safety and security of your children, only to watch them learn how to walk and talk and have birthdays and holidays pass in jail. How can leaving the only home you know to seek safety and freedom for your family, be punished as a crime right here in the United States? How can this happen in a country that agreed, decades ago, to treat people with compassion while respecting their human rights as their claims are considered?
Alongside Amnesty International, dedicated lawyers, and global activists – there is an imperative to get involved right now. Change takes time. In August, four families were released after being held for nearly two years at Berks.
Two whole years.
Whether for two weeks or two years, no family should be jailed for seeking safety.
Families have been forced to flee their homes because their lives are under threat and their human rights are being violated. We all share a responsibility to help people who have lost everything, and to give them a chance to rebuild their lives safely the same way all of us would need to if we were in this horrible situation.
HOW TO HELP
- Amnesty International USA is fighting to ensure that people with asylum claims are given a fair hearing and humane treatment. Learn all of the details on their website, sign their petitions and encourage others to sign them too.
- Call upon the U.S. administration to stop locking up children and their parents for seeking safety. Use your voice on social media demanding the immediate release of #TheBerksKids.
- Watch the below video and share it with your friends, families, and networks.
We must do everything we can to end this human rights crisis and ensure protection for people who are fleeing violence.
We must do everything we can to set children and their parents free.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.