Statement from HILSC Organizations on Family Separation & Detention

June 21, 2018

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Detention of Asylum Seeking Families is an Abuse of Justice

Houston legal services providers and allies condemn the crisis manufactured by Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy; Call on local, state and federal officials to block the indefinite detention of asylum seekers through family detention.

June 22, 2018Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner publicly opposed a new Houston immigrant children’s facility. The Mayor joins calls by Houston immigrants, legal advocates and service providers to local officials, state representatives, and members of Congress to take explicit action to block considerations for any new immigrant child facilities that are a result of the family separation policy. The proposed facility is the result of the federal practice of tearing apart and imprisoning asylum-seeking families, a practice condemned by the immigrant community, advocates, and people of conscience.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order that purports to solve the self-made family separation crisis by detaining families together, a tactic that causes irreparable harm to traumatized children and their parents, who are seeking asylum in the U.S. It is not only immoral, but unlawful and would be in violation of the Flores Settlement of 1997 by allowing the indefinite detention of asylum seeking children.

Kate Vickery, Executive Director, HILSC, said:

“We are in the midst of a manufactured crisis that is creating a false need for new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter in Houston. While the service providers stand ready to help families impacted by family separation and we welcome these families in Houston, we reject the notion that we should enable the build-out of the detention system.

This week, the Mayor seemed to suggest he would be okay with parents and children being detained together, but we strongly believe that asylum seekers should never be imprisoned while seeking refuge in the United States. The detention of families is in the same toolkit as separating families: both are cruel tactics designed to deter immigrants from exercising their rights under national and international law to seek asylum.”

Detention is the biggest hindrance to the exercise of  due process rights by immigrants pursuing legal status in the United States. In Houston, only 13% of detained immigrants have legal representation compared to 69% of non-detained immigrants. Detention facilities are far away from Houston (Conroe, Livingston), attorneys wait for hours to see their clients, and have to speak to their clients through thick plexiglass, which makes basic communication, interpretation, and document signing difficult. When an asylum seeker has legal representation, they are 14 times more likely to win their case.

We  stand opposed to the detention of asylum seekers and call on Congress, the State of Texas, and the City of Houston to not only oppose family separation and family detention, but the detention of asylum seekers in general.

To learn more about HILSC and its program to provide representation to detained families, visit


Organizations and individuals aligned with this statement include:

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston


YMCA Greater Houston

Houston Endowment

The Simmons Foundation

The Alliance


Texas Organizing Project

PAIR – Partnership for the Advancement & Immersion of Refugees

Hindus of Greater Houston

Sikhs of Houston

The Jung Center Houston

The Anti-Defamation League, Southwest Region

United We Dream

Kids in Need of Defense

Fe y Justicia Worker Center

Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Center for Advancing Innovative Policy

Tahirih Justice Center

Refugee Services of Texas


Emgage Texas

TMO, The Metropolitan Organization

Migrant Rights Collective

Justice for Our Neighbors – Houston

The Montrose Center

La Unidad 11

Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS)

Mi Familia Vota

Bonding Against Adversity

Galveston’s Adverse Childhood and Community Experiences Collaborative

Human Rights First

Chinese Community Center

Access Justice Houston

FAM Houston

OCA Greater Houston

Casa Juan Diego: The Houston Catholic Worker

Pantsuit Republic

Indivisible Houston

Black Lives Matter Houston

Montgomery County Women’s Center

Antena Houston

The Modi Law Firm

Pamela Fulbright-Scheyer, Attorney at Law

Teresa Messer, Law Office of Teresa Messer

Justine K. Fanarof, JD, MPH

Bekhal Saeed-Houston

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

Geoffrey Hoffman, Attorney at Law

Virginia C. Angel, JD, MA, LPC

Ruby L. Powers, Powers Law Group, P.C.

Brenda Kirk , Bibles Badges and Business for Immigration Reform

Rosemary Vega, Attorney at Law


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