Tell ICE to Free Maddie!
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"Every child has the right to be with their family and to be happy." - Maddie's Mom.
We are asking for Maddie's immediate release so she can be happy, together with her Mom and her Dad.
Maddie is six years old and fleeing one of the most dangerous places in Central America. She's had a lot of time to draw pictures in detention - her favorite picture to draw is a heart with her name, her father's name and her mother's name. She'll also draw a globe, with small people. The people are her mother, father, herself and her dream of a little brother.
Maddie's favorite animals are bunnies and dogs. She misses the puppy she had to leave behind. But more than anything, Maddie misses her Mom. Some days she asks her Dad to tell her her Mom's name, because she is afraid of forgetting it. Maddie doesn't want to forget her Mom, but she has not seen her in six months. Maddie's Mom is literally a two hour drive away from the family detention center where she and her Dad are currently languishing - the Berks County family jail.
As of today, she has been detained by the United States government more than 130 days. The law says that she cannot be detained for more than 20 days. However, for Maddie - the government continues to detain her arbitrarily because they assigned her to a dangerous program called "Remain in Mexico." Thousands of asylum seekers in this program, including children and babies, are forced into homelessness, kidnapped, assaulted and worse - raped or disappeared or killed in the streets of Mexico.
Maddie isn't safe in Mexico. We know, because for two months prior to her detention, the United States government placed her and her Dad in Mexico where they were homeless, witnessed violence against migrants, were chased, and threatened by Mexican police that Maddie would be taken from her Dad.
Aldea - the People's Justice Center helped Maddie sue the U.S government.
We sued so that Maddie could speak to power and tell them it is not ok for the United States to return her and her Dad to Mexico. The law says we owe safe and sanitary conditions to children in our immigration system. We owe them a meaningful opportunity to seek help if they are placed in a complex legal process. It is unlawful to subject a six year old child to the impossible choice between harm in her country or harm in Mexico. She deserves to be safe always, and to be cared for always. She has the right to be with her family, and to be happy.
She is now detained with her Dad in Pennsylvania while her Mom is free, seeking protection in New Jersey and anxiously waiting to hold her daughter and tell her this nightmare is over. However, because we challenged the U.S. government, they have refused to let her be free and reunite with her Mom. Because she has challenged the way children are being treated on the border, the government has responded by detaining her and her Dad indefinitely - even though there is a safer place for her and her Dad to go. A cruel way of getting Maddie and her Dad to give up their case and return to danger.
While Maddie waits for a Federal Court to decide whether Maddie is to be returned to the dangers of Mexican border towns, Maddie became the child who has been detained the longest in family detention in the entire country. She is detained for no other reason than for seeking protection in the United States with her Dad.
The Department of Homeland Security has the power to change this today.
Maddie is an obvious example that family detention serves no legitimate purpose. If released, their family will participate in the exact same court process they now are fighting, and win or lose - at least they will do so together.
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