Stop the abuse of immigrant children in this country

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Lynn M. Stephen

Latin American Studies Association

Dear Professor Stephen,

 We write to you regarding the alarming news that the United States is keeping immigrant children in sub-human conditions in a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas. On June 6th Senator Jeff Merkley revealed what he discovered in this facility: a warehouse with blackout windows that keeps thousands of children, including toddlers, in what looks like cages.

The current administration has the cruel policy of separating immigrant families, alienating children from their parents, as a form of punishment. Between May 6th and May 19th alone 658 children have been separated from their parents and are kept in these facilities that do not allow for any kind of external supervision. The actions performed in these detention centers are secret. On orders from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, guards do not allow anyone else inside. 

These conditions violate basic rights in the United States, including protections under the fifth and eighth amendments, namely right to due process and protection from cruel and unusual punishment.  They also violate the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which the United States is a signatory. Only Senator Merkley has been able to visit the facility. His testimony is horrifying. 

As academics in diverse fields of Latin American Studies, we cannot stand indifferently while this is happening.  We respectfully ask LASA to consider issuing a forceful pronouncement against the systematic abuse and human rights violations against immigrant children, mostly of Latin American origin, in this country.

 Yours sincerely,

 Mónica Ricketts Sánchez-Moreno, Associate Professor, Temple University 

 Alberto Ribas-Casasayas, Associate Professor, Santa Clara University         

Richard Salvucci, Professor, Trinity University                                                     

Amy Offner, Assisant Professor, University of Pennsylvania                                 

Julia Sarreal, Associate Professor, Arizona State University