The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urged the United States yesterday to close detention centers for immigrant children and their families. IACHR member Felipe González noted that the Commission has continually affirmed that children should not be held in detention centers. However, the U.S. currently has three detention centers open in Pennsylvania, Texas and New Mexico that house immigrants while their deportation is being processed.
The Commission conveyed its disapproval of the way that the U.S. has handled the recent immigration crisis, in which an estimated 60,000 children crossed the U.S.-Mexico border fleeing poor and often dangerous conditions in their home countries—mainly Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The IACHR also called on the U.S. to install an independent committee to investigate alleged abuses at the detention centers and evaluate requests for asylum. The Commission announced that a report would soon be approved to propose solutions for the displacement of Central American citizens due to violence.
In response to the observations, U.S. State Department Coordinator of the Working Group on Unaccompanied Minors Timothy Zúñiga-Brown said in a press conference that all of the government’s procedures for working to resolve the crisis follow national and international laws.
The IACHR held a series of meetings on Monday to discuss human rights issues involving the United States, Ecuador, Colombia and Cuba. However, just before the Ecuador meeting was scheduled to begin, the Ecuadorian government sent a message criticizing the Commission and declining to attend. The IACHR’s main concern with Cuba was poor prison conditions, while issues with Colombia involved military impunity and peasants’ land rights.