FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AFSC-AZ Statement Regarding Southwest Key’s Detention of Immigrant Children

Press Contact: Joe Watson
Phone: 602.383.4155

Tucson, Arizona – June 29, 2019 – Over the past 27 years, the work of American Friends Service Committee-Arizona (AFSC-AZ) to reduce the criminal punishment system has been rooted in a fundamental Quaker tenant: Worth, dignity, and Light are present in all people. We stand with those directly impacted by incarceration, whom society often marginalizes with labels like “criminal,” implying that their mistakes make them less deserving of our love and compassion.

The diseased root of both our broken criminal “justice” system and our broken immigration system is the same—criminalizing behavior that those in power disapprove of, do not understand, or fear. Governments create laws to protect their perceived interests. We can apply the same lens to our federal government’s policy of criminalizing migration, incarcerating immigrants, and separating families. These policies are justified through the same process of fear mongering and criminalization—casting immigrants as “dangerous” and accusing them of flouting the law.

Both broken systems, in turn, are helping to expand a billion dollar industry that profits off of surveillance, supervision, and locking up people. This must stop.

While AFSC-AZ is relieved that children will no longer be separated from their parents, locking up individuals or families in detention facilities is not an acceptable alternative. Neither is placing them under costly and invasive electronic monitoring or other forms of surveillance. Not only are these criminalizing responses unfair, they are ineffective at addressing the root issues around migration. Just like mass incarceration does nothing to help people stop using drugs.

These responses don’t work because they completely ignore the drivers causing families to flee their home countries and seek refuge in the U.S. Families who take the risk of crossing the border are often escaping violence and extreme poverty in hopes of a better life. Like most parents, they would do almost anything to keep their children safe.

We need to address this situation by re-centering the conversation around our shared humanity, understanding the complex drivers of migration, and rejecting the false narratives that permit inhumane treatment of those labeled “criminals.”

Each person in our community can be a part of this change, in all areas of their lives. Read more from AFSC about ways to stay informed and take action.

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American Friends Service Committee-Arizona (AFSC-AZ) works to reduce the scope and impact of the criminal punishment system in Arizona using research and documentation, advocacy, and policy reform to advance sentencing reform, halt prison expansion and improve conditions of confinement.

1 Comment

  1. Hello…my name is Teresa Salazar. I just spoke with Joe Watson this morning. I just want to thank him…and AFSC…for all that you are doing in Arizona to reveal the need for prison reform. I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but my son is incarcerated in Arizona. I see him every six months for food visits, as he so loves my home cooking. Also, it is nearly impossible to travel 7 hours each way on a regular basis. I am involved on Facebook with several prison support sites. I have signed up to receive your posts and, if there is a way for me to join in any of your meetings, especially lobbying…please contact me and I will do my best to help, or attend. I am most particularly interested in any lobbying that you do for prison reform. Please put my name and number on your list of contacts! On Facebook, my name and picture are changed, so as not to bring retaliation against my son. My FB name is: Teresa Christianson (because I am a Christian)…and my prison website is: PALOS (Prisoners and Loved Ones Support). My cell number will be provided to you through email, when you contact me. Again, thank you…it gives my heart hope just to know AFSC is working to change Arizona prisons system.

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