Vaccine Overdose to Detained Children Another Sign that Family Detention Must End
Washington D.C. - This weekend, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) learned that, recently, medical personnel at the detention center in Dilley, Texas that holds nearly 2,000 children and their mothers mistakenly gave adult-strength Hepatitis A vaccinations to approximately 250 children.
“Volunteer attorneys at Dilley, as well as those at similar detention centers in Karnes, TX, Berks, PA and the previous facility in Artesia, NM, have long noted disturbing patterns of what appears to be inadequate health care for the women and children. This latest permutation is beyond appalling—it is putting children at risk not just for short-term reactions but for unknown long-term risks,” said Crystal Williams, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“Imprisoning children and their mothers was wrong when it was started a year ago, and is wrong today. Just because the detention camps have no bars on the windows does not make them any less like a prison. Children have been forced to sleep with the lights on, are subject to intrusive checks regularly throughout the night, and have been dragged from their beds at 4:00 am to be given shots while their mothers must stand helplessly by without being told what is going on or being allowed a say in the matter,” Ms. Williams added.
“This latest healthcare failure at Dilley is one of many indicators that family detention is just not workable. The Administration has recently acknowledged the need for ‘substantial changes’ to their practice of detaining families. It needs to abandon the effort entirely, and return to a more humane and cost effective system where families are released, on alternatives when necessary, to ensure the safety and well-being of the children. This needs to happen now, before any further damage is done to their physical and mental health,” stated Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
AILA and the Council have been partnering with two other organizations, CLINIC and RAICES, to provide volunteer legal services to detained women and children in Dilley and Karnes. Our staff and volunteers on the ground work with the women and children every day and have witnessed the deleterious effects of detention on the families.