Advocates told Rewire.News that some of these children remain purposely separated from the adults they migrated with because they are legal guardians, not "parents."
In a handwritten letter shared on the NWDC Resistance Facebook page, immigrants participating in the hunger strike said they were "demanding change and closure of these detention centers."
Not all of the collective's members could be in Durham for the three-day gathering, but those in attendance told Rewire.News that what they were learning would benefit all people in sanctuary—especially if they are able to get out.
Colectivo Santuario is not taking no for an answer anymore. "We are going to get people out of sanctuary. We are going to stop their deportations. We're not going to stand for people being incarcerated in churches anymore," said one organizer.
"They thought this letter that has no legal standing would scare us into hiding. It's going to take more than that," explained Phillip Agnew, co-director of the Dream Defenders.
Within the span of a few weeks, a child died after leaving a Texas detention center and a senior woman died in custody at a California facility.
"Being in detention doesn't just affect the person in detention; it affects the whole family. And when one family member is detained, that too is family separation."
Advocacy groups like the UndocuBlack Network framed the Trump administration's decision as simply putting Somalis on an "18-month notice."
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, who issued the court order requiring separated families be reunited, said in a Tuesday status conference that the deadlines in place are "firm deadlines" and not "aspirational goals."
Under this administration, calls to keep families together can be used to justify family detention, according to advocates. For those seeking to prevent human rights abuses against immigrant communities, the demands must be more far-reaching and reflect experiences that extend beyond what is happening at the border.
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