Washington – First Focus will join the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform and the We Belong Together Campaign to renew the call to end family detention at a joint press conference at 2103 Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill at 12 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Wendy Cervantes, First Focus vice president of immigration and child rights, will deliver brief remarks alongside members of Congress urging the Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop the unjust and inhumane detainment of children and families seeking asylum.

“The bottom line is that we know family detention is a dangerous policy that directly harms children. The research consistently shows that children who are detained even for a short period of time face risks to their overall development, including long-term psychological trauma and declining health,” Cervantes said.

The speakers will be joined by schoolchildren who recently wrote holiday cards to children in family detention facilities. The effort is part of “A Wish for the Holidays,” a campaign organized by We Belong Together that expresses children’s holiday wishes for families in detention to be released. Several children who wrote cards, as well as a child who was held in a detention facility, will also speak.

“No child should have to spend the holidays behind bars, and we urge the Administration to grant the wish of every child in who wrote a letter as part of this campaign by ending family detention once and for all,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes is the director of the Center for Children of Immigrants, an organization that challenges policymakers to ensure that all children and families, regardless of immigration status, have the opportunity to live the American Dream.

Download the First Focus Fact Sheet “Family Detention: The Harmful Impact of Children” here.


First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.org.