We like to think we do everything in our power to protect our children from harm. But for a particular community of children, the government has decided that these kids are the ones we need protection from–so they place them in detention, supposedly for their own good.
This video was produced by an international campaign to end child immigration detention. Arbitrary or unjust incarceration of children caught in the immigration system is a problem found not just in the U.S. but in many other destination countries for migrants) explores the complex and often psychologically devastating experiences of youth in immigration detention. As part of a presentation before the United Nations, formerly detained youth used art to tell their stories, expressing through visual media what they could not put into words, voicing the unspeakable through imaginative vision.
As one interviewee says as he displays photographs of desperate detainee children “And what have they committed wrong to be like this behind fences? They are still kids.”
There are many conversations going on around the country about society’s responsibility to protect the most innocent from tragedy, from mass shootings to child abuse, and how to balance rights with safety. The dialogue should also be conscious of the institutions that criminalize youth by design. Between the realm of innocence and protection, and the realm of violence and “security”, why do some children fall on one side of the line and not the other? Who draws the boundaries of that invisible cage?
A description of the film from End Immigration Detention of Children:
“The world was dark for me. I felt broken. I felt I was nobody. In a detention centre you are so broken that you think you are nobody.”
“Hear our voices” was a creative presentation delivered by six youngsters with immigration detention experience in front of States, UN agencies and NGOs at the Day of General Discussion on September 28 2012. The script of the presentation is made up of the actual words of the participating youth with detention experience, which ranges from six weeks to six years. The theatre presentation is the result of a one week residential workshop in which the formerly detained children used creative art techniques to tell their stories.
During the Day, the Committee underlined that article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which also applies in migration situations and is legally binding for its 193 States parties, explicitly states that “no child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily” and the “arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
Read more child immigrant detention stories on the group’s website.