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Nov 19, 19

Philadelphia, PA: Anti-ICE Protesters Disrupt Devereux Gala Against Detention of Migrant Children

Report from recent action in Philadelphia against Devereux which has accepted a contract  to open several migrant youth detention facilities.

On Saturday night, over 100 Jews, immigrants, and allies marched in the streets as others from the group infiltrated the annual fundraising gala of Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health. The demonstration was part of a larger campaign highlighting the $14 million contract Devereux accepted from the federal government to open several migrant youth detention centers. This action is the latest escalation from the national Jewish movement Never Again working in collaboration with local immigrant justice organization Juntos to demand that Devereux stop detaining migrant children.

On the streets outside of the event, protesters marched from 8th and Cherry to the National Constitution Center where the gala was held. Protestors chanted slogans like “It’s Not a Shelter, It’s a Jail” and blocked the Constitution Center parking garage where Devereux was offering free parking to its guests.

On October 17th, several dozen protestors from this campaign blocked the main exit to Devereux National Headquarters while protesting the nonprofit’s plans to hold migrant children in a detention center in Devon, PA. Devereux plans to use its $14 million contract from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to operate multiple youth detention centers nationwide, including one in Devon, PA, where they plan to house 42 migrant children who crossed the border without an adult.

Although Devereux calls them “shelters,” their facilities for migrant children are in fact detention centers since the children held there will be forbidden from leaving. “These young people need to be immediately reunited with their families or sponsors, not detained,” said Juntos Executive Director Erika Almirón, adding that agencies like Devereux “aren’t trying to help these children, they’re trying to make money.”

Devereux claims to be “apolitical” and “neutral” on immigration policy, but its participation in the terrifying status quo is cowardly. The number of kids in cages is higher than it’s ever been, and only growing under this administration. In 2019 alone, 70,000 migrant children were detained, including infants and toddlers — more than ever before in the US and more than any other country in the world.

The detention center in Devon recently had its zoning permit revoked and organizers demand that Devereux accept this decision. They further demand an end to corporations profiting off of immigrant detention, the complete defunding of ICE and CBP as overall agencies, and permanent protection for all undocumented immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

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