Children’s museums around the country are speaking out against inhumane treatment of migrant children in US detention centers.
Following a call to action from the Association of Children’s Museums, museums in Indiana, New York, Massachusetts and other states have pressed for more humane treatment of immigrant children and urgent action from politicians.
“Through forced separations and inhumane treatment in overcrowded, unsanitary facilities, the United States is denying children their basic human rights,” said the Association of Children’s Museums, which represents museums in all 50 states and 19 countries.
“What really drives children’s museums is a deep passion around making the world a better place for children,” ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus told CNN.
She added that ACM got involved because of concerns from member museums and because poor treatment of young migrants is an issue that threatens the wellbeing of children and causes trauma.
The association also called for a more permanent policy effort to ensure that inhumane treatment of immigrant and refugee families does not continue in the future.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis echoed the call for better treatment, posting on Facebook, “We stand with our colleagues in the children’s museum field in our belief that all children are valued citizens.”
Neighborhood North Museum of Play in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, shared the statement and added that they “hold inclusivity and equity as core values.”
The concerns about the treatment of migrant children follow recent reports of unsanitary conditions and overcrowding at several US Customs and Border Protection facilities in Texas. CNN reported that a team of lawyers, doctors and advocates found what they called major health and hygiene problems at detention facilities, including a lack of soap, limited access to showers and a shortage of beds.
The children’s museums’ outcries are not the first time the museum sector has gotten involved in issues surrounding migrant detention facilities. Earlier this week, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History inquired about obtaining disturbing drawings by migrant children that depict figures with sad faces behind bars.
The American history museum told CNN it hopes to preserve drawings made by three children recently released from US Customs and Border Patrol custody in McAllen, Texas, as part of an effort to document history as it unfolds.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Sunday that 350 migrant children remain in US Customs and Border Protection custody — down from 2,500 last month.