Letter to Rescind Cecilia Muñoz's AILA Keynote Invitation
"She is one of the principal architects of shocking, widespread, and ongoing human rights violations against vulnerable children fleeing Central America. As such, she should not be elevated or rewarded with the most prominent speech at AILA’s annual conference.
Letter to Rescind Cecilia Muñoz's AILA Keynote Invitation
A: IlO. ICHl & JOHNSON, PLLC
ATTORNEYS AT LAW
AILA National Ofﬁce
1331 G Street NW. Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Director Williams and AILA leadership:
I write this letter on behalf of the undersigned and for our law ﬁnn. I am also
scheduled to speak as an expert on the panel titled UACs. Guardianships, and Other
Minor Issues. Together, we represent hundreds of immigrant children who are being or
have been intentionally harmed by Cecilia Muﬁoz’s decisions as Domestic Policy
Advisor to President Obama and as Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
We hereby request that AILA rescind Cecilia Muﬁoz’s invitation to deliver the
keynote address at the our annual conference given that she is directly responsible for
causing children to suffer severe and prolonged physical and mental harm in detention
centers in Artesia. New Mexico: Leesport. Pennsylvania; Kames City, Texas; and Dilley.
Additionally. Ms. Munoz has fully backed President Obama’s multi-pronged
policy to prevent Central American children from escaping death, severe bodily or mental
ham, and rape. She is one of the principal architects of shocking, widespread, and
ongoing human rights violations against vulnerable children ﬂeeing Central America. As
such, she should not be elevated or rewarded with the most prominent speech at AILA’s
Ms. Muﬁoz’s actions and words, in part, directly caused the children described
below to suffer unimaginable physical and mental harm.
1. A 1 year old rushed to the hospital with pneumonia only to be sent back to
detention immediately upon discharge.
2. A 7-year-old boy raped and detained for months afterwards in the same facility
as his abuser. He was released upon his family paying a $10,000 bond set by an
3. A 4-year-old gir locked in an isolation jail cell with her mother for 9
consecutive days while suffering from untreated pneumonia and severe decay in all of her
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4. A 3-year-old who coughed up blood for more than 3 days who was told to just
drink lots of water until ﬁnally she was brought to the hospital for treatment.
5. A 2-year-old boy with a 107 fever whom, according to the emergency room
doctor, was close to suffering cardiac arrest if he had arrived any later.
6. A 4-year-old girl placed in foster care for two months after her mother
attempted suicide in the Dilley intemment camp because ICE extinguished her hope: she
faced the certainty that life would end, either with indeﬁnite detention or deportation to
death in Honduras.
Dozens and dozens of similar accounts reverberate among us. Children suffer
immense pain because of detention, and even death because of deportation. The above
accounts are not unknown to Ms. Munoz. Several high proﬁle news outlets have reported
on the physical and mental harm children experience as a direct consequence of
Family detention is not even the worst of Ms. Munoz’s acts. Starting last summer.
she and the White House were desperate to do anything to stop Central American
children from escaping into the U. S. in such high numbers. President Obama went so far
as to request Congress to gut the 2008 Trafﬁcking and Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) so that unaccompanied children from Central America
could be detained pending deportation without even seeing an immigration judge.
In the midst of the crisis, Ms. Munoz told PBS News Hour that “the vast majority
of those kids end up going back. There may be some isolated cases where there is some
basis for them to be able to stay, but the borders of the United States are not open, not
even for children who come on their own, and the deportation process starts when they
get here. and we expect that it will for the vast majority of these kids. "
Contrasted with the reality that the vast majority of recent child arrivals are
eligible to remain in the United States lawfully as special immigrant juveniles or asylees,
Ms. Munoz lied to the public to justify the unthinkable: deporting children back to be
killed, abducted, raped, or harmed.
Opposed by Democrats in Congress, the White House was unsuccessful in
eliminating the law’s protections. The President and his advisors went to plan B: hire
Mexico to apprehend and rapidly deport Central American children back home while en
route to the safety of the United States.
The White House’s plan is ongoing and the primary cause of the drop in Central
American apprehensions in 2015: Mexico deported 3,289 Central American children in
January and February of 2015 alone, a 105 percent increase from 2014.
The White House’s plan to trap children in countries torn asunder by a war even
reaches the conditions of ﬁnancial aid designated to ameliorate the crisis. In the 2015
budget bill, any Central American recipient of aid to improve conditions such as safety,
security, and education would be stripped of all aid if the respective nations fail to keep
their own citizens from ﬂeeing harm to the United States.
Admittedly, it is important to maintain communications with the White House.
However, even leading Senate and House Democrats speaking out against family
detention as early as October of 2014 were unable to secure significant changes in the
Rather, the administration continues its aggressive and unlawful campaign to
deter Central American children and their families ﬁ'om lawfully obtaining asylum or
other relief in the United States.
Family detention surged forward in its no-release-no-matter-what form until
litigation in the District Courts in Washington D. C. and Central Califomia blunted its
power in February and April of 201 5, respectively. However, litigation is not a miracle
cure. Public pressure, which has been difﬁcult to gain steam up until recently, plays a
large role in affecting policy decisions from the White House and others. Public pressure
is not gained by affording a leader who has ignored all pleas to stop harming children
with more agency than all of the 14,000 AILA attomeys present at the conference.
Given that Ms. Munoz is responsible for such unconscionable human rights
violations against children ﬂeeing to save their lives, we respectfully request that her
invitation as the keynote speaker be rescinded immediately.
Very ly Yours,
Ala moac 1, sq.
On behalf of the following:
Matthew Kolken, Esq. Christine Popp, Esq.
Amy Maldonado, Esq. Daniel M. Kowalski, Esq.
Ivan Yacub. Esq. Matthew Udall, Esq.
Norma Sepulveda, Esq. Mac Nayeri, Esq.
Matthew Archambeault, Esq.
David Bennion, Esq.
Robert Barron, Esq.
Danielle Rosche. Esq.
Marty Rosenbluth, Esq.
Isabel Guzman, Esq.
Carol Anne Mauer Donohoe, Esq.
Scarlett Leiva, Esq.
Bridget Cambria, Esq.