Conceived and created by Child Psychiatrist Amy Cohen and award-winning Documentary film maker Claudia Sobral, “Detained in America: Children Speak” is a program of child voices describing the trauma inflicted by American government policies on the young and innocent. The program will be hosted by the Japanese American National Museum on Saturday, September 21st at 1:30 PM. Fellow organizers include the The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Immigrant Families Together (IFT), and Bend the Arc.
Demonstrating how American policies of targeted child and family cruelty echo from one century to the next, the program will feature Japanese American children reading segments of archival letters from those removed to concentration camps in the 20th century while other children speak the words taken from the declarations of their asylum-seeking age-mates, recently taken from families and incarcerated in detention facilities and immigration camps. Also featured will be the remarkable clay animation film, Estrella, written and produced by 7th grade students from Kewanee, Illinois. The afternoon’s program will close with a presentation by the film’s student narrator and Marc Nelson, the teacher who guided his students through this project of education, empathy and creative child empowerment.
Each of the program’s community organization collaborators is deeply involved in addressing the injustices of America’s immigration policies. As has been well documented, these government-directed policies have resulted in long term damage and even death to children due to dangerous detention conditions, medical and emotional neglect, and the profound trauma of separation from parents and other caregivers.