Over the past year, the United States has seen a sharp increase in the number of women and young children fleeing violence in Central America. In response, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began opening new detention centers across the country to detain families, while their fates are decided by Immigration Officials and Judges. Artesia, NM became the site of a new make-shift family detention center where hundreds of women and children are being detained until a determination is made on whether they can stay in the United States.
Most of the women and young children at the Artesia detention center have suffered unimaginable violence in their home countries and have risked their lives to come to the United States. Now, they are stuck in Artesia waiting to find out if they will be allowed to stay in the United States. The detention facility is located in southeast New Mexico, literally in the middle of nowhere. The women spend their days and nights in trailers that have been adapted into living quarters. The young children are sick and not adjusting well to American food. There are no toys for the kids to play with and nothing for them to do during the day. The legal process is grueling. The women are forced to tell their stories of repeated abuse and violence over and over again to Border patrol agents, asylum officers, lawyers, and immigration judges. They are accused of lying, called names, and teased by the guards in charge of them. They are far away from the people who love them. With courage and bravery, these women and children face each day not knowing what will happen next.
They are hidden from us, but they don’t have to go through this alone. In an effort to bring humanity and dignity to each and every woman and child held at the Artesia detention center, York Law, in conjunction with your support and connections, would like to send letters of encouragement to all of the women and children detained in Artesia.
The purpose of this campaign is to bring hope, dignity, humanity, and light to the dark times that these women and children are experiencing in Artesia, NM. However, we need your help. Please share this request with your family and your community. If anyone in your network would like to write and send an encouraging letter to a woman or child in Artesia, NM, please have them follow the guidelines below. All letters can be mailed to the following address, where they will be forwarded to the Artesia detention center.
York Law, LLC
1763 Franklin Street
Denver, CO 80218
Guidelines for Letters Addressed to Women and Children in Artesia
**Please be aware that these letters will be read by a DHS Official prior to being forwarded to the individual**
□ Must be generally directed to a woman or child. Please note that for privacy reasons, the women and children’s names will not be disclosed. Each letter will be addressed to a woman or child prior to sending.
□ If possible, please write the letter in Spanish, or in a language that is native to Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador. All letters written in English will be translated into Spanish prior to sending.
□ The letter must be encouraging
□ All letters will be screened for appropriateness prior to sending
Written by Lisa York, AILA Member and Artesia Volunteer
If you are an AILA member who wants to volunteer at Artesia or elsewhere, please see our Pro Bono page or feel free to contact Maheen Taqui at firstname.lastname@example.org–the end of September and early October are short on volunteers and we could really use your help.
If you aren’t able to come help in person, consider donating at http://www.aila.org/helpthevolunteers. And thank you!
To watch videos of the volunteers sharing their experiences, go to this playlist on AILA National’s YouTube page.