The due process violations are still going on in Artesia. While the nation’s attention is on other concerns like Ebola and the mid-term elections, mothers and children are still being detained in Artesia and other facilities. The work of the Artesia Volunteer Heroes is making a difference. More families are being released on bond than being deported, to the frightened shock of the Artesia Mayor. “This administration has changed their view on the rapid deportation, as it was the stated goal to begin with, and had just determined that they will simply release them into the United States,” Artesia Mayor, Phil Burch, said. Of course, like many in this debate, he is quick to dismiss our country’s international law obligations and commitments, asylum law, and immigration law standards dictating release of bona fide asylum seekers.
Denver Immigration Judges are granting significantly lower bonds than their previous Arlington colleagues. This proves these families have bona fide asylum claims and the Administration is wrong about their national security claims. Schools have now opened for the children in Artesia.
Yet, we cannot allow ourselves to believe things are getting better. Let’s be clear, what is happening in Artesia is wrong, illegal, and morally reprehensible. The recent allegations of sexual abuse at the Karnes Family Detention Center, serve only to emphasize again our country’s failure to protect these vulnerable asylum seekers.
Ten US Senators have sent a letter to DHS Secretary, Jeh Johnson telling him it is “unacceptable” to detain women and children seeking asylum. The Senators asserted, “Mothers and their children who have fled violence in their home countries should not be treated like criminals. They have come seeking refuge from three of the most dangerous countries in the world, countries where women and girls face shocking rates of domestic and sexual violence and murder.”
This week, 32 House Democrats sent a letter raising three concerns, “We have identified three principal concerns with the rapid, mass expansion of family detention: (1) the “no-bond/high-bond” policy for families; (2) the disparity in credible fear rates for families in detention; and (3) the lack of appropriate child care within facilities.Nevertheless, the Obama Administration continues plans to open new Family Detention Centers.”
Please do not disregard what is happening in Artesia and in other detention centers. Never forget. I challenge you and others to take the Tour of Duty in Artesia, offer help at Karnes, or work remotely on bond motions. Volunteer. Donate. Be part of the solution.
These last four blogs posts are dedicated to the Artesia Volunteers and supporters who are changing the face of this debate. “I think what we are seeing in Artesia now is the result of attorneys actually being in the facility, having access to these families and being able to ensure some actual oversight and accountability of what is happening in Artesia,” Policy Counsel for Detention Watch Network, Madhuri Grewal, said.
As the hometown High School Artesia Bulldogs’ motto describes: The Desire to Serve, The Courage to Act, the Ability to Perform, is what drives our volunteers. Chingon.
Written by Victor Nieblas Pradis, Southern California Chapter AILA MemberVolunteer and AILA President-Elect
Miss the first three parts of this blog?
If you are an AILA member who wants to volunteer at a family detention center, please go to http://www.aila.org/beavolunteer or feel free to contact Maheen Taqui at firstname.lastname@example.org–we are looking for more as the work continues 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 at Artesia and elsewhere sharing their experiences, go to this playlist on AILA National’s YouTube page. To see all the blog posts about this issue select Family Detention as the category on the right side of this page.