Each Mother’s Day I am reminded of my journey to, and through, motherhood. When I first became a mom, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty. Motherhood was uncharted territory, and as I first held my child, I felt love beyond measure and a burden of responsibility I felt unprepared but determined to carry. I could not fail at this task, of being the best parent I could be for this little one who depended on me for food, safety, love, care, everything.
I have been a mother for 11 years now, but my desire to provide safety and a sense of home to my children is just as strong as it was all those years ago. This desire, I know, is a large part of what drives many mothers facing danger in other countries to seek safety for their families in the United States. Many of them have suffered unimaginable adversity and abuse, and travelled months with few to no supplies, clinging to hope for safer futures for their children.
This Mother’s Day season, my heart was heavy for the mothers and children detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, Texas. There, beneath stadium-bright lights and behind a tall fence, women relive past traumas in preparation for their credible fear interviews (CFI) so that they can have a meaningful chance to seek asylum as our laws require. Thankfully, with the help of the Dilley Pro Bono Project (DPBP), these women are provided CFI prep and legal representation free of charge, helping them take another step closer to safety. Of course, legal representation for detained individuals is just a part of the whole. The concurrent mission of the DPBP is to put an end to the inhumane practice of family detention altogether so that one day, women and their children do not have to spend Mother’s Day detained, not knowing whether they will be granted freedom to pursue their asylum claims or returned to a place of danger and despair.
What gives me hope is that people care about these families. This month, Columbia University students wrote Mother’s Day letters to moms in detention at STFRC. These letters hold messages of hope, encouragement, and admiration for every mother’s arduous journey to the United States, and were delivered to the women by the chaplain at STFRC.
The mothers detained at STFRC fled dangerous situations and embarked on grueling journeys for the sake of their children. While many of us will never face this type of desperation, the desire to provide safety and a sense of home for our children is one that mothers everywhere can relate to. We may speak different languages, and come from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, but the responsibility of motherhood transcends these differences. This year, I hope you will consider the great sacrifices of the women detained in Dilley, and perhaps even sign up to volunteer for a week with the Dilley Pro Bono Project through the Immigration Justice Campaign.
Every mother, at one point or another, needs a helping hand. A week of your time spent in Dilley is that helping hand. What better way to honor moms this month?