Since last summer, when the Obama Administration hastily resurrected the concept of family detention to jail refugee women and children seeking asylum, thousands of women and children have languished in inhumane conditions, have been refused meaningful access to counsel and interpreters, have been hurled through bond proceedings with predetermined results, and have been sent directly and expeditiously back to the danger from which they fled – all in violation of U.S.
Yesterday, several prominent House Democrats called on the administration to end family detention. Organized by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, the Democrats decried the Obama administration’s detention of women and children fleeing violence in Central America. From the creating of a truncated form of due process in refugee protection to a novel interpretation of bond eligibility to conditions which have caused serious illnesses in the children being jailed by the administration, the entire experience of the gulag archipelago of detention centers was designed not to follow the law and protect asylum-seekers, but as a means of deterrence to other potential refugees.
Artesia. Karnes. Dilley. Before the administration decided it would be a great idea to lock up Central American women and children fleeing from persecution, these towns were unknown. Artesia was the hometown of our government’s rejuvenation of family detention. The makeshift facility, warmly referred to by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) as the Artesia Family Residential Center, was the hub of so many human rights violations that it was ultimately shut down.
In a major victory for immigrants, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled yesterday that women who are unable to leave domestic violence caused by their husbands may qualify as a particular social group for asylum purposes. This decision brings to an end a lengthy period of uncertainty regarding the viability of claims to asylum by women fleeing domestic violence. The Board’s decision in Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I.&N.
Olsi Vrapi is a Friend of Benach Collopy who practices in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He recently found himself on the front line of the battle of how to handle the major influx of refugee children at the Southern Border. In this chilling blogpost entitled “The Artesia Experience,” Olsi describes his experience visiting his client in the new facility in Artesia, New Mexico where the government is detaining Central American children and families.
Our country is facing one of its greatest moral challenges in years: how will we treat the migrant children fleeing violence in Central America and seeking refuge within our borders? I know how I want us to treat them. Fairly, humanely, and within the parameters of the anti-trafficking law passed by bipartisan consensus in 2008 and signed by then-President George W. Bush. Under the TVPRA of 2008, a child apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) undergoes initial processing and screening to see if he or she is an unaccompanied child (UAC) from a non-contiguous country, such as El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala.
We have had lots to say about the children seeking refuge in the United States. Yet, once again, our poor power to add or detract has become apparent in light of this brilliant piece by Friend of Benach Collopy (FOBR) Heidi Altman, Legal Director of the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition. The CAIR Coalition has been providing legal services to unaccompanied children in Virginia for several years and the fierce and lovely staff there knows all too well the motivations that drive children to leave their homes in Central America.