As noted in our blog posting from earlier this week, our senior Associate Christina Xenides and paralegal Vanessa Cabrera have been volunteering this week with the CARA Project in Dilley, Texas.
Though communication from the facility is limited and they have been putting in long days on behalf of those detained, Christina was able to give us a quick summary of what a day is like in Dilley:
"Every day we do intakes for new arrivals. They usually have Credible Fear Interviews scheduled within the first few days of their arrival so we've also been preparing many women and children for that. For every CFI that is denied we file requests for reinterview. Vanessa spent a great deal of time yesterday and today working with a woman who's CFI was denied, the request for reinterview was denied, and the Immigration Judge affirmed the denial. We are making one last ditch effort to request reinterview based on new circumstances (new threats) as well as filing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act for mistreatment of her and her young son while in Customs & Border Protection and Immigration & Customs Enforcement custody. It is a long shot but we are doing everything we can for her - - even looking to see if we can get guardianship for her young son granted to a relative in the US so at least he can stay."
"The other big focus is on the ICE raid families who are still here. Many were already transferred to Berks County family immigration detention center in Pennsylvania likely in the government's effort to comply with the Flores v. Reno settlement agreement. However, many other families have already been deported. The ones who are still here are the ones for whom CARA was able to file emergency stays and appeals with the BIA which are pending. They all had court last week and early this week where we asked for custody determinations so they could get out -- in one case the IJ suggested he wouldn't even consider setting bond for any amount less than $30,000. But it did not matter because all 3 IJ's from Miami ruled that they don't have jurisdiction to determine custody. I am now working on the appeals of those decisions over jurisdiction to set bond."
"The whole situation is really disheartening as it seems that ICE really chose the wrong people to target for their raids -- all of these women who CARA was able to get to in time have strong asylum claims that were denied because they lived in hostile jurisdictions and had poor representation. They did not have attorneys who fought for their cases and they then were advised not to appeal because they would lose anyway. Not only do the underlying claims have merit, but it is so obvious that there are violations of due process and ineffective assistance of counsel. In the name of appearing tough on immigration, we now have these women and their young children stuck in detention at taxpayer expense while the appeals process is pending for who knows how long. We also have two Syrian mothers and children here from the raids as well. Their husbands were also arrested but are at a different facility for men in Pearsall. There is one woman from the raids who has had about 5 seizures while in detention (brought on by stress) and we've been working with her every day to document her case and the lack of medical care/treatment she has received."
While Christina and Vanessa are not able to bring their phones into the facility, they were able to get us a couple of shots of south Texas. Here is one snapped a moment before getting chased away by security guards:
And here is another. You can't visit the border without sampling some of the local cuisine: