A few amazing things happened in the past couple of days, one of which is quite devastating. Here are some brief updates:
- Last night, due to the amazing work of two of the volunteer attorneys here in Artesia, one of the women being held at the facility and her son were successfully id’ed as US citizens. Proving citizenship can be very challenging. In this woman’s case, she had to prove that she had been in the US continuously for one year since her birth. After calling the mom, dad, uncles, aunts, etc., none of the family members could remember how long the woman had lived in the US. Finally, the attorneys ended up finding a distant cousin who was able to confirm that they had attended the mother’s first birthday party in California. After obtaining this information, the lawyers felt that they had enough evidence to rush to DHS and demand that the woman and child be released. Of course, DHS resisted at first, asking to wait until Monday when they could bring this to the attention of their counsel. However, after being informed exactly how bad a civil liability case for unlawful detention of a US citizen would look on the news, they realized that they had no choice, and released the woman and her child at around 10 PM last night. This woman and her child, both US citizens, had been in this facility for 17 days, and had spent 6 days in the hielera, (icebox) an extremely cold holding cell without windows and barely any food and water that Customs and Border Protection uses to hold people who they pick up close to the border. That is a total of 23 days that DHS did not realize that they were detaining US citizen, even though they are required to ensure that they do not do so. This morning, the woman and her child were off, free to live in the United States.
- As many of you may have heard, The Artesia Center is closing. By the end of the year, all of the women and children will be moved to Dilley in Texas. DHS had announced that they would not start moving people until mid-December. Team Artesia came up with a plan- to do as many bond hearings before that point as possible. Then, DHS announced less than one day prior that they were going to suddenly move 12 people to Karnes, TX. 12 of our clients, who we had prepared bond motions for and set hearing dates, were going to be swept away on a bus and driven through the desert to a facility hundreds of miles away. The attorneys were not going to let that happen, either. The words habeus corpus petition floated around the room, (an action to stop DHS from moving the women and children), phone calls were made, and conversations were had. For today, DHS did not go through with the move. But we are still unsure of tomorrow, and are working to be prepared to stop any move that happens before the scheduled date.
- Last night, 90 people comprised of the local community, members of the ACLU, volunteer lawyers, and others organized a candle light vigil to protest family detention. https://www.artesianews.com/989914/candlelight-vigil-held-near-detention-center.html.