While Trump’s proposal to detain asylum-seeking and migrant families indefinitely remains open to public comment for the next week, families who have already been detained for longer than the 20-day maximum endure painful separations and terrifying uncertainty while they remain in limbo.
For five families being held at the South Texas Family Residential Center in the town of Dilley who have been there since July, their stay has been marked by traumatic treatment, poor medical attention, lack of appropriate language services, and – in one case – unauthorized surgery on a separated child while in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody.
“President Trump’s deceptive order from the summer keeping families together, but at the price of their freedom, perpetuates human rights abuses,” said Ashley Houghton, tactical campaign manager with Amnesty International USA. “Families that suffered the trauma of being ripped apart did not get a happy ending. They are now being held in detention centers. These are children spending their formative years in what are essentially prisons for babies, unable to go to school, or the park, or anywhere else. They must be freed while their applications are pending.”
Some of the families who remain detained include the following (all names changed for protection):
- Gloria and her 12-year-old daughter Devora were separated for 53 days before coming to Dilley in July. Gloria fled Honduras after enduring years of sexual assault by Devora’s father. Her injuries from being brutally raped are so severe that she underwent surgery, but at Dilley there is no gynecologist to give her follow-up care or help manage her pain. She has still not seen a gynecologist despite multiple requests from her attorney in the past three months.
- Julieta and her 13-year-old son Ezdras were separated for 58 days before coming to the Dilley center in July. At that point, she was told she was going to be released, and Julieta was fitted with an ankle monitor. But before she was freed, the monitor was removed, and she and her son were instead transferred to Dilley. Julieta’s case has been undermined, in part, because she speaks an Indigenous Guatemalan language and lacked adequate translation services.
- Monica and her 13-year-old son Jafeth were separated for 62 days before coming to Dilley in July. During the separation, Monica was repeatedly told that Jafeth had been adopted. He underwent an appendectomy without Monica even knowing he was ill or consenting to the operation. Monica only learned of the surgery after the fact, just before she was to appear before an immigration judge. Their prolonged detention has only added to their trauma.
Amnesty International USA, the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Dilley Pro Bono Project call on ICE to release these five mothers and their children, as well as the other 33 families in prolonged detention at Dilley.
Amnesty International and Families Belong Together recently projected images onto landmarks in New York and Washington calling for the Trump Administration to end family detention. The photos can be found here.