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This statement has been updated to reflect that seven families have been released from the South Texas Family Residential Center, rather than eight. 

Seven families seeking a better life in the United States have been released from the South Texas Family Residential Center in the town of Dilley, including Andrea* and her 7-year-old son, Mario,* who left Guatemala after years of being targeted because they belong to the Q’eqchi Indigenous group and were detained in the Dilley facility in July. The releases are especially significant in light of the Trump administration’s hostility toward asylum-seekers, including moves to bar asylum-seekers from entering the country between ports of entry.

“After spending more than five months in government custody, not knowing if or when they would ever be free again, children like Mario are finally able to live their lives in freedom while their asylum applications are processed” said Rebecca Ma, Associate Campaigner with Amnesty International USA.

“As we celebrate the victory of these families, we must ensure that no other child lives through the fear that Mario experienced, and that everyone arriving in the USA is given a fair hearing and humane treatment.

“It is unconscionable to criminalize mothers, fathers, and children, as they seek safety and a better life. This administration must immediately abandon plans to build more detention centers and tent cities.”

Many of the families held at Dilley come from a region known as the Northern Triangle of Central America which includes El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The Northern Triangle is an area widely recognized for extreme levels of violence and insecurity, which Amnesty has documented extensively.