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In an extraordinary move, twenty-nine families seeking a better life have been ordered released from the South Texas Family Residential Center in the town of Dilley, including Gloria and her daughter Devora, Julieta and her son Ezdras, Monica and her son Jafeth, and Britany and her children Gerry and Angela. The releases are especially significant in light of the Trump administration’s hostility toward asylum-seekers, including recent moves to bar asylum-seekers from entering the country between ports of entry.

Andrea and her 7-year-old son Mario remain behind bars at Dilley after being separated for 73 days for seeking safety here. They left Guatemala after years of being targeted because they belong to the Q’eqchi Indigenous group.

“Today’s decisions are a huge relief for these mothers and their children, some of whom were forcibly separated and then reunited behind bars,” said Rebecca Ma, associate campaigner at Amnesty International USA. “After spending more than three months behind bars, children like seven-year old Angela will be able to play in the park, go to school, and live their lives in freedom while their asylum applications are processed.

“This is a step in the right direction, but we must make sure everyone arriving in the USA is given a fair hearing and humane treatment. Right now, families in a caravan are on their way to seek safety and a better life. They should be met with compassion, not contempt. It is unconscionable to criminalize mothers, fathers, and children who have lost everything. The administration must immediately abandon plans to build more detention centers and tent cities.

“Along with the American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Dilley Pro Bono Project, we continue to call on ICE to release Andrea and her son Mario, as well as the seven other families still detained in Dilley.”

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.