Department of Homeland Security Doubles Down on Family Detention

November 18, 2014

Washington D.C. - Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to close the detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, where it detains mothers and children. Unfortunately, the closure of this facility does not mark the end of a dark chapter in our country’s immigration history. Instead it signifies the government’s decision to double down on its commitment to extended detention of families seeking refuge in the United States. The closure of Artesia comes with the opening of a permanent, drastically larger family detention center in Dilley, Texas. There the government boasts its potential to detain up to 2,400 women and children, while it expedites their removals.

Since last June, DHS has locked up mothers and children at the isolated detention center in Artesia, hours from the nearest major metropolitan area and far from adequate legal services. There, the government has created a deportation mill, carrying out new, strong-arm policies designed to ensure the rapid removals of Central American families. Many of these families fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and came to the United States seeking protection. Yet, in Artesia, they are deprived of a fair opportunity to present their asylum claims. We have no reason to believe anything will be different in Dilley.

“It's truly offensive that the United States is institutionalizing the practice of family detention” said Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. “The government has failed to show that detaining families is compatible with ensuring due process rights are protected. The government has proven incapable of ensuring access to adequate services and fair opportunities to engage in the legal process. The Immigration Council will transfer our attention from Artesia to the process erected at Dilley and will continue to do all that we can to stand up for sensible, humane immigration policies that reflect American values and respect fundamental Constitutional and human rights.”

The ongoing due process violations in the expedited deportation process at Artesia are the subject of a pending lawsuit in federal court, brought by the American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the National Immigration Law Center, Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale LLP, and Jenner & Block.


For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at [email protected] or 202-507-7524.

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