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What Migrant Families Face at Dilley Detention Center
Earlier this year, I toured the U.S. government’s family immigration detention center in Dilley, Texas with a delegation of Roman Catholic and Lutheran faith leaders. It was a difficult and deeply moving day. Family immigration detention centers incarcerate immigrant mothers and children, many of whom fled Central America for their lives. More than 90 percent of these families suffered sexual, domestic, or physical violence, had their lives threatened by gangs, or experienced similar traumas. These are not threats or abuses to be taken lightly. When migrants who suffer these threats are deported, they are often targeted and killed upon return to their home country.
Nevertheless, the United States welcomes these families seeking safety with incarceration. They are frequently jailed for months, with little knowledge of their term length or if they will be deported. In detention, as basic possessions as their shoelaces are taken away. Children often lose weight. Mothers and children are isolated for punishment; infants are baptized in an ad-hoc fashion. Currently, more than 1,000 mothers and children are detained in detention centers. The government is planning to expand this number to 3,700.
Violence Against Women Act Faces Congressional Threat
Some victims, it seems, are more worthy than other victims. This is the clear message sent by a deeply flawed version of the Violence Against Women Act that is headed for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But our faith dictates that such a dichotomy—worthy and unworthy—cannot be allowed.
VAWA, as the act has been known since it was first passed in 1994, represents years of progress and bipartisan commitment on the part of Congress to protect victims of violence. But the version up for reauthorization in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4970, would roll back VAWA’s existing protections for battered immigrants leaving them more vulnerable —and in some cases, endangering their lives.
See It, Say It: The Supreme Court Should Strike Down SB 1070
“See it, say it.”
We’re urged, these days, to be vigilant. I’m alert to this when taking the subway in Washington, D.C., where loudspeakers remind riders that if they “see it, say it.” Speak up, we’re told, if we see a threat.
When the government wants me to be vigilant, I expect no less from the government. That’s why, this week, I’m one of many Americans hoping that the Supreme Court will strike down Arizona’s extreme anti-immigration law, SB 1070.