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A Silent Crisis: Children Experiencing Trauma in Family Detention

During my week as a volunteer attorney in San Antonio, I visited with a mother and child at the Karnes family detention center who had been transferred from the Artesia detention center when it closed. The mother and her young son had already been detained for seven months, and I was helping to prepare them for their merits hearing. Their case was compelling and harrowing, like many of the mothers and children detained in these family detention centers. The mother had suffered horrendous sexual, physical, and emotional abuse as a child, suffered domestic violence as an adult, and then finally fled for her life and the life of her child when the gangs threatened to kill her and her son. Sadly, it’s a story shared by many of the women detained in Dilley and Karnes, and those who were detained in Artesia. Sadder still, it’s a story that this woman has had to repeat over and over again while locked up in detention – to the Border Patrol officers when she was crossed into the United States; to the asylum office during her interview; to a multitude of volunteer advocates trying to help her with her case; to the various immigration judges who have presided over her case as jurisdiction changed from Immigration Courts in Virginia, Denver, and now San Antonio.

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