I think that one of the most difficult things to see at the detention facility in Artesia are the children. There are so many of them there that are sick and ailing while their mothers struggle to continue with their cases and win their claims. I met with one woman who was bawling and told me that she was thinking of just giving up her case because she truly believed that if she did not leave the detention facility soon, her infant daughter would die.
Her daughter had a very high fever and an extremely bad cough. During the meeting, I noticed that her face was red and her hair was wet with sweat. The mother had taken her to the doctors inside the facility several times, but her daughter was not improving and was also refusing to eat. This mother fled horrific conditions in Guatemala where she faced violence and threats on a daily basis. Despite all of the terrible things that happened to her in Guatemala, she was still willing to leave if it meant, in her mind, saving her daughter’s life. We were able to tell her to hold on because her bond packet was almost ready for submission. She has her hearing next week and will hopefully be able to receive a reasonable bond and wait for the conclusion of her case outside of detention.
This story is just one of many that I have heard while I have been in Artesia. Each mother that I spoke with had their own reasons for leaving their countries and making the dangerous journey to the United States. They all had a common theme though; they were hoping to escape violence and save themselves and their children. The stories they have to tell are horrific and the amount of violence that these children have witnessed is unimaginable. During their mothers’ legal meetings, the children watch movies in Spanish that the ICE officers have put on for them. One of the movies in the rotation is “Frozen”. The movie’s most famous song is “Let it go”, which translated into Spanish in the movie is “Libre Soy”. Libre soy in English means “I am free”. I cannot count the number of times I heard this song each day as Frozen is so popular and the kids request it. How eerily heartbreaking it is to sit one on side of a partition in a windowless area with kids singing that they are free in the middle of a detention facility.
Amber L. Raffeet