Many of our readers may have heard of the Artesia Family Residential Center, which was hastily created to handle a large influx of women and children who have been crossing the U.S. Southwest border in the hopes of applying for asylum or any other types of relief. On August 21 2014, a Los Angeles Times news article reported that 300 women and children were deported from Artesia and other centers like it.
As background, the Artesia Center and others like it were created earlier this year when the U.S. government determined that there were too many mothers and children crossing the border illegally and attempting to obtain political asylum. Journalists and attorneys have reported that many of these children are either unaccompanied or attempting to flee violence in their home countries; others are mothers and children seeking to escape violent acts that they have experienced. Earlier this summer, individual attorneys and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) reported on some of the problems of this hastily created center, including unsanitary conditions and a lack of due process in deportation proceedings. These stressful living conditions are, of course, affecting the mothers who are testifying in “credible fear” interviews. Adding to the pressure is the fact that these mothers have been instructed to keep their children with them at all times, including during official proceedings before asylum officers.
In response, in early August 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $694 million border bill that would give DHS $400 million for additional border security and law enforcement and allocate $20 million to speed up the deportation process.
In response to the government’s actions, on August 22, 2014, the American Immigration Council, the ACLU, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the National Immigration Law Center filed a complaint against the federal government, challenging its policies as a denial of due process to refugee mothers and children being detained in Artesia, NM. The Complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief mainly to halt deportations until the legal issues have been resolved.