What: Protest demanding the release of women and children from family detention camps in Texas
When: Tuesday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: The J.J. Pickle Building at 306 East 8th Street, Austin Texas
Visuals: Protest rally, faith leaders, testimonials, protest signs, 50+ protesters expected
(AUSTIN, Texas) — On March 24, 2015 groups from the immigrant rights and Central American community in Los Angeles, Austin, New York, Washington D.C., and San Antonio will hold actions to call on the Obama administration to release the women and children held at Karnes and Dilley Detention centers in Texas, many of whom have been detained for as long as 9 months. In Austin, groups will hold a rally at the J.J. Pickle Building at 306 East 8th Street,, on Tuesday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m., where they will highlight the plight of at least 20 families that have been held at Karnes Detention Center in prolonged detention. The group plans to portray the plight of the detained families through protest rallies, faith leaders, testimonials, and reading a new statement written directly by the mothers inside detention.
For the Central American community in the U.S. March 24 marks the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered by death squads in El Salvador and who will be officially deemed a Saint by the Catholic Church this month. “We chose to take action on the anniversary of Monsenor Romero day because we strongly believe that he would stand up for all the families that have been deprived of their liberty, he would be outraged , just like we are today,” said Esther Portillo of the Human Rights Alliance for Child Refugees and Families.
Since June 2014, the Obama Administration began to incarcerate women and children who were asking for asylum at the border. The families were sent to immigration prisons in Texas and many have remained there without bond or with bonds of up to $10,000. Family detention prisons were practically non- existent in the U.S. until last summer, and now there are two new, massive detention camps for families with the capacity to hold 2,900 individuals. In Los Angeles, Ana Jovel, the sister of a detained mother who has been locked up in Karnes for almost 9 months with her 10 year old son, said, “My sister has been incarcerated for 9 months, what did she do to deserve this? She was escaping a terrible violence and now she is living another nightmare at Karnes with her son.”
Two weeks ago a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration could no longer detain women and children as a tactic to deter migration from Central America. The ruling came about after the ACLU and the University of Texas Immigration Clinic filed a lawsuit. Despite the ruling, many families continue to languish in family detention camps, including small children, despite the fact that many have also passed their credible fear interviews. “America is allegedly a country that prides themselves on family values, so why are these women and children being treated in such a manner? Is an American family considered differently from any other family?” said Cindy Martinez from Families for Freedom.
Groups will also raise concerns about ankle monitors that some mothers are forced to wear after they are let out, the ankle monitors need to be charged every 5 hours, some women have complained that it shocks them from time to time and it prevents them from leading normal lives in the United States. In New York, a mother from Honduras will speak on how ankle shackles are not an alternative to detention and are rather dehumanizing for them.