Asylum seekers detained and separated from families, driven to despair

The detention industry has profited in Texas from a recent shift in immigration enforcement: families with children as young as two years old are being separated and sent to different facilities and prisons. Women’s Refugee Commission and several coalition partners filed a complaint on December 11 to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) on behalf of individuals who were separated from their families at the southern border of the United States with Mexico. The complaint followed a number of cases of family separation that has had a devastating emotional toll on those incarcerated within detention centers.

The report lifted the challenges that families experience when separated in different detention centers, including privately-owned facilities in Texas. For instance, Camila is an asylum seeker who was detained with her 17-year-old daughter at the South Texas Family Residential Center, a CoreCivic detention center in Dilley. Texas. Her husband was transferred to the Port Isabel Detention Facility, while her U.S. citizen son was sent to live with Camila’s sister-in-law. With the family spread throughout the state, Camila said, “It has been very traumatic for our family to be separated in this way. It is difficult for my daughter and I to discuss it without crying. It has been very difficult for my daughter to be separated from her father and brother. I have never been separated from my son and I worry about him every day. We fled Mexico as a family and I believe we should have been kept together as a family, especially because my children are still underage.”