When the influx of young Central American migrants to the border erupted as a crisis this summer, President Obama correctly called it a humanitarian emergency. He promised that the administration’s response would combine compassion with respect for the law.
But the treatment of hundreds of these migrants in a makeshift detention center in Artesia, N.M., is appalling evidence that this promise was empty, according a lawsuit filed Friday in Federal District Court by a coalition of civil-rights organizations.
The lawsuit claims that the administration has rigged the system so that vulnerable women and children who plead for asylum can’t get it. It says the immigrant detention center in Artesia is a middle-of-nowhere prison in the desert, 200 miles from the nearest big city, that short-circuits legal access and due process for the sake of swift and sure deportations. Its main purpose, the suit says, is to send a stern warning to would-be immigrants in Central America — to reinforce what the homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, said when the crisis was at its peak: “We will send you back.”
Read the rest of this editorial piece here: At an Immigrant Detention Center, Due Process Denied
Here’s a closer look at the challenges of delivering legal services in the middle of nowhere:
Reporter’s notebook: Dispute simmers at border detention center over … crayons
It’s hard to believe — given the political bantering, the economic hardships and the humanitarian crisis all swirling around the immigration issue — that crayons are cause for distress. “Crayon-gate” was the word two volunteer attorneys used to describe their day last week at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center here, about 70 miles from the U-S Mexico border.
Lawyers doing pro bono work for the detained families spend long days inside the secure center working with mothers who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. After a day’s work, they gather at a local church hall to compare notes and share stories. Going around the table on Monday, Aug. 18, they introduced themselves and offered a one-word characterization of their day.
Nat Damren of Idaho said “crayons” made his day.
There is a serious reason for the child’s play. Attorneys say the kiddie swag helps amuse the children while they counsel their moms. Lichter said there is no child care for the legal sessions. “So not only do I as a lawyer have to deal with a situation where the woman I’m interviewing is minding her three-year-old child and the seven-year-old is over there and the thirteen-year-old, who’s causing trouble back in the corner and [I’m] trying to talk to her about how many times and how often did your husband assault you,” she said, “but we have women who are appearing in interviews before asylum officers where they’re not about to talk about the fact that the gangs threatened to kill their children while their children are in the room.”
Read the rest of this article here.
The Constitution says these immigrants have the right to a lawyer, but not to have one paid for by the government, nor to have one transported to the middle of nowhere to see them. What good is the Constitution if the rights outlined in it are not accessible?