Hundreds of immigrant women and children of all ages are being held, often for months, in the expanding South Texas Detention Center. It is operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security near the small town of Dilley, 85 miles from the Texas-Mexico border between Laredo and San Antonio.
Many of them came fleeing violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to seek asylum in the United States. Instead of releasing them to live with family or friends while processing their claims, the Obama Administration has placed them into these facilities, to “send a message” to others not to follow. The legal issues are complex, but the reality of these children and their mothers is clear and cruel. They fled an untenable situation and came to the historic beacon of liberty, the United States of America, only to lose their freedom and in some instances, hope. They are detained without criminal charges, uncertain of their rights, and with few resources.
CLINIC and other immigrant advocates invite you to evoke the spirit at the core of our faith and national identity by writing warm letters of support and friendship to these families.
We invite you, your colleagues, and families to join us in writing letters to the women and children, letting them know that they are not alone.
Some tips for writing a letter:
- Write a little bit about yourself (whether you have children; what parish you belong to; what you do for work; general area where you live – do not provide a home address).
- Write about your concern for their wellbeing.
- Provide some words of encouragement. Let them know they are in your thoughts and prayers.
- You may include artwork, children’s drawings, etc.
- Consider writing your letter in Spanish or an indigenous language of Central America.
- Send the letters in unsealed envelopes. Note that the letters will be opened by the facility to search for contraband.
- Do not send gifts or money; they will be confiscated by authorities.
- Click here to view samples of letters that were sent to the detention center in Artesia.
We encourage you to photograph and/or post your letters on Facebook or other social media and to tweet out messages about them on Twitter, using the hashtag #DilleyFamilies.
How to submit letters
If you have questions, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send letters to:
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
Attn. Letters for Dilley Families
8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 850
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Sending letters? Let us know they are coming and sign up for related emails online.
Learn more about family detention
Further Resources from the Justice for Immigrants Campaign
Visit the Justice for Immigrants Campaign website to download Family Detention Talking Points, read recommendations for policymakers on family detention, send an e-postcard to the President, your Senators, and Congress, and more.
Spanish-language template for letters (Download):
Para alguien especial
Saludos de [city/state]. Me llamo [name]. [something else about yourself]
Quiero que sepas que no estás sola. Estoy pensando en ti y tu situación en aquel lugar. Estoy rezando por ti y tu familia. También estoy luchando por justicia para ti, tu familia, y todos que salen de sus países en busca de una vida mejor.
Que Dios Te Bendiga!
For someone special
Greetings from [city/state]. My name is [name].
I want you to know that you are not alone. I am thinking about you and your situation there. I am praying for you and your family. I am also fighting for justice for you, your family, and all who leave their countries in search of a better life. May God bless you!