"If you listen very closely, you can hear the detained families chanting and yelling along with us. This was a very moving experience. Many participants were moved to tears when they heardthe women and children’s voices from the other side of the fence.”
550 mothers and their children are currently being detained in Artesia, New Mexico. This detention facility was created hastily, in response to the influx of refugees from Central America, who are running to the border for protection. In keeping with our values of compassion, justice and due process, CLINIC believes that these mothers and children deserve a fair and humane hearing, with the help of an attorney who can speak for them and a judge who decides each case individually. For this reason, CLINIC is supporting staff and volunteers assisting the mothers and children at the detention center.
Silvana Arista, CLINIC Capacity Building Project Attorney, is one such staff member who is currently on the ground in Artesia.
Silvana’s experience, like that of so many attorneys and support staff, has been defined by long hours at either the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center or volunteer command center in Artesia, New Mexico. Days beginning at 7:00 AM and concluding at midnight are the norm for these volunteers. Some attorneys assist for a few days while others remain for weeks at a time. The standard timetable for attorneys seems to be five days however, many leave only to realize they must return to further assist clients in need.
On Sunday, August 17, Silvana participated in the Somos Un Pueblo Unido, “We are a United People,” prayer rally to support the women and children detained at the Artesia facility. This was the first rally that has taken place since the facility opened.
Silvana describes, first hand, the experience at the march and shares the powerful scenes through the attached images and video:
“The rally started in Roswell, which is about 35 minutes north of Artesia. Dozens of people caravanned down to the Martin Luther King Jr. Park, located close to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center where the women and children are being detained in Artesia. At the park, before we marched to the facility, we sang songs, prayed and listened to brief comments from different members of the community. Then, we peacefully marched over to the facility. The volunteer attorneys knew where we should stand so that the women and children could hear our message.
There was a small anti-immigrant march going on at the same time as the prayer rally at the main gate of the detention center. Fortunately, they didn’t come within ear-shot of the detained women and children. Our group, approximately 200 strong, peacefully walked by them. It was a very hot day and I found myself feeling tired. At that moment, I thought about the small children who have reported walking through the desert without food or water for days and that quickly reaffirmed my resolve.
In this video of the rally, you can see what it was like when we arrived to the dorms. One of the organizers drove their truck on a curb so that advocates could climb up to see the women and children on the other side of the fence.
If you listen very closely, you can hear the detained families chanting and yelling along with us. This was a very moving experience. Many participants were moved to tears when they heard the women and children’s voices from the other side of the fence.”
For more information on the refugee surge at the U.S. border, common forms of relief available to migrant families and children, and how you can join CLINIC affiliates in lending a hand, please visit: https://cliniclegal.org/resources/unaccompanied-migrant-children-toolkit