There were so many horrible lows during my 8 days in Dilley, but these are the ones that stand out for obvious reasons:
1. Sometimes we were not allowed to see the women with out reason or explanation. We were subjected to ridiculous rules which changed daily. We had to fight every day to be able to bring basic materials to a trailer where coloring books were considered contraband. We argued with guards because they were keeping the women's legal documents & not giving them copies. The release process was a mess. Sometimes, we were provided a list of who would be released and attorneys on the ground take them to a safety house where they are and taught how to travel by bus and plane & travel arrangements are made. While on the ground they stopped telling us when and who was going to be released, so we had to start to prepare everyone for eventual release teaching them about the importance of their court hearings, resources, how to take a bus, take a flight etc. New detainees started to be segregated from the general population supposedly bc of a chicken pox outbreak. But the women said they were told it was because they didn't want the ones who had already been educated to spread their knowledge to the new arrivals. Instead of focusing all of our attention on legal issues, we were forced out of necessity to also be social workers, medical advocates, and civil rights advocates because the system was purposely designed to needlessly frustrate and complicate everything for these women and children. It is no mistake that the biggest detention center was put in Dilley Texas, the government placed these families in the middle of no where to limit their access to attorneys. Thankfully, Attorneys showed up, and will keep showing up week after week to represent everyone who is detained.
2. ALL of the kids we saw were sick...every single one. Medical issues were not being addressed. Many of the women and their children are extremely sick, they wait hours to see a doctor and the doctor's prescription: drink water. The water in Dilley is contaminated and women must purchase bottled water.
3. Despite passing their credible fear interviews, many remain detained sometimes for months
4. Although the official title of the center is South Texas Family Residential Center, there are no complete families there, there are only women and children (babies to teenagers), all boys over 18 yrs old and men are sent to other detention centers and they had no large organized efforts of attorneys for them. We heard many stories of entire families asking for asylum and being separated in detention, part of the family was granted asylum and the rest of the same family with the same claim was denied, the only difference was their gender and that because of that they lacked an attorney.