This Nonprofit Organization Is Releasing Letters Written By The Women Detained In Immigration Facilities

Letters written by migrant women detained under the Trump administration’s policy of separating families are highlighting the anguish and heartbreak being experienced by mothers. As part of the nonprofit origination Grassroots Leadership‘s latest effort to reunite separated and detained families, the group has posted several accounts from women who have also detailed the less than bleak conditions of the facilities in which they are being held.

Almost all of the 18 letters offer a harsh glimpse into the conditions the women in the facilities are being forced to endure.

Grassroots Leadership, which describes itself as “a nationally recognized civil and human rights organization,” posted the first of the 18 letters to its website on June 25. In the days since the first letter’s release, the group has posted various other accounts written by the women who have been separated from their children.

One woman, identified as Yasmin wrote, “I was then transferred to McAllen, the dog pound, as they call it. I was there for seven days without showering or brushing my teeth. I ate bread with cold cut processed meat and a juice for every meal.”

According to the Nation, “the dog pound” is one of the unofficial nicknames given to the Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen, Texas where chain link fences are being used to “cage” migrants in.

In an interview with CNN, Bethany N. Carson, one of the group’s organizers explained that the letters “were written to tell their experience publicly to ask for help in being released from detention and reunited with their children.”

Many of the letters were written by mothers hoping to offer soothing words to their children.

In one letter, a woman by the name of Mirian wrote to her son saying  “My son, I write these words with an immense pain in my heart for having you separated from me. But I want you to know that I miss you a lot. And that every day, I pray to God that we’ll be together again soon and that they will never again separate you from me because you are the most beautiful thing that God has given me, you my son. I want you to know that I love you with all my heart and what I am asking God the most is that we will be together.”

“I was separated from my son. I am desperate,” another one of the letters reads. ” I’ve been separated from him since May 14 and no one will give me any information about where he is… Help me, I am distraught, I feel helpless trapped in here unable to do anything for my son. Help. Help. I can’t go on like this anymore.”

One woman, who had her 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son taken from her last month by immigration officers wrote, “There are moments I swear I feel am going crazy and I hope that if any of you is a mother, you could understand the pain that we are feeling because they have ripped away the most wonderful thing God has given us, which is our children… I am one of the mothers that is running away from their own country because they threatened to kill me and my children, and that is why we ran away, but here they killed us alive by taking away our children.”

 

According to the nonprofit, many of the women have been “coerced” into signing voluntary deportation papers in order to be reunited with their children.

In a post to the organization’s site, Grassroots Leadership revealed that the detained women had told the group’s attorneys and advocates that officials inside of the detention centers had insinuated that they would transfer the women separated from children at the border to a military base, where they would begin their first efforts to deport them. The nonprofit revealed in the blog post how the attorneys and advocates feared that authorities would coerce the women into signing voluntary deportation orders by saying that they would see their children sooner if they did.

“The guard told me to get on the bus because I was going to another detention center,” a migrant woman, who turned herself and her 15-year-old son into immigration authorities once they crossed the border, wrote in one of the letters. “I asked for my son and they told me, ‘Lady, your son isn’t here. He’s very far away. You are getting deported back to your country’ and I started to cry and I begged them to give me my son and the guard told me, ‘don’t make me give you an electric shock’… I’ve gone for 23 days without hearing anything about my son. I’m distraught, please help me. This is the worst thing that they could have done to us.”

“There’s a word for that,”  Claudia Muñoz, an immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership said. “It’s torture.”

A total of 16 women wrote the 18 letters received by Grassroots Leadership organizers. Some have claimed that immigration authorities lied to them and assured them that they would only be separated from their children for a short period of time.

Read the full length of the 18 released letters here

 

 


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