by Katie Guy
Our team from urban Columbus Ohio arrived in Dilley and made several turns down dusty roads and into the ranch that the CARA staff lives and works out of when they are not working out of the visitation trailer of the Dilley Detention Center. It became clear very quickly that this was a grass roots initiative that was doing some important work that not enough people know about. The CARA staff was able to cram masses of information into our heads in a 3 hour time span that would allow us to legally assist the women and children that are detained in the Dilley Detention Center.
These women are from Central American and have crossed the Mexican border seeking asylum and are now being detained in Dilley, Texas (population about 4,000) where there is no legal assistance available. In response to the huge need the CARA Project has a team of advocates and lawyers that live full time in Dilley and handle the cases that come through the detention center. They also take all the help they can get from volunteers like our team. A large part of what we did is prepare the women for their Credible Fear Interview, the interview that decides whether they can stay in the US or if they are deported back to their home country. If they are deported, they will most likely be returned to a country that is run by gangs.
All of the women that we encountered had horrible and heroic stories. They faced abuse from their partners, or gangs in their neighborhood that have driven them to leave their families and their home country. These are not women that are here in the United States to ‘take our jobs’. They are here running from a life that is full of fear and by no fault of their own. I found it most frustrating that not all the women that were living in fear had a case to receive asylum. One women in particular fled because she was fearful that her son would get recruited into the gangs. Her son went to a school where he was guaranteed to join the gang if he attended, but his mother kept him out for fear of the gangs. She was proactive and fled before her son had the chance to be recruited. Because her family was not threatened personally, her case was weak. I find it quite appalling that a women that was solely looking out for her family is not able seek asylum because she didn’t allow anything to happen to her son. Essentially, for any women to have a case they have to have to let a severe trauma happen to them or their child. I keep telling myself that there has to be a better way. Join me in asking these questions of ourselves and of our law makers.