LaFranchi Immigration Defends Families at the Border


This August, I will be headed to Dilley, Texas and working for two weeks at the South Texas Family Residential Center as a volunteer legal services provider. The past few weeks have seen an increase in turmoil at the border like never before in America, with families being separated, and asylum seekers being turned away due to the overturned decision, Matter of ARCG. It is my hope that my time there will further the claims of a number of women and children. 


I would like to share with you the details from the last time I went to the border, as I believe it is important in this time, where so many need information, but the information swirling around is mediocre or glosses over the complexities:

I've not been in the new children's facilities, but I'd love to shed some light on what things look like in the family detention facility I've been in. It's a series of trailers, all kept incredibly cold. So cold that you open the windows in the 100 degree heat just to stop shivering. The women and children, including infants, all wear plain t-shirts and poor fitting jeans, and are required to wear identifying tags with numbers at all times. They are called by these numbers. The legal services trailer is furnished with only chairs and long tables, and we are not allowed to bring in crayons or toys for the children or they are confiscated. 

Some children wait in a room designated for them, but the TV (while I was there) always had adult programs on for the guards, in English, that are totally inappropriate for children. Even though the room was open and in the legal services trailer, we were not allowed to go inside. Most women had their children just sit at the long tables for hours on end because there was nowhere better. 

Everyone is sick, and the living quarters (we aren't allowed in them, but the women told me) are incredibly cramped. The children are all ill, and I landed in the emergency room the last time I was there after getting sick from the children. 

The important thing to understand is that it is jail. These children are in jail. These are not "detention centers," "temporary housing," "administrative detention." They are jails. They are run by private corporations, and they put the health and lives of women and children at risk, as well as men (though I cannot speak to the conditions in men's facilities).


If you would like to donate to those working on the frontlines, you can donate to:

-      The Florence Project:

-      Kids in Need of Defense:

-      RAICES:

-      Clinic:



LaFranchi Immigration is Profiled by Idaho Press-Tribune:

Courtney LaFranchi speaks with Nicole Foy about her upcoming trip to Dilley, the conditions of family detention centers, and the legal changes that have been affecting Central American asylum-seekers arriving at the border.