In an isolated desert town in New Mexico, a federal immigration detention center has set up trailers to be used as a school. A soccer field and basketball court have also been installed, while detainees get to use video links to plead their case to judges in Denver.
The facility, which was created as a temporary housing solution for undocumented women and child immigrants from Central America, could be open until at least next summer, according to officials. “All of us would love to see the doors close in Artesia but the reality is the need will probably be there and probably until the end of the high season, probably August next year,” immigration advocates were informed during a confidential meeting with a government official recently.
The immigrants being held at the Artesia Family Residential Center are becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact that there seems to be no end in sight for their detention, even though many of those who crossed the border earlier were simply released with orders to remain in contact with immigration officials. “I’m being punished for coming here, they tell us,” Geraldyn Perez, who fled from Guatemala following death threats from gangs, claims.
The center was opened after federal officials realized that thousands of undocumented immigrants who had been released after crossing the border had simply vanished into the interior of the country and failed to attend Immigration and Customs Enforcement meetings. Around 70% of released families have simply disappeared.