AILA: Administration Turns Its Back on American Values with Mammoth New Family Prison

December 17, 2014

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

Washington, DC - Leslie A. Holman, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) responded to the opening of a massive new private jail by the Department of Homeland Security in Dilley, Texas with the following statement:

“By opening this huge permanent private jail in Dilley, Texas, the Administration willfully ignores the clear evidence that the children and mothers that they are detaining are refugees fleeing from extreme violence, and thumbs its nose at the idea that the United States will live by its values and uphold the rights of asylum seekers.

“I’m appalled. While the Administration is leaving behind its bleak, remote temporary prison for children and their mothers in Artesia, New Mexico, it is embracing a bleak, remote permanent corporate-run prison in Dilley, Texas. Moving from a make-shift prison to one run by the private prison industry brings no more humanity to an inhumane situation.

“What does this mean for the remaining detainees in Artesia? Will they be able to overcome the Administration’s fallacy that they are undeserving of a fair chance at safe refuge? Will their removal from the place where stalwart AILA members have volunteered their time to assist them in proving their cases mean the end of their chances for due process? No. Even as they are being taken from one prison to another, the pro bono team is following, determined not to give up on justice for them.

“But what of the thousands of others that DHS Secretary Johnson proclaims he will imprison? How will justice find its way to them in a small Texas town? This is now reaching a scale that challenges the unfunded world of pro bono representation beyond what is realistic.

“Isn’t it enough that nearly every mother and child in Artesia who has had a full hearing before an immigration judge so far has been granted asylum? Doesn’t that tell the Administration that these most vulnerable of human beings deserve protection rather than warehousing as prisoners? This is unjust and a repudiation of our nation’s values and historic commitment to justice for all.”


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 14121745.