Mothers and Children Detained in Violation of Court Order Plead for Freedom

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

DILLEY, TX – Pleading for an end to their imprisonment, 69 mothers who have been detained with their children at the South Texas Family Residential Center, an immigration detention facility in Dilley, Texas, wrote a public letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In the letter and accompanying testimonials, the mothers describe the impact that their prolonged detention has had on them and their children, including deep depression, “suicidal thoughts, prolonged insomnia and loss of appetite, and a sense of desperation.” In describing the effect of incarceration on her son, one mother stated: “He asks every day when we will go because other people leave but not us. He asks if we are trapped here because we are bad people. But I have no answers to these endless questions.”

Despite repeated requests from pro bono attorneys at Dilley, ICE routinely fails to inform mothers and children of the results of their credible fear and reasonable fear interviews, sometimes for as long as 18 days. The refusal to provide interview results in a timely manner needlessly extends the detention of these mothers and children. Instead, every effort should be made to expedite their release so they can proceed with their claims for protection under our laws.

Since April, the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project has identified 85 mothers detained with their children in Dilley, Texas, in excess of the limits placed on the incarceration of children by the Flores settlement, which requires the government to expedite the release of children from immigration detention. The 85 mothers were all held for more than 20 days; most are still in custody.

The 69 mothers who signed this letter requested a meeting with ICE leadership to further explain the harm to them and their children that has resulted from their detention.

View the Spanish version or the English translation.

Press inquiries, please contact:

AILA: Belle Woods,, 202-507-7675
Council: Wendy Feliz,, 202-507-7524
RAICES: Mohammad Abdollahi,, 210-544-7811
CLINIC: Patricia Zapor,, 301-565-4830


The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project is a partnership of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council (Council), Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), that provides legal representation and undertakes advocacy on behalf of mothers and children held in federal family detention centers.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16051907.