Dear Fellow IASSW Board Members,
I have just returned from Harlingen, Texas, which is about half an hour from the border of Mexico. I am writing to all of you to make you more aware of the injustice that is being done to the families and children who are entering into our country due to the "zero tolerance" policy. I am hoping that once you know more of the details of what is happening that you will be as disgusted as I am and fight for the "zero tolerance" policy to be stopped. It is not just a news report of something happening somewhere else across the world. It is happening right here in our country. We need to address this policy at a macro level.
When I left Aurora, Illinois, I knew nothing of the detention centers housing thousands of innocent immigrant children all over our country. When I heard about the children, saw their faces in cages, and heard a recording of them crying I was shocked and horrified. They looked like my children. If my grandparents had not made their journey into the United States from Mexico many decades ago that could have very well been me and my children. My family and I could not believe that there were innocent children being detained in the Rio Grande Valley not far from where my in-laws live. My daughter, two sons, and mother-in-law drove with me to Brownsville, Texas, to see the Southwest Key Program "Casa Padre" for ourselves. I went back several days later with my husband to show him the facility and take more pictures. The facility was previously a Walmart superstore. It has been painted and the side is fenced in. The fence was approximately 10 feet high. From a far distance we could see the top of a basketball rim, but there was no basketball being played. We were not allowed to enter or even to drive onto the parking lot. The parking lot and building are blocked with wooden horses stating "private property" There is a guard house preventing anyone from entering the parking lot or the facility grounds. There are also security guards on golf carts and in cars at each side of the parking lot perimeter. We were not welcome to be there or take pictures outside the perimeter of the parking lot. We were approached by security when I stepped out of my car and took pictures. I spoke to an individual outside the facility who is also a social worker. He shared that an employee there told him that the children are well cared for. He stated that he was told that employees are not permitted to touch the children at all.
The Southwest Key Program "Casa Padre" facility in Brownsville, Texas, is the largest in the country. It presently holds 1,495 boys. As you may have also read, several reporters were allowed to tour the facility recently. They were not allowed to take in cameras...