By Anayanse Garza of TuSanAntonioMagazine.com
Interview with Diego Mancha during the press conference by groups that included Feminists Unite, SAIYM , Attorney Virginia Raymond in front of San Fernando Cathedral. This action was in response to the decision of the federal court (R.I.L.-R. versus Jeh Johnson) that goes against justification by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to warehouse hundreds of children, women and families in detention centers as a way of deterring further migration. However, it is still not sufficiently strong enough to completely invalidate family detention.
The groups stated that there are families that are still excluded under the new federal decision, mostly indigenous women and children from Central America who are fleeing conditions that endanger their lives.
Hello, my name is Diego Mancha. I’m with the organization, San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement. And we are an organization with the University of Texas, and with the Mexican American Student Association.
We are here supporting and giving voice problems in our community, especially to the women and children of Central America that came to this country to be protected and not have to be afraid for their lives in El Salvador, Honduras, in Guatemala. These families are being detained an hour and a half south of San Antonio, south of San Antonio, in small towns where many people don’t know that there are detention centers for immigrant families. These are corporations that make a profit from detaining innocent families that want to come to this country to work and not have to fear for their lives. Instead they are put in situations where they are imprisoned. What we are doing is giving these people a voice.
What are some of the abuses against these women and families in these detention centers, apart from the that they are fleeing, what are the dangers they face here?
In the detention centers there have been many cases of sexual abuse. People who work at those centers are acting outside of the bounds of their work and sexually harassing these women in front of their children.
Another thing we have seen are studies that show that the children and mothers that are in these detention centers have problems when they leave, psychological problems, because they have been in those centers for sometimes 6, 7, 8, 9 months. There are different ways that we can help and so that they can continue in the legal process.
The majority of these women are of indigenous origin, has that been part of the discrimination that they have faced by the U.S. government in terms of the way they are treated and the opportunities that they have to defend their case?
Yes, because at the end of the day if that person cannot communicate, that person has difficulty in establishing a dialogue about what has happened or what can happen to them if they return to their country. We have seen that many women, especially from Guatemala, have trouble communicating in Spanish and the detention centers and the system doesn’t give them the opportunity to communicate well in their native language. It’s a serious problem that we have to show so that people can become informed about what these women are going through, especially indigenous women that have more difficulties with the language.
What is your organization asking? Or how can the community become involved or support these families?
What we are asking for is that people know that these detention centers are an hour from San Antonio. Basically, in our backyard. We have to act on these detention centers. There are various organizations, Interfaith Coalition is one of them, collecting clothes and toys for the children, books and they are helping the women when they leave the detention centers. You can also donate money so that the women can leave these detention centers and can be reunited with their families and have a legal process in a way that they are not psychologically affected. We ask for people to get involved and look for organizations like the Interfaith Coalition to be able to help with all of that.
If someone has a son or daughter that is a student at UTSA what can they do?
They can contact Feminists Unite or the San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement.
For more information:
San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement