The following is a letter by the mothers imprisoned with their children at Karnes written to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña, who recently visited the Karnes concentration camp after news of a fast by the mothers widespread media attention.
Prior to her visit the mothers reported that rooms were redone, refrigerators were suddenly filled with food and the landscape of the facility were dressed up. A volunteer reported that “Saldaña was given the letter and she did meet with the women. However, because the women were speaking at once so she did not pay particular attention to any one of them. She made off hand statements, like “you look good” to some of the women. She was clearly disengaged. Someone named Norma from San Antonio was “handling” the women, and protecting Saldaña from anyone getting too near her.”
After her visit, on April 22. mothers at the Karnes Family Detention Center were taken to a room and kept there while a media tour was conducted by ICE and GEO, one mother was locked up in her own room, while two GEO guards secured her door. The media was not allowed to bring in cameras, cell phones or speak to any of the families.
Here is a copy of the letter along with a translation:
“Receive from us a humble and sincere greeting on behalf of the mothers detained at Karnes:
It is an honor for us to communicate with you, Ms. Saldaña, in the hopes that you can help free us from detention. We are families who have been detained for 9 months with no legal remedy. We have positive [credible fear interview] cases and ICE says our freedom is in the hands of the judge, and the judge says ICE has to free us.
They make us feel like the worst of criminal because we no longer have any rights at all because we have a prior deportation. Many of us have not lived in this country. We were caught entering, were deported, and we returned.
This is why we decided to fast, so that they hear us and know that we are not a threat to this nation.
Our children do not deserve to be imprisoned for so much time. We left our countries fleeing from violence and we came seeking refuge and protection; but we arrived at this place that has now taken our freedom.
WE SEEK FREEDOM FOR OUR CHILDREN AND FOR OURSELVES.
We ask with all our hearts that you give us an opportunity to demonstrate that we are responsible mothers, honest and hardworking and that our children be allowed to grow in a place free of violence, that they become good people. We are not asking the government to support or maintain us, we only seek refuge, justice and freedom. Our children suffer, they cry when they see many families arrive and go while we remain here. They no longer want to go to school. They don’t want to eat. They get sick often.
We ask you to please free us.”
“Resiba un humilde pero sincero saludo de parte de las mujeres detenidas de Karnes. Es para nosotras un honor dirijirnos a usted Señora Saldaña por el motivo de que usted nos ayude a salir de este detencion. Habemos familias que tenemos 9 meses de estar detenidas y no nos dan solucion al caso. Tenemos nuestros casos positivos, migración dise que nuestra salidas esta en manos del juez, y el juez dise que migracion nos tiene que dar la salida. Nos asen sentir como peores criminales porque no tenemos derecho a nada solo porque tenemos una deportacion anterior. Muchas no hemos vivido aqui en este pais, nos aharraron entrando y nos deportaron y ahora volbimos. Es por eso que desidimos aser una helga de ambre para que nos escuchen que no somos ninguna amenaza para esta nacion. Nuestros hijos no se meresen estar enserrados tanto tiempo. Benimos de nuestros paises hullendo de la violencia y benimos buscando refugio y proteccion pero llegamos a este lugar donde nos han privado de nuestra libertad. QUEREMOS LIBERTAD PARA NUESTROS HIJOS Y PARA NOSOTRAS. Se los pedimos de todo corazon, que nos dan aunque sea una oportunidad para demostrarles que somos madres responsables, honestas y trabajadoras y que nuestros hijos cescan en un lugar libre de violencia y que sean personan de bien. No pedimos que el govierno nos mantenga y solo queremos refujio, justicia y libertad. Nuestros hijos sufren, lloran cuando ven que muchas familias llegan y luego se van y nosotros seguimos aqui. Ya no quieren ir ala escuela. No quieren comer. Se enferman mas seguido.
Le pedimos que por favor nos liberen.”