Letter from a Mother in a Migrant Detention Camp in El Paso

*Photo above: Taken by the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, TX of participants in the #KeepFamiliesTogether march.

This following letter arrived at the Columban Mission Center on Friday, June 22nd, 2018. In response to the large number of asylum requests, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented an interview process known as “credible fear” screening. The idea behind a credible fear interview is that non-citizens can, instead of being sent straight home, apply for asylum or withholding of removal if they are able to establish a credible (believable) fear of persecution or torture if returned to their home country. But they need to get past this initial screening in order to actually present their full asylum case to an immigration judge for approval or denial.

U.S. courts have consistently held that anyone on United States soil is protected by the Constitution’s right to due process, even if they illegally entered the country, though people generally have greater legal protections inside the country than at the border. How much process is deemed to be “due” depends on the situation, according to The New York Times. “...Courts have upheld that people who entered the United States illegally and were ordered deported have a right to appeal those decisions. But the courts have also essentially said that Congress can decide that more limited procedures are sufficient for noncitizens detained at the border. ...”

The letter is here translated from the Spanish. The original version follows afterwards:

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Good day, and Blessings.

I am writing to you in order to ask for your help. Days ago, I had my interview and they gave me the answer, but it came out ‘not credible’. They told me that I am to present myself to the Judge within seven to ten days, but I don’t have a lawyer, nor do I have money to pay for such services. I don’t know what to do. I am extremely desperate. I can’t return to my country, my son and I would be running into danger if I return.

I beg for your help. If it wasn’t for my fear, I wouldn’t be sacrificing my life and that of my child. Give me the opportunity of helping me, I need to speak to someone, to be heard in person.

In my country, where I have my house, I cannot live. I am afraid of the murderers of my husband, of those who killed him. They live there, and I can’t live where my sister lives, either, far away but in the same country, which is the only other place I have lived. I’m afraid that someone will abuse me. I have nowhere to live with my son in my country. That’s why I am begging you to help me.

For this same reason, a family I know, also from my country, and members of my church, are going to receive me [in the U.S.]. I only ask you to help me. What shall I do? I cannot return to my country.

My son’s name is ... Please, my son needs me. I’ve never been apart from him. I beg you to help me. It pains me to be separated from him. I have been both a mother and a father to him. Help me, I beg you.

I’m not lying. If I am here, it is out of fear. I’ve been trying to flee, to save my child and free my parents by sending them something to live on, for five years.

Listen to me, please. Give me the opportunity of explaining.

I will be very grateful.

Blessings.

[Signature]

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[The Spanish, original text, without corrections:]

Buen dia y Bendiciones. Les escribo para pedirles ayuda hace días tuve mi entrevista y me entregaron la respuesta pero me salio no creible me digeron que me presente con el Juez dentro de 7 o 10 días pero no tengo un abogado no tengo dinero para pagar los servicios no se que hacer estoy muy desesperada no puedo regresar a mi país mi hijo y yo corremos peligro si regreso Le suplico su ayuda si no fuera por mi[e]do no andaría sacrificando mi vida y la de mi niño demen la oportunidad de apoyarme necesito hablar que alguien me escuche en persona En mi país donde tengo mi casa no puedo vivir tengo miedo de los asesinos de mi esposo los que lo mataron viven allí y donde mi hermana lejos en el mismo país que es el unico lugar donde e vivido tampoco puedo tengo miedo alguien abuso de mi no tengo donde vivir con mi hijo en mi país x eso estoy les suplico me ayuden

Por la misma razón una familia que yo conozco que son de mi país y son de mi iglesia me van a recibir solo les pido me ayuden que hago no podemos regresar a mi país.

Mi hijo se llama ...

Por favor mi hijo me necesita nunca lo había separado le suplico me ayuden me duele estar separada de el e sido madre y padre para el. Ayudenme les suplico

No estoy mintiendo si estoy aquí es por miedo tengo 5 años de andar huyendo para salvar mi niño y librar mis padres que algo que les puedo pasar

Escuchenme por favor. Demme la oportunidad de explicar.

Les agradeceré mucho.

Bendiciones.

Atte: [firma // signature