ALBUQUERQUE, NM--Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order rescinding his own policy of separating children from the parents of migrants detained at our border, and announced his intention to pursue the mass detention of families instead. In the executive order, President Trump instructed the Department of Defense to provide "any existing facilities available" to house the thousands of migrant and refugee families he intends to detain.
This opens up the possibility that New Mexico's numerous military facilities could be used as detention camps for mothers and small children. Similar facilities operated at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, NM under the Obama administration. In 2014, the ACLU filed a lawsuit, M.S.P.C. v. Johnson against the center, challenging its policies that deny a fair deportation process to the mothers and children who were held there.
When ACLU of New Mexico staff visited the Artesia family detention camp in 2014, they were horrified by the conditions they found. Many of the children were sick, losing dangerous amounts of weight, and suffering from depression. Families--including nursing mothers--were detained in trailers behind barbed wire fences for months on end while they awaited hearings with federal immigration judges.
“The family detention camps Trump is proposing are equally disgusting as the child detention camps he is substituting them for. They are no place for children, mothers, or fathers fleeing horrific violence in their countries of origin,” said ACLU of New Mexico Staff Attorney Maria Martinez Sanchez. “This sham executive order only trades one humanitarian crises for another and fools no one. It is despicable and people should be just as outraged as they were when it was just children in cages. This is not the solution.”