TUCSON, Arizona – The situation for undocumented families in Artesia, New Mexico, far from being resolved, seems as if it will go on indefinitely, so the authorities decided to open a school for the close to 200 minors being held there.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 520 Central Americans, mostly mothers with children, are being detained in Artesia and the decision of the federal government is to continue using those installations for an indefinite length of time, an ICE spokesperson told Efe.
Though immigration authorities have freed 68 immigrants for one reason or another and after they posted bail, Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch told Efe that “while people keep crossing the border illegally, the undocumented will keep on coming” to this detention center.
According to the mayor, there are 640 beds in the Artesia center, plenty of room to keep sending immigrants to that city.
Not knowing when they will release or deport the people in custody, the authorities decided that the nearly 200 youngsters between ages 4 and 17 would be given classes at an improvised school for six hours a day.
The classes, which include science, mathematics and physical education, are provided by an agency that specializes in education for young people in juvenile detention centers.
Artesia’s Family Detention Center is at the Border Patrol Academy and was remodeled this summer to shelter mothers with children who entered the country illegally during the avalanche of thousands of Central Americans attempting to cross the southern border.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 68,445 people were detained on the border in fiscal year 2014 (between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014).
“Very few families have gotten out – many mothers and their children are still in custody, waiting for their cases to be settled, and we know that other people, though not quite as many, continue to cross the border,” the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, Jimena Diaz, told Efe.
The U.S. Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR, said in a communique that between July 18 and Oct. 7, it studied 478 cases of adults with children in the process of deportation from the Artesia installations.
But according to immigration authorities and consular officials, since the center opened, 356 immigrants have been deported: 182 to Honduras, 120 to Guatemala, 50 to El Salvador and four to Ecuador.