Karnes Detention Center Journal: Day 4
Day 4: July 4, 2018 (Wednesday)
Independence Day. Before I had known what week I would be volunteering, I had wondered what I would want to do to celebrate our nation’s independence this year. I did not feel that the parades, fireworks, and barbecues were an appropriate way to celebrate our nation when we are now engaging in systemic human rights abuses by people fleeing violence. Assisting women at Karnes was the most patriotic activity I could think to do to celebrate what our country is founded on, and I was very proud to be there that day.
I met with six women and helped them to prepare for their CFI interviews. Today was a bit easier since I am getting more comfortable with the process and legal proceedings. Today I had a terrible CFI prep with a women about domestic violence. Since I had interviewed women for orders of protection at a former job, I knew what questions to ask her about her experiences. But that didn’t make it any easier to hear. The women who are fleeing from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have grown numb to a certain level of violence in their lives. They have accepted that to a certain extent, there will be violence in their lives, because of the machismo culture and the complete lack of assistance from the authorities. So when these women finally flee, it is because it is a life or death situation. The women fleeing violence in these areas don’t have the resources that women have in the US. They literally pick up their kids, a few possessions, and set out immediately to leave. They know if they stay they or their children will be murdered. The fact that our country no longer sees domestic violence as a reason to grant asylum is abhorrent. When our government forces them to return home, they will be murdered. They know they will be murdered because the men who abuse them have killed before, and there is no capable police presence where they live. Some of them have never even seen a police officer because they live in such remote locations. Where the police are in place, the women said that they were so infiltrated by gangs that going to the police made it more likely that they would be threatened or killed. When Americans say these people should stay and fix the conditions in their own country, they are showing their complete ignorance and lack of compassion for a culture entirely unlike ours.
Today some of the women thanked me for all of the help and gave me a hug. I was so overwhelmed by how positive so many of the women were, and how hopeful that their lives would improve. They knew that if they stayed in their home countries they would be giving up, and would likely be killed. They can’t fix these problems from within, because the governments and police are too involved in the systemic abuses that they suffer daily.