The alarm went off in the middle of the hearing
I've been in Texas now for over a couple months working at the family detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City. There are certain elements about the experience that at first, were quite startling—and what's even more startling is that there may be a certain numbness to some of the occurrences here. I'll describe more of what I mean.
Last Thursday, I was at the San Antonio immigration court for an immigration judge review. As I've talked about before, the client is back at Karnes City because she is detained.
In the middle of the hearing, an alarm suddenly went off at the Karnes City detention center.
Sitting in the courtroom, it was bizarre to hear that familiar noise. It's a very distinctive alarm—one that will probably be etched into my memory for months to come. While the alarm was going off, the client was sitting in the room and the proceedings temporarily stopped. What a mess.
While we were waiting, I thought about how used I was to the alarm going off in the detention center. Frequently while meeting with clients, the alarm would go off and the florescent lights would flicker on and off. The noise was usually so loud that it immediately halted any type of conversation I was having with a client. We would sit in silence, waiting for the alarm to go off. Because it happened so frequently, I guess I just became used to it (arguably defeating the purpose of sounding an alarm).
But sitting there in the San Antonio courtroom, it was just another reminder of how this detention center mirrors a prison and how traumatizing and disruptive hearing that alarm is during all hours of the day. What troubled me was wondering if I was "getting used" to certain things within this oppressive system. (e.g. having an alarm go off during all hours/at any time is not a normal occurrence)
Uh, confirming that this is NOT a child care facility!
All of the above is yet another reason to add to the list of why it is absolutely ludicrous to consider the Karnes City detention center a "child care facility."
It's temporary, but we are hopeful here on the ground that it will be what is needed to catalyze more events be able to permanently shut down any hope of this hellhole ever being a licensed child care facility.
Again, the importance of the intersection of lawyering, organizing, and campaigning is critical in order to push back more systemically against the for-profit detention center system.
La Casa de Raices
The other night, I was at Casa de Raices -- a shelter in San Antonio where refugee families just released from immigration detention stay before beginning a 2-3 day bus trip to reunite with family around the US.
The vibe in the house is drastically different from the vibe at the detention center. Frankly, it was freaking great getting to hang out at the house for a bit and see previously detained women and children freely hanging out at home. There were many smiles and the sound of laughter filled the air. It was a welcomed change.
I'll be thinking of the smiles and laughter that permeated the house that night. This is what we are all working towards for as many women and children at the detention center as possible.