Some people who end up in immigration detention centers are just children. One young woman recently talked about the time she spent in one around her sixteenth birthday.
She said that her actual birthday happened in the center. While most children her age would spend such a monumental day celebrating with their families, she did not. Instead, she said that she spent the entire day in tears.
She also mentioned that it was very difficult to get any information from the authorities about what was happening or when she could leave. She stayed in one center for more than a month, and then she was flown to another state. They did not tell her about the move in advance. Even after arrival, she had no idea how long she would be there.
“We were all trying to stay very positive,” she said about the experience, and they all hoped that this would just be one more step toward their release. But it was hard to maintain that attitude when they did not actually know if they were getting closer to freedom or not.
Overall, it took more than a year for the girl, her mother and her younger sister to move through the system and finally get released. They faced medical issues, endless routines and questionable practices regarding their health and safety. Though they did get out in the end, it is easy to see just how stressful and discouraging the entire process was for them.
Everyone has different experiences in detention centers, and it is important to understand how this complex system really works. Make sure that you are well aware of all of the legal rights you have if you’re an immigrant in danger of detention.