United States immigration policies constantly adapt to political and social pressures, each change affecting lives of immigrant families. In 2009 the Obama Administration pledged not to open more family detention centers – prison-like facilities where immigrant families are held during deportation processes – and minimize this practice. In November 2014 however, Obama reversed this decision. With increased violence in Central America, more families are seeking asylum – only to be apprehended at the border and detained for months without adequate family services or baby food. Private for-profit prison companies often operate these facilities, such as the one in Karnes County Texas. In a mere year the Karnes facility faced charges of sexual assault, hunger strikes and attempted suicides. Yet the suffering of detained immigrant families remains outside American public consciousness and priorities.
US immigration policy has historically used mass internment to respond to political and public concerns, yet these violations are under-publicized. There remains a lack of visibility and empathy for the immigrant family experience, and for conditions endured in detention centers such as Karnes County. Women feel unsafe, yet as shown in the statement ‘We, the Mothers’ still fight for their family’s health and childhood, which is jeopardized in the detention centers.