Borderland community members planned to protest the expansion of detention facilities holding undocumented minors on Saturday.
“When I got here early this morning it was quiet and you could hear them outside,” said Ashley Heiderbrecht talking about undocumented migrant children.
Men, women and children of all ages joined in the protests outside the facilities.
Among the group were many mothers holding their children tightly like Susana Herrera, who said she is an immigrant herself from Juarez.
“I believe they are no place to judge why is it that whole families are coming to United States,” Herrera’s friend Gabriela Castañeda translated.”They might not understand his motivations because they have a life with all their needs are met, but these families that are coming to United States , they’re coming away from violence, from poverty. We don’t ask them to understand, we just ask them to get educated.”
Dafne Marrufo, 17, shared the hardship she and her family endured with the crowd.
“My dad,” said Marrufo. “He just got deported, and while I haven’t been able to see him since.”
Knowing how difficult it is being away from her parents, Marrufo said she can empathize with the detained children.
Heiderbrecht shared a piece of advice she wants everyone to take.
“Learn to look at it from a human perspective,” she said, adding that politics can cloud our compassion.
“What family would willingly just make 1,000-mile walk across the desert to come steal someone’s job,” Heiderbrecht asked. “Or you know to come get benefits? that’s not how it works.”
These families who make that incredibly dangerous journey, it’s really a choice between certain death and possible death, possible freedom.”
Protesters described the increased number of beds at the Tornillo facility, and the creation of a new facility at Ft. Bliss to hold families as “shameful,” calling on the government to stop expansion.
On Sept. 11, The Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to continue operations at a temporary shelter for migrant children at the Tornillo Port of Entry until the end of the year.
The overall number of detained migrant children is at the highest level ever recorded.
The New York Times reported population levels at federally contracted shelters reached 12,800 in September.
That’s more than five times higher than in May 2017, when it was 2,400, according to data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services.