NEW YORK (JTA) – Last week, I visited McAllen, Texas, with a group of clergy — including 10 rabbis – to bear witness to the situation on the U.S. border with Mexico, where new policies are forcing the detention and separation of families and the refusal to hear asylum claims from victims of gang and domestic violence. These practices violate both international refugee conventions signed by the United States, and basic morality and humanity.
Though we expected to enter the Ursula Detention Center, where some of these separated parents and children are being held, the staff there ultimately denied us entry. We did, however, spend time with some of the luckier families – those who were not detained at entry but instead were granted a “credible fear” interview (the first step in the asylum process) and released wearing ankle monitors. These families hoped to reunite with family elsewhere in the country and pursue their asylum claims in their new communities. [Read more…]