Dozens of undocumented migrants who were being held at a facility in New Mexico have been released, according to Philip Burch, the mayor of the city of Artesia. Burch recently told reporters that 68 of the nearly 500 detainees at the Artesia Family Residential Center were release last week with 14 of them being deported. Immigration officials working the facility said that there are still about 480 migrants being held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center - an annex of the Family Residential Center - with several more expected to arrive at the facility over the next few days.
Officials at the facility in Artesia were briefed by officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding the release of the detainees and the expected arrival of others in the coming days and weeks. A spokesperson for ICE said that since the Family Residential Center opened in Artesia back in August, more than 300 detainees have been sent back to their respective native Central American countries.
Facility to Remain Open Longer Than Intended
The facility in Artesia - which is an almost completely isolated desert town in Southern New Mexico - has become the subject of increasingly intense scrutiny over the past several weeks from sources both outside the facility as well as from within. It was originally intended and billed as a temporary facility for housing of women and children from Central America who are captured crossing the US-Mexico border into the United States illegally. There has been an influx of Central American migrants crossing the harsh Mexican desert and attempting to come into the US over the last 8 months that has become a topic of heated debate among both sides of the immigration debate.
Officials revealed recently, however, that while the facility was indeed only intended to be a temporary solution to the housing needs of the migrants, it will likely remain open to receive detainees well into next year, possibly until the end of next summer. One government official told immigration advocates during a confidential meeting that while "all of us would love to see the doors close in Artesia", the reality is that it will likely need to remain open until August or 2015, the end of what is known as "high season" for migrants crossing the southern border.
Frustration Mounting Among Detainees
Additionally, frustration has been mounting among detainees being held at the facility because they feel they are being kept there without any indication of when they may be released, particularly in light of the fact that migrants who had crossed the border shortly before they did have already been released. Those who were released previously received orders to contact immigration officials at a later date.
The facility in Artesia was opened this summer after it became apparent to federal officials that the thousands of migrants who had been caught since the beginning of the year and released with orders to meet with immigration officials had simply disappeared into the country. The vast majority of them never showed up for the scheduled meetings with ICE officials.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.