AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
American Gateways was formed 27 years ago in response to a refugee crisis in Central America. Today, we stand ready to honor our founders and again provide legal services to the immigrant children and families fleeing their homes in Central America.
Three weeks ago we were saddened to learn that the men's detention center in Karnes, Texas was being converted to the nation's 3rd family detention center. I visited the Karnes detention center on July 31st and it was emptied of the men it usually holds and ready for families to arrive the following day. Colorful murals with butterflies and rainbows now fill the walls and the storage room has row after row of little pink and blue t-shirts, tiny little dresses and jeans. But, all the new clothing and kid friendly murals in the world will not change the basic fact that little kids and infants are being incarcerated. It breaks my heart and it makes me furious.
Whether you can give $10 or $10,000, every dollar you give helps American Gateways add the attorneys, equipment, space, and travel necessary to bring our immigration legal expertise to the families held in Karnes Detention Center. Click HERE to give.
A speedy response is needed.Families have now been in Karnes Detention Center for 6 days without anybody from the outside going in to help them understand their rights! American Gateways has the experience and expertise to run the programs necessary to provide legal services to families in detention....and to do it quickly! Current plans will put us in Karnes and providing services as early as August 15th.
Without our legal services these women and their children will have no information about the immigration process or their legal rights, and the likelihood that they will be deported back to the unimaginable violence that forced them to flee their country in the first place is very high. We cannot let these women and children stand alone before an immigration judge without even a basic understanding of their legal rights and the process they face.We are rapidly ramping up our legal services to include weekly trips to Karnes to give 'Know Your Rights' presentations, workshops, along with screenings and intakes so American Gateways attorneys can take on their cases or find pro bono attorneys to represent them.
The world is watching how we treat these Central American refugees fleeing violence. Our country has been quick to chastise countries in the Middle East and Europe for not being compassionate enough or doing enough for the refugees that come to them for safety. We cannot wait for someone else to help these families....it must begin with us. Let the world know that we are not standing silently by while refugees are being incarcerated!
My staff and I are doing everything possible to quickly get services to these Central American families being held in detention. These refugee parents simply want to live without fearing their daughters will be raped and their sons murdered. Many parents in Honduras don't even allow their children to leave the house anymore - not for school, not for riding their bikes, not for anything! We are expecting over 200 mothers at each 'Know Your Rights' presentation.
I'm kicking off our campaign for Central American families by making a personal donation of $500 and I'm asking my friends and family to do the same. Will you join me by giving as generously as you can? Click HERE.
OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT
Many thanks to the Central Texas legal community. American Immigration Lawyers Association, Texas Bar, Austin Bar and many others have reached out to us offering pro bono volunteers. We are grateful to every attorney who opens their heart and embraces the work ahead of us! You do not need to be an immigration attorney. We will mentor you and give you all the support you will need to be successful.
WHY ARE CENTRAL AMERICAN FAMILIES LEAVING HOME?
Fueled by the drug trade, gang violence has infiltrated all aspects of daily life. From elementary schools, to mom and pop businesses, to simply playing outdoors - these families and children live in fear of their lives wherever they are and recognize there is no safe place to go or governmental institution to ask for protection as corruption reaches throughout the governmental hierarchy.
The next couple of months are going to be a challenge for American Gateways as we grow our staff, expand our office, and meet with and listen to the fear laden stories that drove these mothers to pick up their kids and make the dangerous journey to the U.S. in hopes of finding safety.
You may never know the faces of the families that your donation helps, nor they yours, but they will know that people in the U.S. cared about them. I think we can all live with that silent thank you.
Many thanks for your generosity,
American Gateways is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing immigration legal services to people from around the globe. Our clients are asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, survivors of family violence, long-term residents in removal proceedings, and most recently DREAMers.