What being held at the Mexican border is really like

She tells me that she sees them at night when she is lying in her bunk bed — eight to a room. Grotesque forms with masks over their heads and guns across their chests. She hears panicked shrieks, but is never certain if they are coming from the next trailer, or if they are inside her head. They cannot be nightmares, because she never sleeps. She reminds herself that haunting memories are better than terrifying reality, because memories cannot harm her children. She counts: this is her 14th day in limbo.

Her story is not unique. I heard versions of it time and again from the women at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) in Dilley, TX. This is the largest family detention center in the United States, and currently houses close to 2000 women and children. I visited the center for a few intense days last week through the CARA Pro Bono Project in the capacity of performing medical/psychiatric evaluations for detainees in order to help with their asylum applications. The vast majority of CARA volunteers are lawyers who take a week off at a time to assist these clients with the asylum process. Being the lone doctor in a sea of lawyers and legal aids was interesting.

Reading the recent news of the family separations and detention, I was driven to action. When I was presented with the opportunity to go to the STFRC, I felt compelled to go.

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