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Our America

The Women and Children of Dilley, Part Two

- By Katherine Silver

Photo from the Cara Pro Bono Project

Credible Fear

In order for an American woman and her children imprisoned at the South Texas Residential Center—run by the private, for-profit, publicly traded CoreCivic Company (previously named Corrections Corporation of America, and whose motto is “Better the Public Good”)—to be released, the Asylum Officer (AO) who interviews her must give her a positive result on her Credible Fear Interview (CFI).

Helping her to prepare for this interview is our primary job as volunteers at the DPBP. A positive outcome allows her and her children to be released into the United States, usually to a family member or...

Our America

The Women and Children of Dilley, Part One

- By Katherine Silver

Photo from CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project

Kidnapped Kids

Since the 2016 election, several of my local translator colleagues and I have been volunteering with Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, California, as legal interpreters. I have worked with asylum seekers to help them fill out forms (asylum application, work authorization, change of status, etc.), interpreted during psychological evaluations, and am currently interpreting for two pro bono lawyers as we prepare an asylum case for one Guatemalan Kanjobal woman and her two young children. We have been working on the case since August and the hearing is this week. I have been spending long hours helping to...

Our America

The Women and Children of Dilley, Part Five

- By Katherine Silver

Drawing by Marcela Castro,
from the video Drawings by Themselves: Portraits of America


One Last Story

Here’s a bipartisan idea: Declare MS-13 an international terrorist organization. It is. They could. Problem: they’d have to believe the women…and give them asylum. Maybe even stop punishing them in the iceboxes and the dog kennels. Problem: it never works out well when the U.S. intervenes with the use of force in another country. Problem: other gangs will fill the power vacuum unless government institutions are strengthened and shorn of corruption.

Another idea: Write down all the names of all the men...

Our America

The Women and Children of Dilley, Part Four

- By Katherine Silver

Welcome sign in Dilley, Texas (wikimedia commons)

Individual Stories

As I reflect on the week in Dilley, the ongoing work I do here in the Bay Area, I wonder: Do individual stories matter anymore, outside the hearing room, that is, the courthouse, and only insofar as the boxes get checked, the requirements met, the woman in front of the judge allowed to live? Do they have an impact beyond the prurient satisfaction of momentary curiosity? Already, many of the stories I have heard have blended together. They are all the same. They are each horrifyingly different. We love to hear and tell stories. Maybe: we have all...

Our America

The Women and Children of Dilley, Part Three

- By Katherine Silver

Twisted Minds

Before traveling to Dilley, I could not help but think of Oświęcim, the town that hosted the camp we know of as Auschwitz. I thought of the scene in Shoah when Lanzmann interviews a group of local residents about what they knew about the camp, about their neighbors who had disappeared, how he drew out their deeply held negative feelings about their Jewish neighbors.  Most of the residents of Dilley are first, second, or third generation from south of the border. According to Wikipedia, “As of the census of 2000, […] the racial makeup of the city was 66.93% White, 10.40% African American, 0.57% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 18.81% from other races, and 2.53% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any...

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