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Women at Detention Centers Moved Outside in Sweltering Temperatures During Homeland Security Secretarys Visit

Women who desperately wanted to speak with the Department of Homeland Security’s secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, were instead brought outside where they could not attempt to plea for help.


According to The Intercept, Nielsen visited several detention centers late last week. During a trip to Port Isabel, in Los Fresnos, Texas, 62 women who wanted to communicate with Nielsen were moved outside onto a soccer field — while temperatures were in the high 90s — making the secretary inaccessible. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials told the outlet the move was for “recreation.”

The Intercept reported:

Four women who were detained there on Friday have since communicated with The Intercept. Each recounted being told by guards that afternoon to tidy up their dormitories. They were then directed onto a soccer field bathed in glaring sun with temperatures in the high 90s. One woman heard another say she did not want to go. “But the guard said we had to, that it was an order because some important officials were coming,” the woman said.

The conditions and what actually goes on inside the detention centers has largely been kept secret from the public — similarly, some women reported, detainees are often unaware of what happens outside the centers’ walls.

One woman told The Intercept she was unaware of President Trump’s order to cease family separations or that all separated families are supposed to be reunited later this month. Requests to put the news on televisions at the center are largely ignored, said another. The outlet reported:

Among the detainees were two women who have no idea where their teenage sons are being held and have not talked with them, as well as a woman whose 6-year-old is hundreds of miles away and unable to speak to her during calls from the child’s shelter, because he only cries when he gets on the phone. When The Intercept spoke with these women, none of them had lawyers.

Nina Pruneda, ICE’s Central and South Texas spokesperson, told The Intercept by email that “Secretary Nielsen spoke to various detainees while she toured the facility.” It is unclear what detainees she allegedly spoke to and what they may have discussed.

A woman identified as Blanca told ProPublica she hasn’t been able to speak with her 6- and 14-year-old daughters since they were separated at the border several weeks ago. She filled out five of the required paperwork requests and has received no response.

“This is maddening,” Blanca said. “The officials, they don’t say anything.”

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