About an hour outside of San Antonio, hundreds of undocumented immigrant and refugee women and children who fled violence in their home countries are detained at the Karnes City Family Detention Center, faced with the threat of deportation from an administration that wants them gone.
Starting Sunday, March 12, 2017, a team of eight SMU Dedman School of Law students (led by professor and immigration law expert Natalie Nanasi) will spend their spring break providing pro bono legal services to these undocumented immigrants, hoping to win them asylum in the United States.
The Karnes City center, operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been open since 2014, housing women and children who have crossed the border into the South Texas.
“A majority of the Karnes City detainees are coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and fleeing gang violence, family violence or some combination thereof,” Nanasi said. “Their trip is supremely dangerous. Many don’t make it, and that’s something important to remember; these people flee because they know that if their daughters stay there, it’s certain they’ll be raped, and if their sons stay there, it’s certain they’ll be kidnapped by gangs.”
— Kenny Ryan