The rise of Transnational Criminal Organizations and powerful gangs across Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, coupled with weak, corrupt and ineffective governments in those three countries, has led to a nightmare scenario for women and children who are being murdered, raped and victimized on an unimaginable scale.  Desperate to find safety and refuge, women and children began fleeing in large numbers in the Spring of 2014, and many have come to the United States to seek protection – or in legal terms, Asylum.  In response, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is attempting to discourage victims from leaving Central America by detaining women and children in large detention centers in the Southwest United States and then quickly deporting them back to Central America.

Throughout the summer and fall of last year volunteer immigration lawyers from across the country flocked to a remote makeshift detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, to wage a legal battle against DHS to stop the mass deportation of refugees and help the women and children apply for asylum.  NELSON | SMITH, LLP sent one of its attorneys, partner, Philip Smith, to Artesia to help with the volunteer work. By December 2014, the volunteer lawyers had successfully helped hundreds of women and children escape deportation and gain their release from detention, and DHS quickly decided to close the detention camp in Artesia, New Mexico.  Sadly, the detention of women and children continues, and two giant detention facilities are being erected outside of San Antonio, Texas.

On February 4, 2015, the New York Times magazine decided to tell the story.  To learn more about this humanitarian crisis, please read:      The Shame of America’s Detention Camps