Fighting for the Rights of Deaf Immigrants in Detention

mother and son conversing in ASL. their faces are not pictured

“I was so sad. So afraid I’d never see my son again. I had no idea that they [US Customs and Border Patrol] would separate us, especially in the case of my son who is deaf and who can’t communicate easily,” says an asylum-seeking mom from Guatemala who prefers to remain anonymous for safety reasons. She goes on to say that CREEC’s Liz Jordan “helped me communicate with my son, and closely followed what was happening to me. Without CREEC’s help I would not have been able to figure out what was happening with my son and I would not have been able to fight my case.”

Separated from his mother soon after crossing the border in April 2018, a 17-yr old deaf asylum seeker was transported alone hundreds of miles away to an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter in Arizona – without interpretation services or accommodations of any kind. His only means of communication? Drawing pictures.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother was sent to the ICE detention center in Aurora, Colorado where she asked for a video call with her son. Her requests were ignored. She says, “I felt so alone when I first got to Aurora. I didn’t know what I had to do. I met with a pro bono attorney and explained everything that had happened with me and my son and that he was deaf. They referred my case to CREEC. I remember my first visit from CREEC. I felt so much more supported. I felt myself come back to life a bit.”

“It was a long fight involving multiple requests for a video call, consistent with ICE’s legal obligations to provide effective communications in their detention centers. Working with the son’s lawyer in Arizona and the ACLU’s family separation litigation team we were finally able to reunite our client with her son so they can be together and safely continue their quest for asylum,” says Liz Jordan, Director of the Immigration Detention Accountability Project at CREEC.

You can read and hear more about how CREEC and others are fighting for the rights of immigrants with disabilities in detention by following this link to National Public Radio’s recent story, Homeland Security’s Civil Rights Unit Lacks Power To Protect Migrant Kids.

How Can You Help? As CREEC is a 501(c)(3), donor support is vital to our ability to provide assistance to people like the mother and son in this article. Consider a charitable gift this year to help CREEC continue to challenge discrimination. Your support matters!

You can make a gift online or contact CREEC’s Development Director, Julie Yates.

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