By Audrey Hertenstein
We shuffled through the metal detector and were directed to stand with our backs against a wall – the final step in an hour long process to enter the Florence, AZ Detention Center to visit with detainees the organization Mariposas sin Fronteras had been communicating with to offer assistances such as letters of community support and a friendly voice to reach out to. The guards ushered me and the other Loyola students through several locked doors and into a visitation room where we were only allowed one hour to meet, rules which seemed much too strict for a person whose only crime had been seeking asylum within our borders…
The person I met with, whom I will call Carlos here, greeted me with a smile and stood to shake my hand. This would be one of two times visitors and detainees were allowed to make physical contact with the loved one they had come so far to see. Over the course of our conversation, I was amazed by Carlos’s hope and motivation to help other people in the detention center despite his own situation. He was unable to return to his home county due to the danger to his life his previous job and the current political situation put him in. He had come to the US seeking asylum 8 years ago and has since been detained in detention centers awaiting his case. When his case is finally heard, he will know if a judge will grant him the chance to fulfill his hope of being able to work safely in a country where he can support his wife and two children still living in Central America.
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