From a letter sent to FFI from G.E.R.S., currently detained at West Texas Detention Facility
When I went to the West Texas Detention Facility I was received by a man and a woman who treated me with hatred and racism, and who offended me in English. They took my fingerprints and my personal data, and afterwards they put me into a very cold room (hielera) for one hour. They gave me 2 dirty green uniforms, 2 used boxers, 2 pairs of used socks, 1 used white shirt, 1 used towel, 1 broken mattress with dirty bedding, and 1 pair of sandals. I asked the officer why everything was dirty and his response was in English: "You are an immigrant -- you have no rights."
At 3:00 a.m. I was moved to a cell where I had to sleep on the floor. Since the tanks are filled with people in detention, they deport people every week after they’ve been there for a certain amount of time. That’s when you can take the opportunity to get a bed to sleep more comfortably.
Each day in West Texas Facility:
4:30 am: Breakfast
7:00 am: Count. They get everyone out of bed and they count us one by one.
8:30 am: Pills (for those who have ailments)
10:00 am: Count
10:30 am: Inspections (they take the food you save - milk, juice, coffee)
11:00 am: ICE officers enter and bring deportations for detainees to sign.
12:30 pm: Lunch
2:00 pm: Inspections
3:00 pm: Count
4:30 pm: Dinner
7:00 pm: Count
8:30 pm: Deliver mail
9:30 pm: Inspections
10:00 pm: Count
10:30 pm: Pills
11:00 pm: The lights are turned off from Sunday to Thursday; from Friday to Saturday, at 1:00 a.m. Then only 3 red lights are left on.
12:00 am: Count
2:00 am: Count
3:30 am: A nurse enters to inject insulin into patients with diabetes.
4:00 am: Count
This is the routine every day. At the same time, it is a way or strategy to occupy and scare immigrants so they do not try to flee.
For people who are arguing their cases and have court appearances before an immigration judge in El Paso (known as "the Impound Lot"), this is the schedule:
2:00 am: They wake us up.
2:30 am: They take us out of the tank and to the cooler to wait for breakfast.
5:00 am: Breakfast
5:30 am: They take us out of the cooler. They check us, then chain us hand and foot, like a criminal.
6:00 am: They take us to the bus to court in El Paso.
8:00 am: We arrive and they put us in the coolers to wait.
8:30 a.m. They take us down to the halls to the immigration judge. The hearings last 10 minutes. We must wait for all the detainees to go before the judge. We return to West Texas at 7:00 p.m.
The day it's time to go to El Paso, TX everyone who goes feels good regardless. That day is special: you eat the best hot food, decent, and enough, with flavor.
In contrast, the food at West Texas Detention Facility is bad. Sometimes it is spoiled, tasteless, undercooked and the portions are very small.
As the days go by in detention, the "Good and Bad" officers become known. And you have to recognize the good officers: they explain the rules and make the days easier for you in detention. They understand why immigrants come here because many of them are children of immigrants and know what immigrants go through to get to the United States.
The bad officers: They treat you with hate, racism. They insult you in English and treat you worse. They have even given us spoiled food, and make fun of us and punish us for nothing.
The sergeants and captains participate in this game of abuse. They threaten all the time that they will make a report to ICE, who will then give it to the judge and hurt your case.
They enter the morning after breakfast to take away our milk and juices. Most of us keep food for 3 reasons:
1. We are not used to eating at dawn.
2. Not everyone has money to buy different food in the "commissary", where everything is expensive.
3. The telephone company is very expensive by the minute. It is a undoubtedly an ICE business, taking in thousands of dollars from immigrants.
At the West Texas Detention Facility, many things have happened and going on that all the relatives of the detainees do not know about, much less other people outside. There are many sick people who are not treated as they should be. For any pain, they give only acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
There are people with hernias here and they only treat them with pills. They give them to you so you won’t feel the pain for a while. When they take you out to the yard, they only do it at 6:00 a.m. (they know that nobody will come because they are asleep). They do it intentionally; the managers are 2 men and 1 woman, and they are racist.
Occasionally they search all the beds. Twenty officers and sergeants enter, and captains with paintball guns. They put everyone against the wall and insult them in English. And then they make fun of us.
They do not want to turn on the air conditioning when it's hot or the heat in cold weather.
The mail in this facility is the worst. The lady in charge all the time comes "angry" to work. People greet her and she simply ignores them.
Here, they open our mail before delivering it. They are supposed to open it in front of the detainee, and they do not.
Here, correspondence is delayed, especially when people are fighting their cases. Everyone receives their documents late intentionally, after the time they need to be delivered to the judge, so that people lose their cases in the courts. In this way, the mail attendant works with ICE and for this reason many people lose their cases, and others take longer. All this is a business.
March 8, 2019
They wrote a memorandum that they would start remodeling the kitchen. From this date, we are given only sandwiches. On occasion the ham is spoiled, the bread stale, the beans spoiled. It’s all frozen food.
For those who have "diets,” the only thing that changes is that the sandwich bag bears the name of the diet. And to this day they continue to give us the same sandwiches. There are many people with sick stomachs. The officers have already been informed and it does not matter.
The nurses or doctors treat the patients badly. They shout at them. Here, everyone takes advantage of immigrants.
I do not understand why we are treated like immigrants. If there were no immigrants, all those who work here would not be able to work.
I do not understand why immigrants are treated badly, if the majority working at the West Texas Detention Facility are immigrants. But now that they have papers they give themselves the power to treat others badly.
This detention supports Donald Trump’s policies. That is why they treat immigrants badly.
For now, this is the story of life in the West Texas Detention Facility.