Witness at the prison gates, Karnes Family ‘Detention’ Center

May 16 car caravan protesting migrant family imprisonment at the Karnes County Residential Center — first immigrant detention facility in Texas to be licensed as a ‘child care provider.’


On May 16, I found the Karnes County Family Residential Center tucked away on a secluded road in Karnes City, Texas. This place is one of three family detention centers in the U.S. Another is the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, and the third is Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, Pa. 

When I got to Karnes, I was greeted by about a dozen honking cars decorated with signs like “Keep families together” and “ICE kills!” Booming car horns flooded this quiet little town. These horns were roaring in protest of the recent dreadful ultimatum that parents inside Karnes are faced with: “Remain in detention as a family indefinitely” or “Let us separate you from your children.”

It is shocking that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would force such a decision on these families after the brutality of family separation carried out in 2018. Then hundreds of children were displaced, causing lifelong trauma for them and their families. ICE’s current deplorable actions have been dubbed “Family Separation 2.0.”

Many of the families detained at Karnes are asylum seekers and are fleeing violence in their home countries. There are babies in jail who are with the only caregivers they have ever known, their parents, and now ICE wants to take them away. 

Those of us in the caravan that day hoped that the families heard our horns on the other side of the gates and know that we stand in solidarity with all of them. We demand that ICE free families — together! 

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