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Immigration Attorney Describes Meeting With Migrant Women Detained At SeaTac Prison

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
The Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, where some migrants arrested under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy against illegal immigration are being held.

Immigration attorneys have been busy meeting with migrants seeking asylum who are being held at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center. They were transferred there from Texas under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy against illegal immigration and are now awaiting so-called “credible fear” interviews with immigration officials.

Oksana Bilobran is an immigration attorney with the Seattle-based group Refugee Women’s Alliance. She answered a request from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to meet with migrants in the SeaTac prison. She interviewed three women from Central America and three women from China. None of them had had children taken away, but it’s still been emotionally difficult.

Bilobran says one woman from Guatemala was so distraught it was hard for her to speak.

“She was not keeping it together at all and in circumstances like this, I don’t know if she’s being provided with medical care, if she’s being provided with maybe potentially some medication she might need,” Bilobran said. “She was just crying the whole time.”

Bilobran said the woman asked to be deported back to Guatemala, where her mother is sick with cancer. Some of the asylum seekers have been transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Bilobran said she’s still not sure if she’ll take on any of the cases because she’s already representing many people, some of whom are trying to bring over family members and others who are seeking to gain citizenship.

On Monday, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued the federal government on behalf of three women from Honduras and El Salvador who had been separated from their children and are being held at federal facilities in Washington. Their children were sent to locations in New York and Texas.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.
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