DAVENPORT, IOWA (October 21, 2019) — Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken* announced today that he will travel to the southern border in order to provide legal services to refugees and other asylum seekers now detained at the Karnes County Family Residential Center, located about 60 miles south of San Antonio, Texas.
A member of the District of Columbia Bar Association, Croken will work at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility the first week in November and expects to return frequently over the coming months. According to Croken, the work will include assisting clients prepare for “Credible/Reasonable Fear” interviews and appeals, a critical step in the asylum process.
“In addition to CFI/RFI hearings, I and volunteer attorneys from across the country also will provide in-take services to newly arrived detainees and as well as compliance guidance to those being released from the facility,” Croken said.
Croken chose to volunteer at the Karnes County facility because it was recently re-designated as a “family” center, that is, it now houses men and children, but not women. Furthermore, the decision was precipitated by a report issued last month by the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services. “Included in the findings, thousands of children have suffered grievously by forced separation from one or both parents or caregivers,” Croken said. “Moreover, appropriate care and treatment of these children has been made significantly less likely due to underfunding and dramatically more complicated by lingering fear, a sense of abandonment, and post-traumatic stress symptoms among these children. Child psychiatrists who interviewed the affected children for the report suggest that many may never recover,” Croken explained.
“Every effort must be made to ensure that those seeking refuge in the United States based on fear of persecution for race, nationality, religion, or other characteristics — especially children and families — receive every consideration guaranteed by US and international law. And, this is so irrespective of language, education, experience, or income,” Croken said. As a descendant of undocumented immigrants, myself; I feel I have a unique responsibility to help ‘welcome the stranger’ as the Bible teaches; American values dictate; and, humanity demands,” Croken concluded.
* Croken is undertaking this action individually and not on behalf of Scott County or the Scott County Board of Supervisors.