Barbara Gonzalez, public information officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, shows a dormitory where immigrant families stay at the Artesia Residential Detention Facility in Artesia, N.M. on Friday, July 11, 2014.

(AP Photo/Pool, El Paso Times, Rudy Gutierrez)

Last July, Christina Brown drove from her home in Denver to Artesia, N.M. The newly-certified immigration attorney heard that the Obama administration was detaining women and their kids crossing the border.

She intended to stay a week, but wound up there until the end of the year to coordinate pro bono legal help for hundreds of migrants. Then, when the federal government closed the facility in New Mexico in December, it moved some of the women and kids to another detention center in Texas. Brown went with them. She's back in Denver now, working on appeals to some cases. She is also fighting to end the administration's policy of detaining newly arrived immigrants, which is the subject of several lawsuits currently in the courts. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to be interviewed. A spokeswoman responded in a statement: "Family residential centers are an effective and humane alternative for maintaining family unity as families go through immigration proceedings or await return to their home countries. ICE ensures that these residential centers operate in an open environment, which includes medical care, play rooms, social workers, educational services, and facilitate access to legal counsel. Secretary [of Homeland Security Jeh] Johnson has made it clear that individuals apprehended at the border, including families, are an agency priority and that ICE should allocate enforcement resources accordingly."

Brown spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. 


  • The New York Times Magazine profiled Brown and other staff working in Artesia and Texas for the Immigration attorneys association
  • New York Times reporter Wil Hylton spoke on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show recently about his reporting on immigrant detentions
  • ICE on the opening of its most recent detention center in Dilley, Texas