Dozens of migrants released from US immigration centre

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

'Dozens' of migrants have been released from an immigration facility in Artesia, New Mexico, according to the local Mayor.

In an interview with Associated Press, Artesia Mayor Phillip Burch said that 68 detainees had been released from the centre, and around 14 of these were deported back to Central America.

The Artesia Family Residential Centre houses women and children from Central America, who have fled their native countries and crossed the border into the US illegally.

The centre opened temporarily in the summer to deal with increasing numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of these were picked up by customs officials but were then later released and then ceased contact with immigration officials. It is thought many would have moved on to other US towns and cities.

The purpose of the centre was to process these immigrants, and reduce the numbers of immigrants who were slipping through the net. However many of the detainees believe they are being treated unfairly.

Geraldyn Perez, who fled death threats from a gang in Guatemala said: 'I'm being punished for coming here.'

Many of the detainees have fled dangerous situations in their native countries; They then entered the US without a visa.

US work visas

It is usually not possible for refugees to enter the US legally. It is difficult and time consuming gaining an immigrant visa. Legal methods of entry include Employment based immigration categories such as the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 work Visas. Most people actually gain immigration status on a family visa, for example if the applicant has a spouse who is a US resident.

Estimates suggest it could take until next year before the remaining 479 detainees are processed. Even more immigrants are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have said that 324 immigrants have already been sent back to Central America since the centre opened four months ago.