ARTESIA - The Mayor of Artesia, where more than 500 illegal immigrants are detained, says more immigrants are being released than deported. A drastic change from the government's original plan.
In a meeting Tuesday, the Mayor of Artesia, Phil Burch, was informed that just last week there had been zero deportations from the detention facility and 61 releases.
"This administration has changed their view on the rapid deportation, as it was the stated goal to begin with, and had just determined that they will simply release them into the United States," Artesia Mayor, Phil Burch, said.
This is a drastic change from the opening two weeks where deportations outweighed releases eleven to one.
To date, 227 detainees in total have been released.
"They are either taken to a bus terminal, then they can get on a bus and go to their destination in the United States, or they're taken to Roswell to catch a flight to wherever their destination is in the U.S.," Burch said.
Burch says the only thing that has changed in the process is the intervention of attorneys and these recent numbers are far from what was promised by the government to the community.
Immigrant advocates say more immigrants are winning their cases because they are getting the proper representation.
"I think what we are seeing in Artesia now is the result of attorneys actually being in the facility, having access to these families and being able to ensure some actual oversight and accountability of what is happening in Artesia," Policy Counsel for Detention Watch Network, Madhuri Grewal, said.
Although the swift deportation numbers have shifted, advocates add, there's still a long way to go.
"This isolation has also really created a huge public awareness problem for us because they're so far away from urban areas or from communities who might otherwise be able to help or know about them," Grewal said.
The Detention Watch Network also published a report called "Expose and Close Artesia," where the advocates documented what they saw on their tour at the detention facility.