ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A group of Minnesota law students is back from the border after spending their holiday break at one of the biggest immigration detention centers in Texas.
They were there to lend their services for thousands of families seeking asylum in the United States.
Some of the Hamline students spoke with FOX 9 on Christmas Eve as they prepared to head to Texas.
Wednesday, FOX 9 sat down with the students once again to discuss what life is really like at a detention center on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It was really difficult to hear a grown man’s voice shaking in front of his child explaining why they cannot go back to their country,” said Gabriel Ramirez Hernandez, a law student.
Hernandez reflected on his two-week trip spent inside a massive detention center similar to this one in Karnes City, Texas.
It’s one of the areas housing thousands of immigrants fleeing to the United States seeking asylum from countries where gang violence is rampant.
“I would have clients lifting their shirts and showing me three or four different bullet wounds that they had,” Hernandez said. “The bullet wound that grazed their arm and was still able to take a chunk out of their arm.”
Hernandez and his colleagues met with 500 men and boys at this detention center, preparing them for their upcoming court proceedings in the asylum-seeking process.
The students say most of the immigrants are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
“People don’t leave their homes and their families—leaving spouses behind and other children behind they don’t do that because they want to, they do it because they have to. They fear for their lives,” said Adjunct Professor Paula Duthoy.
Over the years, Duthoy has taken her students down to the border during their winter breaks for these types of experiences.
“One of the reasons I chose to go to Mitchell Hamline was because they’re known for their practical experience and this was a great opportunity to get that practical experience,” said Harrison Hite, another student.
It was the first time he participated and he says spending days inside the camp speaking only Spanish with clients and listening to people’s journeys getting to America was a humbling experience.
“It’s important for people to understand that asylum is important and America is a nation of immigrants having political asylum claims and being a city on the hill is very important,” Hite said.