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Attorney: Immigrant Transfers Out of Artesia Detention Center To Begin Immediately

A team of volunteer immigration attorneys works long hours on the cases of women and children detained at a federal facility in Artesia. (Mónica Ortiz Uribe)

An attorney representing immigrant women and children detained in New Mexico says her clients will be transferred to a facility in Texas starting today. The news came a day after the federal government announced the New Mexico facility will close by the end of December.

Christina Brown got a phone call Thursday night, just as President Obama was beginning his nationwide address on immigration. Brown heads a group volunteer attorneys who represent immigrants held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. She said the call was from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, alerting her that 24 of her clients would be moved to a facility in Texas Friday morning.

"They are being transferred away from their attorneys who have been developing their cases for a very long time," she said.

Brown said the short notice could seriously interfere with or delay ongoing cases. Some immigrant women are in the final stages of asylum hearings. The attorneys doing pro bono work in Artesia have already won nine asylum cases since this summer.

In a press release ICE said it would screen detainees on a case by case basis before transferring them to another facility. The federal government is set to open a new 2400 bed detention center in Dilley, Texas within the coming weeks.