Dilley, Texas is only 84 miles from the Mexico border and at the heart of our nation’s polarizing conflict over immigration. For one week this February, it became a real-life, transformative classroom for a bilingual team of social work faculty and students from UCLA Luskin Social Welfare, the University of Washington School of Social Work and the University of Washington School of Law.

The idea for the trip emerged in the summer of 2018, in the midst of the family separation crisis at the southern border, when Eddie Uehara, dean of the UW School of Social Work and Laura Abrams, chair of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare had an intense conversation about the state of immigration and migrant rights.  They asked themselves, what could social work educators do to support families coming to the United States seeking asylum, and to extend awareness of the large-scale, deleterious effects of current U.S. immigration practices on the children and families social workers serve?

Knowing they wanted to do something tangible in the field they hatched a plan to send a collaborative team of faculty and students to the largest detention center in the country for migrant women and children to support the detainees as they prepare for their asylum hearings.

The team traveled to Dilley, Texas, working up to 12-hour days to conduct credible fear interviews for women (most of whom crossed the border with children) who were detained by the federal government while seeking asylum. Participants described their time in Dilley as “life changing.”

View the stories and hear the perspectives of the faculty and students who served in Dilley:
UCLA feature story and video
University of Washington feature story and video
University of Washington Tacoma podcast  

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