You’ve Just Been Released From the Largest Detention Center in America. This Is Your Next Stop.
How a modest house in San Antonio became a lifeline for thousands of desperate refugee families.
Photos by Black Box Cooperative
An unassuming building, nestled on a quiet, tree-lined block in San Antonio, Texas, has become a refuge. It’s known as the Mennonite House for its affiliation with the nearby Mennonite Church, and for roughly a year now, it has been the first place thousands of families come to after they are released from the South Texas Family Residential Center, an immigrant detention center located an hour from here in a tiny town called Dilley. The Dilley facility is the country’s largest detention center. It sits about an hour from the border between Texas and Mexico, and holds exclusively women and children. The majority of families detained there are asylum seekers from Central America who crossed over the border from Mexico after fleeing gang violence in their home countries. Some have husbands or partners already living in the U.S., others are fleeing domestic violence or abuse; almost all have made the trip on their own.