This coming spring break, Dr. Timothy Conrad, assistant professor in Weber State’s English department, is calling for volunteers to help with efforts toward reuniting families.
Conrad and his wife, Kerry B. Conrad, an English and ESL teacher, spent time in Dilley, Texas, last year, helping refugees who have fled from countries in South and Central America. Located in Dilley is a detention center that houses mothers and children who are awaiting news that they can be reunited with family already in the United States.
The Conrads have a history of helping those who have been crossing the borders into the United States. The husband and wife team spent time in southern Arizona as teachers where they were involved with groups that helped refugees who were entering the U.S.
Kerry Conrad has 40 years of teaching and interacting with international students. Hearing many stories of families being separated in the process of fleeing their home countries made the choice to help refugees an easy one.
One group that the Conrads were a part of is called Los Samaritanos, based out of Tucson, Arizona. Their goal is to help those people who are crossing the Sonoran desert, which included giving them water and medical care. Soon, another group reached out to Los Samaritanos, and the Conrads were ready to lend their hands to another organization with the sole purpose of helping immigrants reunite with family in the U.S.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, CARA for short, is a collective organization devoted to helping mothers and children who have been detained in detention centers.
According to CARA’s website, Dilley houses the largest detention center in the United States. In December 2014, the South Texas Family Residential Center was opened and is where women and children are detained while they await to be released.
“We must continue to help discover long-term solutions to our American, as well as world-wide, refugee crisis,” Conrad said.
The Conrads went to the detention center and helped out in any way they could. This included helping translate for attorneys, doing intake interviews for women seeking asylum, reaching out to the children and also learning how to enter data into the CARA computer system.
“It’s a very uplifting experience to be able to work with others in helping people gain asylum,” said Mrs. Conrad.
There is now an opportunity for students to go to Dilley and offer their help during spring break or at any other time. CARA needs volunteers who preferably are bilingual, law students or good with computers. For more information, contact Dr. Conrad at firstname.lastname@example.org.