UIC Latino groups to host forum on US immigration detention centers

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Latino Cultural Center and the Latin American and Latino studies program will be hosting a forum, “We call them Baby Jails,” to discuss policies involving family detention for undocumented immigrants.

Virginia Martinez

Virginia Martinez (Photo: Olga Lopez)

En Español


February 7
3-4:30 p.m.


The Rafael Cintrón Ortiz UIC Latino Cultural Center
Lecture Center B2
803 S. Morgan St.


The forum will feature Virginia Martinez, an attorney and community activist with the CARA Pro Bono Project, a pro bono legal services project to help the families detained in the towns of Dilley and Karnes in Texas. She will discuss the federal government’s opening of the largest immigrant, family-detention center in the country, the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. The center has 480 beds and can hold 2,400 women and children seeking asylum, most from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Many of these people, who are fleeing poverty and violence, become victims of crime and are detained without the ability to receive proper legal protection.

Martinez, who has spent most of her career working with non-profit organizations, has worked with the CARA Pro Bono Project in Dilley. She has also served as legislative staff attorney in the Midwest office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, and is on the Illinois Prison Review Board. Martinez, who was one of the first Latinas to practice law in Illinois, was also former director of the International Center for Health Leadership Development at UIC. Volunteers from 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 make up the CARA Pro Bono Project.

Additional sponsors of the forum include the UIC Institute for the Humanities Global Migration Working Group and the Heritage Garden Student Group.

The event is free and open to the public. For information, please call (312)996-3095.

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