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October 9, 2014Artesia, NM, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

School about to start for children at the Artesia Family Residential Center

Children attending class with Derek Tolley, a school principal from Tampa, Fla., pointing to the ABC chart

October 13 is the first day of school for about 200 children housed at the Artesia Family Residential Center (AFRC) in New Mexico, a facility operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

The children at AFRC, aged 4 to 17 years old, will be provided one-hour daily instruction blocks in core subjects, including science, social studies, mathematics, reading and writing and physical education.
At this time, classes are being held in converted space on the AFRC grounds. To further enhance the children's learning experience, ICE is finalizing six modular buildings outfitted with 12 classrooms. Once the classrooms are fully operational, lessons will be held there.

"The children are eager to learn," said Gregory S. Brawley, who's been serving as the office in charge at the AFRC since Sept. 12. "Some of the children are so excited that they've tried to attend the orientation sessions more than once a day."

Mothers of the children, also housed at the facility, have participated in orientation of the classroom activities to help establish rapport and get them involved in their children's education.

Classroom sessions will take place between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. On a typical school day, the children will wake up in the morning and get ready for school. After having breakfast with the rest of their family, they will report to school. They will meet with their family for lunch and then return to school.

While learning English is one of the program's objectives, the main focus is to provide children with general educational services in accordance with the State of New Mexico Public Education Department.

ICE has contracted AMIkids to manage and administer the educational program. Per the family residential standards, the education provider has presented a curriculum that has been reviewed and approved by the state of New Mexico.

The AFRC, located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center campus in southeastern New Mexico, opened June 27. The temporary facility is part of the government's response to the unprecedented influx of adults with children arriving at the United States' southern border and offers an appropriate environment for the care and custody of adults with children while also being cost-effective.

"The Artesia Family Residential Center provides an effective and humane alternative to maintain family unity as families await the outcome of immigration hearings or return to their home countries," said Alfredo Fierro ERO deputy field office director in El Paso, who is charged with overseeing the center's operations.