Joshua Rubin


Yolanda Chávez Leyva


Seeking Refugee

Summary of Interview

Joshua Rubin describes his observations of the Tornillo Detention Centers while he was there for three months. Thousands of children from Florida, Houston, and Central American were transported to Tornillo on charter buses. Rubin was first introduced to the situation when the immigration stories were broadcasted on television. Rubin decided to drive down to Tornillo and began holding up a sign, outside the center, that stated “Free them”. Rubin was arrested by authorities but continued raising the sign to oncoming traffic for hours at a time.

Afterward, while attending an activist discussion, Rubin was inspired to take direct action and went to the Detention Center to watch the activities that occur from the morning to the late afternoon. Rubin described the charter buses that entered the facility with hundreds of children along with trucks that delivered food, water, and supplies. Rubin circled the parameter of the facility and watched the children as they were coming in and out daily. He slowly began communication efforts with the children over time and was able to ask how they were doing and how long they had been there. The detention center had multiple forms of authority inside including Homeland Security, private security firms, ICE, CVP, and various guards and personnel from Child Protective Services.

At the time of the interview, the tornillo detention center was being emptied and the children were being taken to their families, sponsor families, or were possibly taken to other detention centers.

Rubin states his motivation for his observations was “the fact that I’m a Jew and this is a concentration camp….and especially because there were children.”

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

34 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1700

Transcript Number

No. 1700

Interview Number

No. 1700

Terms of Use


Included in

Oral History Commons