President Barack Obama will be in Texas this week for a fundraising event in Austin. He will also be meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry to discuss the government’s response to an increase in the number of Central American children and families coming to the Texas-Mexico border to seek asylum.
While many communities in Texas have responded by opening their arms to provide shelter to unaccompanied children, the Obama administration has requested an additional $3.7 billion in money that would mostly be spent on border enforcement, detention, and deportation. This comes despite the fact that federal spending on immigration enforcement already surpasses all other federal law enforcement activities combined.
Included in the supplemental spending request is $897 million to detain and deport refugee families. Reports have emerged from D.C. that the administration may be considering more than 6,000 new family detention beds, up from only 80 beds currently detaining families. The administration has already begun sending asylum-seeking refugee families to be housed at a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artisia, New Mexico.
Apparently, the administration has forgotten the shameful history of family detention in the United States that spans from the Japanese internment to the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. Families were detained at Hutto - a privately operated prison located just outside Austin - from 2006 to 2009. During that time reports quickly emerged that children as young as eight months old wore prison uniforms, lived in locked prison cells with open-toilets, were subjected to highly restricted movement, and threatened with alarming disciplinary tactics, including threats of separation from their parents if they cried too much or played too loudly. Medical treatment was inadequate and children as young as one lost weight. The facility was sued by the ACLU and University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic.
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