In the last month, the reaction to the rise in refugee children and families from Central America at the southern border has been decidedly mixed. On one hand, faith groups and residents of border communities have rallied to provide relief for migrants often badly depleted after a long and dangerous journey. On the other hand, vigilantes and their political allies have used the humanitarian crisis to call for an even more militarized border and draconian enforcement efforts.
Sadly, the Obama Administration has bent to some of the latter's demands, announcing the return of mass detention of immigrant families. A family detention center was opened in July at a law enforcement training center in Artesia, New Mexico. The administration then announced that it would start detaining families at a GEO Group-operated facility in Karnes County, Texas and that it would expand the Berks County detention center. In its supplemental appropriations request to Congress, the administration asked for funding for up to 6,300 family detention beds across the country.
Back in 2009, Grassroots Leadership, the Texans United for Families coalition, and a national movement won a major victory when that same Obama administration announced that families would no longer detain families at the notorious T. Don Hutto detention center, a private prison in Taylor, Texas. Below is a video from one of the numerous vigils held by dozens of organizations at Hutto that — along with litigation from the ACLU and University of Texas and lots of media coverage — led to the end of family detention at Hutto. Find out more about family detention, and join us this Saturday evening for another vigil at Hutto protesting family detention. It will take a movement to end family detention once and for all. Details are here.