Immigrant rights advocates file suit against detention center

May 3, 2016
Austin American-Statesman

Civil rights advocates are once more turning to the legal system in an attempt to stop federal officials from holding immigrant children at two controversial family detention centers in South Texas.

Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that opposes private prison companies, and two detainee mothers are asking a judge to invalidate new regulations that went into effect in February and allow the state to issue childcare licenses to the facilities. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the plaintiffs say, never had the authority to rewrite the rules and give itself the power to regulate the centers.

“The state legislature told this agency that it is to care for children,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “The agency has the authority to license childcare care facilities as childcare facilities. It doesn’t have the authority to license prisons as childcare facilities.”