State faces lawsuit after licensing detention center

May 4, 2016
The San Antonio Express News

AUSTIN — The state’s decision to grant a child care license to a detention facility in Karnes City has prompted a legal battle between the state and a nonprofit grass-roots organization that won a temporary restraining order Wednesday halting licensing until a court appearance next week.

The temporary restraining order was issued by District Judge Karen Crump.

Last week, the Department of Family Planning Services issued a temporary child care license to the Karnes County Residential Center, run by a private prison company. In response, the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership and two mothers detained there with their children filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order.

The center in Kanes and a second center, the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, were opened in 2014 to hold families from Central America. Dilley also has a license application pending, but on Wednesday the judge temporarily blocked the state from issuing one until the May 13 hearing.

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said a trial date has not been set for the suit but that conversations are in the works and the case could be heard next week. The state attorney general’s office will represent the state, DFPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins said.