Texas tried to get around that ruling by attempting to license Karnes and Dilley as childcare facilities. An Austin advocacy group, Grassroots Leadership, and several detained mothers successfully sued in 2016 to block the facilities from being licensed.
That lawsuit was overturned on Nov. 28 by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin, which said that the group and the detained mothers did not have legal standing to sue — thus opening the door for Texas to license Dilley and Karnes.
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said he feared that the ruling could lead to “long-term psychological and physical harm on children” detained there.
“Family detention centers are not childcare facilities,” he said. “The sole reason that the state wanted to license these private prisons as childcare facilities was to prolong the detention of children.”