A state appeals court on Wednesday tossed out a lawsuit challenging the state’s licensing of two family immigrant detention centers that hold women and children in South Texas.
The ruling by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals reversed a 2016 trial court judgment that ordered the state to refrain from licensing such facilities.
Since then, both detention centers have been allowed to remain open, though neither is technically licensed by the state.
Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit immigrant rights group, had challenged the emergency rule that allowed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to issue special licenses to the detention centers to keep them open, saying it allowed the centers to detain children for longer periods under lower standards of care.
“I think that it’s deeply troubling that the state of Texas and a court would determine that it is OK for there to be prolonged and even indefinite detention of children, which is the potential result of licensing these facilities,” the nonprofit’s executive director, Bob Libal, told the American-Statesman in response to the ruling. “You can always sort of tell the impact of a policy on the public good on how it impacts the private prison facilities’ bottom line. This is a ruling that is good for companies that want prolonged detention and bad for people with a public conscience.”