Williamson County Votes to End Contract with Detention Facility Holding Separated Mothers

June 26, 2018
The Texas Observer

Commissioners voted 4-1 to terminate the county’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CoreCivic Inc., a for-profit company that operates the 512-bed T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. Since at least 2010, the county was party to a contractual arrangement that brought it roughly $100,000 a year.

The vote doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the Hutto facility, which opened in 2006 as the first for-profit family detention center in the country. ICE operates many detention facilities around the country without a county acting as middleman, and it could now do the same with Hutto. The agency must go through a lengthy rebidding process in order to do so, said Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit that fights private prisons and has led the campaign to close the facility.

About 35 asylum-seeking mothers who were separated from their children at the border because of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy are detained at the facility, according to Grassroots Leadership. The group has pressured county officials to investigate sexual assault allegations made by detainees.