Over a ten-month period, Rewire.News partnered with Latino USA to dig into the case of one woman's alleged sexual abuse. What we learned through a FOIA request raised questions about internal investigations at immigration facilities and the safety of thousands of detained immigrants. Read more about In Search of Safety: An Investigation of Abuse at an Immigration Facility
Grassroots Leadership In The News
Family detention centers “routinely” utilize solitary confinement or “medical isolation” on parents and their young children, according to advocates and attorneys who spoke to Rewire.News.
Court documents obtained by Rewire.Newsdetail the turmoil of families held in isolation, typically in medical quarantine and with no information about their case or when they might be released.
In February 2018, the Berks County Residential Center, a family detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, held at least two families in medical isolation. In one instance, a Haitian father and his 3-year-old son were quarantined for two weeks. In another case, a Haitian mother and her 3-year-old son were isolated for more than five days. Read more about ‘It’s Horrifying to Think About’: Migrants and Their Young Children Are Held in Isolation at Family Detention Centers
AUSTIN,Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Last year, the Austin City Council adopted a resolution, directing the Austin Police Department to release reports, showing when and why the department ever contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"That report shows over 500 instances of the police department either cooperating or handing over information to speed up deportations,” said Greg Casar, with the city council.
The memo shows that last year, police shared certain people's personal information such as utility, phone, and school district records with ICE. But there wasn't much explanation of why I.C.E. was contacted. That's why Casar said the information in the report is too vague.
"We still don't have the information that we need or the context that we need to be able to see how many of these instances were forced by SB-4 and federal law, and how many of them were voluntary uses of police resources,” said Casar. Read more about Last year APD shared hundreds of people's personal information with I.C.E.
Austin police cooperated with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in rooting out undocumented immigrants in the city nearly 600 times last year, according to a document released on Friday that has raised the ire of advocates for the migrant class.
The Austin Police Department (APD) disclosed the level of their cooperation with ICE on Friday afternoon during a presentation before city council. Despite past assertions by Police Chief Brian Manley of a less aggressive stance in identifying undocumented immigrants toward their deportation, the document illustrates how compelled the police force is to cooperate with ICE in the wake of Senate Bill 4. The law that was championed by Gov. Greg Abbott effectively forces law enforcement officials to fully cooperate with federal immigration officials to help ensnare undocumented immigrants. Read more about Austin Police Cooperated With ICE Nearly 600 Times In 2018
After mounting public pressure and several allegations of sexual abuse, Williamson County commissioners ended the county's contract with T. Don Hutto Detention Center in June, marking a significant shift in government support of the troubled immigration jail ("Williamson County Commissioners Court Ends Hutto Contract," June 26, 2018). However, while the contract expired at the end of January, the Taylor facility remains open, sparking protest from immigration advocates, who gathered earlier this month at a Taylor City Council meeting to voice their disapproval.
The center, which holds roughly 500 mostly asylum-seeking women, is now run through a direct "short-term" contract extension between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private prison operator CoreCivic, says ICE spokesperson Nina Pruneda. Bethany Carson of immigrant rights advocacy group Grassroots Leadership questions the process, noting that it appears there was no competitive bidding involved, including a request for proposals, as is standard with federal contracts. There is also no clarity on the length of the temporary contract. "It's very unclear what this contract extension means," says Carson. "We still have a lot of questions about how this facility remains open." Read more about T. Don Hutto Detention Center Still Open
Se estima que tan solo en 2017 la empresa Corec Civic, encargada de operar varias cárceles privadas, tuvo ingresos por más de 400 millones de dólares, de los cuáles el 25% provenía de contratos con el gobierno federal, mismos que se han incrementado durante la administración del presidente Trump. Read more about El negocio millonario detrás de los centros de detención para inmigrantes
Griselda vive la angustia de permanecer retenida en un centro de detención sin la posibilidad de estar junto a su hija Samantha, quien se quedó bajo los cuidados de su padre a pesar de que se ha reportado la maltrata. Desde su lugar de reclusión habla de las malas condiciones de las que son víctimas y la falta de atención médica que viven a pesar de sus malestares. Read more about Voces del encierro: el terror de una madre salvadoreña presa en un centro de detención en Laredo, Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Senate Bill 4 has been the law of the land for close to two years now.
"This is simply a mechanism such that when someone who has a criminal record, who is wanted by ICE, they're going be held and detained and turned over to ICE. If you are here, regardless of what your status and you have not committed a crime that makes you subject to an ICE detainer, you have no problems whatsoever," said Abbott back in 2017.
However, some still feel that the law targets immigrant communities. The fight to repeal it is still ongoing.
“I filed SB 672, the whole purpose is to repeal what I believe is an unjust, an un-American law that's really a discriminatory law, because there is no way to really decide who you're going to ask whether you're here legally or not other than based on their looks,” said State Sen. Jose Menendez, (D)-San Antonio. Read more about Activists push for a repeal of 'anti-sanctuary cities' law
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Immigrants and those advocating for their rights are scheduled to organize a rally at the state Capitol on Monday afternoon, calling for abolition of anti-immigration policies and curb deportations.
The Fuerza Texas gathering on the north steps of the Capitol is demanding repeal of SB4, a law championed by Gov. Greg Abbott designed to end so-called "sanctuary cities" seen as too soft on enforcing immigration enforcement. The law added punitive measures to those viewed as too relaxed in terms of enforcement, including fines and potential jail time. Read more about Austin Rally Calls For End To Anti-Immigration Law
Mujeres inmigrantes narran los abusos y malos tratos de los que fueron víctimas en los centros de detención, asegurando no denunciaron a tiempo porque eran amenazadas con ser deportadas.
Last June, activists in suburban Williamson County, Texas, had reason to celebrate. County commissioners had voted to terminate a contract with ICE for the privately-run T. Don Hutto Detention Center, a CoreCivic-run women’s facility for asylum seekers that has long been accused of rampant abuse. While there was no guarantee that the facility would close, it felt like county officials were finally listening to local residents and former detainees, and signaling an end to detention-for-profit practices in their community.
But Hutto remains open, thanks to a quiet agreement between ICE and CoreCivic. The county, and the city of Taylor where the detention center resides, have been indifferent while detainees continue to be locked up. And activists are appalled.
“We’ve been fighting for a long time, and we thought we were finally going to shut the place down after a decade,” says Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer with the Austin-based organization Grassroots Leadership, which has led efforts to close Hutto. A planned rally on Thursday at the Taylor City Council presents the next stage in this seemingly endless battle. Read more about Texas Activists Thought They’d Kicked ICE Out of Their County. Then a Secret Deal Happened.
An advocacy group for immigrants will hold a rally Thursday outside the Taylor City Council meeting Thursday to demand answers for why the T. Don Hutto Residential Center is still open after many reports of abuse, said one of the event’s organizers. The center is located in Taylor and holds detained immigrant women.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court ended their intergovernmental service agreement with the center at the end of January. CoreCivic owns and operates the center. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a short-term contract extension with CoreCivic for the T. Don Hutto Residential Center to remain open beyond Jan. 31, according to a statement from Adelina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for ICE, which declined further comment. Read more about Advocacy group to hold rally in Taylor against immigrant detention facility
LIBERATION RALLY: At 9:30 a.m. hundreds of formerly incarcerated Texans, their families and advocates from across the state will gather at the Capitol to lobby for criminal justice reform. The event, called #kNOwMORE2019, was organized for a second year by members of Texas Advocates for Justice and Grassroots Leadership. Attendees will participate in legislative training, visit with elected representatives and rally on the South Steps of the building at 1 p.m. An art installation created by formerly incarcerated people will be on display in the North Central Gallery, and a spoken word performance will take place in the Main Rotunda at 12 p.m Read more about Hundreds of formerly incarcerated Texans rally at state Capitol
"It can be an intimidating experience. If you really feel comfortable with what you're saying and feel confident in the messages you're going to give to the council people then it gets easier." – Chris Harris, Grassroots Leadership Read more about Here's How To Get In Front Of Your Elected Officials And Tell Them What You Think
TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County will officially cut its ties after Thursday with an immigrant detention center in Taylor.
The county previously had an Intergovernmental Services Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private prison company CoreCivic for the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, which houses women detained at the border. In June 2018, the commissioners' court voted 4-1 to end those agreements by Jan. 31, 2019.
Grassroots Leadership, a group advocating for immigrant rights in Austin, hoped that the county's action would mean the facility would close by that date. However, it doesn't appear T. Don Hutto will shut its doors anytime soon. Read more about Williamson County agreement with ICE detention center ends Thursday
AUSTIN (KXAN) -- The system that provides lawyers for defendants who can't afford to hire one in Travis County is headed toward a possible overhaul, and the working group tasked with figuring out how to do it wants to hear from the public.
The group is hosting a "listening session" Wednesday night from 6:30-8 p.m. at 700 Lavaca Street. Members will hear from advocacy groups and other community members about what the public defender system should look like.
"Now is the time to really ask ourselves as a city, as a community, what are our values?" said Alicia Torres, a reform advocate working with ICE Out of Austin, an offshoot from the group Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Group shaping future of county public defenders seeks public input
Immigrant rights activists organized a protest outside a local detention center over the weekend in support of a woman that was detained earlier this month.
The protesters primarily speaking out for Griselda Cruz Lopez.
She returned to the United States after being deported to her home country, El Salvador.
She fears for her Daughters life and claims that her abusive ex-partner, beats their daughter.
Cruz was arrested by immigration officials in Hidalgo, earlier this month.
Grassroots leadership, immigrant rights activist working with Griselda's attorney believe she is being wrongfully detained.
The Laredo Immigration Alliance was present, along with groups from Austin and San Antonio. Read more about Immigrant rights activists rally for Griselda Lopez
The 3rd Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed in 2016 by Grassroots Leadership, an Austin advocacy group, that sought to stop the facilities from being licensed by the Texas Department of Family Protection Services.
The nonprofit argues that by allowing the state to license detention centers as child care centers, it brings the facilities one step closer to being able to bypass the Flores Settlement Agreement, which prevents children from being detained longer than 20 days. The 20-day cap applies to secure, unlicensed facilities.
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.” Read more about A court ruling may allow migrant families to be held indefinitely. These families know what that could be like.
After the flow of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America intensified beginning in 2014, the agency decided to help the centers – both among the country's largest and operated by private, for-profit firms (CoreCivic and GEO Group) – skirt the requirements of federal court rulings governing the detention of minors. Instead, DFPS adopted an emergency rule in 2015 that dubbed them "family residential centers" – a euphemism that belies their poor conditions – and only mandated minimal state standards for child welfare ("Child Care Center or Baby Jail?" March 18, 2016).
That rule hasn't been implemented because immigration advocacy group Grassroots Leadership filed suit in Travis County to block it, and in 2016 state District Judge Karin Crump issued an injunction against DFPS. ("Detention Is Not Child Care," Dec. 9, 2016). Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed that ruling shortly afterward.
Now, thanks to the 3rd Court of Appeals, that injunction has been reversed. Read more about Court: Immigrant Detention Is Child Care