A caravan full of protesters used songs, posters and theatrical demonstrations Saturday outside the Karnes County Residential Center to denounce the use of for-profit facilities to detain immigrants seeking asylum. Numbering close to 100, protesters came by bus and cars from Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston to vent their frustrations about the detention center, operated under contract by GEO Group Inc. for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The rally aimed to bring attention to the plight of hundreds of Central American women and children who are being housed at the shelter while they wait for the federal government to decide their fates. Elaine Cohen, who works with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit that fights to end for-profit incarceration, said she's visited the center. She complained about the practice of housing children in what she said were jail-like conditions while a woman next to her held a bright-orange poster that said “Children need freedom and sunshine to grow.”