"In south Texas you see one of the greatest concentrations of for-profit prisons of anywhere in the country," said Robert Libal of Grassroots Leadership, a group critical of these prison businesses. "For private prison corporations, every person that's in prison is a dollar sign. Rehabilitation is bad for business; a shrinking prison population hurts the bottom line," said Libal.
Grassroots Leadership In The News
Meanwhile, activists have been pressuring Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton to cease participation in Secure Communities. But activists are also lobbying officials with the city of Austin over the city’s agreement with Travis County to house Austin Police Department arrests, says Bob Libal, executive director of Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, an anti-private-prisons organization. With 70 percent of inmates in Travis County Jail coming from Austin police bookings, the city has the financial influence to sway county officials. Read more about Mass Deportation’s Hidden Costs
While immigration reform is at a standstill in Congress, many immigration advocacy groups across the country are doing whatever possible to help alleviate the harm done by the continued enforcement of our broken immigration system, many focusing on easing the senseless amount of deportations forced under the administration.
Immigration advocacy leaders in Travis County belonging to Grassroots Leadership, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the Texas Civil Rights Project, are fighting to put an end to the locally enforced Secure Communities program (or S-Comm), a federal program that recruits local police as immigration enforcers. Read more about Fight To End Abusive Deportation Program Continues In Travis County
News of the protest at Northwest has spread to immigrants at other facilities. At the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas—also run by GEO Group—more than 100 detainees launched a hunger strike on March 16. And the retaliation for those strikers has also allegedly been harsh. According to Cristina Parker, an organizer with Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, some detainees at Corley have been shackled and isolated. Read more about Detainees Reportedly Thrown Into Solitary Confinement as Hunger Strike Continues
Las demandas de los tres detenidos en huelga de hambre están explicadas en un documento escrito a mano por Vázquez y Martínez y que el abogado de inmigración Ellis Muñoz entregó a Grassroots Leadership, un grupo activista con sede en Austin que se declara en contra de los centros de detención manejados por empresas privadas como el Joe Corley, de la compañía GEO Group, con sede en Florida.
Por ejemplo, explica Cristina Parker, coordinadora de proyectos de inmigración de Grassroots Leadership, “hemos escuchado muchas veces, antes de que comenzara la huelga, que los guardias se burlan de ellos, se burlan de que no saben hablar inglés o de que no lo hablan muy bien; muestran una falta de respeto”. Read more about Hispanos en huelga de hambre en el centro para indocumentados en Conroe
“Los inmigrantes detenidos no tendrían que recurrir a tales extremos para llamar la atención sobre el maltrato dentro del vasto sistema privado de detención de inmigrantes”, dijo Bob Libal, director de “Grassroots Leadership”, grupo que lucha contra la existencia de cárceles privadas. Read more about Se suman a huelga de hambre inmigrantes detenidos en Texas
The good folks of Grassroots Leadership and the Sentencing Project were in town this week, delivering a presentation on "race, mass incarceration, and the private prison industry" at Huston-Tillotson University. [...] Together, Christopher Petrella and Nicole Porter provided an overview of the current U.S. system of incarceration, its institutionalized racism, and various efforts at reform. Read more about Point Austin: Incarceration Nation
By Cristina Parker of Grassroots Leadership and Alexis Mazon of Justice Strategies For the last four years, border crossing has been the most prosecuted federal offense, surpassing drug offenses. Every day in federal courts along the Southwest border, hundreds of mostly destitute Latino and indigenous Latin American migrants are shackled, charged, convicted and sentenced en masse under Operation Streamline. Read more about Letter to the Editor: Prosecution of Migrants
Officials with the GEO Group did not return phone calls to The Courier Thursday. On Friday, Montgomery County Judge Alan B. Sadler said the number of detainees on the hunger strike were down to three.
That figure was disputed by Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator with Austin-based Grassroots Leadership. She said attorneys confirmed there were still 50 immigration detainees participating in the hunger strike Read more about Detainees fork over demands to ICE, GEO
Supporters of the hunger strikers at the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas say that well over 100 people are participating. “We know there is a hunger strike in at least 3 cells, each holding 38 to 40 men” said Cristina Parker of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that is directly supporting the strike, in an interview with Common Dreams. Read more about From Within For-Profit ‘Deportation Machine,’ Hunger Strikes Spread
GEO Group's political action committee gave $10,000, one of its top contributions, to Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat. His district prosecuted the most undocumented immigrants for crossing the border and was behind only Arizona for felony prosecutions for re-entry offenses, according to a report by Grassroots Leadership. He has also championed Operation Streamline, which funnels immigrants into the federal court system. Read more about From Tacoma to Texas, Hunger Strikers Challenge Private Immigration Detention Centers
The immigrants detained in Joe Corley, Texas, followed in the footsteps of the Tacoma detainees, who have kept their hunger strike for 13 days in search of ending the deportations which have disintegrated entire families. According to the press release emitted by the organization Grassroots Leadership on its website, the immigrants' demands are comprised by fundamental points that ask not only for dignified treatment of detainees, but ending double trials for previous cases and nutritional food for detainees, along with medical attention, a reduction in the cost of telephone calls in lower costs in the commissary. Read more about Immigration Reform News 2014: Immigrant Hunger Strike Against Deportations Extends to ICE Detainees in Texas
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas, added: “Immigrants in detention should not have to go to such extreme lengths to blow the whistle on mistreatment within ICE’s vast and largely privatized immigration detention system. GEO Group, the for-profit prison corporation that operates both these detention centers, has a well-documented track record around Texas of canceled contracts and scandal-ridden facilities, including at several prisons for immigrants in Texas.” Read more about Hunger strikes spread to Texas detention center
“Los inmigrantes detenidos no tendrían que recurrir a tales extremos para llamar la atención sobre el maltrato dentro del vasto sistema privado de detención de inmigrantes”, dijo Bob Libal, director de “Grassroots Leadership”, grupo que lucha contra la existencia de cárceles privadas. Read more about Inmigrantes detenidos se suman a huelga de hambre en Texas
El martes, Grassroots Leadership dio a conocer dos cartas escritas a mano donde los huelguistas de hambre en el centro Corley explican las razones de la huelga, entre ellas que mejore el trato a los internos y que el gobierno detenga las deportaciones.
Christina Parker, activista de Grassroots Leadership en Austin, dijo que su organización está intentando ingresar un abogado al centro de detención para monitorear qué está pasando con los detenidos, reportó el diario La Opinión. Read more about Segunda huelga de hambre en un centro de detención de ICE
Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas added, “Immigrants in detention should not have to go to such extreme lengths to blow the whistle on mistreatment within ICE’s vast and largely privatized immigration detention system. GEO Group, the for-profit prison corporation that operates both these detention centers, has a well-documented track record around Texas of canceled contracts and scandal-ridden facilities, including at several prisons for immigrants in Texas.” Read more about Hunger Strike Spreads to Texas Detention Center
According to Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based organization opposed to for-profit incarceration, the Conroe detainees are striking in solidarity with the efforts at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., where at least 750 immigrants began refusing food earlier this month. As of Tuesday, some detainees were still skipping some meals. Read more about Immigrant Detainees in Texas Launch Hunger Strike
The U.S. Congress has mandated a bed space quota of 34 thousand, which President Obama has proposed lowering to 30 thousand. Cristina Parker, Immigration Projects Coordinator at Grassroots Leadership, explains the bed mandate essentially requires ICE to “hold a certain number of people – in this case, 34 thousand – in detention every single day.” Parker says no other law enforcement agency in the country requires a mandatory minimum number of prisoners at all times. “What’s really insidious about that is that the private prison industry is the biggest benefactor of that bed mandate quota because they own about half of the immigrant detention beds in the country.” Read more about Immigrant Detainee Hunger Strike Spreads to GEO Group Facility in Texas
“Inmigrantes detenidos no necesitan llegar a los extremos de una huelga de hambre para sacar a la luz el maltrato que sufren en estos centros de detención privatizados de ICE”, comentó Bob Libal, director ejecutivo de la organización cívica Grassroots Leadership en Austin, Texas. Read more about Habría huelga de hambre en el centro de detención migratoria Joe Corley