Grassroots Leadership In The News

May 5, 2016
/
ThinkProgress

Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas From Licensing A ‘Baby Jail’ As A Child Care Center

Immigrant activists are fighting to prevent Texas from licensing controversial detention centers as child care facilities, saying these centers are more accurately described as prisons.

They won a victory in court this week. On Wednesday, an Austin district judge issued a temporary injunction blocking Texas’ largest immigrant family detention center in Dilley from being labeled as a child care facility, after activists from the Grassroots Leadership organization sued on behalf of two Central American mothers being detained there.

The judge issued a week-long restraining order preventing Texas officials from awarding a child care license to the privately-run, for-profit South Texas Family Residential Center. The order expires on May 13, when the court will hear the organization’s request for a temporary injunction against new state regulations to license the center. Read more about Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas From Licensing A ‘Baby Jail’ As A Child Care Center

May 4, 2016
/
Fox News

Texas immigrant family detention center granted child-care license

HOUSTON –  One of the nation's largest detention centers for families caught crossing the southern U.S. border has received a temporary residential child-care license, amid discussions over whether the federal government will keep using such facilities.

...

Immigrant advocates criticized the decision to grant the temporary license, citing reports of inadequate medical care and other issues as reasons why such facilities shouldn't get licenses. One group, Grassroots Leadership, said Tuesday that it and two mothers detained at Texas facilities with their children had sued in Austin to stop the licensing. Read more about Texas immigrant family detention center granted child-care license

May 4, 2016
/
The Guardian

Lawsuit aims to stop licensing of Texas immigration detention facilities

Immigration activists are fighting back against a Texas decision to license immigration detention centres that critics call “baby jails”.

A lawsuit was launched on Tuesday in an attempt to stop the licensing, four days after the Texas department of family and protective services (DFPS) granted a childcare licence to one of two federal family holding facilities near San Antonio, with the second set to receive its permit imminently.

...

Yet the DFPS pressed on and now faces a lawsuit from Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based group opposed to private prisons, and two detained mothers. It argues that the DFPS is overstepping its authority by regulating places that are not, in reality, childcare establishments. Patrick Crimmins, a DFPS spokesman, said the agency is reviewing the suit and consulting with the state’s attorney general’s office.

“By all reasonable measures, family detention camps are prisons. They are not childcare facilities,” Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said in a statement. It is not the first time the group has taken legal action on the issue: It won a temporary injunction last November to stop the state from using an emergency rule to fast-track the licensing process without public comment. Read more about Lawsuit aims to stop licensing of Texas immigration detention facilities

May 4, 2016
/
Headlines & Global News

Texas Receives Lawsuit After Granting Child Care License To Immigrant Detention Facility

In a controversial move, Texas has awarded the Karnes County Residential Center a temporary child-care license, which lets the facility to get around a federal court order that would otherwise prevent it from detaining undocumented women and their children.

...

However, while ICE lauded the decision, immigrants rights advocates who have long been critical of conditions inside the facilities were quite angered. In fact, one non-profit organization, Grassroots Leadership, has opted to sue the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services over it.

"We think both that it is inappropriate and wrong for the state agency to license prisons as childcare facilities," said Bob Libal, executive director of the organization. "They're saying these are child facilities now, after more than a decade of saying that there weren't child care facilities in the detention centers, essentially to help the federal government avoid a lawsuit and to help the federal government enforce harsh immigration policies against children and their moms." Read more about Texas Receives Lawsuit After Granting Child Care License To Immigrant Detention Facility

May 4, 2016
/
Buzzfeed News

Texas Immigrant Detention Center Gets Child Care License

Texas has awarded a for-profit prison company a child care license, a move that could help the detention center get around a federal court order and detain undocumented immigrant women and their children.

...

On Tuesday, two mothers detained in Texas and Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based organization, asked a state court to issue a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order against an emergency rule that allowed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to license private groups operating family detention centers.

The filings are the latest part of a legal battle between immigrant advocacy groups and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Read more about Texas Immigrant Detention Center Gets Child Care License

May 4, 2016
/
The Texas Tribune

Judge Blocks State From Licensing Family Detention Center

An Austin judge temporarily blocked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from issuing a childcare license to an immigration detention center in Dilley on Wednesday.

Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit organization opposed to for-profit prisons, sued the department on Tuesday challenging its authority to issue childcare licenses to privately run immigration detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City. The Karnes City facility has already received a temporary license. 

“Today, we are glad a judge has agreed to halt, at least temporarily, the appalling practice of labeling family prisons as childcare facilities,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership in a statement. “Family detention camps are prisons. They are not childcare facilities. DFPS has for a decade refused to regulate these facilities because they do not have authority to do so." Read more about Judge Blocks State From Licensing Family Detention Center

May 4, 2016
/
ABC News

Judge Blocks Child-Care License for Family Detention Center

A judge has blocked a temporary residential child-care license for one of the nation's largest detention centers for families caught crossing the southern U.S. border illegally.

The licenses are needed because a federal judge ruled last year the centers would have to eventually release the immigrant children without them.

State District Judge Karin Crump signed a temporary restraining order Wednesday that blocks issuance of a license to the privately owned and managed, 2,400-bed South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

The order was sought by an activist group that opposes for-profit prisons. It is effective until May 13, when arguments are scheduled on a temporary injunction to halt the licensing indefinitely. Read more about Judge Blocks Child-Care License for Family Detention Center

May 4, 2016
/
Austin American-Statesman

Judge issues restraining order in family detention center case

A state district judge in Travis County has issued a temporary retraining order against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, preventing the agency from issuing a childcare license to one of two controversial family detention centers in South Texas.

Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that opposes private prison companies, and two detainee mothers on Tuesday asked Judge Karin Crump to invalidate new regulations that went into effect in February and allow the state to issue childcare licenses to the facilities. The state family services department, the plaintiffs say, never had the authority to rewrite the rules and give itself the power to regulate the centers.

Crump on Wednesday agreed to issue the restraining order until May 13, when the court will take up the plaintiffs’ request on the new regulations.

“This is a very good sign that the judge has recognized that we must, at least temporarily, halt the appalling practice of calling family prisons childcare centers,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Judge issues restraining order in family detention center case

May 4, 2016
/
Houston Chronicle

Judge halts agency's effort to license detention center as a child-care facility

AUSTIN - The state's decision to grant a childcare license to a detention facility in Karnes City has prompted a legal battle between the state and a nonprofit grass-roots organization that won a temporary restraining order Wednesday, halting licensing until a court appearance next week.

The temporary restraining order was issued by state District Judge Karen Crump.

Last week, the Department of Family Planning Services issued a temporary child-care license to the Karnes County Residential Center, run by a private prison company. In response, the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership and two mothers detained in the facility with their children filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order. Read more about Judge halts agency's effort to license detention center as a child-care facility

May 4, 2016
/
The San Antonio Express News

State faces lawsuit after licensing detention center

AUSTIN — The state’s decision to grant a child care license to a detention facility in Karnes City has prompted a legal battle between the state and a nonprofit grass-roots organization that won a temporary restraining order Wednesday halting licensing until a court appearance next week.

The temporary restraining order was issued by District Judge Karen Crump.

Last week, the Department of Family Planning Services issued a temporary child care license to the Karnes County Residential Center, run by a private prison company. In response, the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership and two mothers detained there with their children filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order.

The center in Kanes and a second center, the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, were opened in 2014 to hold families from Central America. Dilley also has a license application pending, but on Wednesday the judge temporarily blocked the state from issuing one until the May 13 hearing.

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said a trial date has not been set for the suit but that conversations are in the works and the case could be heard next week. The state attorney general’s office will represent the state, DFPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins said. Read more about State faces lawsuit after licensing detention center

May 4, 2016
/
The New York Times

Texas: Child Care License Is Delayed For Immigration Detention Center

A state court judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked state authorities from licensing as a child care facility a federal immigration detention center holding migrant children and their mothers. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services was preparing to issue a child care license to the center, located in Dilley, where families seeking asylum, including very young children, are detained. Ruling on an emergency request by Grassroots Leadership, a prison advocacy group, Judge Karin Crump of Travis County found it was “probable” that new regulations adopted by the department to support the license were inconsistent with state law. On Friday, Texas issued a child care license to a similar detention center nearby in Karnes City. Read more about Texas: Child Care License Is Delayed For Immigration Detention Center

May 3, 2016
/
ABC News

Immigrant Family Detention Center Granted Child-Care License

One of the nation's largest detention centers for families caught crossing the southern U.S. border has received a temporary residential child-care license, amid discussions over whether the federal government will keep using such facilities.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services granted the six-month license last week to the 500-bed facility in Karnes City, southeast of San Antonio, agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said Tuesday. The private prison firm that runs the facility for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, GEO Group Inc., had requested it after a federal judge said last year that kids couldn't stay in the centers because they weren't approved to care for children.

...

Immigrant advocates criticized the decision to grant the temporary license, citing reports of inadequate medical care and other issues as reasons why such facilities shouldn't get licenses. One group, Grassroots Leadership, said Tuesday that it and two mothers detained at Texas facilities with their children had sued in Austin to stop the licensing.

...

"Anyone who has been to either of these facilities understands that they are prison facilities," said Bob Libal, executive director of Austin-based Grassroots Leadership. "The real question is, does an agency have the right to license a prison as a child-care facility? We think that the answer is no. They would have to go to the Legislature to get that approval." Read more about Immigrant Family Detention Center Granted Child-Care License

May 3, 2016
/
Texas Observer

Immigrant Families Sue to Stop Licensing Detention Centers for Child Care

On Tuesday, Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit opposed to private prisons, is also a plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in state court in Austin. Grassroots Leadership and the detained mothers have asked a judge to stop the licensure both of the Karnes facility and the South Texas Residential Center in Dilley. Together, the two facilities currently house about 1,800 immigrant mothers and children, many of whom are fleeing gang violence and persecution in Central America.

“By all reasonable measures, family detention camps are prisons. They are not child care facilities,” said Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership’s executive director, in a press release.

DFPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins told the Observer that the agency is “reviewing and consulting with the [Texas attorney general’s] office” regarding the lawsuit. Read more about Immigrant Families Sue to Stop Licensing Detention Centers for Child Care

May 3, 2016
/
Austin American-Statesman

Immigrant rights advocates file suit against detention center

Civil rights advocates are once more turning to the legal system in an attempt to stop federal officials from holding immigrant children at two controversial family detention centers in South Texas.

Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that opposes private prison companies, and two detainee mothers are asking a judge to invalidate new regulations that went into effect in February and allow the state to issue childcare licenses to the facilities. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the plaintiffs say, never had the authority to rewrite the rules and give itself the power to regulate the centers.

“The state legislature told this agency that it is to care for children,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “The agency has the authority to license childcare care facilities as childcare facilities. It doesn’t have the authority to license prisons as childcare facilities.” Read more about Immigrant rights advocates file suit against detention center

May 3, 2016
/
The Texas Tribune

State Sued for Licensing Detention Center

A nonprofit organization has sued the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for issuing a temporary child-care license to an immigration detention facility in Karnes City.

Grassroots Leadership, which opposes for-profit prisons, says the department has no authority to regulate detention centers or prisons and is asking Travis County District Court for a temporary injunction and restraining order to stop the licensing. 

"We think both that it is inappropriate and wrong for the state agency to license prisons as childcare facilities," said Bob Libal, executive director of the organization. "They're saying these are child facilities now, after more than a decade of saying that there weren't child care facilities in the detention centers, essentially to help the federal government avoid a lawsuit and to help the federal government enforce harsh immigration policies against children and their moms." Read more about State Sued for Licensing Detention Center

May 3, 2016
/
Telemundo

Estado da licencias de guardería a centro de detención, activistas entablan demanda

El Departamento de Familia y Servicios de Protección de Texas decidió licenciar por seis meses al centro de Karnes como guardería, al cabo del plazo, habrá inspecciones y el centro podrá obtener la licencia permanente.

Pero la organización pro-inmigrante Grassroots Leadership entabló acción legal el martes, pidiéndole a una corte del Condado Travis una restricción temporal de esta práctica.

"Los centros de detención familiares son prisiones", dijo Bob Libal, Director Ejecutivo de Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Estado da licencias de guardería a centro de detención, activistas entablan demanda

May 2, 2016
/
Texas Observer

Texas Licenses Detention Center for Child Care, Despite Deficiencies

Texas has granted a temporary residential child care license to a controversial immigrant detention center, despite “deficiencies” uncovered in a recent inspection.

The initial license took effect Friday, April 29, said Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) spokesperson Patrick Crimmins.

...

“It is deeply disappointing, but not surprising, that the state of Texas has put a rubber stamp on family detention at Karnes,” said Cristina Parker, immigration project coordinator at the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, in an emailed statement to the Observer. “Today, our state took this step not to protect children, but to protect the federal government from [the federal] order.” Read more about Texas Licenses Detention Center for Child Care, Despite Deficiencies

Apr 29, 2016
/
The Austin Chronicle

"Every Human Being Is Legal"

When Immigration and Customs Enforce­ment (ICE) announced at the beginning of this year that it would be intensifying its efforts to deport certain undocumented immigrants, Hilda Ramirez decided it was time to seek sanctuary.

...

Ramirez, who fled Guatemala in fear of her life, has been denied asylum. Her appeal of the initial denial was also rejected. Yet there is still hope that Ivan, who is now 10, will be granted asylum on appeal, explained Alejandro Caceres, immigration organizer at Grassroots Leadership and coordinator of the ICE Out of Austin campaign. Additionally, Ramirez's attorney plans to file for a stay of removal, which would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from carrying out an order of deportation. Through "prosecutorial discretion," ICE has the authority to suspend deportation cases that are not priorities, such as immigrants who do not pose threats to national security, border security, and public safety. "We want Immigration to use the power they have to withhold Hilda's deportation because, clearly, she is not a priority," said Caceres. Read more about "Every Human Being Is Legal"

Apr 8, 2016
/
CounterPunch

People Over For-Profit Prisons: a Social Movement in Gary, Indiana

“A Long Rap Sheet of Abuse and Neglect”

That’s a distressing fact since the company that has what the leading criminal justice reform group Grassroots Leadership (GL) calls “a long rap sheet of abuse, neglect, and misconduct inside its facilities.” An in-depth CMD investigation found that “the company’s cost-cutting strategies lead to a vicious cycle where lower wages and benefits for workers, high employee turnover, insufficient training, and under-staffing results in poor oversight and mistreatment of detained persons, increased violence, and riots.” A fall 2014 GL report detailed GEO’s ghoulish track record, which includes repeated incidents of death-in-custody, overcrowding, denial of medical care, extreme isolation, beatings, and de facto slave labor. Read more about People Over For-Profit Prisons: a Social Movement in Gary, Indiana

Apr 6, 2016
/
Houston Press

UH Students Urge University to Divest From For-Profit Prisons

Grad students at the University of Houston have launched a petition urging the school to divest from the private prison industry, which is made up of companies that profit from incarcerating people.

Two social work students, Julia Kramp and Nakia Winfield, learned that UH had several million dollars invested in four major financial corporations that, in turn, each had millions of shares in private prisons. The two had been tasked with launching a social policy initiative as a class project and had been following End Mass Incarceration Houston, which often criticizes these private prisons for making a buck off mass incarceration. So when Kramp and Winfield found out UH was, indirectly, investing in this industry,  they reached out to End Mass Incarceration Houston and started putting together a Change.org petition urging UH to stop “banking on bondage.” Now, the petition has more than 200 signatures. Read more about UH Students Urge University to Divest From For-Profit Prisons

Pages