The T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, is one of the hundreds of prisons for immigrants in the U.S. The facility now detains only women, most of whom are seeking asylum in the U.S., but it has a darker past as a place where immigrant families, including young children and babies, were once put behind bars. Shortly after winning the end of family detention at Hutto in 2009, Grassroots Leadership began coordinating visitors to Hutto who made sure that the women there knew they were not forgotten. Hutto visitors serve as human rights observers of the facility’s conditions, help break the isolation of detention for women in Hutto, and create new advocates for detention reform. Our program serves as a model for others and Grassroots Leadership is working with organizations across Texas to build new visitation programs.
Building Visitation Programs in Texas
Victoria comes to Grassroots Leadership with a passion for social, economic, and racial justice. Originally from Miami with family from Peru, she studied Biological Psychology at New College of Florida, where she was the President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and organized around impacts of the war on drugs. Read more about Welcome our new Hutto Visitation Intern, Victoria Jara!
The 6th annual Dancing Away Detention benefit show supporting the Hutto Visitation Program is next week on Thursday, June 2 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at El Sol y La Luna at 600 E 6th St. in Austin. Check out who else is going plus fun photos from last year’s event on Facebook. Here are six things to know about this year’s benefit show.
Buy your ticket today (don’t wait, the price goes up the day of the show)
Grassroots Leadership is pleased to welcome, Andrea Muraira as our new Hutto Visitation Intern. Andrea will be outreaching to volunteers, supporting all trainings as well as co-facilitating the Spanish language Hutto Visitation trainings. Read more about Welcome Hutto Visitation Intern, Andrea Muraira
As we finish up 2015, we thought we’d reflect on the year at Grassroots Leadership. We’ve had a terrific year of work and it couldn’t have been possible without the hard work and support of our staff, board, volunteers, allies, and donors. Please consider making a donation to help our work continue in 2016. Thank you, we couldn’t do it without you! Read more about The year in review: 15 highlights of 2015 at Grassroots Leadership!
"Durante los últimos cinco años el programa de visitas Hutto Visitation Program ha buscado aliviar en parte el sufrimiento que viven las detenidas, al conectarlas con voluntarios de Austin.
La iniciativa es ejecutada por Grassroots Leadership, una organización que apoya causas relacionadas con justicia social, inmigración y activismo ciudadano, y les ofrecen amistad y les llevan esperanza mientras están confinadas.
Moncada vivía ansiosa, frustrada y, como muchas de las más de 500 mujeres que alberga el centro de detención T. Don Hutto, no sabía por cuánto tiempo debía pasar encerrada por su delito: entrar a Estados Unidos ilegalmente para no morir a manos del padre de sus hijos, aseguró. Su situación mejoró cuando conoció a Rocío Villalobos, una joven voluntaria del programa.
Para mujeres como Moncada, conocer a las voluntarias les da a las detenidas fuerza para seguir luchando por sus casos de inmigración y conseguir así un estatus legal, según sus organizadores y participantes." Read more about Visitas alivian y llevan esperanza a indocumentadas detenidas
We are pleased to welcome Sofia Casini to our Austin office. Sofia will be working on the immigration team as the Detention Visitation Coordinator. She will be working with volunteer visitors and coordinating the Hutto Visitation Program. Read more about Grassroots Leadership is pleased to welcome Sofia Casini as our Detention Visitation Coordinator
As you’re making plans for the New Year, allow me to share a story about the recent successful toy drive for the children who are detained at the Karnes County Family Detention Center over the holidays. I hope it inspires you to make visiting one of your New Year’s resolutions. Read more about Is visiting immigrants in detention one of your New Year’s resolutions?
Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker tells WBAI host Donald Anthonyson about the new privately-run family detention center in Dilley, Texas and abuses coming out of the Karnes County Residential Center, a GEO-run detention center that began detaining families this summer. Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield of CIVIC talk about their work establishing immigrant vistitation programs, the injustices of the legal system immigrants must navigate, and influences of private prison lobbying on mass immigrant detention. Interview begins at minute 13:00. Read more about Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas
We have a big challenge at Grassroots Leadership. There is a lot of work to be done, and fighting a billion dollar for-profit prison industry is not easy work. But there is also much to be thankful for. The hard work of Grassroots Leadership staff, volunteers, and allies is really helping change the world to make it more just. Here are a few of the things that we at Grassroots Leadership are thankful for this year.
1. Organizing Wins #ImmigrationAction, & Those Who Continue to Push for #Not1More Deportation! Read more about 9 Reasons Grassroots Leadership is Thankful Today!
Visiting Immigrant women in Detention in Taylor, Texas, came into my life at a particular time. The first year of my return to Austin, after more than 4 years teaching in Xalapa, Mexico was rough. Finally I turned 62 and began to receive a small income from social security– as well as land a studio apartment in a Foundations Communities property. Within weeks of moving into my own place and regaining some stability in my life, I attended an Orientation to Visitation. Geoff Valdes, who was an old friend from when we were part of Accion Zapatista, had suggested the Hutto Visitation Program to me when I told him that I wanted to get involved with something meaningful – where I could use my Spanish.
In November of 2011 I made my first visit to Hutto, with a woman who had been visiting a woman from Guatemala for a month or so already. After talking to me on a couple of visits, the Guatemalan woman told me that she knew a woman from Honduras who really needed a visit. That is when I met the first woman I would know from Honduras. Then there was another woman who wanted a visitor; she was from El Salvador. I have continued to visit, woman after woman, as ICE continues in its relentless seize and capture mission of Central American refugees. I have never been to Central America – though some astute students of Colonial and Imperialist history of the region might allow me to count three months in Chiapas as Central America.Read more about Call for Involvement of Faith Communities in Detention Visitation Programs