Family Detention


In 2009, Grassroots Leadership ran a successful campaign to end family detention at the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor Texas. When the Obama administration announced that it would stop detaining families at Hutto, only 100 family detention beds remained at a small facility in Pennsylvania. However, after the wave of Central American families and children seeking refuge at our border in the summer of 2014, the administration reversed its decision, opening facilities at Artesia, New Mexico; Karnes, Texas, and Dilley, Texas - all run by private prison corporations. While Artesia closed at the end of last year, the number of family detention beds has skyrocketed and is expected to reach over 3,000 by this May. Grassroots Leadership is once again working to end the inhumane policy of family detention.

Facts About Family Detention

Find out more about what family detention is, what the conditions are like, who opposes it, and more on our regularly-updated resource page: Facts about Family Detention


Related Posts

Jul 27, 2018
Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Border reunions meet deadline, U.S. reports, but hundreds of parents deemed ineligible


The reunifications have unfolded in chaotic scenes across the country. Many have been concentrated in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, where families have been funneled into federal offices that were designated as "staging facilities," overwhelming area resources to the extent that some parents have had to wait days after arriving to rejoin their children.

At one such facility in south Texas, the Port Isabel Detention Center, the government has been labeling some parents as "released" while they are still in custody, according to Bethany Carson, who works for Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit advocacy group in Austin. [node:read-more:link]

Jul 27, 2018
The Storm Media


移民處理混亂 家長完全與外界斷絕聯繫


美國政府處理移民的混亂方式,引發美國公民團體撻伐。在德州奧斯汀(Austin)非營利組織「草根領導」(Grassroots Leadership)工作的卡森(Bethany Carson)指出,近幾周來,數百位家長送到德州伊莎貝爾港(Port Isabel)拘留所,等待與孩子見面,然而有些家長等了一個星期,仍等不到孩子,這段時間內更不能洗澡、打電話,或是參與宗教活動。卡森說道:「他們完全與外界斷絕聯繫,政府官員們竟然說他們是自由的。」 [node:read-more:link]

Jul 26, 2018
United Press International

7 in 10 migrant children reunited with parents by Thursday's deadline

Family reunifications are taking place mostly in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas at so-called "staging facilities." Parents and children are being taking to these locations to reunite, but in some cases, the adults are made to wait up to a week without access to showers or phones, Bethany Carson, who works for the non-profit Grassroots Leadership, told The New York Times.

"They're completely cut off from the outside world," she said. "And officials are saying they're free."

In some cases, children have been sent to the wrong facility because of logistical errors, a government official told the Times. [node:read-more:link]

Jul 26, 2018
The Los Angeles Times

Family separation crisis continues on border even as court-ordered deadline nears

The calls for help started coming in to immigration lawyers across the country just before Memorial Day. Immigrant detainees, many fleeing gangs and violence and seeking legal asylum in the U.S., were flooding courtrooms along the Southwest border. 

Dozens were parents reporting that Border Patrol agents had taken away their children, and many were under the impression they would see their sons and daughters again within hours.

“It’s been incredibly hard to figure out how to get this family out,” Aranda said.

Other advocates said they hadn’t been allowed on the grounds of some shelters, hurting their access to families. “Some are told to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a week but may not understand what to do to avoid being detained again,” said Bethany Carson, an organizer with Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas. [node:read-more:link]

Jul 26, 2018
The New York Times

With Deadline Hours Away, Authorities Scramble to Reunite Migrant Families

The federal government was rushing on Thursday to reunite the last 1,634 migrant families separated at the Southwest border who have been deemed “eligible” for reunification, in the final hours of a court-ordered scramble to reverse a contentious immigration policy that drew international condemnation.

At one such facility in South Texas, the Port Isabel Detention Center, the government has been labeling some parents as “released” while they are still in custody, according to Bethany Carson, who works for Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit advocacy group in Austin.

Ms. Carson said that hundreds of parents were sent to Port Isabel this week after receiving word in the middle of the night from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that their children were there. When they arrived, the parents quickly changed into street clothes and were broken into groups of about 70 to wait in rooms to rejoin their children.

Some waited up to a week, Ms. Carson said, and were not allowed access to showers, phones or religious services, while efforts stalled to return their children.

“They’re completely cut off from the outside world,” she said. “And officials are saying they’re free.” [node:read-more:link]

Jul 11, 2018
The Texas Tribune

From El Paso to Brownsville, the path to reunification isn't easy for immigrant parents

EL PASO — More than a month after he was separated from his 10-year-old child, an undocumented Honduran who is seeking asylum in the United States was finally able to see his daughter Tuesday.

But an hour later, Mario said, they were separated again.

The same situation is playing out in the Rio Grande Valley, according to Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based immigrant rights center that opposes for-profit detention centers.

Claudia Muñoz, Grassroots Leadership’s immigration programs director, said she’s accompanied three Central American mothers to the region where they’ve been told their children are being held. But each one has had to deal with different challenges in order to be reunited with their children for longer than the daily hour-long visits they are allowed.

“They had asked [one] mother for a proof of address for the past 30 days, like a utility bill or something, but she was just released from detention, so she didn’t have that,” Muñoz said. [node:read-more:link]

Indefinitely Jailing Families Is Not a Solution

AUSTIN — Today, the President signed an executive order mandating that families be jailed in detention camps operated on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security while continuing the “zero-tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting all immigrants apprehended at the border. [node:read-more:link]

Reunite Families! Hutto Community Deportation Defense & Bond Fund

[mensaje bilingüe]

Whether it’s bonding out a mother so she can be reunited with her child, supporting a hunger strike leader facing solitary confinement, or setting a sexual assault survivor free from her abusive guard’s reach, there are moments of crisis so severe we need to respond instantly. This is one of them. [node:read-more:link]

Aug 9, 2017
Ft. Worth Weekly

Back Into the Shadows


Actually, there’s a lot to see: Donald Trump has made illegal immigration a central policy of his administration, and the changes that he is instituting are only going to make things worse, according to several people who work on behalf of illegal immigrants. Those changes include a harsh immigration crackdown with more jail time for detainees and rejecting asylum seekers. And the federal attitude is emboldening states to fire up their own harsher immigration laws, according to the accounts of more than a dozen organizations I contacted that are working on behalf of both illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.

One key change, according to those organizations, is that the Obama administration, which deported a record number of illegal immigrants, set the deportation priority on getting rid of people like Jiménez-Joseph, who had been convicted of a criminal felony. While Trump has said he will focus on those same convicted felons, he has actually made all illegal immigrants, from students to mothers of American kids, deportable. Additionally, some jail standards are being relaxed or ignored, worsening the living conditions of people in the deportation pipeline, and a whole lot more people are being detained because bonds for illegal immigrants have shot up. 


Bethany Carson, an immigration policy researcher with Grassroots Leadership, an organization dedicated to eliminating private prisons, said it’s common practice since Trump took office: “There are so many asylum seekers turned away at the border that there are some immigrants’ rights organizations that are developing protocols that will allow them to accompany asylum seekers at the border to ensure that those seekers have their international rights, legal rights, protected.”


“We are seeing asylum seekers denied bond even after their credible fear interviews are passed,” Carson said. “They now have to wait for a judge to give them a bond amount, instead of an immigration official like it used to be done. That meant less waiting time in detention prior to being released to await your court date. But we are also seeing higher bonds being asked, and those bonds have to be paid in full.” 


“I think that is a direct result of the changes to the immigration court system based on the officials that Trump has selected,” Carson said. “These are a direct result of Trump’s position on immigration.”


“We’ve already seen in words and actions how enforcement of detention and deportation has expanded in the last several months,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “We were already at record levels of detained illegal immigrants with the Obama administration, but that is quickly expanding. [node:read-more:link]