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

 

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Jul 28, 2015
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San Diego Free Press

Whistleblower Exposes Torture and Child Abuse at For-Profit Prison

"A social worker formerly employed at a for-profit family immigrant detention center in Texas blew the whistle this week on the prison’s inhumane conditions—from solitary confinement to medical neglect—that she said amount to child abuse and torture.

The Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group—the second largest private prison company in the country that has faced numerous accusations of atrocities and civil rights violations. It is also the site of recent—and repeated—hunger strikes led by mothers incarcerated with their children, in protest of their conditions, detentions, and in many cases, their looming deportations.
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Cristina Parker of Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based organization that opposes prison profiteering, toldCommon Dreams that there are signs that the tide may be finally turning against these 'wrong, immoral, and traumatizing' prisons." Read more about Whistleblower Exposes Torture and Child Abuse at For-Profit Prison

Jul 28, 2015
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International Business Times

Immigration Reform: Backlash Against Family Detention Could Spark Momentum Against Detention System, Activists Say

"A federal court ruling against the U.S.’s family detention policy for undocumented immigrants could be the final blow to the Obama administration’s contentious practice after months of rising political pressure. But some of the advocates who pushed hard against family detention were hoping the heightened attention might provide a new opening to rally against conditions in the larger U.S. immigration detention system.

'The court ruling found detention illegal for women and children, but we hope that that will impact detention overall, and that people will start seeing there’s a systemic problem,' said Cristina Parker, immigration programs director for Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based group that helped organize some of the high-profile protests against family detention in recent months.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s ruling, issued late Friday, found the Obama administration failed to meet the legal requirements in a 1997 settlement for housing undocumented immigrant children, adding that mothers and children in family detention centers stayed in “deplorable” conditions. The 25-page ruling ordered the families to be released. The federal government was given until August 3 to respond to the order, either by laying out a plan for releasing the remaining 1,700 undocumented immigrants in three family detention facilities -- in Karnes County, Texas, Dilley, Texas and Leesport, Pennsylvania -- or by explaining why it should not have to comply with the order." Read more about Immigration Reform: Backlash Against Family Detention Could Spark Momentum Against Detention System, Activists Say

Court rules family detention illegal!

On Friday night, Judge Dolly Gee released the long-awaited decision in the case against family detention. She ruled that the Administration’s family detention policy violates the terms of the Flores settlement, which lays out minimum conditions for children held in federal immigration custody. Watch a quick video here by AILA attorneys with the main points of the decision and what happens next.

In the decision, Judge Gee excoriates the government's reasoning for maintaining family detention in phrases that display the same outrage felt by immigrant advocates. "It is astonishing that Defendants [ICE] have enacted a policy requiring such expensive infrastructure without more evidence to show that it would be compliant with an Agreement that has been in effect for nearly 20 years or effective at achieving what Defendants hoped it would accomplish," Gee wrote.

Read more about Court rules family detention illegal!

Texas advocates and attorneys applaud court’s decision on family detention

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas advocates and attorneys applaud Judge Dolly Gee’s decision, released Friday night, that the Administration’s family detention policy violates the terms of the Flores settlement, which lays out minimum conditions for children held in federal immigration custody. The advocates urge the Administration not to appeal this decision and to immediately close all three family detention camps. Read more about Texas advocates and attorneys applaud court’s decision on family detention

Finally, ICE relents and some women and children are released from long-term family detention

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Bowing to intense pressure, immigration officials announced Monday that they will release some detained families who have been found to have credible fear of returning to their home countries. “ICE has finally begun to take concrete action in response to public outcry against the detention of refugee families,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Finally, ICE relents and some women and children are released from long-term family detention

Jul 9, 2015
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The Dallas Observer

Texas Immigrant Prison Accidentally Gave a Bunch of Kids an Adult-Strength Vaccine

"...The vaccine overdose was exposed on July 4 by immigration attorneys, who, along with prisoner advocates, are using the instance to make the case that family detention camps are inhumane and should be shut down. The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, one of two corporations that has profited tremendously from the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border.

The Dilley center, which now has 2,400 beds, is the largest of its kind in the United States. A report by the prison advocacy group Grassroots Leadership earlier this year found that the CCA has in particular benefited from the "bed quota," the mandate passed by lawmakers that says the Department of Homeland Security must  "maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds."

Crystal Williams, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, describes a traumatic atmosphere at the South Texas camp: "..children have been forced to sleep with the lights on, are subject to intrusive checks regularly throughout the night, and have been dragged from their beds at 4 a.m. to be given shots while their mothers must stand helplessly by without being told what is going on or being allowed a say in the matter."

Grassroots Leadership consulted with a University of Texas medical student, who said that, while most of the kids should be fine, 'the symptoms that Barbara [Hines] saw are consistent with vaccine overdose ... This is a red flag warning of deeper problems with medical care in detention centers, and reminds us why private prison corporations should not be entrusted with the care of children.'" Read more about Texas Immigrant Prison Accidentally Gave a Bunch of Kids an Adult-Strength Vaccine

Jul 1, 2015
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The Monitor

Letter to the Editor: Ankle monitoring is an alternative form of detention, not an alternative to detention

A letter to the editor from Bethany Carson, immigration policy analyst and organizer says, "the Monitor’s June 28 editorial on family detention centers cited ankle monitoring as a key alternative to long-term family detention. While the inhumane warehousing of asylum seekers in secure, for-profit facilities must come to an end, ankle monitoring is an alternative form of detention — not an alternative to detention...

Ankle monitors are particularly inappropriate to use with certain groups, as illuminated after they were placed on 400 Garífuna women in New York. An international advocacy group working with the women stated that this electronic shackling caused them to recall their historic trauma of enslavement by colonizers in Honduras.

Electronic monitoring also carries a profit incentive for the same corporation that runs the family detention camp at Karnes City: GEO Group Inc. BI Inc., which contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide electronic monitoring, was acquired by GEO Group in 2011 — a corporation which has spent enormous sums on political contributions and lobbying on immigration issues." Read more about Letter to the Editor: Ankle monitoring is an alternative form of detention, not an alternative to detention

Jul 6, 2015
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Latinos Health

Hepatitis A Vaccine in Adult Dose Given to Children in Detention Center

 

"Fox News reports that according to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), around 250 immigrant children detained in a facility in Dilley, Texas have been given the adult dosage of hepatitis A vaccines earlier this week. Spokesperson Richard Rocha says the children's parents have already been advised and counseled about potential side effects, although none of the children have shown any adverse risks yet.

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The Texas facility, constructed in 2014, is one of the three detention facilities that holds illegal immigrants. Activists called for the closure of the centers due to substandard services. Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer of Grassroots Leadership, said these facilities lock up immigrants, causing lasting mental trauma and distress to people." Read more about Hepatitis A Vaccine in Adult Dose Given to Children in Detention Center

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