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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Jan 22, 2015
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Reason

No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence

 

"Headlines screamed of a "border crisis" as unaccompanied minors began arriving in record numbers in the summer of 2014, sparking protests in border towns like Murrieta, CA from citizens who wanted the newly arrived immigrants sent back to where they came from. The administration's response was to request $879 million from Congress to detain and deport. Congress denied the funds, but Homeland Security forged ahead with the construction of several new "family detention centers" anyway. The number of beds grew from fewer than 100 to more than 1,000 in less than a year. And a newly constructed center in Dilley, TX will have a capacity of more than 2,000.

Watch the Reason TV piece for a glimpse at who exactly is being held in these detention centers at record rates." Read more about No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence

Dec 18, 2014
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WBAI 99.5 FM

Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas

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

UNBELIEVABLE: Private prison corporation opening new family detention center accidentally tear-gassed children at S. Texas school

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the same for-profit prison corporation opening a controversial new detention center for refugee families this week in Dilley, Texas, accidentally tear-gassed children last week at a South Texas middle school near another one of its prisons. Read more about UNBELIEVABLE: Private prison corporation opening new family detention center accidentally tear-gassed children at S. Texas school

Nov 17, 2014
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The Daily Texan

Protesters rally against Red McCombs' affiliation with immigration detention facility

"A group of protesters met with Thomas Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, on Monday to ask him to request the school’s namesake, Red McCombs, break his real estate firm’s lease that will pave the way for the construction of the biggest immigrant detention facility in the nation. 

The group of protestors, which included students, sought to speak with the dean about the business school’s position on the subject. Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator at Grassroots Leadership and one of the six protesters who spoke with Gilligan, said one of her main concerns was McCombs’ involvement with the facilities. 

'I think we all have a claim to UT as Texans, and we want to talk to him about our concerns,” Parker said. “It’s problematic for us that a man whose name is on the building is profiting from a modern day internment camp.'”  Read more about Protesters rally against Red McCombs' affiliation with immigration detention facility

Arizona Town Funneling Money for Corrections Corporation of America

Eloy Detention Center image

The for-profit private prison industry is breaking new ground, and not just in Dilley, Texas where the largest family immigrant detention center is currently being built. Aside from the tortured history of family detention centers in Texas (see list below), what makes this plan ground-breaking in the worst kind of way, is the fact that it is being contracted by a prison town over 900 miles away.

That’s right. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) will run this new facility, but the money will first be funneled through the City of Eloy, Arizona (which will get a hefty cut, of course). This is unprecedented, shady, and mind-boggling, but also possibly completely legal thanks to an Intergovernmental Services Agreement which allows for no-bid contracts.

John Burnett, who covered the story for NPR, quotes an unnamed ICE source as saying it is “a creative response to a difficult situation.” Certainly—just like off-shore bank accounts are a creative response to taxes. It turns out that Eloy is literally only acting as the financial go-between for the money from ICE to CCA. It claims no responsibility for what happens in the facility. This is how Burnett described it in his piece for NPR,

Here’s how it will work with the new South Texas facility: ICE sends Eloy $290 million for the first year’s expenses. The city passes through that payment to CCA to run the facility. And CCA pays Eloy $438,000 a year to essentially act as its accountant — nothing more.

Read more about Arizona Town Funneling Money for Corrections Corporation of America
Oct 13, 2014
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TWC News

Protesters Demand Closure of Immigration Facility

From Austin and San Antonio, close to one-hundred activists made the drive to Karnes County this weekend in protest of the more than 500 immigrants incarcerated inside the Karnes County Residential Center.

"When we as a country needed to open our arms and open our doors to people fleeing violence,” Cristina Parker, Grassroots Leadership’s immigration projects coordinator, said. “Instead, we locked them up. We're putting them in this prison now."

Part of the group’s message at the weekend rally is directed at the prison's operator, private company Geo Group Incorporated.

"We know that this is a company back here that is making $298 per day, per child," Parker said.

Click here to read the full report prepared by Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Protesters Demand Closure of Immigration Facility

New report details a pattern of violence and abuse at the hands of private prison corporations now profiting off family detention

(AUSTIN, Texas) — A new report details shocking violence, sexual abuse, neglect, filth, and wrongful death in facilities run by the same private prison companies who are poised to make millions of dollars locking up Central American women and children in immigrant family detention centers.

The GEO Group, which operates the Karnes County family detention center in Texas, has accumulated a considerable number of complaints and lawsuits for abuse and neglect and is a particular focus of the report. Most recently, a complaint was filed against the Karnes facility, alleging that GEO guards had been sexually abusing detainees there. That facility has been open less than two months.  And Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has also faced its share of criticism and lawsuits over conditions within its facilities, including when CCA operated the disgraced T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor, Texas.

“When you start digging into the track records of these companies, the thing that is most shocking is how consistently they abuse, threaten, and neglect the people entrusted to them,” said Cristina Parker, of Grassroots Leadership and an author of the report. “GEO and CCA fail every single time they are allowed to detain vulnerable people.”

Click here to download the report

Read more about New report details a pattern of violence and abuse at the hands of private prison corporations now profiting off family detention

Complaints Mount of Inadequate Care and Harsh Conditions for Children and Families in ICE Family Detention Center in Karnes City

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Mothers and children who are asylum seekers detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a for-profit detention center in Karnes City have mounting complaints about their harsh treatment and unduly severe detention conditions. 

Read more about Complaints Mount of Inadequate Care and Harsh Conditions for Children and Families in ICE Family Detention Center in Karnes City

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