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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Apr 2, 2015
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Common Dreams

Dozens of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas

"ICE also claimed it was unaware of any residents actually participating in the strike, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so."

It also said it was investigating claims that members of a nonprofit advocacy group encouraged the women to take part in the hunger strike—a charge which activists deny.

Cristina Parker, immigration programs director at the Texas-based immigrant rights group Grassroots Leadership, told the Guardian on Tuesday, 'This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened. I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this.'

According to Parker, the center is now blocking access to internet and telephone facilities for all of its detainees, regardless of whether they are participating in the hunger strike." Read more about Dozens of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas

While mothers and children languish in detention, private prison companies reveal million dollar compensations for top executives

Private prison companies GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) recently released proxy materials revealing million dollar compensations for their top executives. Both documents included charts that reflected salary figures, stock awards, option awards, among various other means of monetary compensation. Read more about While mothers and children languish in detention, private prison companies reveal million dollar compensations for top executives

Grassroots Leadership's roots in prison divestment, Part I: Kymberlie's story

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s students across the U.S. and Canada kicked off a student-led movement against prison profiteering and the Prison-Industrial Complex more broadly.  By coincidence, long before the trajectory of their professional lives as advocates against our country’s over-reliance on criminalization and immigration detention was clear, two Grassroots Leadership staff members got their organizing feet wet as participants in their respective campus’ campaigns to end university contracts that facilitated prison profiteering,    

We release this three-part series now to harken back to our own roots in the struggle(s) for true justice, and to spotlight the re-emergence of a flourishing prison divestment movement in which students, again, are playing  a central role.  It is in this context that Grassroots Leadership and our long-time partner Enlace, are anchoring major national actions against CCA and the GEO Group, the country’s largest private prison companies, in May 2015.  We hope  that this series will elucidate the historic power that individuals have had on challenging the for-profit prison industry, and to compel participation in the exciting events on the horizon.

Kymberlie's Story, Earlham College, Class of ‘02

Read more about Grassroots Leadership's roots in prison divestment, Part I: Kymberlie's story

Apr 2, 2015
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The Guardian

Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release

Dozens of mothers seeking asylum who are being held at the Karnes family detention centre in southern Texas have reportedly begun a hunger strike, with 78 women being held signing a letter demanding their release from the centre and announcing a refusal to use any services within the facility.

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Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator at advocacy group Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas, dismissed any claims the women had been encouraged to strike by legal representatives.

Parker visited the centre in September 2014 and said a number of women she interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of care provided to them and their children and had already been discussing the prospect of a hunger strike.

“This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened,” Parker told the Guardian. “I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this.”

Parker added that contacts with knowledge of events had told her that detention centre managers had begun withdrawing access to facilities, including internet and telephone calls for all those detained at Karnes, regardless of their participation in the reported hunger strike. The centre has a 532-bed capacity.

Parker stated that two women identified as leaders of the group of women had been moved to isolated rooms in the centre. Read more about Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release

Apr 1, 2015
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International Business Times

Immigration Reform 2015: Women Reportedly On Hunger Strike In Texas Immigration Detention Center

A letter released by the women on Tuesday outlined the motivation of the group and the reasoning behind the hunger strike. “You should know that this is only the beginning and we will not stop until we achieve our objectives.  This strike will continue until every one of us is freed,” the letter read, according to a copy released by grassrootsleadership.org. “We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, be respected.” Read more about Immigration Reform 2015: Women Reportedly On Hunger Strike In Texas Immigration Detention Center

Feb 28, 2015
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truthout

Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions

"'The ACLU ruling is a terrific first step, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the government can't detain families for other reasons. They just can't use [deterrence] justifications,' said Bob Libal, executive director of the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, which works to end for-profit incarceration.

Representatives from Grassroots Leadership pointed out that the Obama administration can continue to incarcerate asylum-seeking families from Central American countries by suggesting the families are a threat to national security.

'What we've said is that what the [Obama] administration should do is immediately cancel the expansion plans of the Karnes facility and the Dilley facility ... in the wake of this ruling,' Libal said. 'It makes no sense, when the court has undermined the basic tenets of the mass family detention policy, for the administration to be continuing to funnel money into the expansion plans for these two facilities.'

Texans United for Families (TUFF) is also joining Grassroots Leadership in calling for the Obama administration to close the immigrant-family jails at Karnes and Dilley and to prioritize release of undocumented families by focusing on community-based alternatives to incarceration. 'The court spoke clearly last week,' said TUFF's Peggy Morton in a press release. 'There is only one right move left for the administration: To free the families.'" Read more about Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions

In wake of court ruling, Texas groups call for halt to expansion of private family detention camps, release of refugee families

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texans United for Families and Grassroots Leadership today called on President Obama to immediately halt the expansion of two for-profit south Texas family detention camps and prioritize release of asylum-seeking mothers and children being held in these camps.  A federal court on Friday temporarily blocked the policy of detaining families as a deterrent to future migration and sharply rebuked the administration's national security justification for prolonged detention of refugee families.

Read more about In wake of court ruling, Texas groups call for halt to expansion of private family detention camps, release of refugee families

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