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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Grassroots Leadership responds to private prison corporations' statements to investors

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Today, Grassroots Leadership responded to investor conference calls held last week by private prison corporations Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group.   In the calls, company executives reported on earnings from 2016’s second quarter and spoke of the financial outlook moving forward.

“These statements show that policy reforms that are good for immigrants, good for those tied up in the criminal justice system, and good for taxpayers are bad for private prison corporations,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.   “Policy-makers should prioritize reforms that reduce the number of people behind bars and , not policies that line the pockets of private prison corporation executives.” Read more about Grassroots Leadership responds to private prison corporations' statements to investors

Jul 4, 2016
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Casa Grande Dispatch

Texas prison is big business for Eloy

“It still feels like it’s a lot of money, even for that,” said Alejandro Caceres, an organizer with Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based company that strongly opposes for-profit private prisons such as the one in Dilley.

Caceres’ organization has held protests outside the facility and has pending litigation against South Texas Family Residential Facility.

After a California judge ruled that families detained in the facilities should be released because they did not have the proper child care licenses, ICE stepped in and asked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services issue a child care license to another family facility in Texas.

Before a license could be issued for the Dilley facility, Grassroots Leadership sued.

“Our contention is that the agency does not have the authority to license prisons as children care facilities, and these family detention camps are prisons,” said Bob Libal, executive director of the organization. Read more about Texas prison is big business for Eloy

Jun 29, 2016
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Vice

Everything You Need to Know About Hillary Clinton's Immigration Plans

The US immigration detention has ballooned since the turn of the millennium, doubling in size between 2000 and 2010 amidst a national crackdown on immigration. The bloated system, run largely by private, for-profit prison companies,currently incarcerates men, women, and even children, and the detention centers have been plagued by allegations of abuse, medical neglect, and sexual assault.

In a significant departure from the Obama administration's policies, Clinton has pledged to close these private-run detention centers. She has also promised to close the family detention centers opened by the Obama administration in 2014 in response to an influx of children and mothers seeking asylum from violence-plagued countries in Central America.

Immigration advocates aren't totally satisfied, pointing out that Clinton has not actually promised to decrease overall detention of undocumented immigrants. "We don't think immigrant detention should exist," said Christina Parker, who directs immigration programs for Grassroots Leadership. "There's a strong argument that the only reason immigrant detention so large is to profit two or three companies. So if you believe that then there would be no reason for them to exist after private contracts ended."

Parker added that the Democratic candidate should specify "how exactly and when exactly" the facilities would shut down. So far, Clinton has not. Read more about Everything You Need to Know About Hillary Clinton's Immigration Plans

Another South Texas community shoots down the family detention sales pitch

Two Texas counties have said no to family detention this month.

A trend is emerging of Texas counties standing up against the Obama administration’s policy of locking up Central American families

(AUSTIN, Texas) — For the second time this month, officials in a South Texas county have delivered a unanimous vote against a new immigrant family detention center in their community.  

Dimmit County Commissioners today rejected a proposal from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Stratton Oilfield Systems to turn the company’s now-vacant “man camp” in Carrizo Springs into a new family detention center. The facility would have detained  asylum-seeking Central American mothers and children. They join officials in Jim Wells County, who rejected a similar proposal early this month from UK-based private prison company Serco, who wanted to turn a vacant nursing home into a lock-up for moms and kids in San Diego, Texas. Read more about Another South Texas community shoots down the family detention sales pitch

Jun 27, 2016
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AlterNet

Immigration Officials Making Secret Deals With Private Prisons to Lock Up More Mothers and Children

“At first the Obama administration said they were locking up families to deter people from crossing,” Cristina Parker, organizer with the advocacy group Grassroots Leadership, told AlterNet. “Then when a judge said that was unconstitutional they changed their rationale and said it’s for national security, which is a thin argument. Seeing on paper that they have a quota that directly benefits private prisons underlines that family detention is really driving revenue and profits.” Read more about Immigration Officials Making Secret Deals With Private Prisons to Lock Up More Mothers and Children

Jun 25, 2016
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The Guardian

Immigration officials consider bid for new 'hotel-like' detention center

Federal immigration officials are moving forward with plans for a new 500-bed family detention center to house migrant women and children, even as many advocates and politicians have called for the closure of such facilities altogether.

Officials in Dimmit County, 45 miles from the Texas border with Mexico, say they’ll consider a bid on Monday from a firm who says their facility in a 27-acre former work camp for oil workers would provide dramatically better conditions than two other family detention centers in the state.

Those facilities have faced complaints of poor food, inadequate medical care and allegations of sexual abuse from detainees, activists and the US Civil Rights Commission.

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But Cristina Parker, Immigration Programs Director for Grassroots Leadership, said she and other advocates object inherently to the concept of a detention center for families fleeing violence, regardless of the purported conditions.

“If you are not free to leave, then it doesn’t matter how nice it is,” Parker said. “It’s a prison.” Read more about Immigration officials consider bid for new 'hotel-like' detention center

BREAKING: Dimmit County is the latest Texas county to be sold a bill of goods on family detention

Dimmit County leaders are facing the same question that county commissioners in Jim Wells asked themselves earlier this month: Are the legal and financial risks that come with family detention worth it? Widespread opposition from Jim Wells County residents and concerns about financial and legal liability for the local community led county commissioners to wisely reject the proposal. Now, the Dimmit County Commissioners Court has this question on the agenda for their upcoming Monday, June 27 meeting.

Serious legal and financial questions, and the promise of a new president next year means that the family detention policy that fills the facility may not even exist next year. Dimmit County could join the long list of small communities left behind after betting their community’s future on detaining immigrants. Read more about BREAKING: Dimmit County is the latest Texas county to be sold a bill of goods on family detention

Jun 22, 2016
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Equal Times

Undocumented immigrant detainees: the (passive) merchandise of a lucrative business

The detention centres “are like prisons, with heavy metal doors and fences,” explained Parker. “You can’t enter them without authorisation. Some of the detainees have access to legal advice, but it is not something that’s guaranteed.”

With only five per cent of the world population, the United States holds over 20 per cent of the world’s prison population, in local, state and federal prisons. With over 2.3 million people convicted, imprisoned or detained, and the trend towards privatising prisons, it is an attractive business. The detention centres for undocumented immigrants, although a small slice of the cake, also generate profits.

And with the growth in the flow of migrants and refugees this decade, the sector is doing well. Read more about Undocumented immigrant detainees: the (passive) merchandise of a lucrative business

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