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

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. [node:read-more:link]

Jun 22, 2016
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. [node:read-more:link]

Jun 15, 2016
The Guardian

Texas officials vote against British firm's plans for immigration detention center

An abrupt about-face has thwarted efforts by the British security firm Serco to open its first family detention center in Texas. Local officials unanimously voted this week against “entering contract agreements” with the company after at least a month of negotiations.


Serco has promised 200 local jobs if the center is opened. But human rights advocates say the opportunity may not last if Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is elected president, since she has promised to end the practice of detaining families.

“This box they’re trying to sell you may have zero value in a few months because we might get a president who might say that family detention is over,” said Alejandro Caceres, an organizer with Grassroots Leadership, during last week’s meeting with residents. [node:read-more:link]

Jun 14, 2016

This Foreign Firm Wants to Break Into the U.S. 'Market' of Detaining Refugee Women and Children

"The answer to the family detention crisis is not contracting for new detention camps, regardless of where they are or who operates them. The answer is ending the practice of locking up kids and their moms once and for all,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, in a press statement released Tuesday. “The Obama administration has a choice—will its legacy be ending family detention or codifying the largest trend in locking up families in this country since Japanese internment." [node:read-more:link]

Jun 14, 2016
The San Antonio Express News

Jim Wells County deals blow to ICE detention center strategy

The Obama administration’s efforts to comply with a judge’s order over the treatment of immigrant children suffered a setback Monday when Jim Wells County commissioners rejected a proposed holding center for immigrant families.


“We don't think that there is any way that women and children can be kept in a government facility,” said Alejandro Caceres, the immigration organizer at the Austin advocacy group Grassroots Leadership. [node:read-more:link]

Jun 9, 2016
Huffington Post

Obama Administration Wants Another Family Immigrant Detention Center

The Obama administration is exploring creating another family immigrant detention center in Texas.

The Department of Homeland Security and private contractor Serco, Inc. are in talks with local authorities to create a family immigrant detention center in Southern Texas, even as state and federal authorities struggle with litigation over two similar institutions in the state.

Efforts to create another family detention center in Jim Wells County would likely spark backlash among immigrant rights groups and raises the possibility of more legal wrangling over the Obama administration’s controversial policy of locking up predominantly Central American mothers and their children, many of whom arrive here seeking asylum or other humanitarian relief. [node:read-more:link]

Jun 9, 2016

Activist groups oppose plans to build Immigration detention center

JIM WELLS COUNTY - The Jim Wells County officials are looking at the possibility of building a detention center that would house immigrant families awaiting asylum. The proposed facility would be located at the abandoned nursing home right outside San Diego. That is where Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a private company called SERCO hope to build a family immigration center. It would house anywhere from 400 to 500 mothers with their children. [node:read-more:link]