Texans United for Families

Texans United for Families, or TUFF, came together during the fight to end family detention at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, just north of Austin. TUFF is a grassroots, all-volunteer-driven project of Grassroots Leadership. We support and coordinate TUFF members in their mission to fight back against immigrant detention and deportation close to home. In response to the influx of Central American families and children seeking refuge at the border, the Obama Administration announced the return of family detention in 2014. TUFF is fighting back to end this inhumane practice. Find out more about the consequences of family detention.

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Sep 15, 2014
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San Antonio Express-News

Questions about ICE contract in Dilley

The proposed center would more than double ICE's capacity to detain family members. Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an Austin advocacy group, said it would be the largest ICE detention center in the country.

That CCA is involved is drawing criticism. The company operates the T. Don Hutto Residential Center north of Austin, which until 2009 held families. The center was mired in lawsuits alleging mistreatment of children held there. Read more about Questions about ICE contract in Dilley

Sep 11, 2014
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CBS-DFW

Federal Officials Propose Texas Immigration Lockup

The plan is being decried by advocacy groups, who point to the fraught history of a past Texas family immigration lockup, the T. Don Hutto detention center, northeast of Austin. The ACLU and University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic sued in 2007 over incarcerating families there, alleging inhumane conditions.

Authorities in 2009 removed all families and sent them to the Pennsylvania facility, and Hutto now only houses women.

“The lesson from Hutto is that detention is inappropriate for kids and their families and I think that viewpoint has already been proven,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that opposes the use of for-profit prisons and immigration detention centers.

Libal also expressed concern about locating the new immigration center in isolated Dilley, on Interstate 35 about 85 miles north of the border city of Laredo.

“When you put detention centers in remote areas, far away from legal services or the eyes of community members or proper oversight, it makes it more likely that bad things are going to happen,” Libal said. Read more about Federal Officials Propose Texas Immigration Lockup

Sep 10, 2014
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Fort Worth Weekly

Hire CCA, See No Evil

"Take the Corrections Corporation of America, for instance, the largest private prison corporation in the world. According to the Texas Observer, CCA probably will get the green light from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate a 2,400-bed family prison that ICE plans to build outside of the South Texas town of Dilley. This is the same CCA that ran a Kentucky prison that was shut down in 2009 because guards were found to be forcingprisoners to trade sex for privileges. It’s the same CCA that ran the T. Don Hutto immigrant detention facility in Tyler, where a supervisor went to prison for sexually molesting women detained there. That and a host of other atrocities caused the Obama administration not only to shut down that facility but to end the use of family detention centers altogether.

That policy, however, was reversed in late June, when a new family detention center was opened in Artesia, N.M. According to a press release from the Department of Homeland Security, the reversal came in response to the “influx of families that have recently illegally entered the United States.” In August, a Karnes City, Texas, detention center for men was converted to a family detention center.

So, hey, let’s give the CCA a new prison in Texas to run! You know, one where there will be lots ofvulnerable women and children. Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization dedicated to eliminating the for-profit private prison industry, said in a press release, “Kids and their families will suffer while the multi-billion-dollar private prison company stands to make enormous profits.”" Read more about Hire CCA, See No Evil

Sep 10, 2014
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AllGov.com

U.S. Government Okays Huge For-Profit Immigrant Detention Center

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a group that opposes for-profit prisons, told the Observer: “Given the shameful history of family detention at Hutto, it’s beyond troubling that ICE would turn back to Corrections Corporation of America to operate what would be by far the nation’s largest family detention center.”

“While little kids and their families will suffer in this remote private prison, far away from legal or social services, this multi-billion-dollar private prison company stands to make enormous profits,” Libal added. Read more about U.S. Government Okays Huge For-Profit Immigrant Detention Center

Sep 9, 2014
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Texas Observer

Feds Planning Massive Family Detention Center in South Texas

The massive facility would double the existing federal capacity for immigrant families and is certain to anger immigrant advocates who say a for-profit lockup is inappropriate for families, especially young children. They point to the failed experiment with detaining immigrant families at T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center, a CCA-run facility about 45 minutes northeast of Austin. The Obama administration removed families from the former jail in 2009 after numerous allegations of human rights abuses, accounts of children suffering psychological trauma and a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic.

“Given the shameful history of family detention at Hutto, it’s beyond troubling that ICE would turn back to Corrections Corporation of America to operate what would be by far the nation’s largest family detention center,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that opposes for-profit prisons. “While little kids and their families will suffer in this remote private prison, far away from legal or social services, this multi-billion-dollar private prison company stands to make enormous profits.”

Sep 6, 2014
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The Guardian

Huge family detention centre to open in Texas for undocumented migrants

The announcement enraged advocates, who argue that detention is no place for children.

“The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself for returning to the policy of mass for-profit detention of immigrant families,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group opposed to for-profit prisons.

Family detention centres operated by private prison companies have a poor track record, especially in Texas. In 2009, federal officials removed all immigrants with children from a 490-bed Texas facility operated by CCA. The facility had been the focus of a damning 2007 report on family detention by the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children that concluded detention was wildly inappropriate for children.

“While little kids and their families will suffer in this remote private prison, far away from legal or social services, this multibillion private prison company stands to make enormous profits,” Libal said. Read more about Huge family detention centre to open in Texas for undocumented migrants

Sep 2, 2014
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Think Progress

Private Prison Stocks Soar As Companies Cash In On Incarcerated Immigrants

One ICE official told KUT News that the agency had no choice in picking GEO because they had a contract with the county, which then subcontracted to GEO. Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership said subcontracting is one of the strategies private prison firms use to keep making money despite their negative reputations.

GEO has faced continuous allegations of malfeasance at its facilities, including legal violations and inmate abuse. One federal judge found that GEO “allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate” at one Mississippi facility for juveniles. Because the firms are profit-driven, they have an incentive to cut corners on the care of their inmates and detainees to save money. They have also lobbied heavily for policies that serve their interests. Read more about Private Prison Stocks Soar As Companies Cash In On Incarcerated Immigrants

Grassroots Leadership responds to Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans for 2,400 bed for-profit family detention center in S. Texas

Today, the Texas Observer broke a major story on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's plans to build a 2,400 bed family detention center in the remote South Texas town of Dilley.  Initial reports are that the the family detention center will be operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the same private prison corporation that operated the notorious T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. Read more about Grassroots Leadership responds to Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans for 2,400 bed for-profit family detention center in S. Texas

Sep 3, 2014
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Houston Chronicle

Feds release 7-year-old immigrant girl with cancer for treatment

After weeks of delay and an uproar from immigrant advocates, federal authorities agreed Wednesday to release a 7-year-old Salvadoran girl with cancer, and her mother, from a detention center in Karnes City so the child can get treatment.

When Nayely Bermudez Beltran and her mother, Sara Beltran Rodriguez, fled violence in El Salvador and in July came to the United States, they immediately told Customs and Border Protection officers that the girl needed medical attention for a brain tumor, Beltran said Wednesday.

The violence was so severe - and threats constant to Beltran and her daughter - that they had to scrap plans for additional treatment for Nayely in their home country, Beltran told the Express-News shortly after their release.

But mother and daughter were later transferred to the Karnes County Residential Center, without any treatment despite the facility having medical staff and equipment and the mother making repeated requests.

Although Nayely was offered a place to stay with friends who have legal status in the United States, immigration authorities initially declined to release the girl and her mother or set bail, according to advocacy group Grassroots Leadership, which helped publicize their case. Meanwhile, Nayely was visibly ill and regularly wetting the bed due to her condition, her mother said.

"We were waiting for a month, and no one would do anything," Beltran said. "I felt anguished. I would pray to God to send me someone for help. He listened to my prayers." Read more about Feds release 7-year-old immigrant girl with cancer for treatment

Sep 5, 2014
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La Voz de Houston

Inmigración libera a niña salvadoreña para que reciba tratamiento de cáncer

Después de semanas de retraso y gran alboroto por parte de defensores de los inmigrantes, autoridades federales acordaron poner en libertad a una niña salvadoreña de siete años que padece cáncer y a su madre para que la pequeña reciba tratamiento.

Cuando Nayely Bermúdez Beltrán y su madre, Sara Beltrán Rodríguez, huyeron de la violencia imperante en El Salvador y vinieron en julio a Estados Unidos, dijeron de inmediato a oficiales del Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza que la niña necesitaba atención médica debido a un tumor cerebral, según dijo Beltrán el miércoles.

La violencia en su país de origen es tan intensa, así como las amenazas a Beltrán y a su hija, que tuvieron que posponer los planes para que Nayely recibiera tratamiento adicional en su patria, según dijo Beltrán al San Antonio Express-News después de ser puestas en libertad en la noche del miércoles.

De la zona fronteriza, madre e hija fueron transferidas al Centro Residencial del Condado de Karnes sin que la niña hubiese recibido ningún tratamiento a pesar de que en el lugar de detención hay personal médico y equipos especiales, y la madre formuló sus peticiones en varias ocasiones.

Aunque a Nayely le ofrecieron quedarse en casa de unos amigos que están legalmente en Estados Unidos, autoridades de inmigración se negaron en un inicio a poner a la niña y a su madre en libertad o fijar una fianza para ambas, según el grupo de activistas Grassroots Leadership, que ayudó a dar a conocer este caso. Read more about Inmigración libera a niña salvadoreña para que reciba tratamiento de cáncer

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