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.
Texans United for Families
A letter to the editor from Bethany Carson, immigration policy analyst and organizer says, "the Monitor’s June 28 editorial on family detention centers cited ankle monitoring as a key alternative to long-term family detention. While the inhumane warehousing of asylum seekers in secure, for-profit facilities must come to an end, ankle monitoring is an alternative form of detention — not an alternative to detention...
Ankle monitors are particularly inappropriate to use with certain groups, as illuminated after they were placed on 400 Garífuna women in New York. An international advocacy group working with the women stated that this electronic shackling caused them to recall their historic trauma of enslavement by colonizers in Honduras.
Electronic monitoring also carries a profit incentive for the same corporation that runs the family detention camp at Karnes City: GEO Group Inc. BI Inc., which contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide electronic monitoring, was acquired by GEO Group in 2011 — a corporation which has spent enormous sums on political contributions and lobbying on immigration issues." [node:read-more:link]
"Fox News reports that according to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), around 250 immigrant children detained in a facility in Dilley, Texas have been given the adult dosage of hepatitis A vaccines earlier this week. Spokesperson Richard Rocha says the children's parents have already been advised and counseled about potential side effects, although none of the children have shown any adverse risks yet.
The Texas facility, constructed in 2014, is one of the three detention facilities that holds illegal immigrants. Activists called for the closure of the centers due to substandard services. Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer of Grassroots Leadership, said these facilities lock up immigrants, causing lasting mental trauma and distress to people." [node:read-more:link]
"Immigrant advocates applauded changes to the Obama administration's family detention policy unveiled last week that has the lowering of bonds as the cornerstone of the revamping. Categorizing the change as a first step toward reform, activists continue to call to an end to the practice of holding immigrant families.
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, also is calling for an end to the program. In May, his members joined more than 600 protesters – including a caravan of parishioners from Austin-based St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church – gathered outside the recently opened South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, calling for its closure. 'I think there is some positive movement of Johnson's announcement,' he said. "They are feeling the impact of what has been unanimous outrage over the decision to incarcerate kids and moms. But I don't think it goes far enough."
Libal points out the built-in incentive to keep families detained, given the for-profit nature of the detention camps – operated by publicly held companies that bill the government $300 a day to detain each immigrant. 'There is no way to humanely detain a kid in one of these detention camps,' he adds." [node:read-more:link]
"...The newest ICE facility, the South Texas Family Residential Center, near Dilley, will house 2,400 mothers and children when completed. It will be run by Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison operator in the United States. The CCA will receive $276 per day per person from the federal government to run Dilley, a staggering $241 million per year. The CCA ran the T. Don Hutto facility when ICE was sued over conditions there.
While exact figures were not available for the smaller, GEO Group-run Karnes County Residential Facility, which houses 592 women and children, the cost per day per bed is probably similar to what CCA is getting for Dilley.
'I visited the Karnes facility last September,' said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization working to end the private prison industry. 'And, yes, there are paintings on the walls, and there’s a small soccer field for the kids, but the reality is that prolonged detention is always detrimental to kids and their moms. And at Karnes, some of the women have been held for as long as nine months.'
Libal noted that those families seeking refugee status are not generally considered flight risks and are normally 'given a notice to appear at a detention court and told to check in with an ICE worker and let go,' frequently to sponsors or family members already living in the United States. When they appear for their hearing, the mothers are interviewed about why they are seeking asylum. If they pass that 'credible fear' interview, their request for asylum moves on through the system. If they do not pass the interview, they are scheduled for deportation...
...Christina [sic] Parker, the immigrations program director for Grassroots Leadership, helped organize a protest at Dilley on May 2, which was attended by more than 600 people. 'When you look at the Dilley facility, it doesn’t look like a prison,' she said. 'There are rows of little trailers set up, sort of like a camp. But there are still armed guards, and the kids are still locked up. And they shouldn’t be.'
Parker pointed to a decision in a lawsuit brought against the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the precursor to ICE, in 1987 by the ACLU over the detention of illegal immigrant children. The 1997 determination, known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, required that juveniles 'be held in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their age and special needs, generally, in a non-secure facility licensed to care for dependent, as opposed to delinquent, minors.'
Parker said that the suit had been revived in light of the recent expansion of family detention. 'There’s a decision expected in a week,' she said. 'The law says children cannot be held in secure, prison-like facilities. They must be held in licensed child-care facilities.'" [node:read-more:link]
"At any given time in the United States of America, 34,000 jail beds are made ready for immigrants to fill. According to the April 2015 report by the advocacy group Grassroots Leadership ‘Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota’, sixty-two percent of these beds are now operated by private prison corporations, which rake in millions of profits from government contracts. Immigrants are now the largest market for these corporations.
Moreover, millions of dollars have been poured into the federal justice system to fund the salaries of privately contracted defense attorneys, for example and into internal immigration enforcement, to accommodate the arrest, prosecution, detention, and deportation of immigrants. Immigrant detention has contributed to the 500 percent increase in our nation’s incarcerated population. In 2013, immigrants made up 10 percent of the federal prison population. This mass detention of immigrants has helped to increase the number of deportations. Under the Obama Administration, two million people have been deported.  This system is an affront to the Christian values of acting justly and welcoming the stranger." [node:read-more:link]
"The privately-run detention facility, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, is paid $275 per day per detainee, said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership in Austin. 'At full build out it will bring $660,000 per day or $240 million in annual revenue from this one detention camp,' Libal said.
That’s all paid for with American taxpayer funds and is a prime example of why detainees need to be processed and adjudicated quickly through our courts.
As Cuellar told us: 'Right now the backlog is just tremendous so this will allow us to have hearings before the judges on a much faster pace so we can get rid of the backlog. Whatever the judge’s decide — whether they can stay or return — at least they get a day before a judge.'" [node:read-more:link]
Hundreds of people began arriving in Dilley on Saturday to protest the Obama administration's policy of detaining immigrant families.
Buses from throughout Texas gradually delivered protestors to this community 75 miles south of San Antonio, where the American government in recent months opened a large camp to hold immigrant women and their children as they navigate the immigration processing system.
More than 500 protestors were to march from a park in downtown Dilley 2 miles to the Dilley Family Residential Center, a detention center operated for the Homeland Security Department and which can hold up to 2000 people. [node:read-more:link]
"Private prison companies are spending millions of dollars to lobby the U.S. government for harsher immigration laws that, in turn, spike corporate profits by driving up incarceration levels, a new report from the national social justice organization Grassroots Leadership reveals.
Entitled Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, the report's release on Wednesday coincided with a renewed hunger strike at a privately-run immigrant detention center in southern Texas, where asylum-seeking mothers incarcerated with their children report inhumane conditions, including sexual assaults by prison guards and staff." [node:read-more:link]