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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May 2, 2015
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ABC KSAT - TV

Hundreds call for release of detainees at immigrant detention center

DILLEY, Texas - Hundreds of protesters rallied Saturday for the release of detainees being held at an immigrant detention center in Dilley.

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Protesters from across the state converged on Dilley City Hall before marching to the detention center.

Organizers at Grassroots Leadership said the protest was being held to "call for an end to the Obama administration’s inhumane, and illegal policy of locking up refugee parents and children."

Solidarity protests were held Saturday at family detention centers in Pennsylvania and Colorado, as well as the White House. Read more about Hundreds call for release of detainees at immigrant detention center

May 2, 2015
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The Texas Tribune

Protesters Want Family Detention Center Shut Down

DILLEY, Texas — On the side of a dusty highway about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio, more than 500 protesters gathered Saturday afternoon in front of the largest immigration detention center in the United States and chanted "shut it down" as facility guards watched from the other side of a barbed wire fence.

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The detention center in Dilley, a South Texas town of about 3,600 people, was built in December 2014 to host up to 2,400 undocumented women and children who are seeking asylum. Protesters from all over the country — as far as California and New York — trekked to Dilley on Saturday to call for an end to family detention.

"Many of them are escaping from violence and torture, from abuse at the hands of gangs," said Sofia Casini, a detention visitation coordinator at Grassroots Leadership, an organization that helped orchestrate the protest. "To be put inside of centers with armed guards, where the kids are yelled at, it's all a re-traumatization process."

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The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley — a euphemism, the protesters say, for a low-security prison — is one of two family detainment facilities in Texas, and the largest in the U.S.

"There's one issue with calling them residential facilities: They're locked up. They can't leave," said Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer for Grassroots Leadership.

  Read more about Protesters Want Family Detention Center Shut Down

May 2, 2015
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The San Antonio Express News

Hundreds protest Obama's immigration policy in South Texas

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.

Guards affiliated with the detention center kept a watchful eye Saturday morning at the facility as a sea of people nearly 2 miles away holding signs of many colors called for an end to the jailing of immigrant families, and deportations. Read more about Hundreds protest Obama's immigration policy in South Texas

Apr 17, 2015
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Austin Chronicle

Detainees Strike for Freedom

"Advocates have trained their sights on a similar, newly opened facility in Dilley – 150 miles south, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Austin. By next month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforce­ment will have capacity to hold up to 2,400 at what will be the nation's largest immigrant detention center. Opened in late December, Dilley is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, while the Karnes site is run by the Geo Group Inc., both for-profit companies contracted by government agencies. Some opponents question the logic of spending money to incarcerate immigrants rather than helping them integrate into the community; according to Reuters, the cost to run the Dilley site is $296 per person per day.

'It's incredibly profitable for these corporations,'said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. 'I'd argue these are the only people these facilities are good for. It's very detrimental to the well-being and health of the kids and moms detained and enormously expensive for taxpayers to be footing the bill of about $300 a day to detain those individuals.' Locally, Grass­roots Leadership and St. Andrew's Pres­by­terian Church will each charter two buses to take protesters to Dilley on May 2, calling for closure of such facilities. They'll be met by other buses from San Antonio, the Valley, Houston, and elsewhere." Read more about Detainees Strike for Freedom

May 6, 2015
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US News and World Report

Clinton Criticizes Immigrant Detentions Under Obama

"Clinton on Tuesday also referenced the so-called detention bed quota, which has expanded the number of immigrant detention beds the government is required to maintain to 34,000. A recently released report by the group Grassroots Leadership revealed that members of the private prison industry, which operates over half the beds in detention facilities, have spent millions combined on immigration-related lobbying efforts as Congress has dealt with the quota issue.

'I'm not sure a lot of Americans know that a lot of the detention facilities for immigrants are run by private companies,' Clinton said. 'They have a built-in incentive to fill them up, that there is actually a legal requirement that so many beds be filled. So people go out and round up people in order to get paid on a per-bed basis. I mean that just makes no sense at all to me. That's not the way we should be running any detention facility.'" Read more about Clinton Criticizes Immigrant Detentions Under Obama

U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General Report Condemns GEO Operated Reeves County Detention Center

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General released a report chronicling a number of egregious practices taking place at the one of the world’s largest for-profit prisons. Reeves C

Apr 19, 2015
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RawStory

Asylum-seeking mothers launch hunger strike over inhumane conditions at Texas detention center

Detained asylum-seeking mothers at a for-profit detention center in Texas have gone on a hunger strike seeking their release, Freedom Speech Radio News reports.

The women, many of whom fled their countries in Central America  out of fear of violence or persecution, have all passed the “credible fear test” and qualify as asylum seekers. Despite that, they are still held with their children — some as young as 2 years old — in the Karnes Residential Center, a prison-like facility in South Texas, waiting for their cases to be processed.

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According to a new report from the Grassroots Leadership, private for-profit prison corporations spent $11 million over six years to lobby Congress to keep a mandatory immigrant detention quota.

Today, 9 out of the 10 largest immigrant detention centers are private, with 8 owned by only two corporations, the GED Group and CCA. Since the end of 2007, the GEO Group has increased their profits by 244% and CCA by 46%. Read more about Asylum-seeking mothers launch hunger strike over inhumane conditions at Texas detention center

Apr 16, 2015
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The Austin Chronicle

Detainees Strike for Freedom: Hunger strikes call attention to conditions at Karnes, elsewhere

Advocates have trained their sights on a similar, newly opened facility in Dilley – 150 miles south, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Austin. By next month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforce­ment will have capacity to hold up to 2,400 at what will be the nation's largest immigrant detention center. Opened in late December, Dilley is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, while the Karnes site is run by the Geo Group Inc., both for-profit companies contracted by government agencies. Some opponents question the logic of spending money to incarcerate immigrants rather than helping them integrate into the community; according to Reuters, the cost to run the Dilley site is $296 per person per day.

"It's incredibly profitable for these corporations," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. "I'd argue these are the only people these facilities are good for. It's very detrimental to the well-being and health of the kids and moms detained and enormously expensive for taxpayers to be footing the bill of about $300 a day to detain those individuals." Locally, Grass­roots Leadership and St. Andrew's Pres­by­terian Church will each charter two buses to take protesters to Dilley on May 2, calling for closure of such facilities. They'll be met by other buses from San Antonio, the Valley, Houston, and elsewhere. Read more about Detainees Strike for Freedom: Hunger strikes call attention to conditions at Karnes, elsewhere

Apr 14, 2015
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Huffington Post

Mothers Launch A Second Hunger Strike At Karnes City Family Detention Center

"...Some activists view the private prison industry as partly responsible for the growth of family immigrant detention. The country’s largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America, operates the newly constructed, 2,400-bed family detention center in Dilley, Texas. The second-largest private prison company, GEO Group, runs the 500-bed facility at Karnes City.

Christina Parker [sic], the immigrant programs director at the Austin, Texas-based nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, said Tuesday that letting private companies run detention centers only creates an incentive to lock up more migrants.

'Every bed and every crib represents more profits for them,' Parker said." Read more about Mothers Launch A Second Hunger Strike At Karnes City Family Detention Center

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