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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Apr 14, 2015
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Houston Chronicle

Hunger strike by undocumented women at Texas detention facility

"...According to Abdollahi and Cristina Parker, a coordinator with Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, this is the second hunger strike at the Karnes facility because a group of almost 80 women started one in the week that started on Monday March 30th that lasted almost one week.

However, ICE denied in a statement there was a hunger strike at the detention center and said that allegation is 'false.'" Read more about Hunger strike by undocumented women at Texas detention facility

Apr 14, 2015
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DemocracyNow!

Immigrant Mothers in Detention Launch Second Hunger Strike Despite Retaliation

"...Our report noted nearby Crystal City, Texas, was home to a federal internment camp for Japanese and German men, as well as their wives and children, and a local newspaper has referred to the South Texas Family Residential Center as an internment camp despite objections by Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company that operates it.

Advocates say the comparison of that facility to present day family detention centers in Texas could haunt President Obama.

'He could go down in history not just as the deporter in chief," said Cristina Parker, with the group Grassroots Leadership, "but as the president who presided over the return of modern day internment camps on U.S. soil.'" Read more about Immigrant Mothers in Detention Launch Second Hunger Strike Despite Retaliation

Apr 10, 2015
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Southern Studies

Immigrant mothers held in private detention facility in Texas threaten to renew hunger strike

"Individual women have shared their experiences at Karnes in letters posted to the website of the End Family Detention advocacy network. One woman who has been held there since the facility was converted into a family detention center last August wrote that her daughter wasn't eating and was losing weight. She was also worried about unsuitable drinking water at the center, which is located in an area where thousands of oil and gas wells have been drilled, but didn't have enough money to buy water from the store. Colorlines reported that the women are paid $3 a day to work at the facility -- the price of a single bottle of water.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokespeople have denied being aware of a hunger strike at the center. However, advocates in contact with the detainees reported that the women experienced retaliation from guards and ICE officials in response to the protest. Three women and their children were even locked in an unlit room in the medical infirmary on the first day of the strike. Mothers were also threatened with separation from their children and with deportations. Such threats are routinely made in the facility in response to issues like children's misbehavior but increased during the strike, according to Cristina Parker withGrassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that advocates for the abolition of private prisons." Read more about Immigrant mothers held in private detention facility in Texas threaten to renew hunger strike

Apr 2, 2015
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Common Dreams

Dozens of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas

"ICE also claimed it was unaware of any residents actually participating in the strike, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so."

It also said it was investigating claims that members of a nonprofit advocacy group encouraged the women to take part in the hunger strike—a charge which activists deny.

Cristina Parker, immigration programs director at the Texas-based immigrant rights group Grassroots Leadership, told the Guardian on Tuesday, 'This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened. I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this.'

According to Parker, the center is now blocking access to internet and telephone facilities for all of its detainees, regardless of whether they are participating in the hunger strike." Read more about Dozens of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas

While mothers and children languish in detention, private prison companies reveal million dollar compensations for top executives

Private prison companies GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) recently released proxy materials revealing million dollar compensations for their top executives. Both documents included charts that reflected salary figures, stock awards, option awards, among various other means of monetary compensation. Read more about While mothers and children languish in detention, private prison companies reveal million dollar compensations for top executives

Grassroots Leadership's roots in prison divestment, Part I: Kymberlie's story

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s students across the U.S. and Canada kicked off a student-led movement against prison profiteering and the Prison-Industrial Complex more broadly.  By coincidence, long before the trajectory of their professional lives as advocates against our country’s over-reliance on criminalization and immigration detention was clear, two Grassroots Leadership staff members got their organizing feet wet as participants in their respective campus’ campaigns to end university contracts that facilitated prison profiteering,    

We release this three-part series now to harken back to our own roots in the struggle(s) for true justice, and to spotlight the re-emergence of a flourishing prison divestment movement in which students, again, are playing  a central role.  It is in this context that Grassroots Leadership and our long-time partner Enlace, are anchoring major national actions against CCA and the GEO Group, the country’s largest private prison companies, in May 2015.  We hope  that this series will elucidate the historic power that individuals have had on challenging the for-profit prison industry, and to compel participation in the exciting events on the horizon.

Kymberlie's Story, Earlham College, Class of ‘02

Read more about Grassroots Leadership's roots in prison divestment, Part I: Kymberlie's story

Apr 2, 2015
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The Guardian

Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release

Dozens of mothers seeking asylum who are being held at the Karnes family detention centre in southern Texas have reportedly begun a hunger strike, with 78 women being held signing a letter demanding their release from the centre and announcing a refusal to use any services within the facility.

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Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator at advocacy group Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas, dismissed any claims the women had been encouraged to strike by legal representatives.

Parker visited the centre in September 2014 and said a number of women she interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of care provided to them and their children and had already been discussing the prospect of a hunger strike.

“This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened,” Parker told the Guardian. “I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this.”

Parker added that contacts with knowledge of events had told her that detention centre managers had begun withdrawing access to facilities, including internet and telephone calls for all those detained at Karnes, regardless of their participation in the reported hunger strike. The centre has a 532-bed capacity.

Parker stated that two women identified as leaders of the group of women had been moved to isolated rooms in the centre. Read more about Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release

Apr 1, 2015
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International Business Times

Immigration Reform 2015: Women Reportedly On Hunger Strike In Texas Immigration Detention Center

A letter released by the women on Tuesday outlined the motivation of the group and the reasoning behind the hunger strike. “You should know that this is only the beginning and we will not stop until we achieve our objectives.  This strike will continue until every one of us is freed,” the letter read, according to a copy released by grassrootsleadership.org. “We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, be respected.” Read more about Immigration Reform 2015: Women Reportedly On Hunger Strike In Texas Immigration Detention Center

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