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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Nov 17, 2014
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The Daily Texan

Protesters rally against Red McCombs' affiliation with immigration detention facility

"A group of protesters met with Thomas Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, on Monday to ask him to request the school’s namesake, Red McCombs, break his real estate firm’s lease that will pave the way for the construction of the biggest immigrant detention facility in the nation. 

The group of protestors, which included students, sought to speak with the dean about the business school’s position on the subject. Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator at Grassroots Leadership and one of the six protesters who spoke with Gilligan, said one of her main concerns was McCombs’ involvement with the facilities. 

'I think we all have a claim to UT as Texans, and we want to talk to him about our concerns,” Parker said. “It’s problematic for us that a man whose name is on the building is profiting from a modern day internment camp.'”  Read more about Protesters rally against Red McCombs' affiliation with immigration detention facility

Oct 27, 2014
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El Universal

Familias, nuevo blanco de "la migra"

"Aunque en los últimos meses la atención se ha centrado en los niños inmigrantes que llegan a EU no acompañados, hay otro grupo de menores que cruza con alguno de sus padres, o los dos. Y a diferencia de los niños que viajan solos, que son transferidos a albergues y reinsertados en ambientes familiares a la brevedad, la administración de Barack Obama ha optado por poner bajo llave a los menjores que llegan acompañados por su familia mientras reciben sentencia en las cortes de inmigración, lo cual puede tomar meses.

En el reporte Detención de familias con fines de lucro, publicado hace unos días, la organización activista que trabaja contra el encarcelamiento como negocio privado Grassroots Leadership concluye que con el establecimiento de estos centros 'el presidente [Barack] Obama ha lanzado el proyecto de detención de familias más grande de EU desde los campos de concentración para japones [durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial]'." Read more about Familias, nuevo blanco de "la migra"

Nov 13, 2014
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RH Reality Check

Asylum-Seeking Women and Children Are Treated Like Dangerous Criminals When They Arrive

"A private prison company could be making hundreds of dollars each day keeping 7-year-old Nayely Beltran under lock and key.

Instead, on one warm October morning, Nayely is zooming around a home in East Austin, Texas, showing off her new braids and handing out hugs to anyone who’ll take one. She’s finding a lot of takers at Posada Esperanza, a nonprofit shelter for immigrant moms and kids—currently about 20 people—who are seeking asylum in the United States." 

Read more to find out what Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker says about the return to family detention by the Obama Administration. Read more about Asylum-Seeking Women and Children Are Treated Like Dangerous Criminals When They Arrive

Arizona Town Funneling Money for Corrections Corporation of America

Eloy Detention Center image

The for-profit private prison industry is breaking new ground, and not just in Dilley, Texas where the largest family immigrant detention center is currently being built. Aside from the tortured history of family detention centers in Texas (see list below), what makes this plan ground-breaking in the worst kind of way, is the fact that it is being contracted by a prison town over 900 miles away.

That’s right. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) will run this new facility, but the money will first be funneled through the City of Eloy, Arizona (which will get a hefty cut, of course). This is unprecedented, shady, and mind-boggling, but also possibly completely legal thanks to an Intergovernmental Services Agreement which allows for no-bid contracts.

John Burnett, who covered the story for NPR, quotes an unnamed ICE source as saying it is “a creative response to a difficult situation.” Certainly—just like off-shore bank accounts are a creative response to taxes. It turns out that Eloy is literally only acting as the financial go-between for the money from ICE to CCA. It claims no responsibility for what happens in the facility. This is how Burnett described it in his piece for NPR,

Here’s how it will work with the new South Texas facility: ICE sends Eloy $290 million for the first year’s expenses. The city passes through that payment to CCA to run the facility. And CCA pays Eloy $438,000 a year to essentially act as its accountant — nothing more.

Read more about Arizona Town Funneling Money for Corrections Corporation of America
Oct 27, 2014
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El Universal

For-profit family detention in the U.S.

The expansion of family detention facilities is expected to surpass 3,500 beds this year, including one 532-bed facility in Karnes City, Texas and another 2,400-bed facility planned in Dilley Texas, according to Detention Watch Network. 

Bob Libal, executive director of the prison reform group Grassroots Leadership, said: “While little kids and their families will suffer in remote private prisons, far away from legal or social services, these multi-billion dollar private prison companies stand to make enormous profits.” Read more about For-profit family detention in the U.S.

Oct 28, 2014
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National Public Radio

How will a small town in Arizona manage an ICE facility in Texas?

The South Texas Family Residential Center, in Dilley, TX sounds like it could be a pleasant apartment complex, but it's actually going to be a detention camp for female and child immigrants who have arrived from Central America.

Located next to a state prison and a man camp, the facility is currenty under construction, with workers quickly installing the modular buildings that will eventually hold 2,400 detainees, technically under the custody of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Corrections Corporation of America, the largest for-profit prison corporation in the country, is contracted to run and maintain the facility. However, the contract is slightly unusual. While the facility is located in Dilley, the contract is going through the town of Eloy, Arizona—effectively bypassing the typically 18 month process that involves competitive bidding, environmental impact reports, and other safeguard measures before breaking ground on a new detention facility.

Immigrant rights advocates are worried about the contract for a multitude of reasons. Among other concerns, the immigrant detention center in Eloy has had the most detainee deaths in the country—13 since it was opened in 2004, says Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership.  Read more about How will a small town in Arizona manage an ICE facility in Texas?

Oct 13, 2014
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Texas Public Radio

Songs of Protest and Symbols of Hope, as Protestors Rally at Under-Fire Detention Center

Ringing protest chants and flashy signs greeted security at the Karnes County Residential Center Saturday, southeast of San Antonio, where 60 people gathered in solidarity with immigrant women and children housed inside; immigrants who made it across the U.S. border after fleeing violence in Central America.

The group outside the facility included some children, who also wanted their message, and their voice, heard. Little ones with the group outside the residential center attempted to deliver letters they'd written to the immigrant children on Saturday. But they also met with opposition and their letters were not delivered.

Eva Gray, who lives in Austin, wondered why the families were being denied justice."I’m here because I really want to see an end to deportation in general, the criminalization of those who are not guilty of any sort of crime," she said passionately. "I just want to see children playing and the ability to have their cases heard. They're really being denied all those things." Read more about Songs of Protest and Symbols of Hope, as Protestors Rally at Under-Fire Detention Center

Oct 13, 2014
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Time Warner Cable News

Protesters Demand Closure of Immigration Facility

From Austin and San Antonio, close to one-hundred activists made the drive to Karnes County this weekend in protest of the more than 500 immigrants incarcerated inside the Karnes County Residential Center. "When we as a country needed to open our arms and open our doors to people fleeing violence,” Cristina Parker, Grassroots Leadership’s immigration projects coordinator, said. “Instead, we locked them up. We're putting them in this prison now." 

Part of the group’s message at the weekend rally is directed at the prison's operator, private company Geo Group Incorporated. "We know that this is a company back here that is making $298 per day, per child," Parker said. Read more about Protesters Demand Closure of Immigration Facility

Oct 11, 2014
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My San Antonio

Protesters demand closure of Karnes residential facility

A caravan full of protesters used songs, posters and theatrical demonstrations Saturday outside the Karnes County Residential Center to denounce the use of for-profit facilities to detain immigrants seeking asylum. Numbering close to 100, protesters came by bus and cars from Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston to vent their frustrations about the detention center, operated under contract by GEO Group Inc. for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The rally aimed to bring attention to the plight of hundreds of Central American women and children who are being housed at the shelter while they wait for the federal government to decide their fates. Elaine Cohen, who works with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit that fights to end for-profit incarceration, said she's visited the center. She complained about the practice of housing children in what she said were jail-like conditions while a woman next to her held a bright-orange poster that said “Children need freedom and sunshine to grow.”

  Read more about Protesters demand closure of Karnes residential facility

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