At vigil in honor of International Human Rights Day, Texas groups call for closure of Polk County immigrant detention center

December 8, 2012

More than 100 attend vigil intended to draw attention to human rights violations in immigrant detention centers in Texas

Austin, TX – On Saturday December 8, 2012 hundreds of community members from across Texas will call for the closure of the Polk County Detention Center and to denounce the continued human rights abuses and profiteering from the detention of immigrants in the U.S.

The Polk County Detention Center, located in Livingston – approximately 75 miles northeast of Houston – was recently highlighted as one of 10 detention centers amongst the worst immigrant prisons in the U.S. in a series of reports coordinated by the Detention Watch Network. Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families toured the facility this summer and spoke to dozens of detained immigrants.

“At the Polk County facility, we witnessed horrific conditions,” said Sam Vong, Texans United for Families member and one of the report’s authors. “ICE must shut down this facility as a first step towards reducing its detained population.”

More than 100 members of a diverse coalition of human rights groups concerned with ongoing violations at immigrant detention centers joined the protest.

At Polk, detained men eat, sleep, and use the bathroom all in one room. The cells are dreary, lack natural lighting, and do not offer privacy. Neither meaningful programming nor legal services exist at Polk. One man detained at Polk told members of Texans United for Families, “This isn’t a good place; I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

“While immigrants suffer under prolonged detention at Polk County and the Houston Processing Center, private prison corporations are getting rich,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. “It doesn’t have to be this way. ICE should prioritize release of immigrants in community support programs that are far more humane, less costly, and are effective at ensuring immigrants are able to appear at their hearings.”

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