Austin, TX – On Saturday June 15, 2013, at 8 am, Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families will hold a press conference to begin a caravan to the IAH Secure Adult Detention Center in Polk County. Along with allies from Houston, a hundred community members will hold a second vigil and protest outside of the IAH Polk Secure Adult Detention Center calling for its immediate closure. The vigil on the day before Father’s Day is intended to highlight the struggles of families affected by the immigration system, especially those who have loved ones behind bars for immigration offenses.
After conducting a visit during the summer of 2012 and speaking with numerous men detained at the facility, members of TUFF, Grassroots Leadership & allies identified the Polk County Detention Center as one of the top ten worst immigrant prisons in the U.S. and guilty of committing acute and chronic human rights violations. In December 2012, over 100 immigrant rights advocates from across Texas rallied outside the detention center to call for the closure of the facility 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 highlighted last November 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 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.”
This event is part of a nation-wide Father’s Day campaign organized by Detention Watch Network. Thirty other actions will be taking place around the county calling for an end to immigrant detention and for comprehensive immigration reform that values family and human dignity.
Piper Madison - firstname.lastname@example.org