(AUSTIN, Texas) — Federal officials today announced plans for the nation’s largest immigrant detention center to detain asylum-seeking children with their parents. The facility, to be located in the remote south Texas town of Dilley, will be the nation’s largest immigrant detention center at 2,400 beds.
Sources within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have confirmed to immigrant rights advocates that the family detention center will be operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the same private prison corporation that operated the notorious T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor, Texas. The Obama administration ended the practice of detaining immigrant families at Hutto in 2009 after outcry over human rights abuses from immigrant rights organizations and litigation from the ACLU and University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic. The Dilley facility dramatically adds capacity to the newly opened family detention centers in Artesia, NM and in Karnes City, TX.
Immigrant and human rights advocates from around the U.S. and Texas who toured the Karnes County family detention center earlier this month called on the federal government to immediately close the facility and find alternatives to detaining women and children, especially in facilities operated by for-profit, private prisons companies with a track record of abusing families and children in their custody.
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, responded to today’s announcement: "In making this announcement, the Obama administration is turning its back on the countless immigrant, women’s and family, civil and human rights, and faith organizations that have worked tirelessly to stop the shameful practice of locking up asylum-seeking families in for-profit detention centers.”
Libal continued, “Given the shameful history of family detention at Hutto, it's horrifying that ICE would turn back to Corrections Corporation of America to operate what would be by far the nation's largest family detention center. This facility dwarfs the capacity of family detention centers in Artesia, NM and Karnes City, TX combined. 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."
Texans United for Families, a grassroots network of immigrant rights activists and organizations, are planning a vigil and protest of the facility on Saturday, October 11th, from 12pm-2pm. More information is available at www.grassrootsleadership.org.
- Grassroots Leadership & Texans United for Families resource page on immigrant family detention center.
- NGO letter opposing return of mass family detention signed by more than 100 faith, immigrant rights, and civil rights and civil liberties organizations.
- Congressional letter to the Department of Homeland Security: Congressman Adam Smith was joined by 27 other Members of Congress who signed onto the letter. “The arrival to the United States of children and families fleeing violence in Central America is a grave humanitarian issue,” the Members wrote. “Our government should not detain women and young children who are seeking asylum and refuge.”
- The ACLU won a 2007 settlement over the human rights abuses inside family detention at the T. Don Hutto detention center.
Cristina Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org and 915-497-2747
Bob Libal: email@example.com and 512-971-0487