(AUSTIN, Texas) — Immigrant and human rights advocates from around the U.S. and Texas who toured the Karnes County family detention center Tuesday are calling on the federal government to immediately close the facility and find alternatives to detaining women and children.
“It is clear that the return of mass immigrant family detention has serious and detrimental impacts on immigrant children and their families. While families suffer, for-profit private prison corporations like GEO Group are getting rich off of their misery,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “The Obama administration should immediately scrap plans for additional family detention beds.”
Grassroots Leadership researches the for-profit, private prison industry, including the GEO Group, the private prison corporation running Karnes. The GEO Group has a long rap sheet of abuse and neglect of people in their prisons, including minors in juvenile facilities like the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center and the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which were both the subject of scandals over abuse of minors.
On the tour, Grassroots Leadership staff and volunteers witnessed and were told by detained women that guards had made racist, sexual, and dehumanizing comments towards detained women, cold rooms had been making children sick, detained families were made to wait for long periods of time in the sun to enter the dining room even though shade is available, children were threatened with separation from their parents as a disciplinary tactic, children’s ability to take snacks from the cafeteria was restricted, and food of such low quality that mothers, pregnant and nursing women and children are losing weight.
Grassroots Leadership calls on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately close both the Karnes facility and the Artesia, New Mexico, facility being used to detain women and children, and to cancel plans to open massive new complex in Dilley, Texas.
Grassroots Leadership and the Texans United for Families coalition are planning a vigil and protest of the facility on Saturday, October 11th, from 12pm-2pm. More information is available at www.grassrootsleadership.org.