Judge prohibits Texas from licensing family detention centers as childcare facilities

November 20, 2015

Grassroots Leadership wins injunction in suit against Texas Department of Family and Protective Services; Judge stops Texas from using emergency regulations to license facilities in Karnes and Dilley

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Grassroots Leadership today won a temporary injunction in its suit to stop the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from licensing family detention centers in Karnes and Dilley as childcare facilities under an emergency rule.  The emergency rule actually eliminated minimum child safety standards applicable to all childcare facilities in Texas.  

District Judge Karin Crump ruled that no emergency existed to justify the state using an emergency rule to license the facilities.  Because the state used the emergency rule procedure, all interested persons and organizations, including Grassroots Leadership, could not comment on the licensure rule.  (The state has just recently issued a proposed permanent rule on the licensing that allows public comment before December 13th and also proposes to reduce child safety standards that are applicable to all other childcare facilities in Texas.)

“Texas has no business putting its seal of approval on for-profit prisons to act as childcare facilities,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.  “After today’s ruling, advocacy organizations and child welfare professionals will have the opportunity to weigh in and tell the state that prisons can never be appropriate places for children.”

Last month, more than 140 organizations and individuals sent a letter to Texas officials urging them to deny child care licenses to private prison companies operating two family detention camps in South Texas.

The letter sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner John Specia argued that the family detention facilities, by their nature, do not promote child welfare. Additionally, the letter explains that granting childcare licenses under reduced standards would condone neglect and abuse, is unnecessary, and wastes limited state resources to cover federal responsibilities and ensure profits to private prison companies.

“The idea of granting a childcare license to the family detention camps is outrageous, and the state had denied Texans a chance to comment on an issue that is important to so many people,” said Cristina Parker, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership. “Today, the court ruled that Texas cannot use emergency rules to protect the federal government in the face of condemnation of these facilities by courts and the public. The childcare emergency at Karnes and Dilley is that children and their mothers are imprisoned in the first place.”


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Bob Libal, blibal@grassrootsleadership.org, 512-971-0487