Court to hear further arguments on family detention licensing lawsuit

May 31, 2016

Grassroots Leadership, detained families claim that licensing of family detention camps reduces standards and harms immigrant children

WHAT: Hearing on temporary restraining order and temporary injunction related to licensing of family detention centers and childcare facilities

WHO: Judge Karin Crump will hear arguments from plaintiffs Grassroots Leadership, detained families who sued Texas Department of Family Protective Services

WHEN:  Wednesday, June 1st, at 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: 250th District Court, Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, 1000 Guadalupe St, Austin, Texas.

(AUSTIN, Texas) —  On Wednesday, June 1st, plaintiffs will return to court in their efforts to win a temporary injunction stopping the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from licensing for-profit family detention centers as childcare facilities.  

On May 13th, women who are detained in Texas with their children and Grassroots Leadership asked the court to continue to prohibit the state from granting a childcare license to the family detention camp in Dilley, Texas.  Judge Karin Crump of the 250th District Court extended the temporary restraining order and set another hearing for the case for tomorrow, June 1st.

The plaintiffs have argued that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is only granted authority to regulate child care facilities and that family jails are not child care facilities.  Further pleadings by the plaintiffs filed in the case last week demonstrate that not only does has the state not authorized the agency to license of these facilities, but that licensing the detention centers actually harms children by reducing standards and lengthening the stay of detention.   

“Simply put, licensing these prisons as childcare facilities is against the law and harms children,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “While kids and their families suffer inside these facilities, private prison corporations are boasting to their shareholders about family detention is allowing them to expand their profits.”

On the May 13th hearing, women who are detained with their children described to the court the negative impact of detention on their children saying that “the facility was a place that no child should be” and that it was a “jail they couldn’t leave” where medical care is denied to children.

The Dilley family detention camp, operated by prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America, and the Karnes facility, operated by prison corporation GEO Group, applied for licenses under lowered standards adopted under a new regulation, 40 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 748.7, implemented by the agency on March 1st.  The Karnes facility has already been granted a license and CCA’s application for Dilley is still pending.

One judge has already ordered the federal government to release the women and children detained in immigrant family lockups in Texas and Pennsylvania. The two for-profit prison corporations applied for childcare licenses in Texas after Federal Judge Dolly Gee ordered the government to release children from the unlicensed, prison-like facilities last summer.

# # #

Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education.

Contact: 

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