Court hears emotional testimony in family detention licensing case in Texas

May 13, 2016

Child welfare, faith, and immigrant rights groups address the media before a December hearing on childcare licensing for detention centers
Judge extends Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting license of Dilley detention camp

(AUSTIN, Texas) —  Today four 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 June 1st.

The plaintiffs argued that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is only granted authority to regulate childcare facilities and jails are not child care facilities.

The women who are detained with their children told the court 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.

“No one who is being honest can say these are not prisons for families,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership after the hearing. “Calling these childcare centers is not only absurd but we believe it’s against the law.”

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.