(AUSTIN, Texas) — For the second time this month, officials in a South Texas county have delivered a unanimous vote against a new immigrant family detention center in their community.
Dimmit County Commissioners today rejected a proposal from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Stratton Oilfield Systems to turn the company’s now-vacant “man camp” in Carrizo Springs into a new family detention center. The facility would have detained asylum-seeking Central American mothers and children. They join officials in Jim Wells County, who rejected a similar proposal early this month from UK-based private prison company Serco, who wanted to turn a vacant nursing home into a lock-up for moms and kids in San Diego, Texas.
The opposition to a family detention center in Dimmit County was palpable at the standing-room-only county commissioners meeting that draw more than 200 people. The vast majority of those who made a public comment were against bringing a family detention center to Carrizo Springs, Texas. After hearing from dozens of people, county commissioners interrupted the long line of residents and immigrant rights advocates waiting for their turn to speak. Commissioners said they were ready to take a vote and the proposal was quickly and unanimously rejected.
“The uproar in Carrizo Springs is what is waiting for ICE if they keep trying to put new family detention facilities in Texas,” said Cristina Parker of Grassroots Leadership in Austin. “After almost two years of Karnes and Dilley, no community wants anything to do with this. The Obama administration’s family detention policy is a disgrace, it is lawless and Texans are standing up against it.”
A Texas court has already found that the existing family detention facilities in Texas are a probable violation of 54.011(f). The statute penalizes anyone that assists to detain children and carries civil and criminal penalties. Two presidential candidates have also stated their opposition to family detention, calling into question whether the facility would be filled after the next administration takes office next year.
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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.
Alejandro Caceres, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-499-8111