Grassroots Leadership condemns reported plans for new family detention center in South Texas

June 7, 2016

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Today, Grassroots Leadership condemned reported plans by troubled international corporation Serco to operate a new family detention center in Jim Wells County, Texas.  The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported that Jim Wells County Commissioners authorized County Judge Pedro "Pete Treviño Jr. to negotiate with Serco and the Department of Homeland Security to convert a former nursing home into a family detention center.

"The answer to the family detention crisis is not contracting for new detention camps, regardless of where they are or who operates them.  The answer is ending the practice of locking up kids and their moms once and for all,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.  “The Obama administration has a choice - will its legacy be ending family detention or codifying the largest trend in locking up families in this country since Japanese internment."  

Serco is an international contracting firm that has faced allegations of sexual and physical abuse in detention centers in both the United Kingdom and in Australia, according to a report in The Guardian.  The Guardian also reported that the firm had lobbied members of Congress last year in the United States to secure a family detention contract.

The reported new detention camp follows a major victory for Grassroots Leadership and detained moms in court last week when an Austin judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from issuing a child care license under lowered standards to the nation’s largest immigration detention center — the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.  

The ruling by Judge Karin Crump of the 250th District Court prohibited the agency from issuing a license to the prison, operated by private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America, until a September hearing to determine whether the agency has the authority to license the Dilley facility and a separate facility in Karnes County, Texas operated by private prison corporation GEO Group.   Both facilities detained mothers and their children for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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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.



Contact: Bob Libal,, 512-971-0487