Grassroots Leadership files FOIA litigation against ICE to obtain T. Don Hutto contract

September 11, 2019

Local activists decry lack of transparency and question why T. Don Hutto remains open

AUSTIN — Community members and advocates gathered Tuesday to announce litigation filed Monday in their ongoing campaign to close the T. Don Hutto detention center and end the abuse and confinement of 512 immigrant women who remain detained there. 

After more than a decade of community protest against abuses at the facility, Williamson County Commissioners ended their contract for the facility with ICE and CoreCivic in a June 2018 vote. However, T. Don Hutto remains open after a January 2019 announcement by ICE of a new “temporary” contract extension with CoreCivic for maintenance of the facility. Eight months after the termination of T. Don Hutto’s contract, it remains unclear how long the contract extension will last, and how ICE was able to enter a new contract with a private corporation without engaging in a competitive bidding process as designated in federal procurement law. 

Bethany Carson, Immigration Policy Researcher and Organizer for Grassroots Leadership: “We're here to ask a question today: Why is T. Don Hutto still open? ICE and CoreCivic cannot be allowed to continue to operate this facility with complete impunity. We're here to turn the tables and demand that this time ICE show us their papers.”

Jaquita Wilson, community activist and resident of Williamson County: “Every day that this detention center stays open is a day we are saying 'that's okay.' We're saying, it's okay for us to spend money—our own tax money we could use for our roads, bridges, schools, to be a better community—and instead, we're using it to enslave people.”

Jose Orta, community organizer and a resident of Taylor, Texas: “We want answers, and we need the Court's help in prying open the secret agreements between the for-profit facility and our government.”

ICE has refused to provide any documentation of this new contract or its compliance with federal procurement law following two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted by Grassroots Leadership. In response to ICE’s violation of FOIA, Grassroots Leadership—represented by the University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights Clinic—filed suit Monday in federal court to compel release of this requested contract and procurement documentation. 

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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.



Bethany Carson,, (512) 499-8111