Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker tells WBAI host Donald Anthonyson about the new privately-run family detention center in Dilley, Texas and abuses coming out of the Karnes County Residential Center, a GEO-run detention center that began detaining families this summer. Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield of CIVIC talk about their work establishing immigrant vistitation programs, the injustices of the legal system immigrants must navigate, and influences of private prison lobbying on mass immigrant detention. Interview begins at minute 13:00. Read more about Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the same for-profit prison corporation opening a controversial new detention center for refugee families this week in Dilley, Texas, accidentally tear-gassed children last week at a South Texas middle school near another one of its prisons. Read more about UNBELIEVABLE: Private prison corporation opening new family detention center accidentally tear-gassed children at S. Texas school
The facility in Dilley, a converted “man camp” for oil workers, will replace a temporary government holding center in Artesia, New Mexico. Critics say it is both inhumane and unnecessary, given the dramatic slowdown in border crossings in recent months.
“The whole return of mass detention for little kids and their mothers is pretty appalling,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that opposes for-profit prisons.
Libal noted that the Corrections Corp. of America ran a similar facility near Austin that encountered lawsuits.
Several Texas lawmakers, including Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio and Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, have raised questions about the cost-effectiveness and transparency of the procurement process.
Privatization of any type of jail or prison should be concerning: incarcerations shouldn’t be driven by profits.
Immigration activists have taken a firm stance on this. Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a North Carolina-based organization that wants to extricate private businesses from prison industry, said the new incursions into family detention by the Obama administration are both “incredibly shameful and entirely predictable.” After the failure of T. Don Hutto, he believes the government should end the effort to lock up families based on immigration status. “It’s almost mind-boggling that ICE would embark on this kind of detention regime,” he said. Read more about Undeterred by sex abuse scandal, feds push for more family detention centers
Elaine Cohen, who works with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit that fights to end for-profit incarceration, said she's visited the center. She complained about the practice of housing children in what she said were jail-like conditions while a woman next to her held a bright-orange poster that said “Children need freedom and sunshine to grow.”
“You can paint laughing broccolis and smiling bananas on the walls all you want, but this is still a prison for children,” Cohen said, adding that this is the first of several protests. She noted that a larger detention center is slated to be built in Dilley, between San Antonio and Laredo, and said the group will be vigilant of others. Read more about Protesters demand closure of Karnes residential facility
Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group that has been critical of ICE's detention policies and outsourcing to the private prison industry, said the reliance on signing deals with local entities rather than with the companies themselves lacks transparency.
“I think the reason they don't put out (requests for proposals), they do these (intergovernmental service agreements) is to avoid scrutiny, to rush through these decisions without the public or the media to scrutinize what they're doing,” Libal said. Read more about Critics frown at ICE jail contracts
(AUSTIN, Texas) — Federal officials today announced plans for the nation’s largest immigrant detention center to detain asylum-seeking children with their parents. The facility, to be located in the remote south Texas town of Dilley, will be the nation’s largest immigrant detention center at 2,400 beds. Read more about Ignoring history and human rights, Feds confirm plans for massive family detention center to lock up asylum-seeking kids with their parents