Oct 28, 2015
The Monitor

As many as 27 women go on hunger strike at immigrant detention center

As many as 27 women housed at the T. Don Hutto detention center are participating in a hunger strike, according to a news release from a pro-immigrant rights group.

The women, most of whom are fleeing violent and deadly circumstances back home, refused dinner Wednesday night and are demanding to be released immediately, according to the release from Texans United for Families.

A call placed to officials at the detention center went unanswered as of Wednesday evening.

TUFF, a volunteer-run organization, has been demanding the closure of the Hutto detention center, located in Taylor, outside of Austin, for more than nine years, when the facility was used as a family detention center, the release states.

While in detention, the women are expected to fight their legal cases with little to no representation from an attorney, the release said. In their letters announcing the hunger strike, made available by TUFF, the women write about the mistreatment in the detention centers and how they are suffering because of their legal cases, according to the news release.

“TUFF stands behind these women and we are here to echo their demand: to release them immediately. We also want to remind ICE and CCA officials that we are watching for retaliation and we will not stand by if they retaliate against the Hutto 27,” a TUFF official said in a prepared statement, referring to the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the company that runs the detention facility. [node:read-more:link]

Oct 29, 2015
The Guardian

More than 20 women detained in Texas immigration facility begin hunger strike

More than two dozen women at an immigration detention centre in Texas began a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest at the conditions and their ongoing incarceration, a civil rights group said.

Grassroots Leadership published 17 letters from the women and said that at least 27 began their protest by refusing dinner at the T Don Hutto residential center in Taylor, near Austin.

In the letters, some of the women express fears they will be in danger if they are forced to return to Central America. Other concerns include inedible food, poor medical care, inadequate legal representation, harsh treatment from officials and a capricious process that sees some cases resolved far more quickly than others. [node:read-more:link]

Oct 29, 2015
Houston Press

Women Detained at Texas Immigration Lockup Launch Hunger Strike

Eighteen women jailed at the T Don Hutto immigrant detention center in Taylor sent letters to activists this week announcing a hunger strike inside the embattled immigration lockup, which is run by a for-profit prison company.

According to activists with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based nonprofit that was sent the letters this week, there could be as many as 27 women starving themselves to protest the conditions of their confinement. Most of the women are asylum seekers who fled violence in their home countries, according to Grassroots.

The women raise a number of longstanding claims against federal immigration officials, the private-prison companies they contract with to jail undocumented immigrants, and even the immigration court system in general. In their letters, the women say they've been jailed in deplorable conditions while their legal cases drag on for months. Some say they haven't received adequate medical care. (Neither federal immigration officials nor the company that runs the facility has responded to requests for comment; we'll update if and when we hear back.) [node:read-more:link]

Oct 28, 2015
The Austin Chronicle

Breaking: Hutto Detainees Begin Hunger Strike

Grassroots Leadership announced today that a group of 27 women being held at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, are beginning a hunger strike to protest the conditions at the facility and demand liberation.

The women, immigrants and refugees who are being held at the euphemistically named "center" – in practice, a for-profit prison – are likely to be deported. Until then, they are incarcerated in what they describe as abysmal conditions. [node:read-more:link]

Oct 29, 2015

Immigrant Women Launch Indefinite Hunger Strike, Asking To Be Freed From Detention Center

Detained women seeking asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief began an indefinite hunger strike at an immigration detention center in Texas on Wednesday night, sending hand-written letters to the federal government calling for their release.

At least 27 immigrant women refused dinner on Wednesday at the T. Don Hutto detention center, which is run by the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America. The majority of the women came to the U.S. after fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, and many have already passed their “credible fear” or “reasonable fear” interviews — a preliminary step in the asylum application process. [node:read-more:link]

Jul 30, 2014
International Business Times

Migrant Family Detentions On The Rise, And Private Companies Stand To Profit

... Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy organization that has campaigned against family detention and the for-profit prison industry, said the government would likely be eager to keep contracting family detention centers to private companies.

“It’s an easy solution for the government because there are private prison corporations that have excess capacity, particularly today, with declining state prison populations,” he said. “And it’s about influence -- private prison corporations are enormously powerful, particularly in immigration.” Libal noted that Julie Myers Wood, former head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is a member of GEO Group’s board of directors, and that David Venturella, former head of the "Secure Communities" enforcement program, is now a GEO Group senior vice president ....  [node:read-more:link]

International Women's Day 2014 in Taylor, Texas; a small caravan of Hutto Visitation Program volunteers went to Hutto

Guest blogger Elaine Cohen shares her experience at the Hutto Detention Center, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, on International Women's Day. 

March 8 was International Women's Day!  In the past I have gone to many a march or gathering to celebrate.  This year I am happy to say I  visited at Hutto with 5 others from the program: Arielle, Arantxa and Sharon.  Our friend, Stephanie, at American Gateways also gave us information about 17 more women asking for visitors, all of whom are from Honduras or El Salvador.

Immigration Detention Visitation Programs are Spreading Around Texas!

Guest Blogger, Elaine Cohen, attended a Hutto Visitation Program (HVP) orientation in October of 2011 and began visiting immigration detention centers in Texas almost immediately.  Since then she has visited with over a dozen women from Central America and Africa and provided invaluable support and coordination for Grassroots Leadership's collaboration with CIVIC (Community Initiatives to Visit Immigrants in Confinement) to visit three Texas cities to talk about immigration detention visitation.  Her degree in Religion and Women's Studies comes together in this work at the juncture of Human Rights and Social Justice.   

Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director, Bob Libal and CIVIC's Co-Executive Director, Christina Mansfield, planned and carried out a three city tour to Houston, Austin and San Antonio on October 10, 11 and 12th.  The purpose of the tour was to generate interest in starting visitation programs in the Houston and San Antonio areas.  Bob and Christina's combined knowledge covered an ample spectrum on the private prison industry's involvement in immigrant detention centers and the actual conditions within these facilities across the country.



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