(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. [node:read-more:link]
Several groups launched a campaign today to stop the creation of immigrant family detention centers.
"This is something that's been announced in the last month, that the Obama Administration is returning to the practice of detaining immigrant and refugee families in mass," says Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership.
... "We think that putting little kids behind prison walls particularly prison walls operated by a for profit prison corporation is absolutely the wrong thing," says Libal. [node:read-more:link]
...[An] ICE official said the agency had no choice in picking GEO. The contract, he explained, is not through ICE but through Karnes County.
Bob Libal says subcontracting is part of the strategy GEO has used to stay in business despite persistent lawsuits. Libal leads Grassroots Leadership – a nonprofit organization that, among other things, researches the shortcomings of for-profit prison corporations.
"Whenever anything goes wrong ICE says, ‘This is not our problem, this is the county's problem,’” Libal says. “But really, you have layers of lack of transparency and lack of accountability that are built into these contracts.”
Libal says GEO is Texas' first choice to run detention centers, prisons and mental health facilities in part because they save the state money by cutting costs.
But he also notes the group is a very generous political contributor at the state and federal levels, and has one of the strongest lobbying teams he’s ever seen. Two members of the company’s board of directors are former members of the George W. Bush administration; Libal says there’s a sort of “buddy-buddy” relationship within GEO's county contract negotiations. [node:read-more:link]
La organización Texanos Unidos por las Familias (TUF, por sus siglas en inglés) inició este miércoles una campaña para pedir al gobierno federal que minimice el número de familias indocumentadas detenidas recientemente en la frontera a las que interna en centros de detención.
Miembros de TUF, que participaron esta mañana en una conferencia de prensa celebrada en Austin, recalcaron que uno de los problemas que implican los centros de detención es que para los detenidos tener acceso a representación legal se complica mucho.
Uno de los centros de detención a los que las autoridades están llevando a algunas de las familias indocumentadas es el que está ubicado en Karnes City, en Texas, concretamente 60 millas al sureste de San Antonio. Otro de los centros de detención de familias indocumentadas está en Artesia (Nuevo México).
“Es un centro (de detención) que está en medio de la nada, es muy remoto y allí no hay servicios legales pro-bono”, comentó sobre el centro de Karnes City Bob Libal, director ejecutivo de Grassroots Leadership, uno de los grupos que forman parte de TUF.
Libal añadió que la mayoría de familias a las que intenta defender la campaña de TUF están formadas por madres e hijos, aunque en algunos casos también hay padres. [node:read-more:link]
At the end of May I was part of a small delegation that went to Dallas to attend the opening festivities of a newly formed group, the Center for Theological Activism. At the dinner I met a number of progressive clergy who expressed real interest in learning more about the groups we represented. Alejandro Caceres and Susana Pimiento were there from the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and I was there to talk about immigrant detention and the Hutto Visitation Program. Two of the clergy that seemed to be the most interested in the issue of detention were a Methodist Youth Minister, Jason Redick and the Rev. Jim Mitulski, the senior Pastor of the Cathedral of Hope.
It was the first time I had been to the Cathedral of Hope, which is known as the largest LGBT congregation in Dallas, and probably in all of Texas. The congregation was also racially diverse and included many families and children as well. In fact, I believe the Cathedral of Hope may be the most integrated, inclusive religious congregation I have had the opportunity to visit.[node:read-more:link]
The following are remarks made by Elaine J. Cohen, a consultant with Grassroots Leadership's Hutto Visitation Program, at ImagiNation: Immigration, an event held at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas featuring immigration reform activist Jose Antonio Vargas and his film DOCUMENTED.
I have been visiting women at the Hutto Detention center in Taylor, Texas for almost three years — and it has changed my world view and understanding, not only of geo-politics, but of the human experience. I want to tell you a little about what I’ve learned visiting women in immigrant detention and how you can visit, too.
The first woman I would like to tell you about is from Honduras, the same country that so many families and children are fleeing from right now. I met her a few weeks ago and two different members of our visitation program have interviewed her. The story she told each of them was the same. She told us of the repeated rapes she endured as a young girl — and again by the coyotes who were supposed to bring her safely across the border. Something else happened, she was picked up by the border patrol and she now sits in immigrant detention at Hutto, which is very much like a prison, hoping to be granted asylum.[node:read-more:link]
... 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]
“This center was meant to be a prison, it was meant to hold people with criminal convictions, not to hold people who are there on civil immigration matters,” said Cristina Parker, Grassroots Leadership Immigration Projects Coordinator. [node:read-more:link]
Last month, members from Texans United for Families, Grassroots Leadership, the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the Hutto Visitation Program wrote a joint letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking them to shut down the Harwell Center as a result of what they call limited " medical care, visitation, recreation, dirty uniforms, a lack of access to legal processes and attorneys, and the penal nature of the facility." [node:read-more:link]