TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County will officially cut its ties after Thursday with an immigrant detention center in Taylor.
The county previously had an Intergovernmental Services Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and private prison company CoreCivic for the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, which houses women detained at the border. In June 2018, the commissioners' court voted 4-1 to end those agreements by Jan. 31, 2019.
Grassroots Leadership, a group advocating for immigrant rights in Austin, hoped that the county's action would mean the facility would close by that date. However, it doesn't appear T. Don Hutto will shut its doors anytime soon. Read more about Williamson County agreement with ICE detention center ends Thursday
Last June, activists in suburban Williamson County, Texas, had reason to celebrate. County commissioners had voted to terminate a contract with ICE for the privately-run T. Don Hutto Detention Center, a CoreCivic-run women’s facility for asylum seekers that has long been accused of rampant abuse. While there was no guarantee that the facility would close, it felt like county officials were finally listening to local residents and former detainees, and signaling an end to detention-for-profit practices in their community.
But Hutto remains open, thanks to a quiet agreement between ICE and CoreCivic. The county, and the city of Taylor where the detention center resides, have been indifferent while detainees continue to be locked up. And activists are appalled.
“We’ve been fighting for a long time, and we thought we were finally going to shut the place down after a decade,” says Bethany Carson, immigration policy researcher and organizer with the Austin-based organization Grassroots Leadership, which has led efforts to close Hutto. A planned rally on Thursday at the Taylor City Council presents the next stage in this seemingly endless battle. Read more about Texas Activists Thought They’d Kicked ICE Out of Their County. Then a Secret Deal Happened.
An advocacy group for immigrants will hold a rally Thursday outside the Taylor City Council meeting Thursday to demand answers for why the T. Don Hutto Residential Center is still open after many reports of abuse, said one of the event’s organizers. The center is located in Taylor and holds detained immigrant women.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court ended their intergovernmental service agreement with the center at the end of January. CoreCivic owns and operates the center. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a short-term contract extension with CoreCivic for the T. Don Hutto Residential Center to remain open beyond Jan. 31, according to a statement from Adelina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for ICE, which declined further comment. Read more about Advocacy group to hold rally in Taylor against immigrant detention facility