Travis County

Victory! Austin city council passes S-Comm resolution 7-0

On Thursday, June 26, Austin city council members unanimously passed a resolution to oppose Travis County's participation in Secure Communities. Secure Communities, or S-Comm, is a federal program through which immigrants can be detained in local jails like the Travis County Jail until Immigration and Customs Encorcement (ICE) can take them into custody. The resolution is sponsored by council members Laura Morrison, Mike Martinez and mayor pro-tem Sheryl Cole. No one offered opposing remarks on this resolution. 

Annanda Barclay: What Is This TUFF Jazz All About anyway?

Guest blogger Annanda Barclay is a third-year student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She is a regular volunteer with Texans United for Families (TUFF) and is a candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). 
Very rarely do you see organizations doing interpersonal and systemic work. Between the stream of visitors participating in the Hutto Visitation Program, where volunteers sit and hear the stories and form friendships with women who are seeking asylum in the United States, to the vigils, caravans, town hall meetings and press conferences that bring attention to the systemic injustice of for-profit private detention centers and deportations,TUFF is one of those unique, relevant and desperately needed organizations.

19 immigrants will disappear from Austin during SXSW

During the week-long South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, 19 people will be deported from Austin.

We know that because according to ICE data, every week an average of 19 people are turned over to ICE from the Travis County jail on 10th Street.  That is an exceptionally high number

Travis County, and especially Austin, often holds itself out to be a progressive and welcoming community tucked into an otherwise very conservative state.  We even take in hundreds of thousands of y’all during SXSW!


Travis County Sheriff Evolves Position on Immigration Detainers, Is Still Wrong

Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton says it all comes down to one word: “shall.”

Hamilton has been tweeting in response to our coverage of a letter from ICE Acting Director Daniel H. Ragsdale in which Ragsdale clarifies that immigration detainers are “are not mandatory as a matter of law.”

Hamilton has been a vocal supporter of complying with ICE detainer requests. He has called detainers “mandatory” and “the law.” After reading about the letter from Ragsdale, the Sheriff changed his tune... but only slightly. 


County Commission, Judge Candidates Promise to end Secure Communities

On February 22, 2014, Grassroots Leadership, the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and supporters hosted a candidates forum at Faith Presbyterian Church.  More than 200 people attended, comprised of members of the immigrant community, advocates, people of faith and other community members. Brigid Shea, Richard Jung, and Garry Brown, all of whom are vying for the Precinct 2 County Commission seat, were in attendance. Andy Brown and Sarah Eckhardt, both of whom are running for Travis Count Judge, also attended.  Each candidate addressed the community's concerns and offered methods by which they, if elected, would ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers are no longer honored in Travis County. 


Humpday Hall of Shame: Yes, Austin. You have a deportation crisis.

People have been saying for years that there is a deportation crisis in Travis County, Texas, fueled by the federal S-Comm (Secure Communities) program in the jail. 

New data released Tuesday shows just how bad things have gotten. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, over the last two years ICE and Sheriff Greg Hamilton have been particularly busy rounding up Austin-area residents.  

From 2013-2014, ICE placed a total of 5,507 “holds” on individuals in Travis County Jail. A hold is a request from the federal government that the jail “hold” someone for two extra days so that ICE can come investigate. The cause for ICE’s investigation can be very flimsy. For example, if they don’t have the fingerprints on record and the individual just happens to have a Hispanic last name. It’s no small wonder they have issued thousands of holds here.


Hump Day Hall of Shame: Securus video service replaces in person visits, violates attorney-client privilege in Travis County

Thanks to the Texas Civil Rights Project, Grassroots Leadership recently learned about and testified against the removal of in-person visits at the Travis County Jail. This harmful policy has limited all visiting rights to computer-based interactions even if loved ones physically visit the jail. The provider of the video conferencing technology is a private Dallas-based company, Securus, which makes $30 million each year on contracting call and video visitation services with jails and prisons.

The video “visitation” system, which costs $20 for 20 minutes, puts additional financial hardship on families, has a history of not working but still charging users, and has been used to violate attorney-client privilege through the recording and sharing of conversations.


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