On Saturday, July 12, Texans United for Families (TUFF) joined immigrant rights advocates and organizers from around Texas gathered to shine a light on the inappropriate and dangerous conditions at the Jack Harwell Detention Center in Waco. Read more about Texans target Waco detention center after reports of sub-standard conditions for immigrants
“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. Read more about Activists protest illegal immigrant detention in Waco
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." Read more about Grassroots Activists Stand Up For Immigrants' Rights
“Our interest in the Harwell Detention Center stems from a history of concerns about the facility.” said Denise Gilman, a University of Texas-Austin law professor. “There were strong incentives for the county and the private facility management company to seek contracts with ICE whether or not the facility was appropriate for immigration detention.”
In fact, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards found multiple non-compliance issues at the facility in 2012. The facility is run by a private prison company who expected that the federal government would supply enough immigrant detainees to ensure that the facility was profitable.
“If any facility is unable to comply with the standards, ICE should ensure that immigrants are not detained there.” said Barbara Hines, also a University of Texas law professor. “It does not appear that ICE officials adequately considered the situation at the facility before sending immigration detainees there.”
According to ICE’s own proclamations, a penal environment is not appropriate for immigrant detainees — the majority of whom have recently crossed the border and have no criminal history at all. “It is very clearly a penal institution,” added Hines.  Read more about Attorneys sound the alarm as ICE continues to detain immigrants in sub-standard Waco facility;