Texas Organizing

Currently, Texas is home to more incarcerated people, immigration detention beds, and for-profit private prisons than any other state, making it ground zero in battles over criminal justice reform and immigrant detention.  Our work here is urgent.  So after years of working primarily in the Southeast, Grassroots Leadership began working in Texas in 2003 and strategically moved its organizing headquarters to Austin in 2012.

Our work has been successful here — closing state prisons including the notorious Dawson State Jail, ending immigrant family detention at the T. Don Hutto detention center, stopping the expansion of private prison industry, and organizing communities — and we want to build on that success.

We are proud to have in Central Texas one of the strongest models of advocacy against detention tied to a program for visiting immigrant women in detention. We are also proud to be an integral part of coalitions working to stop S-Comm, close more prisons, and organize more communities against for-profit incarceration.

Texas has the largest prison population in the nation and is home to more for-profit prisons than any other state.  Lock-up rates are also on a steady decline in our state, creating an opportune moment to permanently shift the tide on incarceration trends in Texas. We anchor a statewide coalition that uses grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and public education to strategically target private prisons for closure.  During the 2013 legislative session we successfully closed two private prisons in Texas!

 

Texans United for Families, or TUFF, came together during the fight to end family detention at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, just north of Austin. TUFF is a grassroots, all-volunteer-driven project of Grassroots Leadership. We support and coordinate TUFF members in their mission to fight back against immigrant detention and deportation close to home. In response to the influx of Central American families and children seeking refuge at the border, the Obama Administration announced the return of family detention in 2014. TUFF is fighting back to end this inhumane practice. Find out more about the consequences of family detention.

The T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, is one of the hundreds of prisons for immigrants in the U.S. The facility now detains only women, most of whom are seeking asylum in the U.S., but it has a darker past as a place where immigrant families, including young children and babies, were once put behind bars. Shortly after winning the end of family detention at Hutto in 2009, Grassroots Leadership began coordinating visitors to Hutto who made sure that the women there knew they were not forgotten.

Travis County, Texas, has one of the highest deportation rates in the U.S. thanks to the local sheriff’s voluntary cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. An average of 19 immigrants a week are deported here. Stopping the deportation dragnet in Travis County would mean stopping the potential detention and deportation of thousands of Austin-area residents. Grassroots Leadership, in coalition with other groups in the Austin-area, is making that happen by engaging in direct action, community education, and dialogue with local elected officials.

 

Texas Advocates for Justice is on a mission to end the criminalization of our communities, to break down barriers to reentry from jail and prison in Texas, and to demolish the legacy of racism in the criminal justice system. TAJ unites formerly incarcerated individuals, their families, people of all faiths, and allies to build safe and resilient communities through organizing, leadership training, and connections to community resources.