*UPDATE 5/4 - Texas legislators have voted a bill out of committee, and it could be heard on the floor as soon as TUESDAY. Please call today!
Last December, a Texas judge ruled that the immigrant family detention centers, a.k.a. “baby jails” could not be licensed as child care facilities under current state law. Now Texas legislators have voted a bill out of committee, S.B. 1018, that would overturn that ruling by exempting detention centers from complying with existing child care regulations such as housing children in the same room as unrelated adults. There have already been several sexual assault allegations that have resulted from children being held in these conditions, and irreparable harm to children's psychological development from being held in prison for significant portions of their young lives.
To senators who are not knowledgeable about the issue this looks like a plan to further regulate these facilities. But the reality is that this bill was written by lobbyists of private prison company GEO group, which runs the Karnes family detention center. If it passes, mothers and children will be held for many months, possibly even years, as was happening at these Texas detention centers before a federal judge ruled that children cannot be held for long periods of time in secure, unlicensed facilities.
Please call the senators below and let them know to oppose this harmful bill!
Estes (Wichita Falls) - (512) 463-0130
Seliger (Amarillo, Midland, Odessa) - (512) 463-0131
Huffman (Houston) - (512) 463-0117
Nelson (Denton, Grapevine, Tarrant County) - (512) 463-0112
Kolkhorst (Brenham, Victoria, Katy) (512) 463-0118
Burton (Ft. Worth) (512) 463-0110
Larry Taylor (Friendswood; Brazoria, Harris, and Galveston county) (512) 463-0111
You can use this script as a guide:
"Hello, I am _______. I [am a constituent / visit with people in detention / am a member of ____ group]. I’m calling to ask that Senator [Name] oppose SB1018, a harmful bill to give childcare licenses to family detention centers.
While this looks like a bill that might help women and children by providing state oversight, it will actually do the opposite. This bill was drafted by the private prison company GEO Group because they would gain financially. Due to a ruling by a Texas judge in December, right now these detention centers can only remain open as short term processing centers. Licensing these facilities would enable them to lengthen the time kids are detained, from 20 days currently to 8 or 9 months or longer, like was done previously. These jails that lock up mothers and children, including infants, are inhumane and should be closed down not legitimated by licensing.
The bill provides no meaningful oversight for these facilities, and in fact would exempt them from following child care licensing standards such as holding children in the same room as unrelated adults. There are already multiple sexual assault allegations and evidence of irreparable harm to children’s psychological development resulting from children being held in these facilities. This bill would essentially legitimate child abuse for private prison companies to turn a profit. Please oppose SB1018."