Austin group sues to obtain contract for area migrant detention center

September 18, 2019
Austin-American Statesman

An Austin-based advocacy group is suing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for its contract to operate the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a federal immigration detention facility in Williamson County where more than 500 asylum-seeking women are being detained.

Grassroots Leadership filed the lawsuit last week after ICE had yet to fulfill a public records request the organization filed in June.

Bethany Carson, a Grassroots Leadership immigration policy researcher and organizer, said ICE acknowledged the request but never sent a copy of the contract for the facility it now operates directly with CoreCivic, a for-profit private prison company. Previously, ICE also contracted with Williamson County as part of an intergovernmental agreement, but that expired in late January after Williamson County commissioners voted to end their involvement in the facility operations.

“We really have no way of corroborating that a contract exists, which is incredibly troubling,” Carson said. “This is an incredibly nontransparent, unaccountable way of making these agreements to operate immigration detention facilities that we do not want to see proliferate.”