More than 100 asylum-seekers were transferred last week from the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, to Louisiana, where judges deny asylum at much higher rates. Advocates view the move as retaliation for a protest late last month over poor health conditions at the Texas facility; that action, they believe, also resulted in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) moving 47 different women to a Laredo detention center.
ICE confirmed in a statement to the Observer that “approximately” 120 detainees, all women, were sent to detention facilities in Louisiana last Tuesday. ICE said that transfers are “undertaken as needed for a variety of reasons.” “There is nothing unusual about the transfer of individuals in custody from one location to another,” the statement said.
Bethany Carson, an immigration researcher and organizer for the advocacy nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, sees it differently. Carson said that the women—who she believes are Cameroonian—will now face tougher courts in Louisiana. The success rate for asylum claims by Cameroonians is around 80 percent nationwide. In the last fiscal year, more than 500 people from Cameroon, which faces ongoing political violence, received asylum. But according to data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, judges in New Orleans deny asylum to nearly 85 percent of all people who apply.