Grassroots Leadership In The News

Mar 19, 2014

Segunda huelga de hambre en un centro de detención de ICE

El martes, Grassroots Leadership dio a conocer dos cartas escritas a mano donde los huelguistas de hambre en el centro Corley explican las razones de la huelga, entre ellas que mejore el trato a los internos y que el gobierno detenga las deportaciones.

Christina Parker, activista de Grassroots Leadership en Austin, dijo que su organización está intentando ingresar un abogado al centro de detención para monitorear qué está pasando con los detenidos, reportó el diario La Opinión. [node:read-more:link]

Mar 18, 2014
Texas Civil Rights Review

Hunger Strike Spreads to Texas Detention Center

Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas added, “Immigrants in detention should not have to go to such extreme lengths to blow the whistle on mistreatment within ICE’s vast and largely privatized immigration detention system. GEO Group, the for-profit prison corporation that operates both these detention centers, has a well-documented track record around Texas of canceled contracts and scandal-ridden facilities, including at several prisons for immigrants in Texas.” [node:read-more:link]

Mar 18, 2014
Free Speech Radio News

Immigrant Detainee Hunger Strike Spreads to GEO Group Facility in Texas

The U.S. Congress has mandated a bed space quota of 34 thousand, which President Obama has proposed lowering to 30 thousand. Cristina Parker, Immigration Projects Coordinator at Grassroots Leadership, explains the bed mandate essentially requires ICE to “hold a certain number of people – in this case, 34 thousand – in detention every single day.” Parker says no other law enforcement agency in the country requires a mandatory minimum number of prisoners at all times. “What’s really insidious about that is that the private prison industry is the biggest benefactor of that bed mandate quota because they own about half of the immigrant detention beds in the country.” [node:read-more:link]

Mar 14, 2014

Public-Private Partnerships From Hell


Bob Libal, Executive director of Grassroots Leadership, in a letter to the New York Times, October 29, 2013, also named CCA and Geo Group as the beneficiaries of increased immigration incarceration. There was a sharp increase in the number of prisoners in the federal prison system last year adding nearly 1,500 prisoners. Libal argues this growth reflects an increase in the number of criminal prosecutions of immigrant border-crossers. Operation Streamline, a Bush Administration program implemented in 2005, redirected immigrants from the civil immigration system into the criminal justice system by ordering federal criminal charges for every person who crossed the border illegally.

“In fact, for the past four years, more people have been convicted of immigration offenses than any other type of federal offense. My organization estimated in a report last fall that the federal government now commits over $1.02 billion per year toward the criminal incarceration of migrants for immigration offenses. The biggest winners of the windfall are the private companies that run prisons, like Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group.” [node:read-more:link]

Mar 12, 2014

19 People Could Be Deported From Austin During SXSW This Week


Travis County, which shares a jail with Austin, averaged 19 deportations a week from 2009 to 2013, of people it sent to ICE. 

“There’s a little Arizona tucked away in Texas,” Cristina Parker, an activist with Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit advocacy organization, told BuzzFeed.

Parker cites 2011 data that showed Travis County was second in the state and fourth in the country in the rate at which people it sent to ICE were eventually deported. She noted that an Austin American-Statesman article said, “Immigrants are more likely to be deported from Travis County than almost any other major population center.” [node:read-more:link]

Feb 28, 2014
Austin Chronicle

County Candidates Vow to End S-Comm

Sheriff's deportation program becomes campaign issue. 
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton isn't on this year's election ballot, but his department's unpopular participation in federal immigration policies has made him a constant target on the campaign trail. In fact, the controversial Secure Communities program – aka "S-Comm" – was the main topic of debate at a Feb. 22 candidates forum, sponsored by the Austin Coalition of Immigrant Rights and other like-minded organizations.  [node:read-more:link]

Feb 12, 2014

Incarceration Across State Lines

By Arjun Sethi & Holly Kirby of Grassroots Leadership 
In total, more than 10,500 prisoners are being held in private out-of-state facilities, as far as 3,000 miles from home. Most of them did not have a say in the matter. They were simply uprooted without their consent, at the fiat of the state. The consequences for them are severe.  [node:read-more:link]

Feb 11, 2014

Former student's story brings national issues close to home

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that works toward ending social and economic oppression in the United States, said that unfortunately Parra’s case is not uncommon. “This is obviously something that’s very impactful and I think very depressing in many ways, but I also think that there’s a glowing movement of people in Texas and around the country that says that this isn’t something that we want as Americans — that people are trying to do something to change this,” Libal said. “I think that’s the hopeful part of the story is that people who are impacted by these policies and other people are standing up and saying they don’t want this type of thing to continue.”

Feb 5, 2014
Business Insider

California Mom Shocked After Her Prisoner Son was Secretly Transferred 800 Miles Away to Another State

"Solomon, 22, is doing his time for an alleged assault committed in California — one of the four states in America that ships its inmates to private prisons in other states. (The other states are Vermont, Idaho, and Hawaii.) The nonprofit Grassroots Leadership recently released a report criticizing the practice as inhumane because it often separates prisoners from their families." [node:read-more:link]

Feb 5, 2014
The Week

Yes, West Virginia, a private prison transfer is a terrible idea

"The group Grassroots Leadership — which is spearheading the effort to keep West Virginia's prisoners in West Virginiaand otherwise keeping tabs on the private prisons industry — offers these details:
- In 2012 and 2013, deadly riots broke out in a facility run by CCA under contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and in another facility run under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons.
- CCA was assessed hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial penalties from state auditors in Ohio for violations that included inadequate staffing, delays in medical treatment, and unacceptable living conditions inside the prison. CCA was also fined for placing a financial strain on the community, after the facility became so dangerous that it required the local political department to dispatch officers to maintain security.
- CCA was also found in contempt of a federal court for persistently under-staffing an Idaho prison and then lying about it, meaning that taxpayers were charged for hundreds of hours of staff time that CCA simply never delivered." [node:read-more:link]

Feb 3, 2014
The Texas Tribune

Arrested Activists Call on Travis County to Implement Progressive Immigration Policy

But here in Travis County, we can take steps to counter the tide of anti-immigrant and anti-family policies. As Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, says, "There are 19 immigrants who are deported every week in Travis County because of the Secure Communities program and we think that here in Travis County we are a progressive community and that doesn't line up with our values." [node:read-more:link]

Jan 27, 2014
The Huffington Post Blog

Private Prisons: The Case for Divestment

"At ColorOfChange, the nation's predominant online civil rights organization, we want ties with private prisons to be cut everywhere. That's why we, in collaboration with Grassroots Leadership and other partners, are now calling on investors in private prison companies, board members, industry leaders and politicians to pull out their money or otherwise end their association with them. " [node:read-more:link]

Jan 24, 2014
Salon Magazine

Chris Christie's Texas horror: Meet the scandalous prison company he's long promoted

"I've visited a bunch of dentention facilities in Texas, and that's by far the worst," said the opponent, Bob Libal, who directs the prison reform group Grassroots Leadership and visited the Polk County Adult Detention Center with other activists in 2012 and 2013. His allegations echo a 2012 report from the Detention Watch Network, a coalition including the ACLU and the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as Libal's group: "Inadequate medical care, poor nutrition, lack of access to legal services, absence of meaningful programming, and a willful neglect of those who are imprisoned there plague the Polk detention center." [node:read-more:link]

Jan 23, 2014
The World Post

How Corporations Are Cashing In On The Worldwide Immigration Crackdown

Critics of privatized detention in the U.S. argue that by handing off so much responsbility to private contractors, the federal government now lacks the expertise to make needed reforms to the largest detention network in the world. "They've abdicated a lot of responsibility, because it's quicker and easier this way," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a criminal justice advocacy group that campaigns against prison privatization. "The results is what's largely a captured agency. I don't see how [the immigration agency] makes major moves without consultation from the private prison corporations, and that's not an effective immigration policy."  [node:read-more:link]