Today, the Texas Observer broke a major story on Immigration and Customs Enforcement's plans to build a 2,400 bed family detention center in the remote South Texas town of Dilley. Initial reports are that the the family detention center will be operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the same private prison corporation that operated the notorious T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. The Obama administration ended the practice of detaining immigrant families at Hutto in 2009 after outcry over human rights abuses from immigrant rights organizations and litigation from the ACLU and University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic. The Dilley facility dramatically adds capacity to the newly opened family detention centers in Artesia, NM and in in Karnes City, TX.
Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, responded to the announcement: "Given the shameful history of family detention at Hutto, it's beyond troubling that ICE would turn back to Corrections Corporation of America to operate what would be by far the nation's largest family detention center. It would actually dwarf the family detention centers in Artesia, NM and Karnes, TX combined. While little kids and their families will suffer in this remote private prison, far away from legal or social services, this multi-billion private prison company stands to make enormous profits."
Libal added: "The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself for returning to the policy of mass for-profit detention of immigrant families. Given the stories already coming out of Karnes and Artesia, it seems likely that history will judge this period of family detention poorly."
- NGO letter opposing return of mass family detention signed by more than 100 faith, immigrant rights, and civil rights and civil liberties organizations.
- Congressional letter to the Department of Homeland Security: Congressman Adam Smith was joined by 27 other Members of Congress who signed onto the letter. “The arrival to the United States of children and families fleeing violence in Central America is a grave humanitarian issue,” the Members wrote. “Our government should not detain women and young children who are seeking asylum and refuge.”
- The ACLU won a 2007 settlement over the human rights abuses inside family detention at the T. Don Hutto detention center.
Bob Libal: firstname.lastname@example.org, (512) 971-0487