T. Don Hutto on Trial: Federal Judge to Hear Abuses and Retaliation Laura Monterrosa has Faced in Detention

March 12, 2018

Community members will join Grassroots Leadership for a press conference before the judge hears Laura’s petition for release from detention in court Tuesday

WHAT:  Press conference and action in support of Laura Monterrosa
WHEN:   Tuesday, March 13 at 9 a.m.
WHERE:  441 Federal Courthouse Plaza, Austin, TX 78701

AUSTIN —  Laura Monterrosa, a victim of sexual assault at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, will finally have her day in court on Tuesday. A federal judge in Austin will hear the habeas corpus petition and temporary restraining order filed in her case, demanding her immediate release.

“Laura’s case brings to the forefront a systematic pattern and practice of abuses that immigrant women face at the Hutto Detention Center. ICE has decided to punish Laura and make an example out of her to make sure that other victims don’t speak out,” Says Claudia Munoz, Immigration Programs Director at Grassroots Leadership. “Williamson County elected officials, including Sheriff Robert Chody and the Williamson County Commissioners Court have  yet to take action as a victim of sexual assault is tortured in a facility that is operated through an agreement with the county.”

Last month, more than 45 Congressional representatives sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, calling for an investigation into the treatment of sexual abuse allegations at Texas detention centers and an expedited audit to assess compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. The letter expressed concern regarding the case of Laura Monterrosa, who remains detained at the facility.

Representative Beto O’Rourke spoke personally on the phone with Laura in February.  Since, then Grassroots Leadership has been calling on Rep. O’Rourke to schedule a one-on-one visit with Department of Homeland Security Secretary director Kirstjen Nielsen in Washington D.C. to address Laura’s case. “Rep. O’Rourke has the platform to ensure that Laura’s case gets the serious attention in D.C. that it deserves,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership. “We need him to be a champion for Laura, and meet with DHS director in DC to ask for Laura’s immediate release.”

A national campaign has been underway to free Laura for the past 5 months, gathering thousand of petitions and signatures. “This is no longer just an issue that affects us here in Texas, but Laura’s case is symbolic of the larger effort to stand against the Trump administration.” says Munoz.

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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.