TAYLOR, Tex. — On February 24, a group of African women detained at the T. Don Hutto detention center held a sit-in in front of the medical clinic protesting lack of medical attention. Following the sit-in, ICE suspended visitation, turning away attorneys and community visitors as well as blocking access to legal representation and community members who could help bring attention to the medical abuses happening inside.
ICE is threatening to transfer all the women who protested in retaliation for speaking out for their rights. For roughly the past six months, ICE has denied granting parole or bond to any of the women detained. This leaves women who present themselves at the port of entry—what the US government says they should do—languishing in detention for the duration of their asylum case without any way to appeal for their release. Right now, many of these women who crossed the bridge are from Cameroon, where the English speaking population is fleeing persecution from the French majority. According to estimates from women detained there, there are about 300 Cameroonians currently detained at T. Don Hutto.
This protest comes as ICE continues to push for a direct contract with CoreCivic, the for-profit company that operates the detention center, to renew its contract to keep T. Don Hutto for 10 more years. In June 2018, Williamson County ended its contract with ICE after Commissioners received pressure to shut down the detention center in the wake of outrage over the detention of mothers separated from their children at the border and allegations of sexual assault by a guard.
“The brave actions of these women show us why we cannot tolerate 10 more years of ICE’s abuse. ICE must release stop retaliating against these women for speaking up for their human right to proper medical care and release them immediately on humanitarian parole,” said Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership.
Grassroots Leadership is asking community members to make calls to the T. Don Hutto detention center and San Antonio ICE office to demand ICE stop the transfers and immediately release on humanitarian parole all of the women who protested for their right to medical care. Grassroots Leadership will hold a rally on Saturday at 10 am outside the detention center to continue to call for their release, demand the restoration of parole for all of the women detained at T. Don Hutto, and continue to call on local and national elected officials to intervene and stop the new 10-year contract between ICE and CoreCivic.
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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. Follow us @Grassroots_News.