"ICE also claimed it was unaware of any residents actually participating in the strike, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so."
It also said it was investigating claims that members of a nonprofit advocacy group encouraged the women to take part in the hunger strike—a charge which activists deny.
Cristina Parker, immigration programs director at the Texas-based immigrant rights group Grassroots Leadership, told the Guardian on Tuesday, 'This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened. I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this.'
According to Parker, the center is now blocking access to internet and telephone facilities for all of its detainees, regardless of whether they are participating in the hunger strike." [node:read-more:link]
Private prison companies GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) recently released proxy materials revealing million dollar compensations for their top executives. Both documents included charts that reflected salary figures, stock awards, option awards, among various other means of monetary compensation. [node:read-more:link]
Dozens of mothers seeking asylum who are being held at the Karnes family detention centre in southern Texas have reportedly begun a hunger strike, with 78 women being held signing a letter demanding their release from the centre and announcing a refusal to use any services within the facility.
Cristina Parker, immigration projects coordinator at advocacy group Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas, dismissed any claims the women had been encouraged to strike by legal representatives.
Parker visited the centre in September 2014 and said a number of women she interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of care provided to them and their children and had already been discussing the prospect of a hunger strike.
“This is something that has been rippling through the centre almost since it opened,” Parker told the Guardian. “I don’t believe at all that they were coached into doing this.”
Parker added that contacts with knowledge of events had told her that detention centre managers had begun withdrawing access to facilities, including internet and telephone calls for all those detained at Karnes, regardless of their participation in the reported hunger strike. The centre has a 532-bed capacity.
Parker stated that two women identified as leaders of the group of women had been moved to isolated rooms in the centre. [node:read-more:link]
A letter released by the women on Tuesday outlined the motivation of the group and the reasoning behind the hunger strike. “You should know that this is only the beginning and we will not stop until we achieve our objectives. This strike will continue until every one of us is freed,” the letter read, according to a copy released by grassrootsleadership.org. “We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, be respected.” [node:read-more:link]
"'The ACLU ruling is a terrific first step, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the government can't detain families for other reasons. They just can't use [deterrence] justifications,' said Bob Libal, executive director of the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, which works to end for-profit incarceration.
Representatives from Grassroots Leadership pointed out that the Obama administration can continue to incarcerate asylum-seeking families from Central American countries by suggesting the families are a threat to national security.
'What we've said is that what the [Obama] administration should do is immediately cancel the expansion plans of the Karnes facility and the Dilley facility ... in the wake of this ruling,' Libal said. 'It makes no sense, when the court has undermined the basic tenets of the mass family detention policy, for the administration to be continuing to funnel money into the expansion plans for these two facilities.'
Texans United for Families (TUFF) is also joining Grassroots Leadership in calling for the Obama administration to close the immigrant-family jails at Karnes and Dilley and to prioritize release of undocumented families by focusing on community-based alternatives to incarceration. 'The court spoke clearly last week,' said TUFF's Peggy Morton in a press release. 'There is only one right move left for the administration: To free the families.'" [node:read-more:link]
The policies of criminally prosecuting migrants have built a shadow detention system on top of our nation’s already vast and troubled system of civil detention...Individuals in our nation’s civil detention system include asylum-seekers, women with children, parents of U.S. citizen children, long-time legal permanent residents, and recently arriving migrants. -Bob Libal
Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director Bob Libal will testify before the U.S. Comission on Civil Rights at the State of Civil Rights in Detention Facilities hearing at 2:30pm (EST). Bob's testimony will include evidence that creating and expanding an unaccountable for-profit detention system ineheretly violates the civil rights of immigrants. There are countless examples of civil rights violations in the vast network of immigrant detention facilities that are mandatorily filled due to the 34,000 bed quota set by Congress in a 2007 appropriations bill. Operation Streamline, as Bob describes in his testimony, has criminalized the act of immigration and is another means to expand the reach of the private prison industry in the federal prison system. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is unable to maintain enough facilities, so it contracts with private prison corporations—namely Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group—which have a vested interest in maintaining and expanding detention for immigrants because it provides them with a wider income stream.[node:read-more:link]