Karnes

Apr 10, 2015
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Southern Studies

Immigrant mothers held in private detention facility in Texas threaten to renew hunger strike

"Individual women have shared their experiences at Karnes in letters posted to the website of the End Family Detention advocacy network. One woman who has been held there since the facility was converted into a family detention center last August wrote that her daughter wasn't eating and was losing weight. She was also worried about unsuitable drinking water at the center, which is located in an area where thousands of oil and gas wells have been drilled, but didn't have enough money to buy water from the store. Colorlines reported that the women are paid $3 a day to work at the facility -- the price of a single bottle of water.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokespeople have denied being aware of a hunger strike at the center. However, advocates in contact with the detainees reported that the women experienced retaliation from guards and ICE officials in response to the protest. Three women and their children were even locked in an unlit room in the medical infirmary on the first day of the strike. Mothers were also threatened with separation from their children and with deportations. Such threats are routinely made in the facility in response to issues like children's misbehavior but increased during the strike, according to Cristina Parker withGrassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that advocates for the abolition of private prisons." Read more about Immigrant mothers held in private detention facility in Texas threaten to renew hunger strike

Apr 2, 2015
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The Guardian

Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release

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.

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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. Read more about Mothers held at Texas detention centre go on hunger strike to demand release

Feb 28, 2015
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truthout

Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions

"'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.'" Read more about Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions

In wake of court ruling, Texas groups call for halt to expansion of private family detention camps, release of refugee families

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texans United for Families and Grassroots Leadership today called on President Obama to immediately halt the expansion of two for-profit south Texas family detention camps and prioritize release of asylum-seeking mothers and children being held in these camps.  A federal court on Friday temporarily blocked the policy of detaining families as a deterrent to future migration and sharply rebuked the administration's national security justification for prolonged detention of refugee families.

Read more about In wake of court ruling, Texas groups call for halt to expansion of private family detention camps, release of refugee families

Dec 18, 2014
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WBAI 99.5 FM

Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas

Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker tells WBAI host Donald Anthonyson about the new privately-run family detention center in Dilley, Texas and abuses coming out of the Karnes County Residential Center, a GEO-run detention center that began detaining families this summer. Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield of CIVIC talk about their work establishing immigrant vistitation programs, the injustices of the legal system immigrants must navigate, and influences of private prison lobbying on mass immigrant detention. Interview begins at minute 13:00. Read more about Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas

Nov 13, 2014
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RH Reality Check

Asylum-Seeking Women and Children Are Treated Like Dangerous Criminals When They Arrive

"A private prison company could be making hundreds of dollars each day keeping 7-year-old Nayely Beltran under lock and key.

Instead, on one warm October morning, Nayely is zooming around a home in East Austin, Texas, showing off her new braids and handing out hugs to anyone who’ll take one. She’s finding a lot of takers at Posada Esperanza, a nonprofit shelter for immigrant moms and kids—currently about 20 people—who are seeking asylum in the United States." 

Read more to find out what Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker says about the return to family detention by the Obama Administration. Read more about Asylum-Seeking Women and Children Are Treated Like Dangerous Criminals When They Arrive

Oct 13, 2014
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Fusion

Undeterred by sex abuse scandal, feds push for more family detention centers

Privatization of any type of jail or prison should be concerning: incarcerations shouldn’t be driven by profits.

Immigration activists have taken a firm stance on this. Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a North Carolina-based organization that wants to extricate private businesses from prison industry, said the new incursions into family detention by the Obama administration are both “incredibly shameful and entirely predictable.” After the failure of T. Don Hutto, he believes the government should end the effort to lock up families based on immigration status. “It’s almost mind-boggling that ICE would embark on this kind of detention regime,” he said. Read more about Undeterred by sex abuse scandal, feds push for more family detention centers

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