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How Do You Explain a Problem Like Hutto?

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Periodically I scratch my head and ask myself, “What is the official explanation for a prison that holds children who haven’t been convicted of a crime?” So I decided to vistit the ICE website to see. Here's an excerpt from a description of Hutto that ICE posted to their site earlier this year:

This state-of-the-art facility was designed for families who have been placed in administrative immigration proceedings and is one of the major reasons the Department of Homeland Security has been able to successfully end the “catch and release” of illegal aliens at the southern border.

The "design" of this “facility” was based on modifying an existing medium-security prison that had too many empty prison beds and wasn’t making enough money for CCA. In the rush to get the beds filled and generating income, there were some glaring problems:

  • Is placing a crib into a cell now considered "state of the art?" (The photo here on the right is from an ICE promotional video about Hutto).
  • Are open toilets in cells conducive to a family-friendly setting? The privacy curtains are part of this summer's settlement agreement, so that parents and do not have to use the toilet in front of their kids.
  • The razor wire on the fence came down earlier this year, but only because of numerous complaints by advocates. At a vigil there earlier this year, an ICE spokesperson explained that the razor wire around the lockup was for the protection of the families confined there… since many of them speak English as a second language. (really, you can listen to it).

Okay, just one more paragraph of rationalization by ICE:

Before ICE opened the Hutto facility, alien families caught illegally crossing the border were often released with “Notices to Appear” before federal immigration judges. However, they rarely appeared for these hearings. This “catch and release” policy created a border vulnerability that alien smugglers sought to exploit by bringing children across the border along with groups of smuggled strangers, attempting to pass the groups off as family units. By bringing the children, the smugglers hoped to avoid detention if captured.

If these smugglers are just grabbing children and pretending to be a family (a horrible thing, for sure) than why are the kids at Hutto there with their parents and why does ICE so often insist that Hutto helps keep families confined together? But, at least, thanks to the litigation, now they are releasing people on bond faster who can prove they have a "credible fear" of being returned to their homelands.

And so ICE continues to spin hype about Hutto, instead of closing it down like they should.

The next vigil at Hutto is scheduled for September 29th.

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