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8 Year-Old Girl Seperated from Mother at Hutto

As if we need yet another reason to be angry about CCA's T. Don Hutto family detention center, Associated Press reporter Annabelle Garay is reporting that an 8 year-old girl was left at the prison alone for 4 days while her mother was shipped to a south Texas detention center. The girl was left to be looked over by ICE staff and CCA guards, according to an ICE spokesperson.

The mother and child were understandably distraught over the separation. The mother's sister, a legal resident of Fort Worth, describes the situation to the reporter.

But Irma Banegas of Fort Worth said that's not what happened in the case of her sister and niece. She asked that they not be identified by name due to concerns for their safety in Central America.

Banegas said the mother and daughter told her they cried inconsolably after they were awakened and separated. "They've never been apart," Banegas said of her sister and her niece.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the story is ICE's spokesperson, Carl Rusnok, claiming that that family separation is a "extremely rare." To me, that means this is certainly not the first time ICE has left a child alone at Hutto. The separation of a child from her parents in a correctional facility is always serious. Remember, ICE has claimed that Hutto is exempted from child facility licensing because parents are always in the presence of their children. With that clearly not always true, Texas' Family and Protective Services may step in. According to the article:

Since opening last year near Taylor, the Hutto facility has been exempt from state child-care licensing requirements. ICE officials told the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that parents would be at the facility with their children and would be responsible for their care, so state regulation wasn't needed.

But if the state's child care licensing division receives a complaint indicating child care is being provided, it could investigate, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Michelle Brane from the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children puts it like this.

"There is something to complain about, because we're talking about a child's welfare," said Michelle Brane... "This is a perfect example of why family detention just doesn't work."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Keep your eyes out for an announcement about a December 16 holiday vigil at the detention center.

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