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Protests of MTC's "Tent City" detention center continue

Protests of Management and Training Corporation's "Tent City" detention center have continued over the past month.  "Tent City," officially called the Willacy County Processing Center, is the nation's largest immigrant detention center and earned its nickname because 2,000 of its 3,000 detention beds are made out of Kevlar tents.

Photo by Jason Cato
Photo by Jason Cato

On March 30, I was part of a Dignity Not Detention protest in Georgetown, Texas at MTC's corporate offices.  The Austin American-Statesman ("Protesters wage war on detention center from afar," March 30) covered the event like this:  

The protesters, members of Grassroots Leadership and WilCo Family Justice Alliance, point to reports of substandard living conditions, detainee abuse and the lack of adequate physical or mental health care as reasons the facility should shut down. The protesters also objected to the housing of detainees in what they have dubbed a "tent city," a set of 10 large dome-like structures made of steel beams covered with tough synthetic fabric. A representative for Management and Training Corp. was not available for comment Tuesday.

Two weeks later, students from the University of Texas and the University of Houston led a protest at the Tent City detention center in Raymondville that was joined by community members from the United Methodist Church, Southwest Workers Union, and other groups.  Houston Indymedia has a great photo review of the event, and the Valley TV station KGBT 4 ("Dozens Rally at Willacy Processing Center," April 10) covered the story like this:

Dozens of students and community groups gathered Saturday afternoon in front of Tent City in Raymondville to demand its closure. "Coming down here and seeing all these tents in the middle of the field you know, we knew it was here but just seeing it is just really shocking that that happens in the U.S," student Rob Block said.

Block was one of a handful of students that drove from Houston to the rally. Here they met up with students from the Valley and the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a few community and faith groups.

They chose to rally against the Willacy Processing Center, also known as Tent City, because of what they call "abuses” going on inside. "We're appalled at the condition and human and civil rights abuses that are happening in these tents,” Gislaine Williams, a student for UT-Austin, told Action 4 News. “So we decided to organize and come here today to speak out against that."

The students also received support from local groups like the Methodist Church. Cindy Johnson is a deacon in the Valley, and said she is glad to see young people taking up a cause that hits close to home for her. “We can see the families there we've talked to, the families we know,” she said. “Families in our own area that are going through very terrible problems because of the broken immigration system we have."

In the meantime, they said they will keep pushing for change, until detention centers like Tent City are closed.

We'll keep you posted on future protest to Tent City and other detention centers in Texas.

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First off, they want to talk about a broken system? Is the church any better. these supposed voices of god or whatever the hell, they're bigger sinners than anyone out there. with little boys being their favorite. the church and religion in general are the biggest jokes ever...

With that being said...

So they're protesting about the conditions of the facility huh....?

So how exaclty do they know what the conditions are like? And how do they know exaclty how the detainees are being treated? Because of what they're told? I work in a correctiona environment, and trust me, anyone locked up, they become the biggest baby ever when they don't get what they WANT. guess they forgot this isn't Burger King, they can't have it their way.

So it's a large steel and synthetic fiber covering.... well that sounds pretty safe to me. And the fact that they're outside is even better, get some fresh air, more than most detainees can say.

The fact of the matter is this, no matter WHAT it is, there's always going to be atleast one person that isn't happy with it, whatever it may be. And they're going to complain about it, that's how it goes. You can be given a brand new car, someone is going to be jealous and hate it, and you will find something to complain about.

These people obviously broke the law, which is why they're locked up in the first place, so they're living 'outside', so what? they're still getting their 3 meals a day, get their rec time, get their medical and dental, so what's everyone complaining about?

If you want to talk about broken systems, the jail system is broken as well... i don't see a point of keeping a guy on death row for 10 years before executing him.

Or how about a drug dealer getting more jail time than a sex offender?

Or people getting away with murder?

The pussification of America is so large it's horrible. All these so called rules and regulations and policies, nothing but a big joke...

They're inmates, let them be inmates...