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Karnes County Commission approves expansion of GEO's family detention facility


The Karnes County Family Detention Center has shown evidence of renovation and expansion since mid-September 2014.
The Karnes County Family Detention Center has shown evidence of renovation and expansion since mid-September 2014.
Karnes County Commissioners voted earlier this month to allow the GEO Group to more than double the capacity of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) family detention center for immigrant women and children from 532 to 1,200 beds and cribs. The expansion was approved by a vote of 3-2. 

KSAT San Antonio reports that the county will get $125,000 annually, and more jobs at the center. According to the GEO Group, the county will also see $500,000 in additional tax revenue.

The expansion was hotly debated in Karnes for weeks, with county commission meetings uncharacteristically packed with supporters and opponents of the family detention center.

Commissioner Pete Jauer voted against the expansion in part because of threats from GEO Group that they would sue the county if they didn't vote in GEO's favor. "I still don't like to live under the threat hanging over my head with their right to sue us if they're good neighbors,” Jauer told KSAT. 

Celina Moreno, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told KSAT that investigations are still underway into allegations of some female detainees at the center being sexually abused. 

A corporate spokesperson for the GEO Group told KSAT they are happy with the commissioners’ vote and that work on the expansion should begin in the next 30 to 60 days.