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Dept. of Justice urged to investigate ADA violations in Karnes family detention center


Grassroots Leadership reports that an Austin-based immigration attorney has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate why the school inside of the Karnes Family Detention Center is inaccessible to students or others with mobility impairments.

In a September 19 press release, Grassroots Leadership writes:

"Attorney Virginia Raymond, in a September 17 letter to the DOJ Civil Rights Division, described how one of her child clients, who had broken her leg while in detention and uses crutches, was unable to attend the charter school at the Karnes facility due to it being on the second story. There is no elevator at the for-profit detention facility.

The letter goes on to explain that the charter school for the children detained in the facility has been operated by the John H. Wood, Jr. Public Charter School District, but it is unclear if the company still operates it.

Raymond says by being inaccessible to those with mobility impairments, the facility is in violation of at least three federal laws: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Individuals with Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"Ignorance of or indifference to three fundamental, well-known and widely-publicized civil rights acts by DHS, GEO and a charter school district is proof that none of these agencies or their individual employees have ANY business confining ANY human being,” wrote Raymond in the letter."

The Karnes detention center was licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in April as a "childcare facility." Attorneys for DFPS argued that licensing was needed so the facility could be subject to inspection. However, as Raymond's letter explains, a DFPS inspector with a mobility impairment would be unable to access the school and second story of the immigrant detention center.

Raymond went on in her letter and said "it boggles my mind that the Department of Homeland Security, a worldwide prison corporation that has been in business since 1984,, and a charter 'school' district, could all operate in flagrant violation of three federal laws that are forty-three (43); forty-one (41); and twenty-six (26) years old, respectively," referring to the three federal laws listed above, respectively.


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