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Women Stuck in Hutto Detention Center

The Austin Chronicle reported in January that female asylum seekers are being detained in Hutto Detention Center without a court date. As we reported about the backlog in immigration cases in Laredo this month, the San Antonio court currently faces a 31-month lag in court dates for immigrants with 26,460 cases are currently pending. This number marks “a new high,” according to the Trans­ac­tion­al Records Access Clearing­house.

Meanwhile, the Austin Chronicle article shared the story of women like Celia (a pseudonym) who has no hearing date for her asylum case. Her lawyer Virginia Raymond says that she sees Celia carrying "utter despair."

Sofia Casini, immigration programs coordinator with Grassroots Leadership, commented that this situation represents a departure from a usual backlog. "There aren't too many cases on the docket; there's hundreds of cases not on the docket. That's not normal in any legal context… They are getting no information at all about essentially their life sentence," Casini said. "It's hard to explain just how completely unjust and abnormal that is."

While the Trump administration plans to increase detention capacity and add more immigration judges to fix the system, Casini commented that the ultimate goal is for closure of detention facilities. "The system is unnecessary and unjust in the first place. All these women locked up in Hutto don't need to be there. There are friends, family, and community groups like Casa Marianella here in Austin that can take them in. Instead, they are trapped in a cell, and left in the dark,” she said.

The article also commented that private prison giant CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) will profit from the disarray of the legal system. Last fall, “CoreCivic's CEO said ICE expects the average length of detentions to jump as a result of increased interior enforcement, an outcome that benefits their profit margin.”

Meanwhile, the FBI’s investigation of sexual assault in Hutto Detention Center is pending and Laura Monterrosa remains detained after she spoke out in November against abuse by a CoreCivic guard.

Image source: Tray Frazier, Grassroots Leadership

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