“What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons.” -- Molly Ivins, 2003

British company aims to open immigration detention center

The UK private prison company Serco has moved one step closer to opening a new family detention center with a successful proposal to Texas county officials.

According to The Guardian, the company has been lobbying officials to allow Serco to open a family detention center in Jim Wells County. The company, which already runs private detention centers in both the UK and Australia, has been lobbying U.S. officials for over a year for contracts to detain immigrant families in their private detention centers. Their proposal is to turn a shuttered nursing home in San Diego Texas into a family detention center with the capability of holding up to 600 detainees. 

The county commissioners voted to begin negotiations with ICE and Serco for the proposed new family detention center. County Judge Pedro Treviño Jr. said that the new detention center would create around 200 jobs for the community. 

"People are most excited in the jobs it would create," Treviño said. "We know family detention centers are highly controversial and want to put all our ducks in a row and gather facts before we make our final decision." 

Texas Blocked From Giving Childcare License to South Texas Immigration Lockup

A judge in Austin ruled today that Texas officials cannot lower their standards for childcare facilities in order to license a privately owned and operated immigrant family lockup in the South Texas town of Dilley, according to the San Antonio Current.

250th District Judge Karin Crump decided to block the state licensing of the South Texas Family Residential Center in court today. The Obama administration has used the facility, more commonly known as the Dilley family detention camp, since 2014 to detain women and children who are in the U.S. seeking asylum. Crump focused on special exemptions that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services made for immigrant detention centers.

Immigrant rights advocates and others have said that the exemptions allow family detention centers to bypass many rules that exist for children's safety, including one which states that children are not to be housed with unrelated adults.

According to the Texas Tribune, Crump said "The exceptions allow and have allowed for situations for children that are dangerous. And this temporary injunction addresses those concerns."

Blogging Categories: 

Judge extends temporary restraining order in family detention licensing lawsuit

In a May 13 court hearing, District Judge Karin Crump heard arguments on whether the state has authority to issue childcare licenses to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, according to a report from the Austin-American Statesman. 

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit — two detained mothers and advocacy organization Grassroots Leadership — asserted that the prison-like conditions of these family detention centers make them no place for children. Moreover, they argued that the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) cannot rewrite the rules to give itself power to regulate the facilities.

Four detained mothers testified Friday that after fleeing violence in their countries, instead of finding help they now feel incarcerated. They mentioned trouble sleeping because of guards entering their rooms every half hour, being served the same meals repeatedly, and children getting sick from water that tastes like chlorine.

One mother, identified as E.G.S., fleeing sexual violence in El Salvador, told the judge that her daughter had been sexually assaulted by another detained women while at the Karnes family detention camp.

Blogging Categories: 

Immigrant families sue to stop licensing of Karnes and Dilley family detention centers

On Tuesday May 3, immigrant families and Austin-based nonprofit Grassroots Leadership filed a lawsuit to stop the state of Texas from licensing the Karnes and Dilley family detention centers. The suit comes after the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services granted a six month license to the Karnes County Residential Center on Friday April 29 despite deficiencies in the facility’s inspection. A spokesperson for the agency also announced that the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley is expected to receive a license within the week.

In the suit, Grassroots Leadership and detained families argue that DFPS may not alter the standards of child care licensure to accommodate federal detention facilities without approval of the Texas legislature. Immigrant rights groups have argued that the state’s motivation for licensing the facilities is to defend harsh federal immigration enforcement rather than to protect children.

“Changing an interpretation of Texas law to help federal immigration officials enforce harsh detention policies is disingenuous and detrimental to the health of children in Texas,” executive director Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership told the Texas Observer.

Blogging Categories: 


Subscribe to Texas Prison Bid'ness RSS