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Residents protest newest immigration lock-up in Texas

The people of Conroe, Texas are getting a new immigration detention center in their town, regardless of whether they want it or not, reports the Texas Observer.

 

In April, the GEO Group was awarded a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build a new immigrant detention center in Conroe. The contract includes the construction and operation of the $110-million facility, which the company expects to earn $44 million in annual revenue. However, city officials and residents are not impressed.

 

Conroe Mayor Toby Powell  said, "It’s going ahead; I don’t think I have any say-so," in deciding whether the facility will be built or not. When the idea for the detention center was first brought up in 2013, members of the community spoke out against the construction, stating they did not want Conroe to become "Con-vict-roe." These protests continued as community members spoke out against the new facility.

 

Unfortunately, the contract is between ICE and GEO, who already received the necessary building permits. Mayor Powell claims he was powerless to stop the issuing of permits.

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A diabetic migrant's medication trashed while held for ICE in CCA custody

A diabetic woman detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and held in a Corrections Corporation of America (now called CoreCivic) detention center had her medication thrown away, Rewire reports.

 

Brenda Menjivar Guardado, from El Salvador, was detained in June at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, which is used to detain asylum-seeking women as their asylum case goes through the courts. Guardado has Type 1 diabetes, but had managed her condition throughout her journey to the United States. Once she was in ICE custody, however, her medicine was thrown away, according to Rewire.

 

While detained at Hutto, Guardado was given new medication, but it was ineffective. According to a press release from Grassroots Leadership, Guardado's glucose skyrocketed to 452, with normal glucose levels being between 90 and 100. When she asked for improved medication, officials at Hutto told her to drink more water. They also stated she should go back to El Salvador if she wanted better care.

 

American Gateways, a pro bono legal service that aids women in Hutto, tried to get her removed from custody due to Guardado's medical emergency, but the request was denied. Though Guardado fears for her life in El Salvador, she decided to accept deportation in hopes of receiving improved medical care. She is currently detained in Laredo as she awaits her deportation.

 

Another death in ICE custody

A Salvadoran immigrant died while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reports the Huffington Post.

Carlos Mejía Bonilla of El Salvador was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on April 1. He was taken to Jersey City Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit for gastrointestinal bleeding on June 8. He died two days later, according to a statement from ICE.

 Carlos was the tenth person to die in ICE custody this fiscal year, which began on October 1. Two of those deaths were suicides. Another woman, detained in a family detention center, attempted suicide in hopes that it would allow her family, who was detained with her, to go free.

 Though the number of deaths this fiscal year is already equal to 2016, and the most since 2011, the federal government is looking to increase the number of beds in private facilities used to detain immigrants. Another report shows that the number of deaths in ICE custody is on pace to double from 2016.

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Walker County applies to house immigrant detainers for feds

Walker County submitted an application to U.S. immigration officials to house undocumented immigrants charged with criminal offenses, reports the Huntsville Item.

Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae and Captain Steve Fisher met with both Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to discuss the possibility of detaining undocumented immigrants in the Walker County Jail. For now the county could only lease 20 beds to the federal government, because any more would cause staffing and other issues at the jail. However, the sheriff said that the county could take more immigrants detainees if a deal was struck with DHS and ICE.

If a contract is approved, the jail would have to meet federal standards to house detainees. Capt. Fisher believes that will not be an issue since the jail is only a few years old. Sheriff McRae said that if the contract is awarded, he will consider sending four deputies to Washington D.C. to be trained by ICE as part of the 287(g) program.

When the jail was being built, Walker County officials told taxpayers that they would look for ways to bring in additional revenue. Capt. Fisher said that is what they are doing.

 

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ICE may house undocumented immigrants in private prisons closed by DOJ

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may soon reopen private prisons in Ohio, New Mexico, and Robstown, Texas, as reported by Correctional News.  

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is considering reopening these three facilities to handle an influx of undocumented immigrants reported to be entering the U.S. This move comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would begin phasing out the use of private prisons in the federal prison system.

The facilities in Ohio, New Mexico, and Texas had previously been used exclusively by the Bureau of Prisons, which falls under the jurisdiction of the DOJ. .  However, this comes at a time when the Department of Homeland Security is doing its own review of private prison use, and will decide in the next months whether to continue using private companies to run their immigrant detention centers.

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Emerald Corrections to open new ICE detention center in Alvarado

Emerald Companies sold the city on the idea of floating debt to build the detention center.
In November, the 700-bed Prairieland Detention Center is scheduled to open in Alvarado, Texas, a remote town in Johnson County 40 mines southeast of Dallas. The facility will be operated by Emerald Correctional Management, a Louisiana-based private prison corporation that manages six other facilities and has faced allegations of mistreatment of detained immigrants and shady contracting practices at other facilities.

 

The detention center will include a 36-person unit specifically designated to detain transgender immigrants, a practice that LGBTQI advocates decry as inhumane because transgender individuals are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual assaults while in custody. Olga Tomchin, a staff attorney at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told Fusion, “ICE has shown over and over again that they’re incapable of detaining trans people with even minimal levels of dignity or safety.”

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Cleveland, TX mayor and residents successfully oppose new detention facility

On August 18, Cleveland, TX Mayor Niki Coats announced at a city council meeting that a private prison operator had withdrawn plans to build a new immigrant detention facility. 

Cleveland Mayor Niki Coats
Cleveland Mayor Niki Coats

The news drew cheers from more than two dozen residents who showed up to protest. 

One week earlier, private prison contractor, Emerald Companies, had asked the city for a letter of intent. Coats refused to sign, saying, "It's not the kind of growth in the community we need."

Coats later explained that Emerald withdrew the plan claiming they had another location in mind. 

When the Cleveland Advocate asked other Texas county judges about the impact on counties of building immigrant detention facilities, Polk County Judge Sidney Murphy had this to say:

"According to Murphy, in Polk County, the IAH Detention Facility operated by MTC of Utah and built a little more than 10 years ago is required to pay the county a per diem fee per inmate. However, the population of the 1,000-bed facility is so low, with only 300 beds being used, it is no longer generating any income for the county.

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Small Arizona town profits from family detention in Dilley

On August 5th, in the midst of the legal battle concerning the fate of immigrant families currently locked up awaiting their asylum hearings, News 4 Tucson investigators shined a spotlight on how a small Arizona town is cashing in on the detention of immigrant women and children in Dilley, TX.

CCA's Family Detention Camp in Dilley, TX
CCA's Family Detention Camp in Dilley, TX

The report broke down the agreement between the City of Eloy, AZ, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). 

After the surge of Central American immigrants arrived at the Texas border last year, CCA rushed to build the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, TX. According to ICE spokesperson, Adelina Pruneda, 

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Immigrant mothers on hunger strike in Karnes family detention center say they face intimidation and retaliation

Last week immigrant mothers detained at Karnes Detention Center near San Antonio told reporters that they faced retaliation after declaring a hunger strike to demand their release and protest the conditions in which they and their children are being held.

Advocates say that although 40 to 45 women initially began participating in the hunger strike, that number decreased after three women perceived as leaders were placed in isolation in a dark medical clinic with their children overnight on Monday.

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Immigrant mothers begin Holy Week hunger strike in Karnes City family detention lock up

Hunger Strike Announcement Letter
Hunger Strike Announcement Letter

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Yesterday, reports emerged that nearly 80 immigrant women at Karnes family detention center near San Antonio signed a letter announcing that beginning this morning they would participate in a Holy Week fast, during which they would not eat, send their children to school, or use any facility services until they received an answer to their demands.

 

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