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T. Don Hutto

Diabetic Woman in Hutto Reveals Abuse of Asylum Seekers in Detention

An article by The Outline highlights the story of Brenda Menjivar Guarado, an asylum seeker from El Salvador who came to the United States seeking refuge from violence in her home. Menjivar Guerado’s story gained attention from the media in July when she suffered medical neglect within detention, and was forced to choose deportation.

Note from Menjivar Guarado

Menjivar Guarado was detained in T. Don Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, Texas, operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America or CCA). “Upon arrival, guards took away her insulin and began giving her different, less effective treatment for her Type 1 diabetes,” the Outline reports. The lack of proper medical treatment became so dangerous that she was forced to choose deportation over continuing to pursue her asylum case in detention.

Menjivar Guarado’s story reveals the difficulty of fighting one’s asylum case from behind bars. Facilities like Hutto are purposefully isolated from community and legal services, thus the vast majority of women lack legal representation for the asylum process. According to a study by Syracuse University in 2016, of “those who didn’t have a lawyer, only 10 percent got asylum.”

In October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated a priority to close a so-called “loophole” in the asylum process and make it more difficult for judges to grant asylum. Further, according to the Outline, the government argued in Jennings v. Rodriguez that asylum seekers do not have constitutional rights in detention. “It's unclear whether Menjivar Guarado would have eventually been granted asylum, but it appears that the federal government isn't interested in finding out,” the article states.

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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.

 

The Hutto Detention Center is operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), a for-profit prison company with a history of medical neglect.  CoreCivic also operates multiple other immigrant detention centers and prison throughout Texas.

 

 

As family detention begins at Karnes, T. Don Hutto is the site of a protest

About 40 women and children arrived the morning of August 1 at the Karnes County detention center near San Antonio. Another bus was expected that afternoon. 

GEO protest sign
GEO protest sign

The Karnes detention center is operated by the GEO Group, a for-profit private prison company that was recently the target of hunger strikes by immigrant detainees in its custody three times in two facilities this year. The Karnes County detention center was was swiftly emptied of its current occupants to make way for women and children who have fled Central America. 

The newly-converted family detention center can house up to 532 people at a cost of $140 a day, according to the Houston Chronicle. 

Enrique Lucero, field office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the Chronicle that while each case will vary, officials are planning an average stay of 23 days per family, underlining concerns raised by many attorneys that due process for those seeking asylum is being undermined. Lucero also admitted to USA Today that the family detention and deportation were being used to send a message. "After your immediate detention and due process, there's every likelihood you'll be returned to your country," Lucero said. 

KSAT San Antonio reports that there were no protestors at Karnes as the first buses arrived. However, the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor did see protestors on Saturday, August 9. The protest commemorated the 5th anniversary of the end of family detention at the T. Don Hutto detention center. About 50 people lined the street across from the detention center to protest, play music and screen a film about the practice of family detention. 

The protestors there vowed to go to Karnes next. 

Two buses are expected to arrive at Karnes daily, with a total of about 75 more women and children expected every day for the coming weeks.

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Update on Hutto Guard Convicted Charges Related to Sexual Oppression

We have covered previously that Donald Dunn, a former CCA guard at the T. Don Hutto Facility, was convicted of charges related to sexual oppression of immigrant detainees.  Last September, Dunn was sentenced to a year in jail--the maximum sentence for a Class A Misdemeanor in Texas--and two years of probation following his release.

Last week Federal charges were filed against Dunn who is still serving his state sentence in a Williamson County facility.  According to recent reports:

A former T. Don Hutto Correction Center employee is accused of fondling female undocumented immigrants in his custody.  Former residential supervisor Donald Dunn of Austin has been charged with federal deprivation of rights.  He allegedly touched the victims in a sexual manner for self gratification while conducting illegal searchers from December 2009 to May 2010.  He faces prison time if convicted.

We will keep y'all updated as this plays out in federal court.

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2009 Top Private Prison Stories, #1 Family detention ends at T. Don Hutto

Another year has passed here at Texas Prison Bid'ness, and what an exciting year it has been. As we have done in the past, the bloggers here at TPB would like to recap our favorite or perhaps the most memorable stories/topics over the past year.  Over the next few days, we'll be posting 2009's top five stories related to private prisons.

The end of family detention at Hutto was TPB's biggest story of 2009. 

 #1 Family detention ends at CCA's T. Don Hutto detention center

By the beginning of 2009, perhaps no private prison in the country had become as controversial as Corrections Corporation of America's T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor, Texas.  The former medium-security prison was converted into a family detention center in 2006, and had been the site of dozens of vigils, a major lawsuit, two critical documentary films, intense media scrutiny, and a national movement to end family detention. 

So, when the government decided to stop sending immigrant families to Hutto, it was big news. The New York Times lead with this line on August 6th:

[T]he government will stop sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison near Austin, Tex., that drew an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and scathing news coverage for putting young children behind razor wire. ...

The decision to stop sending families there - and to set aside plans for three new family detention centers - is the Obama administration's clearest departure from its predecessor's immigration enforcement policies."

Although the facility continues to hold immigrant women, the August  announcement was a huge victory for the movement to end family detention.  The efforts to close Hutto have morphed into a broader movement against private immigrant detention centers, including vigils and protests at the Willacy County Processing Center, the Houston Processing Center, and other facilities around the state. Here's to a 2010 with more victories like the one at Hutto!

ICE: Hutto to stop detaining families; no new family detention centers

It's all the news today; CCA's notorious T. Don Hutto detention center will stop holding immigrant families.  According to the New York Times ("U.S. to Reform Policy on Detention for Immigrants," August 6th)

"[T]he government will stop sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former state prison near Austin, Tex., that drew an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and scathing news coverage for putting young children behind razor wire. ...

The decision to stop sending families there - and to set aside plans for three new family detention centers - is the Obama administration's clearest departure from its predecessor's immigration enforcement policies."

Although the facility will continue to hold immigrant women, this is a huge victory for the movement to end family detention as it substantially shrinks the immigrant family detention system, and takes the new family detention centers off the table.  We'll have more updates in the coming days, but in the meantime check out the T. Don Hutto blog or these sources:

"Just-Unveiled Immigration Detention Policies Are Excellent First Step," Women's Refugee Commission, August 6th

"Hutto detention center to change direction," Austin American-Statesman, August 6th

"Feds begin immigration detention makeover" Associated Press, August 6th

Saturday: World Refugee Day protest at CCA's T. Don Hutto detention center

Corrections Corporation of America's controversial T. Don Hutto immigrant family detention center in Taylor, Texas will be the target of a march, vigil, and protest concert this weekend in conjunction with World Refugee Day. 

National organizations Amnesty International and the League of United Latin American Citizens will join a host of Texas groups including my organization Grassroots Leadership what should be the largest protest at Hutto since the World Refugee Day vigil in 2007. 

JUNE 19: Live Music Fundraiser: Dragon Rojo, Karma, Bajo Influencia, DJ Murdock, DJ Victima. Show starts a 8pm at the Twin Palms (214 Anderson Lane, Austin, Tx). Suggested Donation: $3. For more information, call Matt (512.669.9968) or Omar (469-396-7815).

JUNE 20: March and Vigil at T. Don Hutto.  Please join us for a vigil in Taylor, Texas, to honor World Refugee Day June 20th. The vigil is being organized by a coalition that includes Williamson County residents, the Border Ambassadors, Amnesty International, and the national chapter of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens). For more information, please contact Jay J. Johnson-Castro Sr. (830)-734-8636; jay at villadelrio dot com.

Noon: Meet at Heritage Park, 4th and Main Street, Taylor, Texas.*
1 pm: Walk from Heritage Park to T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center.*
2-4 pm: Vigil at TDH, including music and speakers.

More information, including an impressive list of vigil endorsers, is available at the T. Don Hutto blog

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