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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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Disagreement between CCA and Hidalgo Park owner ends

According to KEYE TV in Austin, there has been a disagreement between the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Manoj Naik, the owner of Hidalgo Park in Taylor, Texas. 

Naik claims that he wishes to hold special events, like weddings and quinceneras, at the park, and would like to host rodeos at the venue as well. 

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), who owns the T. Don Hutto Detention Center adjacent to Hidalgo Park, was not pleased with Mr. Naik's intentions. Prison officials declined to speak on camera, but claimed that late-night live music events held at Hidalgo Park could endanger the women detained at the facility.  

Naik claims that CCA is holding his business "hostage" with demands. He also says he has spent $25,000 to comply with CCA's and the city of Taylor's requests.

Jose Orta, president of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens LULAC , has responded to the feud: 

"I believe Mr. Naik is being bullied by Correctional Corporation of America... They're impeding him by creating barriers." 

Orta brought these concerns to interim city manager Jeff Straub, who asserted that the city's objective was to mediate the situation. 

A Special Use Permit (SUP) was reviewed by the Taylor City Countil on April 24 and was issued to Mr. Naik on May 8 after he negotiatiated with the city of Taylor and CCA. 

 

Protest concert planned at T. Don Hutto detention center

Krudas Cubensi
Krudas Cubensi

Musicians and immigrant rights advocates will return to the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas on Sunday, December 1 for a protest concert.  Hutto is the Corrections Corporation of America-operated immigrant detention center that gained notoriety as a family detention center in from 2006-2009.  The facility now detains primarily asylum-seeking women.

Austin-area musicians Son Armado, Kiko Villamizar and Krudas Cubensi will perform for the women held at the immigrant prison starting at 11 a.m. Women held inside Hutto have reported to volunteer visitors that they can hear protesters from inside the facility. "They can hear us in there and our spirit will be felt also," said Kiko Villamizar, who will be performing starting at noon.

This is the second protest concert at Hutto in recent years.

The protest concert is organized by Texans United for Families (TUFF), who are also sponsoring a winter clothing drive to respond to reports from inside Hutto that the facility is not properly heated in the winter months.

Find more information on Facebook.

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