Last month, PBS's Frontline aired a damning exposé of the immigration detention system that focused on MTC's Willacy County Processing Center.
The show, which you can watch online in its entirity, reported a pattern of sexual and physical abuse by guards at the MTC facility. Frontline correspondent, Maria Hinojosa, highlights stories of terrifying and repetitive abuse and harrassment of immigrant detainees at the facility.
The stories come from several former detainees and employees of the facility. Consider these quotes from the show's transcript:
- Twana Cooks-Allen, a former Willacy Mental Health Coordinator told PBS: "Women harassed for sexual favors, guards taking detainees and beating them, running them down like they were animals."
- A former detainee called Mary to protect her identity described a repeated pattern of sexual abuse from guards: "In my pants. And he said, “Well, do you like that? Does it feel good because you’re locked up, so you don’t know what it feels like.” And I pushed him away and I said, “Please let me go!” ... He said, “If you tell anyone, you wouldn’t come out of here alive to see your family.” So then, who do you go and tell?"
- Andre Osborne, a former detainee told host Maria Hinojosa: "There was a lot of nights I hear screaming in the hallway. There were, like, sticks and stuff. And then I run to the door and look, and you would see them have somebody on the ground, beating them."
With this pattern of abuse, it's no wonder that ICE finally cancelled its contract with Willacy this summer. However, the facility was not shuttered. While one MTC employee was sent to prison for sexual assault, MTC landed a $532 million 10 year contract with the Bureau of Prisons to house immigrant prisoners, many of whom will be incarcerated for re-entering the country without proper documentation.
So, the question remains - who will be ensuring that the abuse alleged in the Frontline exposé actually is stopped and not just transferred to another classification of immigrant prisoner?