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Protesters Target Private Prison in Raymondville

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About 75 protesters from across the state gathered outside of the Willacy Detention Center in Raymondville this weekend. The private prison, which attracted national attention when it became operational in a mere 90 days, holds 2,000 people. The protesters very aptly described it as a "tent city" --- the prison is not made up of buildings, but a series of windowless structures made of fabric stretched tight over frames. These tents, in turn are surrounded by razor wire (see the photo below).

The 2,000-bed prison is the largest immigrant detention prison in the United States, and part of a broader plan by ICE to imprison more people than ever for immigration violations. The prison has attracted national attention for problems with conditions inside (you can read Democracy Now's interview with Jodi Goodwin or the's excellent story about conditions at Willacy last month).

Protesters did not announce when they plan to return to Willacy's gates, but you can probably find out at their new blog: Tent City. With any luck, the protests will grow larger over time, like the 400-person protest at Hutto that was also this weekend.

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I am of the humble opinion that all these protestors should grow up and stop worrying about how some illegal aliens are being housed in our country. After all these illegal aliens, properly so called, are violating our laws by obtaining illegal entry into our wonderful country. All these ignorant protestors should take a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to see how our troops are living before complaining about how some criminals are being housed. The illegals whether or not come over here with criminal intent are in fact committing a crime by entering our country illegally. These illegals should be put to work making small rocks out of big ones for their crime of illegal entry until they can be deported. Do not misinterperate me, I am not in any way or fashion racistic. My own wife stayed in Mexico while I was serving our country in the Army until she obtained her resident alien card (green card). I say send the illegal aliens back to their country of origin, fine them, make them wait a certain amount of time before applying for legal entry and make them request a pardon for their crime of illegal entry. If they get caught a second time here as an illegal alien, they should be sentenced to several years of hard labor and forever be forbidden entry into our country. All countries should have the same requirements to gain entry into our country.

For your information, illegal aliens are sent back to their country. If they stay in the United States for more than 1 year, then they are not allowed to return to the U.S. for 3 years unless they request a pardon and have that pardon granted. It is then granted only if the person has a U.S. Citizen wife or child who is facing extreme hardship while the spouse is out of the country. They may not be fined but the cost of each petition and the pardon all come with a price. My husband was housed in Raymondville and even what you've read about is not nearly as graphic as what really goes on in that prison.

hey this information on of abuse and tourche in texas is vert true ,where ,every one is entitled to all rights ,dignity ,freedom,declaration without distinction,race,colour,sex,national,or social orgain ,no one should be subjected to torture or cruel inhuman treatments  ,punishment,no one should be subjected abitart arrested dention or exile these laws and codes supporting human rights and democracy ,to mention in 1830 when the slave masters came the invade the home of natives ,murder and killed ,rape ,and driven families away ,,then where do critics find the word immigrants from they should look carefully at there pass ,wht ,we have rights to justice liberty and freedom ,wake united nations 

Having recently had to fly to your "wonderful country" to get my daughter out of Willacy I wonder whether you know that not all of the people in there are, in fact, illegal alliens coming to your country to live and work illegally!! My daughter was just a tourist who had come to your country with all the correct paperwork to enter (as advised by the US Consulate) for a stay of 6 weeks before she was to continue her world travels. Her entry was stuffed up by one of your officials in your "wonderful country" and even though she could prove her status and showed her flight details for when she was leaving the country, it was decided that the best place for her was Willacy. The officers within this facility ensured that she missed her flight and she ended up having to come home with me. This is not a nice facility to be in for anyone let alone someone who does not speak Spanish and being from a country who is an ally of yours I was not at all impressed with either the facility or the treatment my daughter received. So I think that it would be a good idea to be a bit better informed before casting such narrow minded views. Also not all of the people there are undesirable, my daughter was treated very kindly by a group of women from El Salvador who were very concerned about her distress.

To Anne (not verified): I have a concern with your story. I rent a room in Washington DC, and many of my roommates were from foreign countries. I have had roommates from S. Korea, Japan, India, Finland, England, Nigeria, France, even from Mainland China, as well as others. Most were here for only a few months. And I enjoyed all of them as we shared our cultural differences, I still e-mail them, and many have invited me to come visit their countries (which I shall). I have never heard of them being detained or having this experience. I cannot believe it unless your daughter's papers were not in order. And if it did happen, why didn't you contact your embassy? I would have. And I've never heard about this kind of situation on any blog before, and I do research immigration concerns on a daily basis, since I do this for a profession. Sunny

Hi Sunny,

My daughter's papers were exactly as required by the US Embassy when she left Australia.  It seems that they activated her US visa when she was in transit to Canada via Honolulu.  She never even left the airport and then flew on to Canada where she worked for 7 months.  She only decided to visit the US as she had a 6 week gap between the finish of her employment and when she was to fly to London to continue her travels.  At no point did she think that her US visa was activated due to the fact that the only time she had been on US soil was in an airport.  When she was entering your country the ICE officer was fully informed by her as to where she'd been, what she planned on doing and when she planned on leaving and her visa was still valid for another 5 months.  All he had to do was reissue another entry pass - 1 minutes work!!  It was deemed as very amusing and exciting to "catch" her by the Border Patrol Officer who processed her into this system.  She was detained for 3 weeks and I had no chance of getting her out from Australia so had to travel there to get her out and when she was finally processed it took us another 6 weeks before we were allowed to leave the country at which point the Immigration Judge said what an unfortunate incident this was and that someone should have fixed this.  Da, you reckon!!!  The cost to us was over $25,000!!!!  The Judge, in fact, felt so bad that he offered her another 2 1/2 months and told her to go and finish her trip.   She left that day and I left 3 days later.    The first thing that my daughter did was contact our Embassy in Washington and they helped as much as they could. Trust me my daughter wasn't the only one in there who shouldn't have been there either.  I wouldn't wish the US detention system on my worst enemy because once you're in there it's near on impossible to get out and trust me the conditions  and treatment leave a lot to be desired.  We also received a lot of media attention because of what happened.  It's almost tradition for Australian  kids to go travelling the world when they finish school and their parents hope that they'll be safe and return home full of wonderful stories of their travels.  I should never have had to travel to the US to ensure my daughter's safe return because of an entry pass bungle.  The moral of the story for us is never ever trust an ICE officer to keep you safe!!!

hey is there a esteben zavala there B14574308 B1 #11 its me your little sister i miss you i want to see you soon take gwd kare do not runn into trouble and we will wait till you get out :}