immigrant detention

Close Polk Immigration Prison Protest in Livingston, TX

 

On December 8th, 2012, people from Houston and Austin came to Livingston, TX to protest the Polk County Immigration Prison. This for-profit immigrant detention center is owned by the infamous Community Education Centers (CEC) and has been identified as one of the worst of the worst in the U.S.'s immigration detention system. As part of the national Expose and Close Campaign of the Detention Watch Network, organizers from Houston Unidos, Texans United for Families and Grassroots Leadership came together to call for the closure of this prison.

For more information:
detentionwatch.org/ExposeAndClose

facebook.com/TexansUnitedForFamilies

 

REGISTER NOW!: Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera/Women on the Border Solidarity Delegaton to U.S./Mexico Border

 

From Veracruz to Austin and Back:

The journey of an immigrant 

May 17 (Thurs. evening) to May 20 (Sun. evening) 2012

Delegation sponsored by Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera in partnership with Women on the Border

Since 1999 the ATCF quarterly program of solidarity delegations visiting maquiladora workers in Mexico at the border has examined the impact of free trade on real lives and communities.  Our on-going relationship of solidarity with members of the Comit� Fronterizo de Obreras/os brought us behind news headlines and US policy rhetoric. Immigration within Mexico from South to North always fueled the border maquilas with workers.  We saw border cities double their populations, many with migrants from Veracruz.

Now, teaming up with sister organization, Women on the Border, our May 2012 delegation will swivel the perspective to see what happens when Mexican and Central American immigrants cross the border into the US. In Austin we will learn about a labor system that practices wage theft on immigrants without documents and how they assert their rights.  We will hear from immigrants as well as US citizens who lose their basic human rights when they are pulled into the US's detention system and sometimes deported.  

In South Texas we will visit an immigration detention center and speak with local people as well as activist/advocates to understand the economic bribe that detention centers offer poor Texas communities.  We will stop overnight at the UFW/La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) campus east of McAllen to learn about services that UFW and the Texas Civil Rights Project offer recent immigrants.  At The Wall the Sierra Club will explain environmental and social hazards.

Throughout we will question and discuss US policies that hold this immigrants� nightmare in place.  

      Trade,

      Immigration,

      Security (anti-terrorism).  

We will speculate why the federal government is so unable to �fix a broken system.�

Dates: May 17, (Thursday evening) to May 20, (Sunday

Evening), 2012.  Deadline: This 12-14 person delegation will fill quickly: Small discount if you register by April 9.

Cost: $225 � Do not hesitate to inquire about partial

scholarships if needed.

Contact: Judith Rosenberg, chelarose@grandecom.net,

More info:  http://www.atcf.org/, womenontheborder.org

Facilitators and contributors (tentative), Elvia Arriola, Women on the Border Director and Professor, NIU College of Law; Bianca Hinz- Foley, Organizer, Workers� Defense Project; Bob Cash, Director, Texas Fair Trade Coalition; Andrea Black, National Director, Detention Watch Network; Representatives from Univ. of Texas Immigration Rights Law Clinic and from the Texas Civil Rights Project, Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families.

Detention Watch Network Calls Attention to 15th Anniversary of Mandatory Detentions

 

END MANDATORY DETENTION
 
This month, marks the 15-year anniversary of the implementation of harsh immigration laws (including the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act) that have led to the detention and deportation of millions of immigrants. To help raise awareness about the impact of these laws on mandatory detention policy we are asking DWN members and allies to distribute the attached poster.
 
Link to poster: http://detentionwatchnetwork.org/DND_resources

How to Spread the Word:

  • Make the poster your Facebook profile picture and send out via Twitter
  • Upload the poster to your website and blog
  • Send the poster or this email to your networks
  • Print the poster for distribution at May Day events - please contact sshah@detentionwatchnetwork.org if you need assistance
The poster features Nazry Mustakim and his wife Hope. Nazry, a 31-year-old green card holder from Singapore, was held in immigration detention for 10 months at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas. Due to laws passed in 1996, Nazry’s prior drug conviction subjected him to mandatory detention, which meant that he could not be released on bond. After ten months of hardship and separation and unrelenting advocacy by Hope, his family and community, Nazry has been released from detention and is back home. However, Nazry's story is exemplary of the injustices immigrants face in detention daily. We must act now and raise awareness to repeal mandatory detention to stop unjust detentions.

For more about Nazry and Hope's story please click here.


To endorse the Dignity not Detention Campaign visit www.dignitynotdetention.org

New Texas "civil" Detention Center Unveiled - Reposted from Todo Austin

Texans United for Families (TUFF) protesting Wells Fargo in Austin, TX

Reposted from Todo Austin

  On March 13, 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unveiled its new “civil” detention center in Karnes County, Texas, located one hour southeast of San Antonio. By the end of the month the facility will hold male migrants who are either asylum-seekers or have been categorized as “low-risk.” Karnes County contracted with private prison giant the GEO Group to build this detention center, which sits upon 29 acres of land and has 608 beds, with the possibility to expand to 1200 beds. The detention center is heralded by ICE as a model facility that is demonstrative of its efforts to move towards “humane detention.” Despite its shiny exterior and the presence of volleyball courts and soccer fields, the GEO group’s troubled history and record of human rights violations within its facilities are cause for alarm. The promise of “humane detention” itself is an oxymoron that community members should challenge. A gilded cage is still a cage.

Read more here.

Texas Groups Call on Wells Fargo to Divest From Private Prison Corporations

 

A coalition of Austin-based immigrant rights, student and faith organizations joined community and labor groups in thirteen major cities nationwide on Tuesday, January 24th in protests against private detention company investments. Protestors are calling for major investors such as Wells Fargo to divest of their holdings in the for-profit private prison industry.  According to SEC filings, Wells Fargo currently holds over 3.5 million shares in private prison corporation GEO Group and as well as shares in Corrections Corporation of America.

Participants gathered outside the Wells Fargo bank on Guadalupe Street across from the Universoty of Texas.  Organizers deilvered a letter to Well Fargo from community groups and faith organizations.

“Wells Fargo’s support of the GEO Group is even more troubling in light of GEO’s history in Texas,” said Carmen Llanes of Texans United for Families. GEO’s facilities include prisons, immigration detention centers, and juvenile detention centers where people have suffered from inadequate medical care and unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Deaths, riots, and hunger strikes at GEO’s facilities are indicative of GEO’s culture of cruelty and underscore the need to end construction of new GEO facilities.

Photos by Rocío Villalobos

Click here for more info and photos.

Immigrant Rights Coalition To Call For Ending Detention Of Immigrant Children And Families

 

Contact: Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership, blibal@grassrootsleadership.org(512) 971-0487;

Michelle Brané, Women's Refugee Commission, MichelleB@wrcommission.org, (646) 717-7191;

Dotty Griffith, ACLU of Texas, (832) 291-4776 or dgriffith@aclutx.org

 

 

Media Advisory 

 

Immigrant Rights Coalition To Call For Ending

Detention Of Immigrant Children And Families


AUSTIN – A coalition of immigrants’ rights organizations will call on Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end immigrant family detention at a press conference set for noon on Tuesday, January 10, at the Federal Building, 300 E 8th St.


Representatives from the ACLU of Texas, Grassroots Leadership, and Texans United for Families will speak at the press conference. The groups will unveil a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement calling for ending detention of immigrant children and families.  


The letter is also signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, America’s Voice Education Fund, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Center for Constitutional Rights, Detention Watch Network, DreamActivist.org, Human Rights First, Human Rights Defense Center, Justice Strategies, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Immigration Forum, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Religious Institute, Rights Working Group, Southern Poverty Law Center, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Women's Refugee Commission, and more than 40 state and local organizations from across the country.


What: Press conference calling for end to detention of immigrant children and families. 

Where: Federal Building, 300 E 8th St., Austin, TX

When: Tuesday, January 10, noon

ACLU sues ICE, Williamson County Officials and CCA over sexual assaults at Hutto Detention Center

 The Tragic Costs of Immigration Detention

 

The Department of Homeland Security assumes that mass detention is the key to immigration enforcement. But in fact, our detention system locks up thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers. Throughout the next two weeks, check back daily for posts about the costs of immigration detention, both human and fiscal, and what needs to be done to ensure fair and humane policy at aclu.org

"Kimberly," a South American mother of three who fled to America to escape an abusive husband, wound up imprisoned at the T. Don Hutto immigration detention center in Taylor, Texas after being captured by immigration authorities while crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico. After immigration officials determined she had a credible fear of persecution if she returned to her home country, Kimberly was granted her release.

But her exposure to the dark and largely secretive world of our nation's immigration detention system was just beginning.

As she was being driven to the airport in Austin, Texas by an employee of Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison company that manages Hutto, she was sexually assaulted. Her driver, identified in court papers as Donald Dunn, pulled over to the side of a dimly lit road and told Kimberly, under the guise of a "search," to lift up her arms and spread her legs, then lifted her shirt and began touching her breasts and grabbing between her legs. Dunn later ordered Kimberly to touch him.

Kimberly's story epitomizes the tragic costs — both fiscal and human — of mass immigration detention, an immense lock-up system that subjects scores of individuals to unnecessary imprisonment and brutal and dehumanizing conditions of confinement every year, with taxpayers footing the bill. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union is making public for the first time information from documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that shows the breadth of the national problem of the sexual abuse of immigration detainees. The information is being made public in concert with the filing today by the ACLU of Texas of a federal class action damages lawsuit on behalf of Kimberly and two other immigrant women who were sexually assaulted while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at Hutto, along with numerous others who experienced similar trauma.

Over the next two weeks, Huffington Post and the ACLU's Blog of Rights will host a series exploring the immigration detention system and the harm it has caused countless children, men and women like Kimberly. Throughout this series, we will examine the causes of mass detention — such as ramped up federal immigration enforcement and prison privatization—and its consequences, including the needless detention of immigrants for months or years; the warehousing of mentally ill U.S. citizens; the rape and sexual abuse of immigrant women; and the deaths caused by deficient medical care.

Throughout, we will challenge readers to ask "why?" — why are we locking up immigrants in droves, at tremendous cost to families, communities and taxpayers, with little gain to public safety? Detention has reached crisis proportions, quintupling from 6,280 beds in 1996 to the current daily capacity of 33,400 beds. In 2010, DHS detained 363,000 people in over 250 facilities across the country. Detention is extremely expensive, costing taxpayers an estimated $166 to hold each detainee each day or $60,590 per detainee per year, or an average $5.5 million for the entire system every night. And despite the administration's commitment to "detention reform," there are no signs of shrinking. Indeed, the FY2012 budget requests more than $2 billion for detention, a record-high request representing a 6.3 percent increase over FY2011.

What we have bought with these billions is a lock-up system that violates basic rights and yields few benefits in return. Although detention is often justified as keeping "dangerous criminal aliens" off our streets, DHS itself acknowledges that the people in detention overwhelmingly pose no threat to our communities. Indeed, more than half of them have never been convicted of any crime, and those charged as being deportable based on a crime generally have non-violent or minor offenses. Nor is mass detention necessary to enforce our immigration laws with alternatives like telephonic and in-person reporting, curfews, and home visits available to prevent flight from the authorities. Indeed, DHS's Alternatives to Detention programs had a 93.8 % compliance rate in FY 2010 and at average of $8.88 per person per day.

Historic budget shortfalls are finally forcing policy-makers on the right and left to recognize that reducing mass incarceration makes fiscal sense and better protects our communities. It makes no sense to be expanding a comparable detention regime that costs too much in wasted dollars and ruined lives, and does little to make us safer. Our series seeks a reckoning with an immigration lock-up system that has spiraled out-of-control.

The Department of Homeland Security and ICE have consistently downplayed the problem of sexual assault of immigration detainees.

Urge President Obama and Attorney General Holder to make sure all immigration detainees have the full protection of the Prison Rape Elimination Act.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                               

October 19, 2011

 

Contact:  Dotty Griffith, Public Education Director, ACLU Foundation of Texas; (713) 942 8146 x 103

or (832) 291 4776; dgriffith@aclutx.org

 

ACLU Of Texas Sues ICE Officials, Williamson County And CCA For Sexual Assault Of Immigrant Women

 

Suit Seeks Class Damages On Behalf Of Numerous Victims

                                                                                                                                                           

AUSTIN -- The ACLU of Texas today filed suit in federal district court seeking class action damages on behalf of three immigrant women who were sexually assaulted while in custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center in Taylor, along with numerous others who experienced similar trauma.

 

Defendants named in the suit include three ICE officials; Williamson County; Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the private corporation in charge of managing the Hutto facility; the former facility administrator for Hutto; and Donald Dunn, a guard who pled guilty in state court to three counts of official oppression and two counts of unlawful restraint based on his assaults of five women.  Separately, Dunn has been charged with four additional federal counts of criminal violation of civil rights and is awaiting sentencing on two of them.

 

The three named plaintiffs are identified in the lawsuit as Sarah Doe, Kimberly Doe and Raquel Doe to protect them from further harm.  All three were seeking asylum in the United States, fleeing sexual assault and extreme violence in their home countries.

 

“The fact that these women sought sanctuary in the United States -- only to find abuse at the hands of officials they thought would protect them – is wholly inconsistent with America’s self-proclaimed reputation as a beacon of human rights and protector of human dignity,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. 

 

The assaults occurred when Dunn alone was transporting women from the Hutto facility to the airport or bus station in nearby Austin.  Log books and other documents obtained by the ACLU of Texas indicate that in addition to the seven known occasions on which Donald Dunn is believed to have assaulted a total of nine women, at least 20 different male guards transported at least 44 female detainees alone between December 2008 and May 2010.  The lawsuit alleges that ICE, Williamson County and CCA were deliberately indifferent and willfully blind to the fact that Dunn and other employees regularly violated the rule that detainees not be transported without another escort officer of the same gender present.

 

“Unfortunately, we believe these complaints are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Mark Whitburn, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Texas.  “Government records reveal that since 2007, 185 complaints have been made to the Department of Homeland Security about sexual abuse in ICE custody, 56 of which were from facilities in Texas.  Immigrants in detention are uniquely vulnerable to abuse, and those holding them in custody know it,” Whitburn added.  “Many do not speak English, many – like our plaintiffs – have fled violence in their home countries, and are terrified of being returned.  They may not be aware of their rights or they may be afraid to exercise them.”

 

“It has taken enormous courage for these women to step forward in the face of potential retaliation and deportation to speak out against this injustice,” said Graybill.  “They’ve done it in the hopes that no other woman will have to experience the fear and violation they did.”

 

For a copy of the complaint, please see www.aclutx.org.


Hutto Sexual Abuse Case Background
Their Stories In Their Own Words
The Named Plaintiffs For their stories in their own words:


- Kimberly Doe, 37, is a mother of three from a country in South America. She married when she was 19, and her husband began beating her shortly afterwards. The abuse escalated over time, and he raped her, dragged her around by her hair, punched her in the face and locked her inside for a week. On the advice of her mother-in-law, she fled to another country when he threatened to kill her. When he found her there, she fled to the United States. She was apprehended after entering the United States without inspection and transferred to the T. Don Hutto facility, where she passed a credible fear interview and gained the ability to bond out while she pursued an asylum claim. While being transported to the Austin airport, she was sexually assaulted twice by Donald Dunn. First, he forced her to step outside the secure compartment in the back of the vehicle and groped her; then he assaulted her in the front seat of the vehicle.


 - Sarah Doe, a 24-year-old from an African country, was repeatedly raped by a military commander at the base where she was assigned to serve her county’s national service requirement. She fled through eight other countries to reach the United States where she hoped to gain political asylum, and was apprehended after entering without inspection and detained at Hutto. She passed a credible fear interview and gained the ability to bond out while she pursued an asylum claim. While being driven to the Austin airport by Donald Dunn, the guard stopped the vehicle, required her to step out of the secure compartment in the vehicle, and assaulted her.


 - Raquel Doe is a 34-year-old mother of four whose husband was murdered in her home in Central America. After her husband’s killers began threatening her, she fled to the United States. She was apprehended entering the United States without inspection and detained at Hutto. Raquel passed a credible fear interview and gained the ability to bond out while she pursued an asylum claim. While being driven to the Austin airport by Donald Dunn, she was groped after he required her to step out of the secure compartment of the vehicle. Dunn ordered her to get back into the secure compartment of the vehicle where he joined her and attempted to rape her. Upon arriving at the Austin airport, a ticket agent noticed Raquel had been crying and asked why. When Raquel reported she had just experienced an attempted rape, the ticket agent alerted local authorities, who briefly interviewed her before sending her on her way. Raquel’s outcry resulted in a joint investigation by ICE and Williamson County authorities which ultimately led to the arrest and prosecution of Donald Dunn.


Other Victims


ACLU of Texas attorneys have not been able to locate the remaining six victims. We have no way of knowing if any of these women are represented by immigration counsel or have pursued U visas.


*A U visa gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to 4 years.

Tell ICE: No New Immigrant Detention Center in Karnes Co., Texas!

 Sign this petition to stop the construciton of the new for-profit immigrant detention center in Texas!

The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has contracted with a private prison company with a history of abuse to build a new immigration detention center in Karnes County, Texas. The center is meant to hold asylum-seekers and other low-level immigration detainees.

Today, more than 33,000 people languish in the U.S.'s vast and troubled immigration detention system, with more than 10,000 immigrant detention beds located in Texas alone.   Despite a mandate for detention reform, ICE has contracted with the GEO Group, a for-profit prison company with a long track record of abuse and mismanagement at their Texas prisons and detention centers, to build this "civil" detention center.

The GEO Group has had a number of contracts in Texas terminated in recent years after serious allegations of abuse and neglect.

New, abusive for-profit detention centers are not the answer! Sign the petition to tell Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to stop construction of the new detention center in Karnes County, Texas, and to prioritize release and alternatives to detention programs for asylum-seekers and other immigrants.

Texans United For Families presente: 1 de mayo en San Antonio

 

Fotos de Austin Indymedia

 

Más de 200 personas marcharon por el centro de la ciudad de San Antonio en 1 de mayo. La marcha, organizada por el Southwest Workers Union de San Antonio, comenzó y terminó en la Main Plaza. Miembros de los Tejanos Unidas Para Las Lamilias de Austin (TUFF, Texans United For Families) marcharon a mostrar su solidaridad y conectarse con otros en su campaña para poner fin a la deportación y la detención de los inmigrantes.

Pulse aquí para audio completo.

Cesar E. Chavez Social Justice March and Rally “¡Si Se Puede!” March Feed, Teach, House, and Employ!

 

 

 

Hundreds of people marched, rallied and prayed in honor and memory of Cesar Chavez in Austin last Saturday, as Republican have filed HB 505, which would end the commemoration of Cesar Chavez Day in Texas.  The advocates of human rights and justice made their voices heard that their history and culture will not be defeated.
 
It was organized by PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources)and a large coalition of Austin social justice groups.  The purpose of the march was stated: "Cesar E. Chavez is one of the most important leaders of the 20th century. His legacy of workers rights, civil rights, environmental justice, equality for all, peace, non-violence, children and women’s rights, deserves national recognition.  Cesar Chavez inspired millions of people across the country of all races and nationalities to engage in social & economic justice for farm workers.  His life work to empower the poor & disenfranchised is a model for all."
 
"He worked for workers' rights, the peoples' rights, civil rights, the environment.  And today we're going to pray for the hearts for those who want to take Cesar E. Chavez Day out of the history books, those who want to take away the Cesar E. Chavez state holiday We want to make sure we spread our spiritual message to them, that we will not be forgotten and we are here.", said Susana Almanza, director of PODER.
 
The march began with an indigenous prayer and ceremony.
 
"It's not just a  war on children and our schools, it's a spiritual war as well.  We want to be here in solidarity with you all, to pray.  The way we fight this war is with light and love.  With that in mind, we want to open our hearts to each and every one of you, so we can have a good walk, a good march and a good prayer and so that we can make change.", Iris Rodriguez of La Nueva Raza and one of the Danza Mexicas leading the march.
 
 
The rally and march were sponsored by: 
PODER, Southwest Key, Theatre Action Project, Urban Roots, La Nueva Raza, St. Edward's Ballet Folklorico, Alma de Mujer, UT MEChA, Fair Food Austin, Young Scholars for Justice, ATX National Hip Hop Political Convention, Grassroots Leadership, ACLU of Central TX, Austin Voices for Education and Youth, El Jardin Alegre Local Living Center & Gardens, Capoeira da Rua, and Resistencia Bookstore, MACC

 Carmen Llanes of PODER and Texans United for Families Speaking out Against Immigrant Detention

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