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Plans for New Texas ICE Facility Get Cold Shoulder

PHOTO: Opposition is mounting to a planned new family detention center in South Texas that will house immigrant children and their families. Photo credit: Nicholas Morberg/Flickr.
PHOTO: Opposition is mounting to a planned new family detention center in South Texas that will house immigrant children and their families. Photo credit: Nicholas Morberg/Flickr.
September 15, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - With Immigration and Customs Enforcement moving ahead with plans for a massive new for-profit family detention center in South Texas, many in the region are giving the proposed ICE facility the cold shoulder.

The center will be located on a 50-acre site just outside of the town of Dilley and house 2,400 immigrant children and parents. Astrid Dominguez, advocacy coordinator of the ACLU of Texas, says this is the wrong strategy for dealing with immigrants.

"We're basically putting children and their mothers and/or fathers in prison and we need to raise our voices and say 'This is wrong. This is not what we do,'" Dominguez says. "America is already the world's number one incarcerator. We don't need to make the record even worse by locking up thousands of families unnecessarily."

The planned detention center is part of the Obama administration's response to the surge in children and families from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border.

Negotiations on who will operate the facility are not final, but one name on the short list is Corrections Corporation of America, the world's largest for-profit prison company. CCA also runs the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor; Dominguez says families were removed in 2009 after numerous allegations of human-rights abuses and a federal lawsuit.

"Children were being held in small cells. They couldn't get food or toys. They lacked privacy and all these sorts of violations," says Dominguez. "We have little confidence that any for-profit prison company will able to carry out large-scale family detention in a way that ensures humane and appropriate conditions."

The planned detention center would double the existing federal capacity for immigrant families.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX