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Hundreds March in Dilley Protesting Family Detentions

PHOTO: On Saturday, several hundred people converged on the family detention camp in Dilley, Texas, to call for an end to the policy of locking up refugee parents and children. Photo credit: Austin Indymedia.
PHOTO: On Saturday, several hundred people converged on the family detention camp in Dilley, Texas, to call for an end to the policy of locking up refugee parents and children. Photo credit: Austin Indymedia.
May 4, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas - Several hundred immigrant rights advocates rallied in Dilley, Texas, on Saturday to call for an end to family detentions. The protest kicks off a national week of action calling on the Obama Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end the practice of locking up women and children, mostly from Central America, seeking refuge from domestic violence, organized crime and gang violence.

Bob Libal, executive director with Grassroots Leadership, claims it's impossible to detain a mother and child in a way that can be considered humane.

"The government needs to prioritize an alternative to detention," says Libal. "Rather than locking up these families for months on end in for-profit detention centers."

After a wave of asylum-seeking refugees hit Texas last summer, ICE expanded the practice of detaining women and children and quickly established several new facilities. The site in Dilley, where 2,400 individuals can be held, is the largest family detention center ever constructed.

It's operated by the Corrections Corporation of America. According to its website, it's the fifth-largest corrections system in the nation, behind only the federal government and three states. CCA holds some 70,000 inmates in more than 60 locations. Libal says mass detention is a costly policy for families and taxpayers.

"At the Dilley Detention Center, Corrections Corporation of America is getting paid more than $300 a day for every person who's detained at that facility," he says.

Nine of the 10 largest holding facilities in the state are run by for-profit companies. Libal adds the alternatives, like monitoring and ankle bracelets, are 96 percent effective at making sure refugees make their asylum hearings, and cost less than $17 per day per family.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX