Just 30 miles northeast from the Texas Capitol, the chain-link fences and spotlights of the T. Don Hutto detention center, a facility maintained by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America, houses 400 detained aliens, with approximately 200 of them children, as they wait for the outcome of their immigration hearings.
On Saturday representatives from civil-rights groups, such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Mothers Against Discriminatory Racism in Education and Society and the League of United Latin American Citizens, gathered at the Capitol for a hearing concerning House Concurrent Resolution 64, which officially condemns Hutto on behalf of Texas lawmakers. The resolution will also offer alternatives for detaining immigrants.
“Putting children in jail is a disproportionate response to the issue of immigration,” said Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, who put forward the resolution, in a written statement. “As a society we should uphold core values which reject policies that punish children for the acts of their parents.”
According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site, the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility is a “state-of-the-art facility designed for families . . . and provides an effective and humane alternative to maintain the unity of alien families.”
This detention center was, according to the immigration and customs Web site, established as a necessary alternative to the previous “catch-and-release” policy that facilitated “border vulnerability.” According to the Web site, before opening the Hutto facility, immigrant families were detained after attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally were released with “notices to appear” on a future date with a federal judge, for which they seldom appeared.
Community organizer Jay Johnson Castro Sr., who spoke at the hearing, denounced the Hutto center as a “crime against humanity” and cited the case of the Ebrhaim family as evidence of the gross neglect and mistreatment of the detainees.