Thursday, September 20, 2007

San Francisco muralist raises awareness on Hutto

Hutto Detention Facility: Local activist devotes mural to detained children David Antonio Carini, Jul 27, 2007 A Mission District activist has painted a mural in hopes of drawing attention to the abuse of immigrant children at a detention facility in Texas.

“I hope to inform and encourage action from my neighbors against the ICE intimidation on the streets,” said Pati Sanchez who devoted the mural to the dislocated children and families at the center. Clippings of the faces and words of the children are superimposed over the red paint scattered wall outside Sanchez’ apartment on Alabama and 20th Streets.

About 200 children captured through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids are being held at the T. Don Hutto detention facility in Taylor, Texas.

They wear prison garb and are confined to their cell for 12 hours a day, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They do not receive proper schooling or adequate medical treatment.

“There’s no pediatrician. Nurses don’t care if babies are sick. They treat us like we’re nothing,” said Egle Baubonyte, 15-year-old detainee, in a statement filed against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 1, 2007.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on March 6, 2007 against DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff for the inhumane treatment of 17 minors at the facility. Ten children have been released to families in the U.S. and Canada, but others like Suzanna Rodriguez Blanco, 12, remain. Her crime is seeking political asylum in the U.S. after the assassination of her father, a professor in Venezuela who vigorously opposed Hugo Chavez.

The mistreatment of minors at Hutto and other facilities is illegal. According to the 1997 Flores vs. Meese settlement, child detainees should be released promptly to family members, kept in the least restrictive setting possible, and guaranteed basic health and education.

In an October 23 affidavit, a pregnant Nicaraguan woman claimed that she was not given a prenatal exam for months. She was later diagnosed with a kidney infection and was not prescribed any medication, but instead was told to drink more water.

“Detention centers are a money making industry that inflict trauma and abuse onto incarcerated parents and children,” said Sanchez who hopes to illuminate a tolerant public on the actual purpose of these facilities.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) owns the 512-bed Hutto facility along with several other immigrant detention centers. ICE provides publicly traded CCA about $2.8 million each month for operating expenses, according to the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA). The number of immigrant beds reserved by ICE in for-profit CCA prisons has increased 350 percent since 1994.

CCA stock rose 750 percent in the last five years, and as a result of numerous anti-immigration laws and budgets passed by the Bush Administration, ICE raids have grown exponentially in the same time period. The raids have disrupted about 20,000 people since May 2006, of which many are children.

“It’s like a dream to come home,” Canadian born Kevin Yourdkhani, 9, told the Toronto Star. “That place was horrible. I cried and screamed every day. I can’t wait to go back to school.”

On April 10, a Texas federal court found that the ACLU is highly likely to prevail in the trial against the Hutto facility. There are several detention facilities like Hutto and CCA plans to open more in the next few months. ♦

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Vigil in Taylor, TX set for Sat. 29 Sept.

When: Saturday Sep 29, 2007
at 10:00 AM

Where: Heritage Park/T.Don Hutto Prison
Main and 4th/1001 Welch St
Taylor, TX 76574
United States

Walk to Free the Children. Begins at Heritage Park (Main and 4th) in Taylor, Texas and concludes at the T. Don Hutto Prison where there will be a Vigil/Protest/Rally.

We ask you to come to Taylor on the 29th of Sept. to Heritage Park at 10:00 AM for a gathering and small cookout at the park, followed by our Freedom Walk through Taylor and on to the Protest Vigil in front of Hutto Prison from 1PM until 4PM.

Heritage Park is located at 4th and Main in Taylor.

We must keep protesting in front of Hutto. It is what has brought attention to the plight of the imprisoned asylum seeking families.

Please come and lend your support even if it is only for a short while. Your being there makes a difference. It is the small efforts of many that will make this effort successful.

ACLU settlement

The ACLU has been involved in litigation to improve the conditions inside TDH for several months. They recently reached a settlement with officials which will ameliorate the conditions inside, though it still remains an inappropriate environment for children, and a questionable choice for family detention at all levels.

For more information, please consult the ACLU's statement on the settlement, Texas Prison Bid'ness, the Women's Commission press release, or Houston Chronicle's news briefing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Basic Background of T. Don Hutto facility

T. Don Hutto Residential Facility is a converted minimum-security prison located in Taylor, Texas used to house families- including children as young as nursing babies- detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Both the structure itself and the methodology of the detention inside are based on the penal system model. This creates a situation in which people with nothing but civil violations against them- and, in the case of the children and asylum seekers, not even that- are housed in a prison environment and handled as convicted felons. Hutto re-opened as the family detention center in summer of 2006.

Hutto is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private, for-profit corrections company that has consistently denied outside monitors in to access conditions inside. Reports from former detainees indicate poor food quality, sub-par education, mental and health services, abuses of power by guards, and a general culture of fear and intimidation.

Hutto is the first family detention facility of its kind in the US. It was created as a prototype, and future plans in the realm of family detention will be based on how Hutto fares. Local organizing and national litigation have so far forced the Department of Homeland Security and CCA to make improvements to conditions inside Hutto. Only continued pressure will force the government to re-evaluate its policies on family detention and prevent future 'Huttos' from being built.