Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vigil at Hutto Prison, December 16th

The next vigil in support of the families detained in Hutto will be held Sunday, December 16th. It will mark exactly one year since the first vigil calling attention to this travesty. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

(Click here to download PDF version of the flyer to the right (appropriate for small handbills) or here for a more informative version of the flyer. Also available is a brochure outlining the arguments against Hutto and family detention. It contains all the information on the vigil. Please copy and distribute widely.)

Schedule of Events:

2:00pm- Walk From Heritage Park in Downtown Taylor (4th & Main) to T. Don Hutto Prison
3:00pm- Gather at T. Don Hutto (1001 Welch) for protest, music and chants.

Vigil Events:
4:00pm - Program with various speakers focusing on the immoral detention of families.
5:00pm- Candlelight Vigil and silent remembrance supporting families in detention.

We invite everyone with an interest in human rights to come and mark the first anniversary of our T. Don Hutto protests with a candle light vigil. A coalition of individuals and groups opposing the illegal and immoral detention of immigrant families with children at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas, will gather to mark our first year of protests opposing the detention of families and International Migrants Day.

Se invita a todos con interes a los derechos humanos que vengan a notar el primer aniversario de los protestas contra T. Don Hutto con una vigilio con velas. Una coalicion de individuos y grupos opuestos a la ilegal e inmoral detencion de familias de inmigrantes con hijos estan en detencion en el centro, T. Don Hutto se juntan para notar nuestro primer año de protestas contra la detencion de familias y el dia internacional de migrantes.

Sponsored by: PODER, Texans United For Families, Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice, Free the Children Coalition, Texas Indigenous Council, MADRES, LULAC District 7, Brown Berets of San Antonio, Tx, Southwest Workers Union, CAFHTA, Fuerza Unida.

For more information, contact:
Jose Orta (512) 365-2143 (Taylor) orta_jose[at]
Bob Libal (512) 971-0487 (Austin) boblibal[at]
Antonio Diaz (210) 396-9805 (San Antonio) texasindigenouscouncil[at]
Jina Gaytan (210) 884-8597 (San Antonio)

For informations on caravans to the Vigil:
From San Antonio, contact the LULAC National office at (210) 733-5454.
From Dallas, contact Beth beth.freed[at] or (214)684.3773

(The Dallas Caravan of Care Part Dos will leave on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m. We will most likely return to Dallas between 9 and 10 p.m. Children are welcome and encouraged to participate in this civic duty.
Please meet at the Islamic Center of Irving, 2555 Esters Rd. in Irving. Click here for a map.)

From Austin: The caravans meet at the LBJ School's parking lot at the southwest corner of Red River and Dean Keaton. Caravans will be departing at 1pm and 3pm. The 1pm caravan will get you there in time for the walk, and the 3pm caravan will get you there in time for the vigil from 4-6pm. Everyone should be able to be back to austin by 7pm.


Monday, November 19, 2007

'Last Sunday' at Ruta Maya Coffee House, Austin, TX

Sunday, November 25, 6:30 p.m.
Last Sunday at Ruta Maya Coffee House
Austin, TX

The "Last Sunday" event in November, with host Sean Tate, will focus on progressive responses to the often reactionary hysteria around immigration issues.
The gathering will feature speakers from the Workers Defense Project - , an Austin worker center that helps low-wage immigrant workers who face unsafe working conditions and predatory employers. Maria Duque, an immigrant worker and WDP board member, and Project Director Cristina Tzintzún will talk about their work and the need for progressive action on the issue.

Also on the bill is a screening of a new short film, "Hutto: America's Family Prison," about the prison-like conditions at the T. Don Hutto "residential facility" in Taylor, TX. About 500 immigrants and asylum-seekers from around the world, more than half of them children, are detained at the prison. Organizers with Texans United for Families - , a coalition of advocacy and community groups opposed to detention of children and their families, will speak about the campaign to close T. Don Hutto.

Last Sunday co-founder Eliza Gilkyson will be back to perform, joined by co-founder Jim Rigby, who will offer spiritual reflections on immigration politics. The main music for the evening will be provided by Diasporic, Austin's one-of-a-kind funk/hip-hop/jazz/soul quartet.

Location: Ruta Maya Coffee House, 3601 South Congress.
Cost: $8 suggested donation to support the independent artists performing; no one turned away for lack of funds.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I apolgize for the text being so small. More information can be found here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Immigrant child separated from mom at family detention center

Click here for for article by Annabelle Garay.
An 8-year-old girl was separated from her pregnant mother and left behind for four days at a detention center established to hold immigrant families together while they await outcomes to their cases.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they had to transfer the Honduran woman because she twice resisted attempts to deport her and was potentially disruptive. ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said guards and ICE staff watched over the child after her mother was removed from the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility, a former Central Texas prison where non-criminal immigrant families are held while their cases are processed.

But others are critical of the agency's handling of the case, saying it put the girl at risk and is yet another example of why the controversial facility should be closed.

"Here, it's the government itself that has the custody of this child and then leaves her without proper supervision," said Denise Gilman, who oversees the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, which provides legal services to Hutto detainees. "We certainly don't want to see it happen again."

The 28-year-old mother and child lost a bid for asylum and are back in Honduras. But Immigration Clinic attorneys plan to file a complaint with the federal government.

"There is something to complain about, because we're talking about a child's welfare," said Michelle Brane, director of the detention and asylum program at the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children. "This is a perfect example of why family detention just doesn't work."

But Irma Banegas of Fort Worth said that's not what happened in the case of her sister and niece. She asked that they not be identified by name due to concerns for their safety in Central America.

Banegas said the mother and daughter told her they cried inconsolably after they were awakened and separated. "They've never been apart," Banegas said of her sister and her niece. Banegas said the pair fled Honduras earlier this year to escape an abusive relationship and growing gang violence in that country, including attacks that scarred her sister.

The agency attempted to deport the woman twice in October, but she wouldn't comply. ICE officials didn't reveal specifics about her efforts to resist deportation.

But as a result, Rusnok said, she was considered a high risk for disruptive behavior and moved to a South Texas detention center in Pearsall on Oct. 18.

"That kind of fear it strikes to the heart of all other children," Gilman said.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hutto: America's Family Prison

Austin Premiere of Hutto: America's Family Prison, a documentary film about the T Don Hutto facility. The screening will be accompanied by speakers on immigrant detention, former detainees, and the film maker.

Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Friday, Nov 16. 4 pm.
Room 3.109 in Sid Richardson Hall at the LBJ School of the University of Texas.
Near the corner of Red River and Dean Keaton. Sponsored by the Progressive Collective.
Special guest speakers on immigrant detention and filmmaker will be present.
Happy hour to follow at Scholtz Beer Garden at 1607 San Jacinto.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

T Don Hutto employs undocumented workers

This from Patricia Ruland's great article in the Austin Chronicle:

The dirty little secret is out: The T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center, a detention facility for immigrant families in Taylor, has employed undocumented workers, as well as contractors with criminal records. The revelation has put Williamson Coun­ty, which administers the center for owner-operator Correc­tions Corporation of America, in an embarrassing legal bind. The infractions, ironic as they are, were cited in an official reprimand of CCA by the U.S. Immigration and Cus­toms Enforcement and addressed to County Judge Dan Gattis on May 23. The reprimand only came to light in October, when WilCo commissioners began airing concerns about mounting liability. But it was an alleged sexual assault of a detainee by a guard on May 19 that was the most likely source of the county's jitters over liability. WilCo and CCA were to "ensure that such an incident not occur again," the reprimand stated.

Again, all this reminds us that Williamson County has its mind only on the potential liability T Don Hutto holds, not on the human conditions inside. And in their single-minded focus on the bottom line, they trip over their own empty morals, employing undocumented workers on one hand while locking them up and labeling them criminals on the other.

Williamson Co. commissioners continue CCA contract

Last Tuesday, the Williamson County commissioners voted unanimously to continue the county's contract with the Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest for-profit corrections company. After listening to speakers voice their opinion- including 9 speakers against continuing the contract and only one- the warden of T Don Hutto- speak in favor of its continuation, commissioners adjourned and, within minutes, voted unanimously.

At the last assembly the commission held on the subject, CCA shipped in bus loads of its own employees and their children to speak for continuing the contract to save their jobs. Apparently deciding such tactics were too overt (and downright tacky), they scaled back this time. However, whatever closed-door dealings have gone down in the meantime have proven more effective.

Taylor Daily Press reports:

As part of the new contract, CCA offered incentives to remain in the contract including a “no-limit” indemnity provision to the county in which CCA will assume all legal responsibilities and provide legal counsel for the county should a lawsuit arise.

CCA also offered a $250,000 letter of credit to cover legal expenses should the county lose or settle a lawsuit. At $5,000 per month, CCA will also pay for a county employ to act as a liaison between the county, CCA and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and give the county more oversight at the facility.

KXAN quotes commissioner Dan Gattis giving his validation on the county's vote:

"We feel like this is a better clause that gives us more protection from that standpoint and the amendment gives us the opportunity to have somebody on site that can help us understand the day-to-day operations,"

Still, nothing was said to concretely reassure that conditions for those held inside was on anybody's mind, nor that they would be improved from any of this.

(photo by Leah Fillion of the Taylor Daily Press)