Friday, December 21, 2007

Updates from December 16th vigil

(photo courtesy Jay Johnson-Castro)

This past Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the first vigil outside Hutto.

View KVUE's video coverage or News 8 out of Austin. Also, KXAN has footage, though Mac users may have a hard time viewing it.

Anyone with links to Univision's coverage or other media, please let me know.

Read Greg Moses' full article in CounterPunch.

In an act of civil disobedience on Sunday marking the first anniversary of protests against the imprisonment of children at the T. Don Hutto immigrant prison in Taylor, Texas, 100 people carried holiday toys and wrapping paper into the prison lobby. The action at sundown was the first time this year that protesters carried their message onto prison property.

Jaime Martinez, National Treasurer of the League of United Latin American Citizens called for the toy march shortly after 5:30 p.m. Carrying a bullhorn, Martinez informed the protesters that prison officials had made a promise to come out and get the toys at 5 p.m.

When Martinez called for people to take the toys to the children, the crowd pressed forward across a yellow line painted on the driveway marking official prison property and walked up to the lobby of the prison. Accompanying the protesters was LULAC National President Rosa Rosales.

"Bring the toys!" called Martinez from the prison door as volunteers grabbed boxes and bags of toys along with rolls of wrapping paper and rushed to the prison door.

One of the volunteers, Georgetown resident Peter Dana, later described carrying a box of toys through a metal detector. He said he thought about his experience years ago helping to engineer a metal detector.

and from David King of the Taylor Daily Press:

Singing Christmas carols and chanting, “Free the children!” hundreds of activists from Del Rio, San Antonio, Taylor and elsewhere passed the previous line of demarcation and crammed into the foyer. Employees of Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the Taylor facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, opened the doors for the oncoming protesters then quickly made themselves scarce behind closed doors and dimmed lights.

For 20 minutes, the crowd cheered and sang while they delivered hundreds of toys to the children residing at T. Don Hutto.

More description of the vigil and Hutto at Texas Prison Bid'ness.

Thanks to all who came out to the vigil. This is is only the beginning..

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

8 year old girl separated from mother at Hutto

Yet another grim account from Hutto of a young child being separated from her mother. The 8 year old girl was left alone only guards and ICE staff for 4 days.

An 8 year old child. With no criminal record. Left alone with only guards to look over her. In a prison.

This is the American justice system.

Read full article by ANABELLE GARAY

Immigrant advocates have filed complaints over an 8-year-old girl who was separated from her pregnant mother by immigration authorities and left without her for four days at a detention center established to hold families together.

Attorneys with the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law sent a complaint on Monday to the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees detention of immigrants. They also made a complaint to the Texas Department of Protective Services on Nov. 29, said Barbara Hines, a law professor who helps oversee the clinic.

Guards and ICE staff watched over the child for four days and the pair were reunited when they were deported, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said.

ICE officials have previously said detaining families at the facility is meant to help "children remain with parents, their best caregivers" while they are processed for deportation. They also told the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that parents would be at the facility with their children and would be responsible for their care, so state regulation wasn't needed.

But if the state's child care licensing division receives a complaint indicating child care is being provided, it could investigate, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Monday, December 3, 2007

"How the ICE Stole Christmas" Toy Drive Reception

Toy Drive for the kids at Hutto Detention Center
December 6th. 6-9pm.

1401 E 34th Street (on the corner of Lafayette and 34th)

Come as you are and bring an unwrapped toy, book, art supply (everything in its original packaging) or a $5-$10 cash donation. There will be adult beverages and sodas, and some yummy snacks. ALL proceeds from this party will be used to buy toys, books, and art supplies for the children imprisoned in the Hutto facility.
Questions should be directed to Bren at 512.296.0147 or cynthia.bren[at]

**If you are unable to attend the toy drive reception, but want to contribute any dollar amount to the toy/book/art supply fund (one dollar is not too small), please give any donations to ProCo's donation collectors: Laura Martin, Maritza Kelley, Caroline O'Connor, or Bren Gorman when you see them in class or in the halls. Also, you can leave donations in a marked envelope in Box 235. All cash donations will go to purchase additional items, and fill in the holes from what we don't collect at the toy drive. We will use the money to purchase educational toys, books, and art supplies to be given to the kids at Hutto for Christmas.

Thank you in advance for your generosity and Happy Holidays!

(Follow link for info on toy recalls this holiday season)
This LBJ event is co-sponsored by the Progressive Collective, the ACLU, and spearheaded by LBJ's own Bren Gorman, an active member of both organizations.

Also, a reminder: UT Law School Immigration Clinic has done a great job in their toy drive (they just delivered 450 toys and 150 books for the children at T. Don Hutto on Dec. 8th). It might be nice to also remember the adults who are also spending a Christmas in detention. Additional items allowed under the Settlement Agreement include donations of appropriate clothing, music and listening equipment, and funds for the commissary. Let's make sure that all family members receive something. A collection site will be available at the Vigil.