Friday, October 9, 2009

Vigil to close Raymondville's Tent City

Vigil to Close "Tent City" Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas

Friday, October 16th, 5:00-7:00pm

The Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville is the nation's largest and one of its most notorious immigrant detention centers. The prison holds 3,000 immigrant detainees, including 2,000 people in a series of Kevlar tents, earning the facility the designation "Tent City." The facility has been racked by a series of allegations of horrendous conditions and abuse, including alleged sexual assaults on female detainees by guards, reports of detainees being fed rotten and inadequate food, and poor access to medical and mental health care. The facility is operated by private prison corporation Management and Training Corporation. Raymondville is the seat of Willacy County which borders Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico and is the 12th poorest county in the US.

The Raymondville detention center is one of two large immigrant detention centers in the Rio Grande Valley. Detainees at the other facility, the Port Isabel Detention Center, continue a rolling hunger-strike in protest of prolonged detention and detention center conditions. Please join Southwest Workers Union, Grassroots Leadership, Texans United for Families, Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera, and concerned residents from across Texas in a vigil to launch a campaign to close Tent City and call for increased accountability in ICE's massive detention system.

For more information or directions, please contact Anayanse Garza with Southwest Workers Union at (956) 207-2571. A caravan will be leaving the Austin on Friday morning at 10:00am. For more information or to reserve for a place in the van from Austin, please contact Bob Libal with Grassroots Leadership at or (512) 971-0487.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ICE moves women from other Texas facilities to Hutto

Today ICE announced more specific changes, following up on their August 6 announcement that Hutto would no longer detain families. With the last families leaving Hutto in September, the facility now holds only women. And now, it appears that Hutto will be a central detention center for women in Texas, as women are transferred there from Pearsall, Port Isabel, and Willacy (Raymondville).

By all accounts, the improvements made to Hutto following the ACLU's 2007 lawsuit make Hutto highly preferable to Pearsall, Port Isabel, and Willacy, where sexual assault and abuse allegations have repeatedly surfaced. Little has been done by ICE or the contracting corporations to address sexual abuse.

These changes are announced as ICE releases Dora Schriro's comprehensive study of the immigration detention system. More on that forthcoming, but a brief look reveals a deep concern for the expense of using private contractors, the inappropriateness of carceral forms of detention for non-violent detainees, and massive administrative disorganization.

Read ICE's fact sheet.
Read the full report on ICE's detention center.