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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Business > CCA Lawyers Make an Irresistible Offer to Williamson County officials to Ignore What Happens at Hutto Family Detention Center

CCA Lawyers Make an Irresistible Offer to Williamson County officials to Ignore What Happens at Hutto Family Detention Center

LatinaLista — It’s approaching the one-year anniversary of when news exploded nationwide about conditions at the T. Don Hutto family immigrant detention facility outside Austin, Texas.

After reports surfaced of children being intimidated by guards to behave by using threats of not seeing their parents again, the inedible food that made the detained families sick, the prison-like regulations that forbade children from seeing their parents at night, sexual abuse and the neglect for the detainees’ healthcare, advocates who wanted to see a more humane treatment of these families by our government laid all their hopes at the feet of the local county officials.
And it looked like the Williamson County officials were on their way to shut down the ICE facility, run by the Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), until lawyers for the CCA made an offer to the local officials that they couldn’t resist.


Williamson County commissioners met this week to decide the fate of the T. Don Hutto facility. Expectations were high that the commissioners would vote to close the facility after the commissioners recently received a letter from the federal government making it plain that the county was contractually bound to maintain the facility.
The main point of the letter wanted the commissioners to explain why a detainee monitoring system wasn’t used that could have prevented an “inappropriate sexual relationship between an employee and a detainee at the center.”
County Judge Dan A. Gattis, speaking on behalf of the Williamson County commissioners, said that the daily happenings and facility maintenance were responsibilities local officials did not want.
The meeting to basically decide the date when the facility should be closed was crowded with the expected players: CCA employees, wearing maroon shirts, who were naturally outspoken in voicing their concerns over losing their jobs and the immigrants’ supporters, who were just as vocal about shutting the facility down.
Who wasn’t expected to be there were the lawyers for the CCA who proposed a sweet deal to the commissioners: They would draw up a new contract giving the county free legal protection if it should ever face litigation over its involvement with the facility.
But that wasn’t all. To sweeten the pot even more, the lawyers were authorized by the CCA to offer $250,000 worth of credit in case the county loses or has to settle a suit.
It was enough of an offer to make the commissioners pause and delay their vote on the facility.
Claiming that it’s not the immigration issue or even how the detainees are treated that bother the commissioners, they say it’s all about liability.

This gets down to us really on a liability issue. That doesn’t mean all the human rights stuff goes past us. We’re really concerned about that, but this issue really boils down to the contract,” Judge Dan Gattis said.

A statement that is both disturbing and serves as a forewarning of what will happen if the commissioners vote to keep the T. Don Hutto facility open with the CCA running it.
The commissioners have already washed their hands of what is going on in the facility. They have made it very clear that they don’t want to babysit the CCA, and usually those “children” without supervision run amok and do whatever they want to do.
Which means that the families are in even more danger because they will then be at the mercy of a company that knows it can do whatever it wants without interference or reproach from local officials.
It will be back to the detainees’ lawyers to bring the stories out to the public to let us all know how little human dignity and children are valued in places that are promoted to be “family” centers.
True, there have been improvements at the Hutto facility, but that was only after much outside pressure and publicity. Never once did ICE or CCA take the initiative to correct what was wrong at these facilities or investigate the complaints of the detainees without public pressure.
For the Williamson County commissioners to take the cowardly route of turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to a facility that by its very nature needs to be monitored, simply because they don’t want “to get in between the federal government and a private corporation,” is a sad display of leadership or lack of it.
And it is also another blatant example of how easily government officials can be bought when the price is right.

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Comment(10)

  • Avatar
    Frank
    October 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    None of those bizarre accusations of abuse were ever proven. Yes, there were some changes made but they were only minor things. I’ll bet if the truth were to be known we would find a lot of exaggerations and plain out lies on the part of the accusers.
    The pro-illegals cry foul over the separation of families in the illegal immigration issue but when an attempt was made to keep these families together, they still cry foul. Nothing short of letting the illegals run free through our country will ever satify them.

  • Avatar
    Marisa
    October 12, 2007 at 5:56 am

    I can categorically attest that those abuses were proven and are a matter of court and public record. Please read the article that is linked within the post to see that.
    And as much as you like to lump illegals together like a herd of animals – they are very human, just like you and the conditions for which they are forced to live under because all they wanted to do was either escape an oppressive government or just work, is simply unjust.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    October 12, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Marisa, I clicked on every link that your provided and none of them proved the kind of abuse you are claiming.
    Please don’t put words in my mouth. I have never compared illegal aliens to a herd of animals nor do I think they should be treated inhumanely. Our government has to do something with illegals that are caught while they are awaiting their hearings or deportations and IMO it is better to keep the families together rather than seperated.
    There is a legal way to come here and an illegal way. Can you imagine if we allowed every person in the world to come here who was oppressed or just needed a job? Come on get real. We can’t do that.

  • Avatar
    David O.
    October 12, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Illegal immigration is only a minor thing I’ll bet if the truth were to be known we would find a lot of exaggerations and plain out lies on the part of the nativists.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    October 12, 2007 at 9:21 am

    It isn’t minor when we have porous borders that have allowed millions and millions of illegal aliens in here, some if not many who are terrorists just waiting to do us harm. It isn’t minor when illegals cost us more than what they pay into taxes or save us in low cost goods (a myth anyway). Not to mention the increase in crime, overcrowded schools, jails and hospitals, the depletion of our natural resources due to uncontrolled population growth and loss of American jobs. Now don’t jump on the band wagon and try to say that I am claiming that illegal aliens are responsible for all of our nation’s woes but lets eliminate as much of this country’s woes as we can.
    Nativists? Is that a bad thing wanting to protect our nation’s culture, language, way of life and national identity? I know one thing about Latinos and their countries, they are among the most adamant about retaining their way of life in their countries and rightly so. Can we say, hypocricy?

  • Avatar
    diana joe
    October 12, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Before the towers blew..we as Americans were alot more calm. We never would have imagined that suddenly we would be faced with having to defend our own families, our own unique ways of living, our freedom of expression,our own religious preferances,our skin color,and that of our ancestry..our treaties-heck if all this hype was about the security of our nation Uncle sam would’ve already done something about it.We must never forget how we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima,and then we must never forget Vietnam the most senseless of the wars. We as Americans must learn to honor one and the other as we had been before 9-11. We as Americans must fight diligently to maintain peace amongst ourselves here on the homieland,and we as American must do everything to insure ourselves that our children know the truth about the history of the founders of the Constitution-and that they were white slave owners. Fix that before you go wondering your small brains off into another mans land.

  • Avatar
    David O.
    October 12, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Frank wrote: “..Now don’t jump on the band wagon and try to say that I am claiming that illegal aliens are responsible for all of our nation’s woes but lets eliminate as much of this country’s woes as we can…”
    I agree with you. So first things first. Lets impeach the bastards, and bring an end to that illegal war in Irak, which is depleting our natural resources, not to mention the outrageous costs in supporting another country. I think the U.S. should stop bringing democracy to other countries and take care of it’s own first.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    October 12, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Diana, you are assuming of course that most Americans agree with the atrocities commited by our government in the past and present or by any dead White Men? You are dead wrong! In most of these instances most of us weren’t even alive back then and played no part in these things. Why are you beating up on White or other citizens alive today for the sins of yesterday?
    True, we shouldn’t forget these sins and as citizens make best efforts to avoid having them repeated but we regular everyday citizens don’t have control over what our government does. All we can do is vote. Thats all the power that we have.
    There are no more white slave owners that I know of, so how can we fix something that doesn’t exist anymore? I am not in another man’s land. I was born here.
    Daniel, ok I agree with you, lets impeach Bush and rid ourselves of this entire Administration come the next election. In fact I agree with your entire post. I think we should let other countries rule themselves and stop sticking our noses in their business, stop starting wars and blowing people up and instead take care of our own domestic issues here at home. These countries have their own way of life. If they don’t want democracy we shouldn’t force it on them. We should never be on the offensive only defensive.

  • Avatar
    Horace
    October 12, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    ” Why are you beating up on White or other citizens alive today for the sins of yesterday?”
    Isn’t it obvious, Frank, because they have no decent argument for their positions. They think that by discrediting our ancestors they will automatically discredit what you or I have to say. You make a point, they argue using an irrelevent reference to the past, you make point and they make a reference to ancient history, ad infinitum. Haven’t you been following the pattern? They justify their nastiness by reiterating past injustices. Our ancestors did bad things, so its ok to insult our current generation. These people are what are called ne’r do wells, failures who blame all of their proplems on whitey.
    By the way, Frank, have you noticed that Diana Joe alternates between near illiteracy and lucidity. It must be the hermaphrodite alternating personalities, or she’s double teaming you.

  • Avatar
    Frank
    October 13, 2007 at 7:47 am

    Horace, these are the kinds of arguments that the pro-illegals always use to rationalize their position. They constantly bring up the past and blame those alive today for the sins of their ancestors. Yet their very own ancestors were no saints either aka the Spaniards. Then it goes into name calling, false accusations and personal insults aka “the race card” of those who are for the rule of law. Yet they ignore their own ethnocentric racism.

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