Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Human Rights > Hundreds expected to march to T. Don Hutto on Sat., World Refugee Day, to demand an end to family detention

Hundreds expected to march to T. Don Hutto on Sat., World Refugee Day, to demand an end to family detention

LatinaLista — Saturday, June 20, is World Refugee Day. It’s a day that the world is asked to come together in solidarity in asking governments to recognize that all refugees are entitled to basic human rights — such as the right to freedom.
In the United States, there are pockets of the country where this basic human right is being deprived because of the government’s immigration policies. Immigrants from all over the world, not just Mexico and Latin America, are being held indefinitely in detention centers until their cases are heard.
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They have little, if any, contact with the outside world.
Yet, among this group of immigrants being detained behind bars is one group that should not be there — children.
One of the most notorious detention facilities, where the nation was first alerted to the fact that mothers with their young children were living under penal-type conditions, is the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility.
Since it was first discovered as detaining children within their walls, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division, which oversees the facility, went into overdrive to address the many concerns that groups and international human rights representatives expressed when they saw the facility and the families incarcerated there.
Though it has come a long way in correcting many shortcomings, there’s no good way to imprison children for any length of time.
So, this Father’s Day weekend Amnesty Internatioinal, National LULAC and over 50 groups of concerned citizens will hold a two-day event culminating in a caravan from Austin to Taylor, Texas, home of the T. Don Hutto facility, to draw attention to the fact that no civilized country should be in the business of family detention.
Unlike past protests, there’s a particular urgency to this weekend’s march. In August, the lawsuit settlement that forced ICE to improve conditions at the facility for the families expires.
Advocates have strong reason to believe that ICE will revert to their former standards of detaining these families which included having them wear prison-style uniforms, limited outside recess for the children and separation tactics to intimidate the children to behave.

In addition to the settlement that forced the changes at T. Don Hutto expiring in August, ICE has proposed three new family detention centers be created across the country.
The idea behind these facilities was to stop the capture-and-release practice alleging that immigrants were not showing up for their immigration hearings. Yet, a study by the Vera Institute found that more than 90 percent of immigrants on a supervised release program attended their immigration hearings. The average cost of a supervision program is $12 a day compared to reportedly over $200 a day to detain a person at Hutto.
But demanding the end of family detention is only one element of this weekend’s demands by supporters of the detained immigrant families. Another demand is that President Obama ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The United States shares the dubious honor of being one of only two countries that has not ratified the international document recognizing “a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations, that provides protection and support for the rights of children, recognizing that people under 18 years of age often need special care and protection that adults do not.”

Proclamation issued by Austin Mayor Will Wynn.
The only other country that shares our disregard for the document? Somalia.
In an extraordinary show of support of Saturday’s march, the Mayor of Austin, Will Wynn, issued a special proclamation today that said in part:

We join in harmony with voices worldwide in support of reasonable and humane immigration policies, especially those that provide just and viable alternatives to institutional detention of children and families as they await resolution of their immigrant status;

Jay Johnson-Castro, one of the event organizers, emailed:

This is not just about the children imprisoned in Hutto. This is about treating immigrant families with kindness and dignity all across our land. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of children that are imprisoned around our country. This is about them too.
Our objective is to reach our lawmakers all the way to Congress and the Obama administration, including Napolitano. There is no reason that we cannot. Freeing innocent children from “for profit” prisons should be considered the kind of “Change that we can hope for and believe in”. If Obama is serious about the immigration issue…he should start with Hutto! It should not take a comprehensive immigration reform act to free children from the grips of corporate and inhumane greed.
… Hutto started three years ago under Bush and Chertoff. Six months into 2009…children are still imprisoned under the Obama and Napolitano leadership.

The weekend’s event begins Friday night (June 19) in Austin with a concert fundraiser. On Saturday, the vigil protesters will meet outside the gates of the Hutto facility beginning at 2 p.m. for a two-hour program and rally that will include speakers, music and a petition drive.
Organizers of the event are pleased to know that a flyer outlining the weekend activities has made it all the way into the hands of President Obama.
The bigger wish now is that he takes the flyer’s message to heart rather than rolls it up to swat flies.
(For complete information on Friday’s concert and Saturday’s vigil, click here.)

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  • cookie
    June 19, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I couldn’t find the stats by the Vera Institute backing up your claim that the large majority of those released pending their immigration hearings usually show up and not sure they are a credible source anyway. I never heard of them. I do remember reading the opposite by other sources though.
    These people for the most are not refugees but just plain old border jumpers or visa overstayers.
    I know the reason for detaining the whole family is to keep the children with their flight risk parents. Is that a bad thing? Of course there should be no inhumane conditions. Of that I can go along with.

  • MaryElizabeth
    June 19, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    That is not true cookie. I just watched a ACLU film on hutto. There are Asylum seekers and refugee’s detained nationwide. It was the ACLU that fought for the rights of these little children that are being detained. I belong to a group that reaches out to asylum seekers that are detained and there are many of them in these prisons. Some of the woman in their have left their countrys because they have been beaten by their husbands so bad that the had to run with their children. The film was so upsetting that people were crying in the reformed Church I was in during the viewing. They also had released detainees speak and minister’s pray. Cookie people are becoming aware on the immigration abuse’s nationwide. In the film One woman interviewed from Hutto said that her husband made her drink poison and told her in front of her kids that her was going to cute her head off with a machite. She survived the poison but had scars on her face from all the beatings. A few years back the little children in Hutto detention in Texas were kept from seeing daylight and they were only given 15 minutes to eat there meals. If they cried they would separate them from there mothers. They would shut all the lights off on them at a certain time. They had really in-humane living conditions. Children and battered woman should never be detained in these private prisons. Here is a website of a group that helps these asylum seekers. Anyone interested in helping out go to
    They will train you and you can go into some of the prison’s and see it for yourself. It’s really shocking what has happened in our country. I really do not feel like its America anymore but I still believe in my country and that we will reform the system.

  • cookie
    June 20, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I didn’t say there couldn’t be “some” asylum seekers being detained and please don’t even mention the ACLU. Don’t get me started on them. Their cases have to be reviewed and that is why they are being held. OTM’s in particular have been proven to be flight risks.
    What part of “I think the detainees should be treated humanely, didn’t you get” that prompted you to give examples of allegeged abuse? If what you are saying is true then present your proof to the proper authorities and I will back you up 100%.

  • Hector Chavana Jr
    June 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for posting this info. It turned out fregon. Check out some pics at

  • MaryElizabeth
    June 22, 2009 at 2:32 am

    My proof is all of the people from my group that have seen it with their own eyes. What better proof can I have then that. I do not have to convince you nor do I care about what you think. Religious groups in conjunction with Civil Rights groups are mobilizeing across the country with an Immigration Reform Civil Rights movement. We want Peace, Love for all humans nationwide. We do not want children, and battered Moms, Asylum seekers, Refugees or people who come to the States to escape poverty and find a better life to be detained in jails or deported and separate from their friends and familys. They have planted their roots here. They are are Evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, various religions and the movement is growing nationwide. The ACLU are a fair and well respected group that have always supplied America with accurate information.

  • cookie
    June 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    ME, I didn’t ask you to convince me. What I said is that if you have the proof then take it up with the proper authorities and I will back you up 100%. Go back and read my post.
    As far as your comments about illegal aliens having a human right to be here, I totally disagree. It is an absolute necessity for any country to have immigration laws and expect foreigners to abide by them.

  • Horace
    June 24, 2009 at 6:42 am

    “They have planted their roots here.”
    When you come here contrary to federal law, the law of the American people, your roots are planted in infertile dust. This rule will never change unless we abandon our federal codes and our borders, and this the American people will never do.
    The groups you mention are far outweighed by the growing numbers who believe to the contrary. All I see is hundreds of liberal groups, mostly small and unsupported by the vast majority of Americans, who’ve come out of the woodwork in support of foreign invaders who have no place in our country.
    The ACLU has been hijacked by ultraliberals who would sacrifice our nation to the last man based upon misguided principles of an idealized world that does not exist.

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