FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 30, 2022
Press Contact: Jessica Ortiz, [email protected]
RAICES has documented years of extensive racism and abuse at the hands of Michael Sheppard and his ‘leadership’ at West Texas Detention Facility
TEXAS – In response to the news that the former warden of the West Texas Detention Facility, who was the subject of a RAICES 2018 report, and his brother shot two migrants, one fatally, near the southern border, RAICES issued the following statement:
“RAICES, Texas A&M Immigrant Rights Clinic and the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas documented years of extensive racism and abuse at the hands of Michael Sheppard and his ‘leadership’ at West Texas Detention Facility, including abuse, racial slurs, and denial of medical and mental health care. We sounded the alarm in 2018 about Warden Sheppard, but ICE failed to address his egregious behavior and the inhumane and racist treatment of African migrants in the facility. This was an utter dereliction of ICE’s duty to supervise and protect immigrants held in detention, and has allowed Sheppard and others to continue to abuse immigrants with no consequences.
“ICE’s failure to hold Sheppard accountable emboldened him to continue his pattern of abuse towards migrants, culminating in Sheppard and his brother harassing migrants in the street, shooting into a group of migrants, killing one man and wounding a woman.
“The tragic reality is that xenophobic attacks like this happen every day. Warden Sheppard and his brother are not outliers, but the norm in a massive white supremacist system that was designed to target and abuse people of color and criminalize migrants seeking safety. ICE and the Department of Justice’s failure to actively protect immigrants, investigate racial abuse, and hold their employees accountable encourages white supremacists like these brothers to work for them. This culture of hate has deadly consequences, and is further perpetuated by elected officials who spew racist and anti-immigrant language and perform dehumanizing stunts for political gain.
“The immigration system was created to criminalize and dehumanize asylum seekers while turning a blind eye to their mistreatment and suffering. That is unacceptable.”
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees. Learn more at Raicestexas.org