Mass Releases from Family Detention after Texas Court Blocks Childcare Licenses of Family Detention Centers
Statement from Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
San Antonio, TX -- Over the weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hurriedly released over 460 mothers and children from Karnes and Dilley Family Detention Center to Casa RAICES in San Antonio, Texas. This massive release to our shelter came after an Austin judge sided with Texas advocates and detained families and ruled against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, as well as GEO and CoreCivic, the two private prison companies that operate Karnes and Dilley, by issuing a final judgement which prevented the Texas DFPS from issuing child care licenses to ICE controlled family detention centers.
This judgement came down as RAICES and pro-bono volunteers had been pushing back for weeks on a crayon ban in the visitation area at Karnes Family Detention Center. The issue remains unresolved as the petition to lift the ban has already gained over 1,800 signatures.
The families released over the weekend were in various stages of the legal processes that normally take place in detention, which stands against ICE’s long standing claim that detention is necessary for families to undertake legal processing prior to release. Approximately 25% of families were released without a credible fear interview. The majority of families were released without travel plans, forcing RAICES staff and volunteers to work until night to communicate with families and arrange travel. RAICES has opened additional shelter space at a local church and convent in San Antonio to accommodate the overflow from our shelter.
“We can only hope this is a sign that the Obama Administration is finally deciding to end this failed experiment in family detention, ” said Jonathan Ryan, Executive Director of RAICES. “We call upon the Obama Administration to continue these releases and end family detention, end the detention of asylum seekers, and cut ties with private prison companies.”
RAICES will continue to gladly accept released families from detention at our shelter in San Antonio and plans to continue to mount the pressure on the Obama Administration to end this horrific practice of detaining families in the final weeks of his administration.
RAICES serves immigrants and refugees in our community by providing immigration-related legal services, advocacy and opportunities for educational and social support. We believe that by actively promoting the well-being and informed participation of immigrants and refugees in the community, everyone benefits.