Washington, DC —Today, Texas Representatives sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Acting Director of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Director of the Office of Management Acquisition urging them to immediately suspend the current solicitation for three ICE detention center contracts in Texas in violation of federal procurement laws. The congressional letter also outlines abuse and inadequate, often times life-threatening, medical care, while underscoring ICE’s ongoing lack of transparency and accountability.
The request by ICE is tailored to the following existing facilities in Texas for ten-year contracts: the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, and the Houston Processing Center in Houston. In 2019, these facilities detained almost 22 percent of the average daily population (ADP) in Texas. All three are known to have facilitated family separations, as well as a wide range of mistreatment and abuse, including deaths and sexual assault.
Today’s letter follows a request from 45 Texas-based non-governmental organizations to members of Congress in early December urging them to use their oversight authorities to investigate ICE’s attempt to evade procurement law and disregard community opposition to contract extensions in Texas for immigration detention. These ICE procurements follow years of widespread community opposition to Texas’ massive detention infrastructure, including a successful effort in June 2018 to push Williamson County Commissioners to end their Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) with ICE and CoreCivic for the T. Don Hutto detention center.
“If ICE is able to secure these contracts in Texas, it will mean extending the harm of this administration far beyond Trump’s term in office, further binding Texas—currently the leading immigrant incarcerating state in the country—to an already massive for-profit detention system for the next decade,” said Bethany Carson, Immigration Policy Researcher and Organizer at Grassroots Leadership. “The responsibility falls on Congress to do whatever they can to stop these new 10-year contracts. They must defend the public from ICE's abuses and shady measures that allow our massive detention structure to remain in place despite widespread community opposition.”
“Deaths and ongoing allegations of abuse should be reason enough to close down these facilities,” said Barbara Suarez Galeano, Organizing Director of Detention Watch Network. “ICE is already overspending the ever-increasing funds that Congress allocates for its detention account and asking to be bailed out each fiscal year. We must recognize ICE’s constant, often unchecked, exponential growth of the immigration detention system for what it really is: a wholesale attack on immigrants under a white supremacist administration.”
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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.