Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Shut Down the Criminal Detention Center Hutto
Like adults, immigrant children come to the U.S. in search of a better life. When they're caught, they're held at a federal facility in Gonzales County until they can be reunited with their families.
"Late Friday evening, the FBI received a complaint regarding these allegations and we'll be looking into them," FBI spokesman Eric Vasys said. "The FBI takes these allegations very seriously. Once our investigation is complete, we'll refer it to the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecution."
In all five children were reportedly abused, possibly even sexually abused at the shelter, which is operated by the federal government.
"I've had children we've received who haven't eaten in five or six days. The shoes they come with don't have any soles on them anymore and their feet are very cracked and sore and brittle and bleeding," said shelter director Maggie Gaytan.
The facility opened its doors in 2003 with 24 beds. It was such a success, it now has 100 beds for minors.
Now, CPS has begun an investigation into the abuse.
"Residential child car licensing is actually a division of the Family and Protective Services. If we're involved in any way with housing children at a facility, then they need to let us know what's going on out there," said Mary Walker, spokeswoman for CPS. "Any facility where children are located that may be ... at risk, that's something that residential child care licensing will investigate, will look into and make sure those children are pulled away from that risk."
The Department of Homeland Security’s replacement of the so-called “catch and release” policy with “catch and return” has resulted in a significant rise in the number of families detained, even those with very young children, for indefinite periods of time, in some cases in prison-like conditions.
When the Department of Homeland Security opened the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, in May 2006, it proudly proclaimed the former prison as a new model for the increased detention of immigrant families. DHS claimed the new facility was “specially equipped to meet family needs” and would put an end to the separation of families in detention, which advocates had decried for years.
They didn’t quite get it right. When the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service visited Hutto in December, we found that the families held there were treated like criminals.