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Q&A: Judge Blocks Efforts To Give Detention Center A Child Care License

A Travis County Judge has extended a temporary injunction of the Texas Department of Family Protective Services efforts to provide a special child care license to the South Texas Immigration Detention Center in Dilley.    Inside the courtroom testimony was heard from state attorneys, the group who filed the suit and from the company operating the facility.

Q:   Ryan, why was the state so pressed to create a special child care license for this facility as well as the one operating in Karnes City?

A: Steve, the federal government created special rules in 1997 after a federal judge ruled that these detention centers were too much like prisons and if they were to continue housing immigrant families with their children there had to be special requirements for them to continue to operate.   So after Dilley and Karnes opened groups like Grassroots Leadership began looking into the living environment for children inside these detention facilities.


Q: And so they say like prison, how did state attorneys as well as those representing Grassroots Leadership describe these detention centers.

A: Well, the state argues that families can move about the facility on their own, but with special permission from the facilities guards.   But witnesses, many attorneys working with many of these women seeking asylum, who testified today describe the facility differently. They say there are multiple unrelated families stationed to a room at a time, they are not allowed to move about freely, there is razor-wire on the outside and the state, as well as the private company running the detention centers, confirm that if a family were to leave they would be arrested. 

Q:  What were some of the judge’s biggest concerns regarding these detention centers operating as childcare centers?

A: One of the biggest was the housing of multiple unrelated families with mixed gendered children all in one room, she saw that as a potential for abuse.  In fact, there has already been one case of alleged sexual assault at the Karnes facility, which was already issued a special childcare license from the state.

Q:  What were some of the State’s biggest concerns?

A: They allege that by not allowing these special childcare license to take affect, it limits the state ability to regulate detention centers like Dilley, but Judge Crump countered that by saying that DFPS has the authority to take every necessary action to protect the children at Dilley while the court weighs the legality of the rule to create a special childcare license.  She said, 'You have the power to act and protect these children, the injunction only limits the amount of time immigrant families could remain at Dilley.'

Q:  The injunction when does it take effect and how long will it remain in effect?

A: It takes effect immediately or until the state can win an appeal of today decision.   Judge Crump will take up the full argument of whether the state has the authority to even create these special immigrant childcare center licenses later this September.