Texas County That’s Had Enough Of ICE’s Inhumanity Cancels DHS' Contract For Detention Center Holding 500 Women
Williamson County voted to end its contract with ICE on Tuesday.
June 27, 2018 at 10:46 pm
Amid the rollercoaster ride known as the Trump administration zero tolerance immigration policy, a Texas county has decided to end its contract with ICE, which has an immigrant detention center in the community.
According to The Independent, Williamson County commissioners voted on Tuesday to terminate the county's contract with ICE, which heads the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. The facility, which opened in 2006, holds about 500 women. About 45 of those women are mothers who were separated from their children by ICE agents.
“This is very much in response to everything that has been going on,” said Cristina Parker, the communications director for the immigration advocacy group Grassroots Leadership.
An ICE official confirmed they have no comment on the contract termination decision.
“I think with everything that has been hitting the news lately – I think it has all sort of crescendoed today into the county feeling that they had to get out of the contract,” Parker added.
Many women claim to have suffered sexual abuse by the facility guards, including Laura Monterrosa, who was placed on solitary confinement after coming forward with her allegations.
Others claim they were forced to live in horrible conditions with no water or food, without access to water for bathing or brush their teeth. Women at the facility also allege they were not given beds, and had to sleep on the floor with aluminum paper as a cover.
“All the mothers were crying in anguish, distraught from not knowing anything about our children, this is the harshest thing they could do, to take our children from us,” wrote one anonymous woman in a letter that became public a day before the contract ended.
The decision is scheduled to take effect on January 31, 2019. It's unclear whether or not the 500 women will be transferred to another detention center.
"We know that this doesn't mean [the women] get released right away, so we will have to fight for that," Claudia Munoz, Grassroots' immigration programs director told KXAN. "We have six months to make sure that these women are not just transferred to another detention center."
"I have appreciated the passion from activists that has been expressed to me and this Court in regards to T. Don Hutto," wrote County Commissioner Terry Cook in a statement following her vote in favor of the contract's end. "While this vote today does not solve the larger issue of immigration, the future of the women detained there, or the closing of the facility, I hope these activists do not celebrate this vote, but redouble their efforts in changing immigration policy at the federal level."