Editor’s Note: Saw the little band of justice this morning walking East on 11th Street with a sign: “Texans United for Families.” Recognized Ran Moran smiling large. Then found the following email forwarded from Marge Wood. The movement is on its feet:
Email from Jay Johnson-Castro
The Border Wall-K taught me a lot. In my 205 mile “wall-k” from Laredo to Brownsville…I learned about prison camps…in America…and right here in Texas. I learned that our government has cut a deal with three privatized prison companies that make obscene profits off of imprisoning refugees that come to this county in desperation. These prison camps are all over Texas … especially along the border…and are overflowing with primarily refugees. This privatized prison system is such a highly profitable business that more and more prisons are being built. They have the assurances that their business will grow…with the help of the Department of Homeland Security. The majority of the inmates are not criminals. In fact…the majority have no hope of due process…let alone legal representation.
This is good business for the privatized prison systems. They receive about $95 a day of our tax money per inmate. There are kick-backs to the counties that host these facilities…so county officials are not likely to object to the $1/per inmate per day kickback….which translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars to the county coffers per year.
What is worse…there is a troubling feature to the guaranteed business of these “detention centers”. Children!!! There are prison facilities that house the children that have been taken from the parents of undocumented immigrants.
Worse yet…there is a new privatized prison concept for dealing with these children. A prison camp that detains entire families. That’s right! Entire families are behind razor wire prison walls…right here in America. Right here in Texas…just 30 miles from our Texas Capitol.
At this prison camp…children are in prison uniforms and guarded by prison guards. Under a so called “kinder-gentler” federal administration that promotes “NO Child Left Behind”…these children only get an hour of education per day and an hour of physical exercise per day. The rest of the time…they live and sleep in concrete cells with their mothers. This is such a good and profitable arrangement…the DHS wants more of these facilities built….all around the county. So do the private prison system companies such as Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown & Root.
The family prison camp that is the subject of my walk is the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas…just 30 miles from the Capitol of Texas. This private business that imprisons families yields Williamson County some $200,000 per year in kickbacks.
Now…imagine. If this was purely about money…like it is for these privatized prison companies…we should look at where the money…our money…goes…and where it does not go. We blame the “illegals” for draining our tax dollars…right?
Their kids are a drain on the school system…right? So…what do we do? The leaders of our country spend billions of dollars per year on catching them. Then our government give private companies $95 per person per day so the immigrant parents cannot work…and so the kids cannot go to regular school.
Is anyone over there in Washington adding this up? How much in productive labor is an immigrant capable of doing in one day…rather than be imprisoned at the cost of some $95 per day?
Compare that same $95 per day to what it would cost to educate one child per day…whole allowing his parents to work.
Does anyone else see a problem with this picture here?
But this isn’t just about money to those with any conscience and moral fiber. It is only about money to the greedy politicians and the military-industrial complex that profits off of such fascist concepts. Is it any wonder that America looses face with the world community…when we allow such demented things to occur in our own county…things that we spend hundred of billions of dollars to defeat in other parts of the world?
At the Hutto Detention Center…there are some 400 inmates. Of those 400…about 200 are minors and children. 200 children…or 50% of the inmates in this prison camp are kids!!! Not criminals!!! Does that bother you? It does me!
So much for American justice and due process! So much for “NO Child Left Behind”!!!
I believe all of this is not only immoral, it un-American, unconscionable and in violation of not basic human rights but the children’s’ rights as established United Nations…and against our Constitution. How about un-Christian?
If you agree with me…I am inviting you to join me on my walk from the Capitol of our great State of Texas…all the way to Taylor, Texas…where the family prison camp is located. It’s called the Hutto Detention Center. Let’s let the State, the nation and the international community know that true Texans and real Americans do not subscribe to prison camps or concentration camps for desperate fellow humans and/or their children…nor will we tolerate such tyrannical conditions to exist in our country. We demand closure of such facilities…and the cessation of the kind of ruler-ship that would prescribe such demeaning treatment as prison camps to our fellow man and their children.
There is an organization of fellow Texans that has formed that is also opposed to this prison/concentration camp mentality. It is called Texans United for Families. This group plans on holding a vigil at the Hutto Detention Center on Saturday, December 15th at 11am. It is the intent of those that walk with me to arrive at the vigil at 11am and join their vigil.
For more info about the Hutto prison camp that houses families and children, you can Google “hutto family detention texas” or simply check out these links:
Feel free to share this invite with others. If you’re willing to walk a mile with me…I’ll see you
Connecting the dots…making a difference…
Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr.
clipped from top of email
[This is from Jay Johnson-Castro of Del Rio.]
Hola y’all… Here’s my next walk…
Press Conference: 9:00am, Dec. 14, Capitol Steps
Arrive: 11:00am, Sat., Dec. 16, Hutto Detention Center, Taylor
excellent audio slide show of Jay’s border walk
For preview coverage of the Hutto vigil see: BBC Mundo story
By Javier Aparisi
CLIP of American-Statesman coverage
Groups highlight plight of jailed immigrant families
By JUAN CASTILLO
Cox News Service
Friday, December 15, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas — The T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a private detention facility in Taylor, Texas, is emblematic of new federal policy that detains all unauthorized immigrants from countries other than Mexico while the government determines whether they should be deported or h
a legal right to be here.
The Taylor center is used for that purpose, but it and a much smaller one in Pennsylvania share a distinction: They are the only two such facilities in the country that hold immigrant families and children on non-criminal charges.
On Thursday, members of Texans United for Families, a coalition of community, civil rights and immigrant rights groups, sought to highlight that difference. Starting with a press conference at the state Capitol, then embarking on a 35-mile walk to the Taylor jail, they charged that detaining families and children under what they described as poor conditions is immoral and violates human rights.
“Housing families in for-profit prisons not only calls to question our moral values and our respect for human rights, but it is also a waste of taxpayer money,” said Luissana Santibanez, a 25-year-old University of Texas student and an organizer with Grassroots Leadership, which works to stop the expansion of the private prison industry.
The Taylor jail began holding immigrant families this summer under a contract with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Williamson County receives $1 per day for each inmate held there. A spokesman for the company referred questions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s San Antonio office.
Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said it was looking into the groups’ complaints but would have no comment Thursday.
Upon learning about the protests, Rick Zinsmeyer, director of adult probation for Williamson County, said “I was told the purpose (of housing immigrant families) was to keep the families together, instead of separating them, so this is interesting.”
Organizers of Thursday’s press conference and walk said the Taylor jail houses about 400 people, including about 200 children who are held with their parents. They said children receive one hour of education — English instruction — and one hour of recreation per day, usually indoors.
Frances Valdez, an attorney with the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law who has visited clients at the facility, said detainees have reported receiving substandard medical care and becoming ill from food served at the jail.
“A lot of children are losing weight. People suffer from severe headaches,” Valdez said. “I think there’s a lot of psychological issues going on. Most of these people are asylum seekers, so they’ve already suffered severe trauma in their country.” She said immigrants are not given psychological treatment.
Valdez said children wear jail uniforms when they are big enough to fit in them, and all wear name tags. “Even a baby client had a name tag,” she said. For instruction, children are divided into groups, 12 and under and 13 and above.
Valdez said that before the government’s new policy of detaining all unauthorized immigrants was implemented in August, families who were caught trying to pass through a port of entry without authorization were charged, told to appear in court and released on humanitarian parole.
The government ended the practice, known as “catch and release,” because it said the great majority of non-Mexicans were not showing up for their court hearings.
Valdez said the government is violating standards for detaining children. She said that children held on immigration violations apart from their families receive far better care, including full education and caseworkers, in residential facilities like one in Nixon, east of San Antonio.
“They’re basically changing everything because the children are with their parents,” she said.
In March, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the government plans to open more family detention facilities.
The number of unauthorized immigrants detained by the U.S. government exploded from 6,785 in 1994 to more than 22,000 in 2006, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Thursday’s walk, which was to end with a vigil Saturday morning at the Taylor detention center, was led by Jay J. Johnson-Castro, 60, of Del Rio, who gained attention in October for his 200-mile-walk from Laredo to Brownsville to protest building a U.S.-Mexico border fence.
Johnson-Castro said he was shocked upon recently learning of the Taylor jail.
“It’s un-Christian and it’s time somebody says something,” Johnson-Castro said. “Our objective is to shut this thing down and to shut down any kind of consciousness that would exploit humans who are in desperate straits.”
From the Capitol steps, Johnson-Castro set out on his walk with about a half dozen supporters. The pack doubled in size as it passed through East Austin, and organizers said they expected more to join later. Among them were Johnson-Castro’s friend, Austin musician Teye Wijnterp, 49.
Wijnterp, a native of The Netherlands who recently became a U.S. citizen, sought to draw a line between the country’s emotional views about illegal immigration.
“Completely separated from that is how you feel that the United States of America should treat people,” he said. “Should we treat them as people, or as if they are dogs. We should be a shining example in the world.”
Juan Castillo writes for the Austin American-Statesman.