A change in immigration policy now allows families who are in the
U.S. illegally to be detained. Last summer, Immigration and Customs
Enforcement began holding entire families, including small children, at
a converted prison outside of Austin, Texas. Officials
say that before the facility opened, illegal immigrants with children
were often released with a notice to appear before an immigration
judge. But the immigrants rarely made their court dates.
Mead, director of the Hutto Family Residential Facility, says the
facility is crucial to make sure these illegal immigrants don’t
But the facility, a
converted high-security prison, is coming under increased criticism.
Attorneys for the detainees, many of whom are seeking political asylum,
say it is abhorrent that small children, including babies, are being
The Hutto facility
currently holds 375 people, more than 200 of them children; its maximum
capacity is listed at 512 people. Everyone, from adults to children to
infants, wears uniforms of either blue or green.
And, of course, when you put people in prison, even small children, folks will treat them like prisoners. So we have this lovely story:
The tour of the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility, a former
state prison near Austin, came a week after the Ibrahim family was
released when a federal immigration board agreed to reconsider their
request for asylum.
Attorneys for the Ibrahims, who arrived in suburban Dallas in 2001,
say the five family members felt humiliated by the conditions at Hutto.
Court papers allege that 5-year-old Faten Ibrahim was yelled at and
threatened because she didn’t stand still during head counts.