Only at the hands of Texas politicians (here, judges) could a prison be called a “daycare”!
This is a dreadful ruling, because those who know what really goes on in these ICE facilities, operated by huge private prison corporations, know that these are among the worst prisons in America!
We can be sure that many children will be raped, denied medical care, and worse… just as they are in other prisons run by CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and GEO Group!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to block efforts to license immigrant detention sites holding women and children as daycare centers. The Austin-based nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, an advocate for immigrants, had filed the litigation in challenging efforts by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to license a pair of South Texas detention centers used to house undocumented immigrants as official daycare centers.
The detention sites — euphemistically referred to as “family residential centers” by some politicians and the sites’ operators — are two of the nation’s largest facilities of their kind. The South Texas Residential Center in Dilley and the Karnes County Residential City in Karnes City, Texas, are run by CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and GEO Group, respectively.
Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the move by the appeals court. In a press advisory on Wednesday, Paxton painted the litigant’s motivation in filing the suit as one rooted in disagreements with federal government policy rather than genuine disagreements over specific uses for the detention sites. “The appeals court’s dismissal of the lawsuit against Texas correctly recognizes that the challenge is really about one group’s disagreement with federal policy, and a state court can’t order the federal government to change federal policy,” Paxton claimed. The AG suggested the move to license the sites as daycare centers was aimed at safety for children being housed there: “Texas strives to keep children as safe as possible by providing independent oversight over the family residential centers in the state through its child care licensing program,” Paxton said. He added the specialized licensing “…helps ensure the safety an well-being of children by requiring that family residential centers meet Texas’ comprehensive standards for operating a child care center and allows state employees to conduct random inspections, incident investigations, and background checks.”
To view a copy of the 3rd Court of Appeals ruling, click here.
Grassroots Leadership officials took a decidedly different view of the court’s decision. They took issue with Paxton’s assessment that safety aims were the impetus for the licensing. “The appeals court issued no such ruling,” officials at the nonprofit said. “Instead, the court only held that Texas courts lack jurisdiction to protect children.
Indeed, the group had a diametrically opposed take on the appeals court decision than Paxton’s: “Today, a court ruling opened the doors for implementation of a state agency rule that would allow jails to be licensed as child care centers, and unrelated adults to be assigned to children’s bedrooms.”
The 3rd Court of Appeals decision represents a reversal of a 2016 trial court judgment that ordered the state to refrain from licensing such facilities. Grassroots Leadership and detained families had successfully argued in front a district court that the licensing of family detention centers violated Texas law.
The same year, Judge Karin Crump of the 250th District Court invalidated the Texas regulation that allowed for the licensure of the family detention centers, Grassroots Leadership officials reminded. According to that ruling, the regulation would have also authorized licensure without compliance with fundamental state minimum standards that ordinarily apply to child care facilities — including a standard prohibiting children from sharing bedrooms with unrelated adults — Grassroots Leadership officials noted. In overturning Crump’s ruling, the 3rd Court of appeals effectively decided that no one can ever challenge the rule, officials of the nonprofit said in a press advisory.
Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, expressed his disappointment of Wednesday’s ruling: “We are obviously disappointed and horrified by this decision,” he said. “Licensing of these facilities hurts children. Texas agencies refused to license these facilities for years, and only did so under pressure from the Obama immigration services. Now children will be hurt and the courts say they can’t be involved.”
Libal added that the true beneficiaries of the appeal court’s ruling are not the immigrant children being run there, but operators CoreCivic and GEO: “The only ones who may benefit from this ruling are the private prison companies which make millions off their massive baby jails,” Libal said.
Still, he vowed Grassroots Leadership would continue to challenge the presence and continued operation of the detention sites: “We are committed to continuing this fight, in the courts, in the legislature, and by fighting alongside families in these notorious detention centers until they are released,” Libal said.
The state appeals court decision comes one day after an Associated Press report revealed the Trump administration waived fingerprint checks for caregivers at a burgeoning migrant tent city in Tornillo, Texas, housing more than 2,300 teenagers. The West Texas site is located amid a desert landscape in El Paso County.
As a result, according to the report, none of the 2,100 staffers at the detention site have undergone rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks, according to a Health an Human Services inspector general memo published Tuesday. “Instead, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children,” the memo obtained by the AP reads in part.
The report has led to many calling for the detention center’s shutdown, drawing condemnation from such advocacy groups as Families Belong Together. The site was originally intended to serve as short-term shelter for up to 360 migrant children. But the AP reports that less than six months later — as the Trump administration expands its crackdown on immigrants — the facility has grown into a full-fledged detention camp housing thousands of teenagers, with signs it may become a permanent facility.
As of Tuesday, 2,324 mostly Central American boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were housed inside the highly guarded facility. More than 1,300 teens have been transported to the site since the end of October alone, according to the AP report.