immigration center

New ‘Hotel-Like’ Immigration Center is Proposed in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 29, 2016

Detention centers for immigrants certainly have a bad rap in Texas, but one company is seeking to improve conditions by proposing a ‘Hotel-like” immigration center.

Federal immigration officials are pressing ahead with plans for the 500-bed family detention center which would house migrant women and children, the Guardian reports.

Opponents are unimpressed with the plan, pointing out a detention center is still a detention center, even if it’s more upscale.

Family immigration center idea is controversial

The Department of Homeland Security is moving ahead and requesting proposals for the facility close to the Mexican border.

The immigration center would be in Dimmit County, just under 50 miles from Mexico. Officials said in June they would consider a bid from a firm that is proposing the new center in a 27-acre former work camp for oil workers. It claims the conditions would be far better than two other family detention centers in Texas.

The family detention centers have proved to be controversial.

What Are Family Immigration Centers?

Texas currently has two family detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City. They have the capacity to hold more than 2,000 women and children who are awaiting immigration rulings.

Earlier this year, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Council submitted a rule to create a child care licensing category at the two family detention centers.

In May, a judge heard a legal challenge and refused to license the facilities as child care centers.

The Austin-based group Grassroots Leadership successfully won a temporary injunction that has stalled the award of a child care facility license to the immigration center in Dilley. The Karnes City center received a temporary license in April.

Our Texas family immigration attorneys remain concerned about the conditions at these facilities and their suitability to house women and children, notwithstanding the comparisons of the proposed new immigration center with a hotel.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission has highlighted complaints about inadequate medical care, low quality food and allegations of sexual abuse brought by detainees.

Stratton Oilfield Systems claimed its facility would offer a “community-based alternative,” that would allow children to attend schools and access social services in a home-like setting.

Cristina Parker, Immigration Programs Director for Grassroots Leadership, the organization that fought the childcare designations, said she objects to the idea of a detention center for families who have fled violence in their home countries, irrespective of conditions. She said any facility in which families are not free to leave is a prison.

The Obama administration’s ongoing use of family detention centers which house women and children has become one of the most controversial planks of its immigration policy.

If you or a loved one is being housed in a detention center or is facing deportation, it’s important to hire experienced Texas family immigration lawyers. Call us today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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ICE to Set up Texas Immigration Center to House Transgender Detainees

By Peek & Toland on July 21, 2016

A new immigration center in Texas will include a special unit for transgender detainees, highlighting some of the difficulties they face in these facilities.

A report in Inquisitr stated the Prairieland Detention Center will open in November in Alvarado in Texas and will be the second center to include a transgender unit.

ICE says it is expected to house about 700 detainees. There will be a segregated 36-bed unit for transgender occupants.

ICE plans for transgender unit in detention center are under fire

The agency points out each detainee will be given an individual detention plan that covers such things as clothing options, hygiene issues, searches and accommodation assignments.

These apparent safeguards have failed to satisfy advocates’ groups who claim transgender people are more vulnerable than the rest of the population and are more likely to be victims of sexual and physical assaults when they are held in detention facilities.

Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, an advocates group for LGBT immigrants, told the Guardian they “simply should not be in detention”.

Morris said putting most of one vulnerable group in a single facility raises serious issues of oversight.

There are also concerns about whether the safeguards would be put in place. Santa Ana city jail in Texas also has a specialized program for transgender people, but the Guardian reported it has yet to implement the specialist guidance that was published in a June 2015 memorandum.

How Many Undocumented Immigrants Are Transgender?

According to the UCLA Williams Institute, there are 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States. Between 15,000 and 50,000 are transgender, states the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Some of these immigrants come to the U.S. because they have faced persecution in their home nation, while others are looking for a better quality of life here. Interviews with transgender people suggest they are more likely to face discrimination than other immigrants once they are in the U.S.

Diverse cities such as Austin are magnets for  immigrants.  Austin became a “majority minority” city more than 10 years ago. The rush to build centers for these immigrants in Texas highlights the way the authorities are finally recognizing the rights of transgender people, but support groups say it doesn’t go far enough, and there is certainly a raft of concerns about how immigrants are treated in detention centers. This issue is part of the immigration reform debate in Texas.

If you have any questions about immigration in Texas, see our immigration FAQs, or call our experienced attorneys for a confidential consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration

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