Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As detention center shuts down in Texas, advocates worry about future for immigrant families

Annabelle Garay
AP writer
Sept. 9, 2009

DALLAS (AP) — As immigrant children and their parents depart a disparaged former Texas
prison that housed them while they awaited decisions in their immigration cases,
advocates are questioning if the government has fully thought out what happens
to the families now.Federal officials announced last month that the T. Don Hutto
facility in Taylor would no longer hold immigrant families and they instead
would be detained at the much smaller Berks Family Residential Center in
Leesport, Pa. But with only 84 beds — and more than 100 people once housed at
Hutto — some advocates wonder if there will be enough space, or if immigrants
will be released."We still have a lot of questions and would like to hear more
details," said Denise Gilman, of the Immigration Clinic at the University
of Texas
School of Law, which along with other advocates filed a lawsuit
contending that family detention at Hutto was inhumane.Hutto is set to stop
holding immigrant families by the end of the year, government officials say, and
families have slowly been leaving. Instead of transferring the families to
Berks, the government has been trying to process the cases of families at both
facilities.The Texas facility went from holding 127 men, women and children last
month to just 22 people this week. They were either deported to their home
countries or released while they pursue asylum or another immigration status to
remain in the U.S.As the change takes place, advocates are watching to see if
the Pennsylvania
facility has better conditions, if cases are handled fairly and if new problems
arise because of the shift.

Read more: http://www.courant.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-family-detention-what-next,0,4455535.story

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