Email from John Wheat Gibson, 3:17pm
Tonight the Ibrahim children will be in their own home in Richardson, Texas with their mother and their father. I just received a call from Salaheddin Ibrahim, to tell me he was in a car on his way home from the prison in Haskell.
Plato says “Tyranny grows in dark places.” Thanks to all who helped shine the light on the benighted Frauenlager and the persecution of Palestinians by the U.S. government.
This project will be over when the U.S. government stops putting children in prison, stops torturing prisoners, and stops funding the murder of children abroad, so that no child has to flee his or her homeland.
“In questions of powers, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson
John Wheat Gibson Or, here’s how the AP breaks the news:
Authorities offer tour of immigrant detention center
By ANABELLE GARAY / Associated Press
Showing off playgrounds and computer labs, officials at a rural immigration detention center that held a Palestinian family for three months disputed civil rights attorneys outside who called the facility unsafe and dehumanizing.
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.
But during a rare glimpse inside the facility to the media, Hutto officials disputed allegations that detainees are threatened with solitary confinement and shackled.
“We’ve done a number of things to soften the facility and make it family-friendly,” said Gary Mead, assistant director for detention and removal at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration authorities opened the facility last year hoping detention would serve as a deterrent to illegal immigration. The facility houses roughly 400 men, women and children either awaiting deportation or seeking asylum.
Families are housed in adjacent cells and there’s no use of force, ICE officials said.
Children attend school during the day and have access to a computer lab and libraries. There’s a playground surrounded by two layers of chain-link fencing, parts of which have barbed wire at the top.
“This is a work in progress. We’re trying to turn it into the best family facility,” Mead said.
But advocates say many of the people housed at Hutto left repressive and violent regimes in their home countries, only to be incarcerated in the U.S. after seeking asylum.
“The entire facility is dehumanizing and inappropriate for children,” said Lisa Graybill, legal director for the ACLU of Texas.
Graybill said ACLU officials have requested to tour the facility but has not be granted permission.
Attorneys representing some of the families detained at Hutto say that clients have complained of inedible food, weight loss and inadequate classroom instruction for their children.
Kids have been told that if they misbehave, they will be separated from their parents, Graybill said. She spoke while holding a drawing from a 7-year-old detainee that read “HELP, I hate this place.”
The Ibrahims were released after a federal immigration panel ruled that escalating violence in the Palestinian territories since Hamas came to power was grounds to reconsider the family’s asylum request.
The order issued by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals came more than two years after the Ibrahim family’s initial request for asylum was denied.
On Friday, Salaheddin Ibrahim, the family’s father, was released from a separate detention center near Abilene, said his brother, Ahmad Ibrahim.
Attorneys for the family said no date has been set for a new asylum hearing.
Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter, whose district includes the Hutto facility, said in a statement that the center “offers the optimal solution to our nation’s growing illegal immigration problem” and that he has been assured the center is “running in an appropriate and humane manner.”
ICE and Hutto officials said they are working to build more classrooms and portable buildings, and to remove barbed wire around the facility.
Associated Press writer Thomas Peipert in Dallas contributed to this report.