World Refugee Day Protest at T. Don Hutto Prison (Taylor, TX)

National leaders from LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and Amnesty International will join people from all over Texas for a march and vigil at T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2009.

The vigil will begin with a 1 pm walk from Heritage Park at 4th Street and Main in Taylor.

Participants will then gather for a vigil at 2 pm at the T. Don Hutto detention center at 1001 Welch; there will be speakers, music and other activities to honor the refugee families inside and around the world.

Those who don’t want to march are invited to come straight to the detention center on the outskirts of Taylor at 2 p.m.

Since T. Don Hutto, a former medium-security prison, re-opened as a family detention center in 2006, immigrant children and their families from over 40 countries have been detained at the facility. Many are refugees from Central America, Africa, or Iraq fleeing religious or political persecution.

The Hutto prison is a for-profit private prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America. In 2007, after a year of protests, the ACLU and University of Texas Immigration Law Clinic won a lawsuit settlement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that improved conditions at the facility. However, that settlement expires in August 2009, and advocates are concerned that pre-settlement conditions may return.

ICE has also proposed three new family detention centers across the country, an effort that family advocates and human rights organizations have decried as a step backwards.

Activists are advocating for more-humane, less-costly alternatives to detention programs that keep families together and out of prison-like detention centers. A study by the Vera Institute found that more than 90% of immigrants on a supervised release program attended their immigration hearings. The average cost of a supervision program is $12 a day compared to reportedly over $200 a day to detain a person at Hutto.

Advocates will call on the Obama administration, specifically Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE special inspector Dora Schriro, to close Hutto and end the practice of family detention.

Advocates will also call on the new administration to uphold to international standards as they relate to immigrant and children’s rights, including ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Protestors are expected to join caravans from Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, College Station, the Rio Grande Valley, and Del Rio to join the World Refugee Day protest.

Check out TDonHutto.blogspot.com for more information.
Or call Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership at (512) 971-0487; Diana Claitor of Texas Jail Project at (512) 597-8746; or Jay Johnson Castro, Sr., Border Ambassador, at jay@villadelrio.com or (830)734-8636

A caravan will leave Austin to go to Taylor at 11:30 am, leaving from PODER at 2604 E. Cesar Chavez.

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