TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — Chants of freedom are captured in this video outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor.
“We knew we’d support them so we organized people to go out to a protest last night.” Cristina Parker, with the group Grassroots Leadership out of Austin, says she has received 19 letters from women at the detention center, begging for help to get them released.
“While they have a lot of complaints about the center, about the medical care, about the length that they’ve been there, about the fact that they’re not given bonds, they don’t like anything about being in detention, so the one and only demand they have is to be released,” says Cristina.
Cristina says these are women who have escaped danger in their home countries, many from Central America, and are afraid to go back. They’ve come to the United States seeking asylum.
“All women who are coming to the country fleeing violence, almost all of whom are mothers who are trying to join their children here or who have left children behind in order to find work and support them, and we have put them into a prison.”
Cristina says she’s standing by these women and their outcries for as long as it takes. Supporters say they’ll be at the detention center every night until they get a response.
A vigil was scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, located at 1001 Welch in Taylor. Everyone who supports the cause was welcomed to attend.
There have been reports some women in the detention center started a hunger strike, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tells us, that’s just a rumor. ICE says they take the health, safety and welfare of these women, very seriously.
The T. Don Hutto facility originally held immigrant families when it opened in 2006. But that led to a federal lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union – saying the facility provided sub-standard conditions for the children. The ACLU settled the lawsuit and in 2009, federal officials decided to stop holding children in the facility.