Demanding Lege Action on Detained Families

Activists hold "People's Hearing" at Capitol to call attention to house resolution demanding alternatives to incarceration of immigrant children .

By Patty Ruland, Fri., May 4, 2007

Though Free the Children identifies itself as a "loose-knit" group of ordinary citizens, this band of extraordinarily resilient activists – who are fighting for the release of immigrant families detained at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center in Taylor – took another hard line by holding a People's Hearing Saturday at the state Capitol. The focus was House Concurrent Resolution 64, which demands alternatives to incarceration of immigrant children but which has never made it to the floor. The intent was to convene right where the issue is being royally ignored – for as long as the resolution stalls in committee, no public hearing can occur. The event was "a passionate and productive town hall meeting of union leaders, LULAC [League of United Latin American Citizens] representatives, writers, teachers, Hutto neighbors, and other activists," according to member Jane Chamberlain. Signs outside read "Toddlers Are Not Terrorists" and set the tone for the day, which included plans for a petition drive in Taylor (despite warnings of possible retaliation) for continued lobbying efforts and for Vigil III, set for May 7 to mark the visit of Jorge Bustamante, an immigrant-rights expert who will inspect TDH during an extended border tour through Friday, May 18, and submit a report to the UN Human Rights Council.

"We have long said that this is … an international tragedy. Members of our human family are being treated inhumanely, right here on American soil, in 'the land of the free,'" said FTC spokesman Jay Johnson-Castro. FTC is calling on all protesters to show at a stockholders' meeting on May 10 in Nashville of Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the TDH family jail for a federal contract of a whopping $34 million-plus per year, $200,000 of which goes to the host county, Williamson.

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