Detention Is Not Child Care

"The conditions at Karnes and Dilley are equivalent to prisons," said Bob Libal

Families released from Karnes County Residential Center wait for buses at a San Antonio Greyhound Station. From a Dec. 25, 2015, story. (Courtesy of Tatiana Shirasaki)

On Friday, Dec. 2, Travis County Judge Karin Crump issued a final judgment blocking the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from labeling two of the country's largest immigrant family detention centers as child-care centers. The final order follows Crump's temporary injunction halting the licensure in June. South Texas Family Resi­dent­ial Center in Dilley (operated by the for-profit prison group Corrections Corporation of America or CoreCivic) and Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City (GEO Group) were previously also able to avoid compliance with minimum state standards applied to child-care facilities, including the number of occupants in a room and limits on children sharing a room with an adult (see: "Child-Care Center or Baby Jail?" March 18). "The conditions at Karnes and Dilley are equivalent to prisons, not child-care facilities," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership and case plaintiff, in a statement. "We are glad the court heard our concerns about the damage that family detention does to mothers and their children and how lowering standards to issue licenses to these facilities only exacerbates that harm. We now call on the Obama administration to end the practice of detaining immigrant families once and for all." Predictably, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the ruling on Monday, Dec. 5. He has previously said the child-care licensing "improves safety" as facilities are subject to unannounced inspections.

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family detention centers, Bob Libal, Grassroots Leadership, South Texas Family Residential Center, Karnes County Residential Center, Ken Paxton

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