Monday, June 25, 2007


A coalition of local activist groups has found an issue to unite them: What they point out are human rights abuses at immigration detention centers in South Texas. Conditions in the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville — where people awaiting decisions on their immigration status or deportation can live for months or years — are akin to those in tent cities - bad tent cities.

The coalition, which includes San Juan-based La Union del Pueblo Entero, the Peace and Justice Committee and Veterans for Peace, took to the streets to express their feelings yesterday.

Texas has the largest number of "immigration prisons" in the US to house the undocumented immigrants once they have been rounded up.

The Willacy County Detention Center is one of a host of new or expanded prisons, both public and private, that has been commissioned for an expected rush of illegal immigrant detainees. According to the Washington Post, about 2,000 undocumented immigrants are housed within the 10 giant tent city home for weeks, months and perhaps years before they are deported back to their home countries.

Flanked by two real prisons, the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas is made up of 10 windowless, dome-shaped tents, each the drab color of sand and about half the size of a football field. The dorms have no windows, each housing 200 detainees. Inside, they sleep on bunk beds, there are no partitions in the showers and the toilets detainees have two hours a day to come out for recreational time

The complex is surrounded by chain-link fences topped with rolls of razor wire, and is protected by private guards.

Ain't that America...home of the free...ain't that America...

The following is from KGBT (Harlingen, Texas).

Detention center protest

Several valley organizations came together with the same passion and that is to protest local detention centers. They say the centers are separating immigrants from their families.

About 50 protesters lined the streets outside the Willacy detention center in Raymondville Sunday night. Elizabeth Garcia is one of the organizers of the protest.

Garcia believes this immigration processing center needs to be shut down.

Elizabeth Garcia said, "Not a lot of people know that here in Raymondville, Texas, we have the largest detention center in the United States. So, I think with this kind of movement, we're going to let our communities, locally here in the valley, to know about it."

Immigration and customs enforcement officials say the detainees are not being mistreated.

They say the detainees are being held at detention centers after breaking the law of being in the US illegally.

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