Over 3,994 years have been served by innocent people in U.S. prisons. However, this number does not account for the years spent by immigrants in detention centers, particularly on the U.S. border with Mexico.
These detention centers are not held to the same health and safety standards as typical prisons. This became all too apparent a few days ago when more than 400 women and children were freed from two Texas immigration detention facilities after a federal judge found the locations unsuitable for holding children.
This decision was made in the middle of the night, sending social workers scrambling to find suitable shelter, medical care, and food for these refugees who had nowhere to go in the middle of a cold, wet, December night.
“They were shoved out in a really rushed manner,” explains Amy Fischer, policy director at the San Antonio Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. She explains to the Los Angeles Times that all 460 undocumented immigrants were brought to the RAICES shelter in San Antonio.
In order to accommodate these people, local churches stepped in to offer support, including a nearby Mennonite convent that laid out sleeping bags on its floors. Additionally, immigrants with families in the U.S. were put on planes and flown to all corners of the nation to be reunited.
It turns out that this mass exodus was because of a technicality in the Texas judicial system. In an effort to make a stand with the Department of Family and Protective Services, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office filed an appeal against the Texas judicial system. The goal was to get a judge to realize that these immigration detention centers did not have the proper licenses to call themselves a child-care center.
As explained in a 2015 Texas statute, the immigration detention centers must be livable for children, who must otherwise be released into proper foster homes. Ken Paxton got what he wanted, as soon as Judge Crump made the decision that these facilities violated Texas Human Resources Code, all the children were evacuated.
The two facilities in question, Karnes and Dilley, were not intended to hold children and have had a hard time refurnishing them up to code. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when the spike of immigrants coming from Central America is at an all time high.
In response to the ruling, the company that runs the Karnes City center says that this lawsuit did not hold any merit.