CLINIC continues to fight against the government’s practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children. CLINIC, through its work in the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project has been especially active in the national fight to eliminate large scale family detention centers. CLINIC and CARA have been leading advocacy efforts to challenge unlawful asylum, detention, and deportation policies of DHS. Such advocacy activities have included submitting a complaint to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) regarding inadequate language access for indigenous language speakers and filing a letter to high-level DHS officials about glaring due process violations that have occurred since the court order of October 23rd.
Hearing on the Licensing of Family Detention Facilities in Texas
On December 9th, the Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) held a hearing in Austin, Texas regarding emergency licensing provisions for the family detention facilities in Dilley and Karnes, Texas. The hearing was in response to a temporary injunction filed to prevent the state from licensing the family detention facilities under emergency provisions. In addition to the hearing, the DFPS gave opportunity for formal comments on the licensing until December 14th. CLINIC, the only Catholic and faith-based partner in the CARA Pro Bono Detention Project, was instrumental in organizing advocacy efforts around the hearing and the licensing effort. CLINIC worked with the Texas Catholic Conference to draft a statement for the hearing. The Texas Catholic Conference also testified at the hearing. In addition, CLINIC drafted letters for Texas women and men religious to submit in objection to the licensing. Over 100 letters were submitted by Catholic partners and three women religious were able to testify at the December 9th hearing as well. The Commissioner has not issued a ruling at this time.
Family Case Management Program
In late September 2015, DHS announced that the alternative to detention pilot program contract, the Family Case Management Pilot Program (FCMP) had been won by GEO Cares, a subsidiary of the GEO Corporation, the private for-profit company that runs many of the federal immigration detention facilities nationally. In an effort to oversee GEO Cares work with the FCMP and demand greater accountability of DHS and GEO Cares in its administration of this program, CLINIC has accepted a seat on the GEO Care Community Resource Committee (CRC). The CRC is to provide guidance and technical expertise to GEO Cares. Executive Director Jeanne Atkinson spoke to GEO Cares management in Boca Raton in November 2015 about the need for legal services for the formerly detained women and children that will be enrolled in the FCMP pilot program. CLINIC also participated in the first meeting of the CRC which was convened in January 2015. Going forward, we will work to ensure maximum accountability of GEO Cares and meaningful access to legal services for the families enrolled in the program.
The family detention landscape continues to change. Moving forward, CLINIC will continue to work to end family detention and see immigrant women and children receive meaningful access to justice. Part of this work on the ground will largely be through our partnership in the CARA Pro Bono Project. For more information about CLINIC’s Family Detention Project, please see new resources posted at cliniclegal.org/CARA. Please consider volunteering your time or other resources to the CARA Pro Bono Project. For more information about volunteering please visit cliniclegal.org/CARA .