Private Prison Companies Grow Fat Off Immigrant Detention

Categories: Immigration, Texas

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Brian Stauffer
A former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan turned powerful U.S. Senator helped set in motion the sweeping system of immigrant detention we see today.

From 2000 to 2006, the average number of undocumented immigrants detained in the United States on any given day hovered around 20,000. And while that number had slowly started to creep up as lawmakers passed a series of post-911 security and terrorism prevention measures, it wasn't until 2009 that we saw a de-facto immigrant detention quota when Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) inserted this language into Immigration and Customs Enforcement's detention budget: "funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds." (Byrd, for the record, did spend much of the latter part of his political career apologizing for his ties to the Klan.)

This year ICE is set to open what will ultimately become the country's largest immigrant detention center in the small South Texas town of Dilley. The new 2,400-bed facility, which is specifically designed to hold undocumented women and their children, will be operated by Corrections Corporation of America, one of two private prison giants that have seen profits rise as increased immigration enforcement boosted the number of immigrants put in detention.

In a new report, Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group critical of the private prison industry, details how CCA and fellow for-profit prison company GEO Group found a lucrative market created by ICE's so-called "bed mandate."

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Obama's Immigration Speech Was A Bittersweet Moment for "Dreamers"

Categories: Immigration

Brian Stauffer
A tinge of disappointment hung in the air at the MECA cultural arts center before the live-stream of President Obama's immigration speech began Thursday night. A small group of undocumented students and families had gathered to hear the long-awaited announcement that Obama would halt the deportations of some immigrants. But as details of Obama's executive action started to trickle out before the address, many began to slowly realize they have family who won't be helped.

Jorge Olvera, a graduate student at the University of Houston, fled violence in Reynosa with his parents and crossed into Texas when he was just 7 years old. The nagging threat of deportation lingered until two years ago, when Obama launched a program halting deportations of immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were kids. "I'd hoped the president would announce something tonight that might help my parents, too," Olvera said. "It looks like that won't happen."

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Four Houston Women Accused of Selling Young Girls in Local Brothels

Categories: Crime, Immigration

Four Houston women have been arrested and accused of forcing underage girls into prostitution in apartments that doubled as illegal underground brothels on the city's West side.

53-year-old Blasina Vargas, 63-year-old Luisa Vargas, 48-year-old Dolores Vargas and Ignacio Escandon are charged with three counts of sex trafficking of a minor, and one count of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens, authorities announced Wednesday.

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Juvenile Probation Takes on Child Trafficking in Houston

Imagens Evangélicas
On September 4th, the Harris County Sheriff's Office gave the Juvenile Probation Department a check for $300,000 in an effort to help victims of child trafficking. Houston is often called a hub for trafficking victims, both domestic and international, but to no one's surprise, these numbers are far more complicated, and so are the victims' experiences.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20% of nationwide child trafficking victims come through Houston alone and consistently, year after year, more than 30% of the calls received by the National Trafficking Resource Center hotline come from Texas. But according to Edward Chapuseaux, an investigator for and founder of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (sheriff's office) task force, these statistics aren't an incredibly accurate assessment of the trafficking problem here.

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Perry: ISIS Has (Maybe) Entered Texas Through Mexico Border

If you live in Texas, ISIS might be a real threat--at least according to Gov. Rick Perry.

At an immigration forum in Washington on Thursday, and in a subsequent statement shot out by his federal political action committee, RickPAC, Perry stated that people affiliated with the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria may have already capitalized on the United States' loosely-secured southern border with Mexico, using it to enter US soil.

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Perry Isn't Giving National Guard Troops Arresting Power, and That's for the Best

Photo by Bryan Williams

As we continue to follow Gov. Rick Perry's quest to stay viable as GOP 2016 White House contender, we have to wonder how he has actually convinced himself that putting a whole bunch of armed people on the border is in any way a good idea.

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Perry Sends 1,000 Troops to Border, But Not Because of Flood of Children, Apparently

Photo by Gage Skidmore
Rick Perry and many of his GOP brethren support the idea of beefed up security along the Texas-Mexico border. Because the Obama administration has failed to act, Perry says, he must do it himself. On Monday, he ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to deploy along the border in something he is calling "Operation Strong Safety," a slogan his predecessor in the governor's mansion no doubt would have loved. What exactly is strong safety anyway?

While those who have been clamoring for a greater response to cross-border incursions by criminals, cartels and plain old immigrants are applauding Perry's response -- nevermind his sticking it to Obama approach -- most experts wonder if it will do much good given the vast size of the Texas border, and whether or not resources like the National Guard should be used to further what many believe is simply a political agenda.

But, the more interesting question is one of timing.

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Texas Nationalists to Stage Border Protests Saturday, Just Not on the Border

Categories: Immigration

Yee haw.
The Texas Nationalist Movement is calling for a National Day of Action Saturday, July 19 and demanding the government take action on the looming border crisis. The group will be demonstrating throughout Texas as part of their protests against what they call an "invasion," something they believe is being encouraged by the Obama administration.

According to a press release, the group is "a grassroots organization seeking Texas independence from the United States." Yes, because secession will solve ALL our border problems. The protests, while aimed squarely at our southern border, won't actually take place on the border. The closest announced protest location is in Hondo, which is just west of San Antonio and about 140 miles from Laredo.

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Group Says League City Undocumented Kids Resolution Also Anti-Muslim

Tell us.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the recently adopted League City resolution banning undocumented immigrants from using city services also contains language suggesting closing the borders to Mexico is about more than keeping out impoverished children.

In an op-ed piece in the Galveston Daily News, the group's Houston communications coordinator Ruth Nasrullah, points out additional language in the resolution singling out possible Islamic terrorism as an additional reason for the resolution.

The resolution contains a clause which states that "members of dangerous transnational criminal organizations and radical Islamic terror groups continue to exploit the situation to infiltrate the United States for the purpose of establishing criminal activity, terror cells, and training operations within our homeland."

Specifically identifying "radical Islamic terror groups" gives the false and unfair impression that Muslims constitute a particular threat.

The full text of Nasrullah's piece can be found on the group's Facebook page.

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League City Says No to Undocumented Kids

Categories: Immigration

Photo by 807th Medical Command
A Salvadorian child gets treated during a 2010 stop by a California medical combat troop. Many of the children flooding into southwest Texas are from Central America.
Real classy of League City council to adopt a resolution this week basically telling the federal government to not even think about sending any unaccompanied minors to be housed or processed there. Other places like Dallas have pitched in and agreed to take in several hundred kids, and even Houston, which is open to the idea in addition to organizations here already doing work in sheltering and transporting these youth.

Some of these minors we hear can be as young as 4 years old.

League City just doesn't want those disease carrying critters being brought to their town, or so we think that's some of the backroom talk that must have gone on to get this resolution on the table. According to reports it's a concern about health, city officials said, even though most of these kids are evaluated for infections during and before the whole sheltering process, and yes, a few have had the H1N1 virus. It's not in epic proportions, though. Well, not yet, anyway.

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