It is an immigration enforcement strategy that has led to Democrats rebuking the Obama administration, Texas aiding the federal government it loves to hate, and welfare advocates arguing against more oversight of childcare facilities.
Caught in the middle are migrant families fleeing the growing violence in Central America, who are held in what activists have dubbed “baby jails”.
Run by private, for-profit companies, two Texas facilities in Dilley and Karnes, near San Antonio, temporarily house families who are about to be deported, in conditions that detainees and advocates have described as traumatic and unsafe. Opened in 2014, they have a combined capacity of over 3,000 people. Those held there have included the 121 immigrants who were detained last month in deportation round-ups that were heavily criticized by activists and Democratic politicians.
Since Pennsylvania authorities said last month that they would not renew the license to operate “as a child residential facility” for the country’s only other family detention centre, in Berks County, critics hope that a Texas agency will deny licenses to the Dilley and Karnes facilities, dealing a severe blow to a policy that the federal government expanded in response to the influx of Central American families and unaccompanied children.
BY Tom Dart for The Guardian
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