Judge Blocks Immigration Center Child Care License

AUSTIN — A Travis County state district judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a state agency from issuing a child care license to a controversial family detention center in South Texas.

Officials said that while the temporary restraining order by Judge Karin Crump will not prevent the lockup in Dilley from operating, it will have to comply with state regulations that prohibit housing unrelated adults and children in the same room.

The privately run 2,400-bed facility that houses undocumented immigrant families while federal officials decide on their asylum requests to stay in the United States has been the focus of litigation and criticism from immigration advocates for more than two years.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who oversee the lockup had no immediate reaction to the court order.

The ruling was a victory for Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based advocacy group that sued over new state regulations that would have exempted the Dilley detention center from some requirements.

“Family detention camps are prisons; they are not child care facilities. Slapping a license on the facilities will not change that fact,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group that filed the case with mothers with detained children.

“We are glad the court heard our concerns today about the damage that family detention does to mothers and their children and how lowering standards to issue licenses to these facilities only exacerbates that harm.”

By Mike Ward for chron.com
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