Nonprofit organizations that are fighting immigrant detention centers in South Texas succeeded this week in temporarily blocking state action that would allow children to be kept in the centers longer.
The problem is, the state’s action would also have allowed inspectors to conduct unannounced visits to the centers and force corrections of conditions the nonprofits say harm children.
It’s another sign that the problems of illegal immigration have no easy answers.
A federal judge in California ruled last year that nearly 2,000 women and children in centers in Dilley and Karnes City were kept in deplorable conditions. The judge ordered them released as soon as possible, but the state appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services began working on licensing the centers as child-care facilities. That effort was moving forward until Wednesday, when an Austin district judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt it.
The nonprofits say the detention centers are prisons, not child-care facilities. Both of the centers are run by private companies.
There’s not a quick or easy answer, but licensing sounds good if it allows closer state supervision of conditions in the centers.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD for Star-Telegram
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