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Should Texas Give Child Care Licenses to Immigrant Detention Centers?

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT
Inside the detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, designed to house mothers and children apprehended at the border.

From Texas Standard:

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Obama administration to comply with a federal order to release undocumented immigrants — predominantly women and children — being held at two privately-run detention centers in south Texas.


The facilities in Karnes City and Dilley are operated under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ruling says the continued detention violates a 1997 legal settlement which requires that undocumented juveniles be held in places that protect their overall well-being. According to the ruling, conditions at these two south Texas centers are "deplorable."

With the deadline fast approaching, the two centers have applied for child care licenses from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Many groups which advocate for children's welfare are fighting the request to have the centers licensed by the state.

Dr. Laura Guerra-Cardus, associate director of Texas for the Children's Defense Fund, says her group is very upset about the situation.

"Detention centers are absolutely terrible places for children and mothers. It's been very well documented that they severely impair the normal development of a child," she says. "When we look at what is happening with DFPS providing an emergency rule that lowers their own standards for child safety, in order to license these facilities, they're essentially providing the detention centers a way to continue operating despite their harm to children."

What you'll learn in this segment:

– Why the Children's Defense Fund of Texas signed a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking that the licenses not be issued,

– What prisons have to gain from DFPS licenses, and

– Research findings on developmental issues common among children living in detention centers.

Listen to the full interview in the player above.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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