Monday, February 19, 2007
The T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas has been in the news a lot lately. On Friday, a pregnant mother of two walked out of the Center Friday and her eyes began to burn. After three months and 16 days inside the former prison turned immigration detention facility, she wasn't used to the sun. The 28-year-old Honduran, her two young daughters in tow, became the most recent detainees released from the Central Texas facility, one of only two in the country that detains families. Human rights organizations have criticized Hutto for housing immigrant parents and children in sub-standard, penal-like conditions. Immigration officials have defended the 512-bed facility as a family-friendly environment and a humane alternative to splitting up immigrant families from countries other than Mexico while they seek asylum or face deportation. It is operated by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America. "We don't know why they did it today, but It seems indicative to me of the fact that they have the discretion to release anyone at Hutto whenever they'd like," said Rebecca Bernhardt, with the ACLU. "And we'd like to see them exercise their discretion more broadly."