Licensing Of Immigrant Detention Centers Halted

Nov 2, 2015

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants are detained at the Karnes County Residential Center in South Texas
Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman / KUT

A state judge has temporarily halted efforts for two Texas immigration detention centers to be licensed as child care facilities. That's put the future of the centers in Dilley and Karnes in Question.

A federal judge ordered the detention centers to secure state licenses in order to continue detaining children, many of whom have emigrated from Central America. But the deadline to be in compliance with that rule has already passed.

Advocates say the way Texas is now going about securing licenses isn’t fair.

In September, the state issued an emergency rule, creating a new type of license. Advocates say it lowered child care standards, and was passed without allowing for public comment.

Austin-based Grassroots Leadership sued the state over the rule, and last week a district court ruled in their favor – at least for now.

Christina Parker with Grassroots Leadership says the fate of the facilities is unclear.

“In a way we’re waiting to see what the federal government will do," says Parker. "They’ve announced their attempt to appeal. And I think this, trying to get a child care license slapped on these facilities in this sort of run around way just speaks to the fact that they’re trying every trick in the book to keep them open.” 

A Travis County District Court is set to hear the licensing case on November 12th. Ultimately a federal judge will decide whether the centers can continue detaining immigrants.