Arresting Illegal Immigrants in Texas Is Making Private Prisons Companies Rich

Categories: Immigration

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No detention center has bigger plans for illegal immigrants than the South Texas Family Center in Dilley. The center is run by the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America and is under expansion. By May 2015, the facility will be able to hold 2,400 people. "If this expansion proceeds, Dilley will be the largest immigrant detention center in the U.S.," says a new report about the troubling role that private prison companies play in U.S. immigration policy. The report was published by Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group that is critical of the industry.

Using government and financial records and news articles, the Grassroots report details how two companies -- Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group -- have benefited from locking up illegal immigrants, and how the South Texas border surge in arrests has been especially profitable to the CCA and GEO Group. Texas has 7,602 private beds for the immigrant detainees, Grassroots Leadership found, a figure that represents 39 percent of all private prison beds in the whole country.

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Federal Courts Send Mixed Signals as Texas Continues to Lead Anti-Immigration Fight

Categories: Immigration

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Gage Skidmore
Seems to be doing OK in this fight so far.
Mississippi, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, cannot use the courts to challenge President Obama's 2012 decision to allow some immigrant children who entered the United States illegally to avoid deportation. Affirming a district court ruling, the 5th Circuit found that the state couldn't prove any actual damages from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Tuesday's news wasn't all bad for those who oppose the president on immigration, though. A U.S. District Court judge in Brownsville indicated, again, that he was open to the arguments presented by a Texas-led coalition of 26 states that is challenging another decision by Obama to grant similar protection to some undocumented parents.

Let's start with the 5th Circuit. The New Orleans court, generally viewed as the most conservative circuit, upheld a lower court ruling Tuesday that tossed the Mississippi suit out, which challenged DACA, the federal program that allows undocumented residents brought to the United States at a young age to remain in the U.S., go to school and work without fear of deportation. The court ruled that Mississippi had no standing to bring its suit.

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South Texas Prison Riot Probably Happened Because Texas' Immigrant Prisons Are Awful

Categories: Crime, Immigration

Why did a few thousand immigrants imprisoned in South Texas riot last week against the nice private prison corporation that was housing them? Management and Training Corp.'s version of events is that its inmates "refused to participate in regular work duties or attend breakfast early Friday morning," which certainly seems like an unreasonable thing for an inmate to do.

The inmates then somehow broke out of their housing units, forcing the company to bring in multiple government agencies to lock the place down and also forcing a partial lock-down of the local school district in Willacy County.

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Federal Judge Sides With Texas, Temporarily Stops Obama Immigration Action

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Gage Skidmore
An auspicious early-term victory for the governor.
Late Monday night, a U.S. district judge in Brownsville issued a temporary injunction blocking President Obama's decision to shield about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

See also: Greg Abbott Leads Texas into Immigration Lawsuit Fight With Feds

In November Obama announced his plan to create a program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. It has not yet gone into effect, and 26 states, lead by Texas, sued to block it. Judge Andrew Hanen said in his opinion that allowing DAPA to get rolling before the states' lawsuit was heard would create an untenable situation were the courts to rule in favor of the states.

"Once these services are provided, there will be no effective way of putting the toothpaste back in the tube should Plaintiffs ultimately prevail on the merits," Hanen wrote.

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Greg Abbott Leads Texas into Immigration Lawsuit Fight With Feds

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Gage Skidmore
Just over a week ago, on November 24, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said the "odds were in favor" of the state suing the federal government to stop President Obama's executive action on immigration. Wednesday afternoon, the governor-elect cashed that bet, announcing that he'd been joined by 16 other states in filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

"The president's job is to enforce the law, not to make them," Abbott said.

Allowing certain undocumented persons who've been in the United States for more than five years to work and live in the country without the threat of deportation would cause irreparable damage to Texas, Abbott says. The state has already incurred tremendous costs from DACA, President Obama's program that allows individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country, so it has unique standing to challenge the executive action.

See also: Texas Likely to Sue Obama Over Immigration

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Immigration Lawyer's Advice to Client to Walk Out on an Immigration Hearing Not a Hit with State Bar

Back in April, the carefully airbrushed Yelp reputation of Irving attorney Sherin Thawer took a major hit when user Kayur P. left a bruising, one-star appraisal of her legal talents. The content of the review has since been removed from the site for unspecified violations of Yelp's terms of service, but Thayer helpfully saved it for posterity by including it in the defamation lawsuit she filed four days later:

My brother hired Sherin back in February 2013 for his immigration case. She is the most unethical, incompetent lawyer you'll ever come across. I wouldn't even call her a lawyer, she's a FRAUD.

Strong words, but to prove defamation against Kayur and his brother Anish Patel (she sued both), Thawer would have had to have established, among other things, that Kayur's comment was false. And while it may have been hyperbolic (there's always a more unethical/incompetent lawyer out there), the heart of the claim rings true to the State Bar of Texas. On Tuesday its Commission for Lawyer Discipline sued Thawer, who is already in month two of a two-year suspension according her profile on the State Bar website, seeking additional sanctions.

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Texas Likely to Sue Obama Over Immigration

Gage Skidmore
Plotting his final act as attorney general.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, soon to make his home in the governor's mansion, says the "odds are in favor" of Texas suing the federal government to prevent the implementation of President Obama's proposed executive or to stop the deportation of certain undocumented immigrant who have been in the country for more than five years.

"The president has crossed the line from politics to endangering the constitutional structure," Abbott said Monday afternoon.

The United States' immigration system is broken, Abbott acknowledged, but an "executive fiat" is not the way to fix i. The president is not exercising prosecutorial discretion, the attorney general argued, because the number of people affected is so large. If Obama's action is allowed, Abbott suggested that a future Republican president could similarly act on things like taxes and environmental regulations.

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Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids Are Still Coming into Texas

Categories: Immigration

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Kids were coming into the U.S. via the infamous train, La Bestia, by the thousands this summer. What about now?

It's been a few months since Clay Jenkins ceremoniously announced that, because rates of unaccompanied immigrant children coming into Texas had ebbed, there was no longer a need for a local shelter. Has the influx remained low?

See also: Dallas County Will Not Shelter Thousands of Central American Kids After All

Experts agree that the flow of immigrants seems to slow when the weather is either too hot or too cold to make the already dangerous crossland trip. Which is why, if rates were lower in the middle of August, we can expect them to be low throughout the winter months.

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DFW Congregations Offer Sanctuary to Prevent Low-Priority Deportations

Categories: Immigration

ICE officials attempting to deport a family from a church.

If you hear the word "sanctuary" and think of the scene in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in which Esmeralda pleads with the cathedral priest for shelter (or, be honest, you think of Logan's Run), you might be surprised to learn that actual sanctuaries are a growing movement in many congregations across the country. Over 70 Christian and Jewish congregations have expressed support in the last year for sheltering undocumented immigrants scheduled for deportation.

The movement was prompted by a 2011 Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo which detailed that immigration arrests should not be conducted, unless there is a severe imminent threat, in "sensitive locations" -- which includes schools, hospitals and churches. And so far, immigration enforcement officials seem to respect the boundary.

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Entrepreneurs and Educated Workers Changing the Face of Texas' Immigrant Population

Categories: Immigration


After being inundated with images of poverty stricken unaccompanied Central American children this summer, you might be surprised to learn that the stereotype of the poor working class immigrant is rapidly changing in Texas. The growing demographic, it turns out, are educated and highly skilled -- and the Texas economy is increasingly dependent on their money.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities released a report last week that pointed out the economic virility of the immigrant workforce. Small immigrant-owned businesses brought in $4.4 billion in revenue to the Texas economy last fiscal year.

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