New immigration detention center opens in Texas

In November 2014, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it would be closing its controversial immigrant detainee facility in Artesia, New Mexico. That center, which held hundreds of women and children prior to deportation, will be out of service by the end of this year. But those detainees will not be freed in light of Obama’s immigration reform decision. Rather, many will be relocated to a new detention center in Dilley , Texas, which has just opened.

On Monday, Dec. 22, the South Texas Family Residential Center, officially opened its doors on the grounds of an old oil workers’ camp in Dilley. It is being called the biggest detention center in the country, intended for families who are caught entering the country illegally and able to house as many as 2,400 immigrants at a time. The facility hosts dozens of cabins built to hold mostly women and children. There is also a school, medical facility and playground.

The center, which is managed by the Corrections Corporation of America, costs roughly $296 per detainee per day to run, which amounts to a whopping $260 million per year to taxpayers.

What are immigration reform supporters saying?
The aim of the center is to provide housing for the surge of families that come to America to flee extreme violence in Central American countries. However, immigration reform activists are voicing their opinions against such measures. For example, Advocates for Human Rights, made up of more than 120 organizations across the country, submitted an open letter to President Obama stating their opposition to the opening of this facility.

“The regional refugee crisis in Central America demands a humanitarian response by the United States, not a show of force,” the letter stated. “These mothers have faced unimaginable suffering and danger and have come to the U.S. seeking protection, often with close relatives in the U.S. who are willing and able to provide for them. They are not evading law enforcement; they are seeking out Border Patrol officers.”

These immigration reform supporters go on to commend the president for his executive decision to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. However, the letter notes that the use of detention on immigrant families prior to deporting them from the country contradicts the notion of protecting families and instead places them directly back in harm’s way.