Friday, May 19, 2006

Defunct prison reopens as immigrant detainee center

Since it opened, T. Don Hutto Private Prison in Taylor has fought to stay relevant, having had financial problems from lack of enough prisoners in Texas.

Then the Department of Homeland Security stepped in with a new contract for T. Don Hutto – as a place to detain illegal immigrants waiting to be deported out of the United States.

This is the first official detainee facility for illegal immigrants. Entire families are bused there to wait for their processing back to their country of origin, which is most often Mexico.

I know a man who works there, a seasoned prison guard. I will call him Tommy, obviously not his real name. Tommy is a seasoned hard-ass prison guard, but a good man.

He described the incoming immigrant families holding screaming children in their arms. He described the guards taking their fingerprints, taking the fingerprints of the babies.
He said it was disturbing to the most hardened prison workers to see poor families being held like prisoners, the children behind bars, crying, all of them crying.
He said they were all poor and frightened. He has been around criminals for many years. These are not criminals. They are poor and desperate.

What I heard disturbed me too. I don't know what else to say. The internal picture of fingerprinting babies offends me.

So much about the methods of this administration offend me.

We say that they should not come into this country illegally. But if through fate, you found yourself a poor uneducated Mexican, what would you do? And if your children were starving, wouldn't you do anything to feed them, to try for a life with some hope?


At 1:23 PM, Blogger thepoetryman said...

Fine post and inspired my muse to kick me to write some verse aboout this very subject. Toodles... off to write and link back at ya! :>)

At 2:28 PM, Blogger glenda said...

Thanks. It makes me sad to think about this.:(

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Tom Hilton said...

That's heartbreaking. I've spent a lot of time visiting prisons, and to think of people who really aren't criminals being put behind bars is completely appalling to me.

At 4:01 PM, Blogger betmo said...

not to veer too far off of a very relevent topic but- not enough prisoners in texas? did you all kill them all off? this administration always chooses the least effective, least dignified, least humane way of solving any problem. this disgusts me but doesn't surprise me. in national geographic this month- there was a map of the world's hungry. guess which country had the least hungry? mexico was one notch down from having the most- that honor went to africa and india. guess that's why all of those illegal folks are travelling so far in dangerous conditions to get their children here- to eat.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Time said...

The worst part of this whole sad situation is that the Presidents policies are killing hope for millions, when hope is all they have.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger PTCruiser said...

How very sad and disgusting.

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous earl bockenfeld said...

Glenda, that is a very eye-opening post about a sick and disgusting situation. What has our once great nation come down to. It makes me sick.

Mark 10:14 Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

Mt 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger glenda said...

There is a lot of fear and suffering all along the border. I wish those who have never been to a border state could see and understand it. There is a pent-up desperation and sickness of the heart. People are treated like Kleenx. They are expendable. Corruption, poverty, fear all abound.

About the prisons being underpopulated. Well, it's true, Texas is big on lethal injection. I think they just overbuilt them, to tell the truth. Small communites that need jobs will often offer to host a prison for the jobs. It's no place to house children or families, even if they have taken down the razorwire.

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Tabor said...

I keep seeing the 'legal citizens' on TV who are so concerned about all these 'aliens' coming into our country and crossing the borders and staying here and living off the 'dole.' I just cannot believe these people can always see things so simply and with such little humanity.

At 5:25 AM, Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Heartbreaking news. The idea of babies being fingerprinted made my throat tighten with sadness.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger glenda said...

Hi, Tabor and Mary,
I have worked with immigrant kids in the schools, and the kids one or 2 generations removed from the border towns often made them low man on the totem pole. While I do not want to generalize this to all Latinos, I saw a fairly consistent pattern, The worst insult a Latino kid could call another was "Indio" or Indian. Mexican is OK, even a point of pride, Indian was a dirty word in this population that I was exposed to.

There are racial, class, religious and educational distinctions among Latinos, just as there are among Anglos. Remember how badly the Irish were treated by other whites when they first began coming over. They were seen as thieves, drunks, and ignorant, superstitious Catholic white trash.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger enigma4ever said...

You made really good points and all of it is so sad- but in a way let't be real Bush doesn't ever understand or respect issues regarding CULTURE...and this issue as complicated and as tragic as the damage he inflicted on Iraq....because millions will once again be affected by his Ignorance ....thanks for posting on this so disturbing....

At 10:51 AM, Blogger pinkfem said...

It is sad and complicated. But it's also simple. Treat people like they are worthwhile human beings, not animals

At 2:05 PM, Blogger betmo said...

it was interesting to me that the 'latinos' have a class system within their poverty, etc. i found it sad that it seemed to be the indians again that bear the brunt of classicism in every culture. why do you suppose that is? from canada to mexico to australia to the gypsies in europe- the 'indigenous' peoples are always the ones to suffer the most. guess that's why africa is so messed up.

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous GuerrillasintheMidst said...

It's called the Fourth World War.

To the state, Indians are "expendable populations" and live on "National Sacrifice Areas".

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Lily said...

Well in my screechy opinion an effective way to confront prejudice is by simple facts and numbers, as going on about humanity does little to change the minds of people that are convinced of their own victimization by other groups. They seem unreachable in this way.

If you believe your economic situation is in peril because of an immigrant, then talking about being nice is not going to work. Talking about real numbers from fifteen sources we can cite about immigrants and economics in my view is the best way to break the walls of ignorance.

The emotional appeals do not reach many people and change little. People can look at starving children being watched by vultures and remain unmoved to act. people can see babies burned by phosphorous and not be moved to act.

What does this tell you? People who hate are often people who feel under seige and need to blame. Too bad they opt not to blame the people in power elected to DO SOMETHING.

This is pitting even more people against one another.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger WeezieLou said...

this bloog leaves me sad, disgused and impotent. i think of thye neurlinguistic progtramming grooves set in a child being finger printed loke a criminal. how does a child process that in their brain? only negatively. then we complain about overcrowded prisons. I think of possible soloutions and I feel overwhelomed. where can a sense of empowerment come from? for the immigrants from us. i sit here feeling no answers to those questions.

At 9:22 AM, Blogger glenda said...

I know weezie, some days I feel like the Dutch boy in the story, fingers in the holes of the dike, more holes popping open, water rising. But you cannot give up.

EB, Statistics coming right up. Statistics are good for debate. We need debate. That is the first step. We also need more people to work against violence and all the social problems we are facing by donating money to well-run non-profits, by volunteering their time, even if only one Saturday a month- hey, take your kids! And by supporting those who choose to do social work in the world (and that includes many groups, in my estimation, i.e. social workers, teachers, firefighters, etc.) None are in it for the money, believe me.

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At 4:12 PM, Blogger mr resource said...

Should have done your research. All the illegal immigrants at the facility are not from Mexico, but from Central America. They have access to free lawyers, free education, free food, commisary, a warm place to sleep (free rent). Yes, it's a horrible journey across the desert without food and water, but they have it better at the facility than most American citizens. It comes out of the taxpayers pockets, but perhaps central american governments should take responsibily for their citizens with jobs, education, and safety.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I aggree with mr.resource. I know a lot of people that work at the residential center and those residents are treated very well. They are given three square meals with 3,000 calories per meal, no pork is served, 1 1/2 hours of recreation and if the weather is warm and sunny they are allowed to go outside to run around and play on they playscape. The children are given education. This is all at the expense of the tax payers who if these people were to live in society and have babies in this country we would be paying for through our tax money becausse most of them do not pay taxes, don't have health insurance and it is costing tax payers $3.5 billon a year to take care of these people. This people are treated with the upmost respect. They are safe, warm and fed what else could they ask for?

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